Italy's finest....

Trip Start May 12, 2005
Trip End May 14, 2006

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

squeezed in on the road trip north to austria....

on the road
Revisited Lago Negro for another fantastic meal and comfortable stopover. Early start getting better at these) and then on towards Naples. Passed an accident on the auto-strada seconds after it happened, bloke had hit the barrier and been flipped over, climbed out of his crumpled car, very lucky. Changed plans mid-morning and headed for the famed Almalfi Coast. The Haebich's had driven this road on their last trip, with fond memories; picked a perfect day for it. Not too much traffic, very hairy piece of road with crazy cyclists and motorbikes. Stopped too take in the awesome views, some of the coolest houses in the world perched on the cliff faces. Lemontree groves dot the hills. Pulled over at Almalfi pier to have a peer around. Tiny winding, medievil backstreets, fantastic doumo (cathedral)and not too many tourists; would be a nightmare in peak season. Yummy lunch in charming Positano; pretty posh place, lots of flash shops....

Tough finding accomodation which was open; found the place we stayed in 15 years ago, but closed for renovations. Nice place, great gelati, lots of shopping, pretty busy with weekend visitors. Had great viewes over the Bay of Naples and Mnt Vesuvias from our rooms.

Day trip to Napoli

Unique european city. We'd had plenty of warnings about Naples petty criminals and hustlers, but we found it to be a very welcoming and beguling place. Glad we took the train in as the driving is insane!!! Ate our way around the sights; unbeatable arancini (fried risoto balls), pizza and calzone. First church we visited stood on top of roman, etruscan and greek ruins; fascinating and some remarkably well preserved roman mosaics.

Lots of street sellers and entrepraneurs, reminiscant of asia in terms of the chaotic vibe and level of activity. Very multicultural place; lots of Africans and Chinese.

Visited the old council chambers, still in use. An absolute farce; people smoking, chatting, eating, sleeping whilst a guy tried to make a speech. Right inside an old fortification by the port; this hqd an interesting museum which we breezed through.

Old roman streets a highlight, still some of the lain streets in the old part of town. One can picture forums and market-places in many of the piazzas.

As mentioned, the driving is out of this world. Every car has multiple dints and scratches. The parking is unreal, it is truly unbelievable cars get in and out of the spaces which one sees them in. Our favorite driving moments included:
1)guy stopping his car IN THE MIDDLE OF AT INTERSECTION to kiss and greet a female friend across the street; left the car running and the door open for a good 3-4 minutes.
2)guy with two pizza boxes perched in one hand, ripping into peak hour traffic on his scooter.
3)bloke and wife backing out into traffic with a KITCHEN TABLE on the roof of thier car; obviously weren't aware of rope because the table was being held on by one hand each!!!

Another highlight was a chapel which housed a sculpture of Christ, covered in a viel. Amazing work, the artist has made the marble viel appear paper-thin and almost see-through.

All in all an action packed and fun filled day. Can't recommend Napoli highly enough but maybe it is best to leave the car behind.

SORRENTO, briefly

On our last night here, Memma tackled a monstrous spagetti marinara and won...just. The photographic evidence is on a disc back home; will manage to get it up sometime.

POMPEI, for a day

Despite a very quirky rule which entitled people from the "south of australia", not including melbourne, to a discount, we had a great time in POmpei. Really provides an insight into a world existing 1,800 years ago and although quite a few of the houses were closed for offseason, there is still more than a days worth here. To prove that it is a small world, Mark bumped into Carly (ex-housemate Dustin's sister) and her hubby! Crammed in as much as we could before getting on the road.

Got past rome, headed for Tivoli to stay the night, Mark had a very nasty run-in when checking out a Pension (ask him about it someday), and we ended up giving up on Tivoli and staying in a small place with hot springs and a sulphur tainted atmosphere. Had a cracking home-cooked meal of pasta (our first bolognase), grilled meat, salad, wine and fruit...really good...on the road north towards La romola the next morning.

La Romola (for a night)

Chris and Antonio, old family friends, live in this lovely little Tuscan village. We visited them here last time we were in Italy, Chris was pregnant with the twins, Oli and Dom. Well, the twins have grown somewhat, pretty handy soccer players and they gave Mark a few free lessons! Had a lovely evening of wine, food and conversation. We were all put up for the night and it was unfortunate that we needed to keep on truckin the next morning.
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