Monday, June 4, 2007

Italy in 3 days

Whew!!!! Sorry to have been away so long. We have been going for 3 days straight, 6AM to Midnight each day. No, not complaining, just explaining!

Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Rome, Pisa and Florence in 3 days. We are a pretty tired bunch, but the history we have experience cannot be measured.

Three really amazing days. We shared a driver with 5 other people who took us on a tour down the Amalfi coast. Every town had a name of someone I knew or an Italian restaurant I have been to, Constiglione, Positano, Sorrento…etc…… It was like the Waterbury, Connecticut Italian Festival on steroids. (This is where I grew up)
Southern Italy, Naples and the surrounding area is the Italy we all are familiar with. This is the area of pizza, spaghetti and meatballs and the mafia. There is good reason for it. 40 Million Southern Italians have immigrated to the US in the past 100 years. A good 20% must have moved to Connecticut. Our driver said everyone who lives there has someone in their family who as moved to the US. His family is in Jersey, but surprise. It’s crazy and crowded but fun. The views along the road that traverses the coast were stunning. A mix homes taken over for tourism and homes of locals who have not yet sold out. We had lunch atop the hill in Ravello overlooking the ocean. The food was out of this world; mozzarella, antipasto and pasta like I’ve never tasted. The Italians know how to do lunch. It was a meal that we will always remember.

Just a quick insight our guide shared with us. He spent much of the day lamenting how chaotic the government is, and how they have done little to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. Everyone here lives day to day, with no care for tomorrow. We went through a toll booth and he asked us to watch the meter. First it said 1,90 Euros, the driver paid and it quickly went to 1,50 Euros. The deal is that larger van’s must pay the higher price, but it is at the discretion of the collector to register the charge. The collector collects the 1,90 then rings it up as 1,50 and pockets the difference. All day, every day. Everyone knows it happens and it is just accepted. This was just one of the many examples he shared of the culture. So many things make so much more sense now.

We made our way to Pompeii in the afternoon. It was quite hot. Fascinating, but I had hoped to see more of actual life. Most spots were just empty shells as everything had been moved to the museum. I think next time we will go to Herculaneum as it is said to be more well preserved. Alex loved it and was allowed to bring back some pumice stones from Mt Vesuvius. What was surprising was how much brick was used. Even many of the columns were made from brick and then covered with bakeries. A stop at the bakers shop and at some of the wealthy homes made the trip worthwhile. Our driver said there are cities under all the area towns, but no one wants to find them as the no longer have access to that land, it becomes an archeological site.

It’s time to get ready for dinner. I’ll catch you up on the rest of the trip later on. I’ve got the Rome and Florence photos ready so I’ll post them as well and get you the details later.

Amalfi Coast


Here are Alex's shots from the day....

Alex Amalfi and Pompeii

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