Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another visit from Jessica 1-14 March 2007

Jessica arrived here on the 1st of March and we had a great visit with her, as always. She's such a terrific traveler, we really enjoy her excitement over everything she sees and we try to show her as much as possible when she comes here to Italy. We laughingly told our friends that we think it took us about four months to see all the things she saw in just two weeks (although that's probably an exaggeration!). We drove the Amalfi Coast, spending time in Cetara, that little jewel, and in Ravello, delighted that the formal gardens in the Villa Rufolo were fully planted with seasonal flowers and it looked lovely. We also walked up to the Villa Cimbrone one more time and were happy to see things starting to bloom. We picked up some panini at the alimentari and ate on the Villa's famous balcony with the busts (theirs, not ours!) overlooking the Mediterranean, the one you see in all the guidebooks.

Volcanic Activities

We walked to the top of Vesuvius, visited Solfatara, Pompeii and Herculaneum. A highlight of her visit was eating my meatball sandwiches with a bottle of the local Lacrima Christi wine (the vineyards are on the slopes of the volcano) that we bought when we arrived at the top of the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius. It's a bit of a steep climb for around 20 minutes but definitely worth the effort to look into the mouth of a volcano and see some fumaroles (hot spots) rising like steam, even though this particular volcano hasn't erupted since 1944 and they don't expect any activity any time soon.

The Royal Palace and Gardens at Caserta

On a particularly rainy day we drove to Caserta and toured the Royal Palace and its gardens. The rain literally came down in sheets (fortunately we had our umbrellas) as we walked through the gorgeous English gardens, discovering the little pond area with its statue of Venus, crouching on a stone as if she had just come out of her bath or was about to jump in!

Before coming back to Vietri we made a detour to Benevento so she could see the Roman Arch there and get just a taste of that city, near the birthplace of my great-grandparents on my mother's side.

Trips to Napoli

We went to Naples three different days, once by bus and twice by car. We visited the Duomo, the Galleria, the Teatro and Piazza Plebescito; Castles St. Elmo (where we witnessed a large cluster of ladybugs in love!) and Nuovo, the Archeological Museum and its incredible collection of mosaics and frescoes from Pompei and the other buried cities, and Napoli Sotteranea; the majolica painted cloister of Santa Chiara (where the guard berated us for climbing on the benches for a photo op. I was mortified!!) and the Catacombs of San Genaro.

The islands of Ischia and Procida

We took a ferry out to the islands of Ischia and Procida, climbing all around the Aragonese Castle on Ischia for some of the most beautiful views of the bay and the harbor. We had lunch at Al Pontile restaurant overlooking the harbor and were served the most delicious bruschetta con pomodorini I think I have had in Italy, followed by a mediocre plate of Penne al'Arabiata that surprised (and disappointed), after such a lovely antipasto.

We spent another day touring the Roman ruins at Baia and Bacoli and the Greek ones at Cumae, including the "Sybil's grotto" with its strange trapezoidal-shaped cave and the temple ruins. We even made it to Pozzuoli to see the well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre, a genuine thrill for our daughter who is a professional stage manager. She was especially excited to be able to go below the stage area and wander around, not something generally available in these ancient ruins.

Vietri ceramica and shopping

We spent one day shopping in Vietri where Jessica found lots of pretty things to take home both for herself and for friends, while Bob stayed at home resting. He hates shopping anyway and it was also an opportunity for us to have some girl time, looking in all the shops and admiring and touching everything!

Another drive along the Amalfi Coast

The day before she went home we took another drive along the Amalfi Coast and lunched on the beach near Punta Campanella, putting our feet in the water and collecting pretty colored rocks. We stopped in Positano for a walk down to the beach and a look up at the pastel colored houses that climb up from the sea (or spill down to it, depending on how you want to view it!). From there we headed around the peninsula towards Sorrento and a little walk around the centro, picking up a few last minute souvenirs.

Her flight left early on the morning of the 14th and she took with her one of our suitcases filled with things we needed to send home. We waited around until her 6:55 am flight took off, then went home for a much-needed down day. On the 15th we packed our bags and took the bus back to the airport and headed for Sicily! (but that's another story.)

Rosemary & Bob

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