Monday, 2 November 2009

Napoli!!

Finally, after many months of umming and ahhing we got there! And I'm so glad we did! Naples is a trip I will dine out on for many months! Almost certainly means a return trip is on the cards. All the family enjoyed it, which is a coup in itself!

It started on the Friday pretty badly, the train journey was fine but the weather slowly deteriorated as we left Rome. However, our first view of Vesuvius from the train made up for the weather. Everyone was very excited to see it. Antonia was convinced the clouds were smoke and that the volcano was "spooting"! By the time we got to Naples the rain was starting. We didn't bother trying to find the bus we just got in a taxi, or tried to!! The taxi rank was full and easy to spot but the drivers were disagreeing as to who should go with which cab. Our children ended up in one cab and the bags in another! Eventually we managed to get everyone together in the same cab! I thought the trip was uneventful, but my darling husband, sat in the front, felt that driving into the oncoming traffic was beyond the pale! At least he stopped when the lights were on red....

We checked into our hotel, Napolit 'amo, which was perfectly acceptable for a 3 star in a decent part of the city. Then we set off to find a restaurant and the archaeological museum which we had been told we must see before going to Pompeii. As we had a map and the route was pretty straightforward we decided to walk, 5 minutes later the heavens opened! I can tell you there is a really good electrical/media shop on the same street as our hotel! I can probably tell you its stock too! We headed back out as we were all hungry and the rain eased off a little. Eventually we found the museum but no restaurants! There was one and only one, right across the road from it, so we went in there. Of course the kids wanted pizza! The restaurant was busy and the staff were serving tour groups that came in after us first. By the time we placed our order - remember there was nowhere else to go - we had waited 45mins. We were then told we couldn't have pizza as it would take too long, over an hour, to get to us!! What?!! So we had pasta, which arrived after a further 50mins wait.......To say we were a little tetchy by this point would be an understatement!! My husband sent me to pay. To cap it all they wanted 10% service. "But the service was bad!" I said in my best Italian. This surprised the manager for two reasons, firstly, he thought we were British tourists, who never complain and secondly he just assumed we wouldn't speak Italian. It got €2 off the bill and made him think twice about taking the pee again if nothing else!!

Off to the museum....I won't bore you with the details of this visit, other than me being so tee'd off with French tour groups getting fed before us then let in the museum before us that I stood there saying "Vite, vite!" in a loud voice to them as they passed through the turnstile!! Turned out it was mostly a wasted trip. The half of the museum that housed the Pompeii exhibits was closed to the public. We did, however, see the famous Alexander mosaic and the cabinet of secrets was very eye opening and eye watering! Suffice to say my son took one look and walked out firmly towing his sister behind him!! Lol! My husband liked the sculpture but me and the kids thought there was one too many, heathens that we are!

Our first success, and the turning point, came with our meal that evening. It took us a while to track a restaurant down and now we realise we should have gone down to the waterfront, but we found a pizzeria off a side street near our hotel called Brandi. It was brill! Really excellent pizza's, good wine and nice attentive, fast service! It made up for everything! From that point on the weekend just got better!

Next day we headed out to Pompeii. I can't describe it but I will put up photo's. It was everything and more that I had wanted it to be. It's one of those must see places for me and I'd finally got there! It's size was overwhelming. We didn't get to see all of it as rain and hunger defeated us. All the more reason to go back. We did see the casts of the people who died. They were strangely moving, rather than gorily interesting. I think the fact that there were the bodies of children, one curled next to it's parent, made it very poignant. The amphitheatre is huge and well preserved. Stephen and Alex played gladiators in the rain with their umbrellas - it just had to be done apparently!! I won't go over the meal or the shops outside the site, other than to say, if it is nice take a picnic! There is a picnic ground inside Pompeii and a lot of toilets and drinking fountains. Plan it and you won't need to use them!! I saw a €30 bottle of wine here in Florence being sold for €150!! Nasty!

We went to a different restaurant closer to the hotel that evening. The waiter asked if we would like some "nibbles" while we decided what we wanted. Lol! Out came a garlic bread pizza, a bag of dough balls, potato croquettes filled with mozzarella, arancini and a huge wooden platter covered in salami, ham, ricotta, salad, olives, mozzarella, etc!!! Plus a bread basket! Absolutely amazing! Stephen couldn't face anything else, Antonia had a fruit salad and Alex and I stuck to our guns and had a secondi each, which Stephen helped me eat, I should add! Yes we paid for the appetiser but it was worth it!!

The next day we were heading home in the evening and the kids and I were tired from all the walking the previous day, so we headed up to the Palazzo Reale and the basilica, which are in a beautiful square. We then headed down to the waterfront and had another amazing meal at lunch time. Bearing in mind the restaurants were neither tourist nor off the beaten track, the food was all good, barring the two exceptions, and were many times cheaper than anything we eat here in Florence of the same quality, in fact to get that quality we would probably have to pay double what we currently pay! It's just on another level entirely which really surprised me. We wandered around the waterfront, took Antonia on a little fair ground near the yacht harbour, then headed off to the station and our train home!

Despite all we had heard and been led to expect, and despite the beginning, we definitely were won over by Naples. Did I mention the bay and the beautiful sunset over Vesuvius?? Another time maybe.....:)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad you finally got to Naples.

The food is amazing, you're right. Brandi is one of the most famous pizzerias in Naples. It gets quite a lot of tourism, hence the service is better than in most restaurants.

Delina

Annika said...

Pictures! We want pictures!

Alyson said...

Is it?? We saw all the pictures and cuttings and the plaque with how old it is but we get so used to that here we didn't think anything of it! It was very nice, a cut above the pizzarias here which are one step above a fast food joint as pizza is not regarded that well! It still cost us much less than an equivalent, good, restaurant in Florence! It is soo pricey and shite here by comparison! Honest!

Soon Annika, soon! Having loads of problems with the memory card - so it takes me twice as long to upload anything!!

indiebird said...

Lovely!! I really want to go now... especially for those 'nibbles' ;-D It's funny here in Italy sometimes isn't it. Places that you have high expectations of leave you feeling a bit mugged but you can go into the most unpromising looking of places and end up with fantastic food, good chat and still money in your pocket! We've found this loads of times, especially in the touristy places. We have felt totally mugged in Venice, but with a bit of a wander round the back alleys you find tiny little cafes and restaurants where you do discover the charms of these places.

Alyson said...

I do know what you mean. San gimignano is one of those places we keep going to and then wondering why, yet loads of people think it is heaven on earth! I just come away feeling I have visited the Tuscan equivalent of Disneyland - and I live in Florence!! Go for it! The hotel was reasonable and we had a family room which is really hard to find and one of the reasons I picked that one!

indiebird said...

oh yes!! The joy of trying to find a family room..... especially trying to get a 6year old and a 9 year old to share a sofa bed!!!!!

Alyson said...

Well imagine when it is a 6 year old and a 15 year old.....This place had a double for us and two singles, in separate parts of the room, for the kids! I now have to find somewhere in London not too pricey, where they won't kill each other over who sleeps where!! Lol!

indiebird said...

Hmmmmm good luck with that... do you think that the 6yr old will fit in a travel cot??!!

Alyson said...

It's okay - it's either be a premier inn or a novotel, my preference being novotel as the kids get free breakfast and cuddly toys!! Lol! No need for a trip to Hamleys then!!