We spent another day utilizing Italy’s great public transportation system. No I really mean it; it’s great. You can pretty much get anywhere for a decent price, have street/Metro musicians entertain you along the way, and people actually use it. We bussed our way from our flat in Rome to the Metro station that took us to the main bus depot. There we got on a first class (at least that’s how it felt to us) bus to Sorrento about 3 hours to the south. Sorrento functioned as a base for us to visit Napoli (Naples), Pompeii, and Mt. Vesuvius.
While Sorrento worked as our peaceful home base, the majority of our time was spent between there and Napoli. We spent a wonderfully long rainy day in Napoli. We began our wet day munching Nutella and bread under the eaves of the Napoli Archaeological Museum. The museum houses an incredible collection of mosaics, frescoes, sculptures (bronze and marble), jewelry, glassware, and cooking pots from the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Early excavators were interested only in bringing the treasures back to their king. They functioned more like treasure seekers, and treasure they found! The museum also has an impressive assortment of marble statues from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Seems the king really liked (read wanted) these as well and was somehow able to pull it all off. It tells us a bit about the power and influence of the Bourbon king in Napoli in early 1800s.
We then took a stroll through the streets of Napoli roughly following a walk outlined in Rick Steves’ guidebook. Our walk led us through narrow cobblestoned streets. Because we were out around 2:00 pm and it was raining, the streets were vacant. We sampled sfogliatella and bought a tiny nativity set. It all reminded us of scenes from the Godfather (not the gory ones), or a Billy Joel song (before Christy Brinkley), or Northend Boston. The kids were getting tired and it began to rain, but we bribed happiness into them by promising “real” pizza and gelato at the end of the walk. Eventually we found our way to Antica Pizzeria da Michele. They have been in business for over 150 years and still only serve two kinds of pizza: margherita (tomato sauce with mozzarella) and marinara (tomato sauce no cheese). It’s pretty much a “locals only” hang out and was a welcome shelter from the rain. We were warmed by the wood pizza stoves and ate four great margherita pizzas! We then walked three doors down to Polo Nord Gelateria (The North Pole). Gelato makes everything good. I think the UN should send gelato to all the war-torn areas of the world. They would make great strides toward world peace and boost the Italian economy.
Here are a few highlights of Sorrento. This was our first stay in a hotel for this trip. It’s nice having someone else make your bed! There are incredible views looking across the harbor toward Naples as well as back at the cliffs of Sorrento itself. The streets in the older part of this small town are narrow enough to deny access to even the smallest of Fiat 500’s and Smart cars. Unfortunately, Vespas still manage to find their way down these passages and seem exempt to the laws regarding speed and pedestrian zones. In the evenings the streets close to car and Vespa traffic, and people cruise the main thoroughfare from about 9:00 to midnight; it is wall-to-wall people. Gelaterias and cafes overflow into the streets. Very fun. But our favorite meal was just south of Sorrento in Vico Equense -Pizza a Metro. We thought that this cavernous pizzeria (it can easily seat 600+ people) was situated near the Metro. Wrong! They sell pizza by the meter (Metro). That’s a big pizza. We got it with buffalo milk mozzarella cheese. Thanks to our friend Reed for recommending this place. Now we know why he remembered this place after almost 40 years.