Day 7 – Capri

We didn’t plan anything for today, we’re looking for an easy day without too much walking. So after a late breakfast at the agriturismo buffet (with insanely good home made marmelades), we decided to head to the Massa Lubrense harbour. We park the car and wander around looking lost, so a boat captain approaches us and asks us if we would be interested in a cruise around Capri. As we were looking for some lazy activity, it sounded good for us and we accepted his proposal. Guglielmo got his boat ready and we set off. I want a lazy blog day as well, so I’m done with the writing and here are some photos.

Day 6 – Herculaneum

So today we arranged to meet with Anna again, but this time at Herculaneum. We thought it would be straightforward to get there, as the map shows the site to be less than a 10 minutes drive. But here are some mysteries from the connected systems we use. When my phone is connected to the car with CarPlay, we only found the Archeological site and ended up in very narrow street at the other end of the site, but when Jackie searched directly from her iPhone there is an Archeological Park: that’s the one we needed to go to as visitors.

We finally arrived at the gate to meet with Anna 5 minutes late. When we got in, she started by setting the scene for us on the geographical, historical and social levels of what the city of Herculaneum was. She also explained why it was and still is so different from Pompeii.

The first thing we notice immediately is that this is clearly a dig, as it doesn’t really feels like it in Pompeii. As Anna explained to us, Pompeii was covered by ashes whereas Herculaneum has been covered by lava: it seems to be a small difference but the result after almost twenty centuries cannot be compared. Another big difference was the difference in social status of the inhabitants: at the time, Herculaneum was the town of the hyper wealthy people, sort of the Monaco of the Roman’s time. It was named after the great Hercules and there are many representations that pictures him in his tasks.

When the Vesusio erupted, the lava descended on the side of Herculaneum. Its extreme heat consumed everything flammable and were retrieved carbonized, just like the wooden part of a match, keeping their original shape. As it was the home of extremely wealthy people, real architectural wonders and jewelries were dug out and are kept as treasures. Some pieces are small but have incredibly tiny details that are so sharp, my technical side tried to imagine what kind of tools they may have used to manufacture them.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, visiting such a site with an experimented guide makes a whole world of a difference and we were really happy to have done it with a pearl such as Anna. If you’ve never done it, try it once and you’ll understand what we mean.

As we were so close to the Vesuvio, we wanted to climb it as high as possible (as far as the road could be driven). We stopped at the first restaurant as they had a stunning view of the gulf of Napoli.

That was a beginner’s mistake and the first time we had a very average meal.

We headed to our next stage of our journey towards the Sorrentine Peninsula. The number of vehicles is reduced by quite a lot after Castelammare di Stabia, but speed is slower due to the nature of the roads and its surrounding resorts, hotels and shops. The Agriturismo lodging we booked is quite remote but very comfortable. This time of the season is a bit late for the swimming pool, but the olive harvesting season is started and we can see the press at work.

Pino, the owner of the place, advises us to go to « a gooda restorante » not too far. On the way to La Torre, we got a gorgeous sunset view of Capri and Ischia.

And because life is hard, but fortunately we’re in Italy, we went to our fourth Michelin rated restaurant of this trip…

Day 5 – Napoli

Spoiler alert: Napoli is the best! The people, the food, the city. I should have come here much earlier.

But let me wind back a bit to the start of the day. As we knew the Herculaneum acheological site is closed on Wednesdays, we decided to visit Napoli on that day. When preparing for this trip, I browsed and compared all sorts of activities available here. But as this was our first time in Napoli, I looked for a way to give us an overview of the city instead of specific ones such as the catacombs or the churches. And the website of Napoli in Vespa caught my eye.

So we arranged for the morning tour (that’s 9:00 to 13:30) to get more of the history of the city and its inhabitants. We discovered so much about the historical facts and anecdotes, the culture and every day’s life of the Napolitans, thanks to the crash course that Danilo gave us during the walks in the neighbourhoods of Napoli, and the expert driving with his teammate Luigi allowed us to cover a big part of the important areas. And riding the Vespa’s here is also a way to better connect with the lifestyle.

I loved Napoli from the start, and it has certainly something to do with the fact that I can recognise so much from its greek roots; always obvious after the fact, but the original settlers built Pale Poli (Old Town) first, and then moved to a nearby place and started with Nea Poli (New Town), which eventually became Napoli.

After the tour, we wanted to enjoy another famous pizzeria and went to Sorbillo.

We wandered again in the Spanish quarter of Napoli. We spotted a crowd  towards the upper part and went there as we got curious and found a shrine to another divinity here: Maradona.

We got to our next stop in our trip in Portici and settled in. The house we stay in looks like a museum! The room takes us back to the early 19th century (apart from a small TV set). It would be quite easy to film some movies in here without changing many things.

In the evening, we got to a completely different style. The Gattò Bistro has an unusual concept and combines three carasteristics:

  • It’s a cat bar (like you could find in Japan)
  • Also it specialises in vegeterian and vegan food (for hippies and lunatics)
  • And last but not least, it promotes all sorts of craft beers (for serious people who know what’s important)

And the clientele is a motley crew as you could imagine to fit that list.

Day 4 – Pompeii

When we started talking about going to Italy, Pompeii and Herculaneum were the initial sites we wanted to visit.

So this morning we got the car back from the parking and headed towards Pompeii. I LOVE the driving in Napoli! Jackie could stay here a week for the food, I would stay as long for the driving. I wonder how they teaching it to beginners, but there is a lot of faith in the other occupants of the road in the way they drive, alongside with a carelessness and a feeling of invulnerability. You can hear from time to time through an open car window someone shouting niceties such as « collione » or «  stronzo » to signify a difference of opinion.

When visiting archeological sites, it is very important to be accompanied by a qualified guide, as the ruins and stones won’t explain themselves with words. From our previous experiences, we tend to prefer person with a history of art background and not just archeology. We booked the time from our guide way in advance (almost a month) as we wanted to have all the chances on our side to have a great visit.

We met with Anna at the entrance of Pompeii, and she quickly organised the logistics for a successful visit. As I said, visiting a site such as Pompeii can be all sorts of different experiences depending on who is explaining and sharing their knowledge with you. We were lucky again and had a truly interesting and entertaining tour of the site with the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Anna. Her words conveyed her passion for the history of the people and the region, and we could relive the life of the citizens of Pompeii prior to the catastrophe.

We used the motorway to go to Pompeii, so we decided to use the national road to go back to Napoli. The road is mostly paved and is unequal to say the least. We wanted to have pizze for lunch as it would be a crime if we didn’t. 50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo is a Michelin rated Pizzeria (I didn’t check it, but probably the only one) and possibly  the cheapest of the famous culinary guide.

The pizze are mouth watering just by their sight, and incredibly tasty

We walked a bit around the historic city center and saw the Catedrale di Santa Maria Assunta and the Chiesa di San Domenico Maggiore. Wandering around the narrow streets took us to the Nativity Scene alley. Napolitans are world famous for having gigantic ones and you can find whatever is needed for the most committed builder.

Day 3 – From Roma to Napoli

After just under a couple of days in Roma, we get going towards the south. A bit of time to get used to the car and the roman driving style and we get out of the city fron its south west end. The trafic is brutal, but in fact there are a lot of detours and bottlenecks in many places.

We drove to the south, but the coast is not really pretty there, no real reason to stop and most of the beach front is deserted and the shops and restaurants are closed. I was wondering when preparing for this trip why there weren’t any recommendation or article about this area of the seafront, but now I get it.

After a bit over a couple of hours drive which took us about half distance between Roma and Napoli, we had lunch in the pretty town of Sperlonga, it’s the only place we found references to when preparing for this roadtrip and is so different from the crowded Rome.


The food was delicious and we got a dessert further down a paved road in the port. The path to the port offers a nice view of the town seafront and beach.

After another couple of hours drive in the Campanile’s countryside and a short dash on the motorway, we got into Napoli. We’re using Apple Plans and Google Maps for navigation during this roadtrip and we found their accuracy extremely good (no comparison points to how confused they get in Greece). But still, Napoli and its narrow streets, its peculiar organisation of the traffic and its unexpected roadworks finally took Google Maps offguard. We had to call the manager of the hotel to find our way for the last few hundred meters. We first parked the car in a private lot and walked the last bit with our luggages to get to the hotel.

The hotel is really well located in the historic center of Napoli. There is a festival in the street this evening and the traffic is restricted. Napolitans with their children have invaded the streets nearby.

San Genaro festivities

You don’t need to stay long to get used to the festive mood and wander around the narrow streets and get caught in the ambiance. Really crowded here as well, but no flocks of tourists following their guides’ flagpole, rushing to a viewpoint or the next tourist attraction. Here, there are families and friends living outside, enjoying drinks and food.

There are tourists in here as well, but outnumbered by the locals’ joyous and exhuberant nature. I’m happy to discover Napoli and find it close to how I imagined it.

Day 2 – Roma

We switched to another hotel. With age, there are things that you better realise:

  • life is too short to bother with situation you don’t like
  • when you’re wrong, you’re wrong! accept it and move on
  • realise what went wrong and don’t repeat it

We booked another room in a different hotel nearby we could visit and moved out from the other within 30 minutes.

So we decided to pay our dues to be tourists in Rome, but even in this time of year, it’s OVER crowded everywhere.

The coliseum, the fontana di trevi, just can’t stand having to slalom amongst groups of tourist to progress 50 meters. I started to read a few days ago Dante’s « Divine Comedy » to get into the classical Italian mood, and realised that this should be in the very lower circles of hell.

Again learn your lesson and move on.

We ended with an attraction we were really looking forward, the Virtual Reality bus that goes around from the Piazza di Venezia around the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus. That was mesmerizing, really a cool and incredible experience.

We walked a lot today, so we decided to go directly to the hotel. The way back was a bit difficult, impossible to find a taxi and navigating the roman public transportation is not something you can master quickly.

We finally made it and decided from the top of our wisdom not to push it too much at the beginning of our trip. Room service and a soothing bath. We finally got a room for our old posh standards…

Day 1 – Roma

Excellent start of the trip:

  • Flight on time
  • Got all our luggages quickly

We had a bit of a delay to get the car, but we got an upgrade as rhey didn’t have the car we asked for.

The hotel I booked is disappointing, but the room is clean. I can’t say it’s spartan as we’re in Italy, but that’s the idea. We’ll see how well we sleep here and may move if it’s not good enough.

But we had an excellent dinner with an incredible view of Rome at sunset, the meal and wine were exquisite.

Got an evening walk with some nice views from the eternal city ar dawn.

Dovè el Vaticano?

Gran Marcha

Gran Marcha 2020
Gran Marcha 2020

Porto Mari – 22 Feb 2020