Let’s get back home again!!!

And now to finish out our month in Europe……

On Saturday we spent most of the day in the flat, working and getting everything packed and ready to travel home.

We did stop at lunchtime and visited Brandi Pizza one last time. Since we arrived a few minutes before opening time we were able to watch as they prepped the pizza oven…..

As previously, the meal was a wonderful success…..

Since Brandi is the place that invented the Margareta, I figured that there was no reason to order anything different!!!

On the way back to the flat, we stopped at the church located just down our street. We had passed it often and thought that it looked sweet. We were right…..

We ended the evening with a final trip for Gelatto….it was magnificent!!!

On Sunday morning, we were picked up by a taxi at 4:00am and driven to the Naples Airport. After a short flight to Rome, we had a 1.5 hour layover before boarding Alitalia, Delta’s partner for our flight into Washington Dulles.

Our first clue that this trip might not be wonderful was that we had been given different seats….NOT the Exit Row seats that we had booked!!! Then, the flight was almost 2 hours late getting into the air, which meant that we missed our connection from Dulles to Atlanta!!

Fortunately, there were two more flights that evening so we arrived home about 2 hours later than planned.

As I always say, it was sweet to wake up in the night and realize that I was in my own bed, in my own bedroom and in my own house!!!

Overall, we had a wonderful trip filled with times of working, times of sightseeing, and times of visiting with friends.

Where will the next trip be……wait and see!!!!!

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It’s Greek to Me…..

I always do this…..get to the end of the trip and not get around to posting about the last few days until well after we are home again!! I guess that it is natural since you have to pack one day, travel the next and then there is washing clothes, buying groceries and generally getting settled back in at home. However, I vowed that it wouldn’t happen this time…..oh well, maybe on the next trip.

Anyway….. on Friday we were picked up by Michael’s colleague, Giovanni and driven east, following the coast to the city of Paestum where, surprisingly, there is an area of Greek ruins!!! The area is know for it’s three Greek temples that date back to 600 BC!!

The area is gorgeous, with rolling hills in the background and lush trees mixed in with the ruins……

You could see the outlines of the town, nestled between the town walls, and could walk among the setting stones for the houses…..

We spent some time chasing these interesting lizards…..

They were obviously used to people and were quite happy to run around our feet as we explored.

But, the highlight were the three temples…..to Hera, Athena & Poseidon. The magnitude of the columns was amazing…..

Michael and I kept seeing different angles that we wanted to photograph and kept passing the camera back and forth…..

There was a group of High School students working to remove the grass and weeds that were threatening to cover some of the ruins……

There was another school group ……

….and I have to say that these teachers were awfully brave to bring that many toddlers on such a field trip!!! We were interested that the teachers were talking to the students in English which might explain why everyone speaks so many different languages!!

There were some areas where you can see small portions of frescoes…..

and I’m always on the lookout for geometric designs…..

We had to take a few “people” photos….

We left the ruins and headed for our next destination…..a Mozzarella Buffala production facility. This Italian cheese is made from Water Buffalo milk and this farm carries the process from beginning to end, starting with the Buffalo pens…..

….and ending with the sale of the magnificent cheeses…..

The cheese on the left is fresh Mozzarella, the middle is smoked and the cups on the right contain Ricotta. When Giovanni placed his order, they packed the Mozzarella in a bag and added liquid to it. I assumed that the liquid was salt water but Giovanni said that it was the liquid that had been squeezed out of the cheese during processing.

Then his order was packed up in a small sytrafoam box…..

….and quickly (and I do mean quickly) taped up and presented ready to carry away….

Next we were off on a scavenger hunt to find a plant that Giovanni wanted to start researching. Fortunately, this hunt took us to some beautiful coastal areas. We started in one small village…..

….but the plants were no where to be found. We did however enjoy looking at the boats in this very comfortable bay…..

….and I loved this bit of street art, although maybe I should call it Pier Art…..

As luck would have it, some of Giovonni’s friends were also collecting in the area and knew exactly where to send him. We followed Google Maps until we came to a very small inlet, complete with a fence barrier that, fortunately, had already been cut open!!!

One of the first plants that Giovanni saw was on the side of cliff and, helpfully, Michael climbed up to get it for him…..

The area was gorgeous, complete with a natural archway…..

…..craggy cliffs…..

…and lots of interesting flora…..

We relaxed on the 2.5 hour drive back to Naples and were excited to see Vesuvius approaching meaning that we were back “home” again!!!

One more day to come……

Pasta Thursday….

On Thursday Michael didn’t have to go into the university, but did have some work that he needed to do, so we both decided that it would be a good day to stay at the flat and get things accomplished!! However, we did take a break around 2:00 and walked down for our favorite gelato!!

The evening ended with a dinner with Sal, Michael’s host for this trip and Giovanni, who has really taken care of Michael over the past two weeks.

Sal knew that we often ate earlier in the evening so made the reservation quite a bit early for Naples…..8:00PM!!!

Giovanni has grown up in the area that we are living in and had childhood memories of a small trattoria that he thought we would enjoy. As we arrived the owner waved off another family who apparently didn’t have a reservation, and then showed us to our table…..one of only 6 in the dining room!!! There is another dining area downstairs but, even with it, the restaurant wouldn’t hold many people!!

The room was covered in porcelain tile and the shelves contained bottles and bottles of wine…..

The building was originally used as a wine shop, dating from the 1700’s but was opened as a restaurant in 1978. I loved the dishes…..

….each proudly displaying the name of the restaurant.

The menu was typical Neapolitan cuisine and we began the meal with appetizers (Primi Course) including Fried Mozzarella, Fried potato and an Eggplant roll. Sal insisted that we have the Fried fish that we had seen in the fish market…..

It was all delicious!!!

As a main course, Michael chose a Tomato based sauce with Capers and Olives….

….and I enjoyed Pasta alla Genovese, which had beef and onions cooked in a wine sauce….

After we had finished these courses, Sal decided that we needed to eat some more so he ordered Fried Calamari, Sauteed Zucchini and Broccoli Rabe (the leaves at the top of the Broccoli plant).

We continued to eat and enjoy the conversation, the wine and the amazing bread!!! We were ready to leave around 10:00 and, amazingly, people were still coming in for dinner. They DEFINITELY run on a different schedule from the Arnold family!!!

It was a wonderful evening with these sweet friends….one old and one new!!!

Trying for more contemporary art…..

On Wednesday morning, Michael and I both stayed in and had a later start. He had to be at the University by 3:00, so left about 1:00 to make the journey. I left at the same time, heading to Museo Madre….the biggest contemporary art museum in the area.

Many of the exhibits were considered as Site art…..they were designed for the particular room and, in many cases were permanently attached to the room. Here are a couple of examples…..

As a whole, I would describe the exhibits as “meh”, but there were several pieces that I did enjoy. The first was a piece by Umberto Manzo, the same artist as yesterday. He must have THOUSANDS of kids drawings to work with…..

I really liked this aluminum piece by Getulio Alviana, especially the depth that you saw when looking from the front…..

….but realizing that it was totally flat when looked at from the side…..

I was also intrigued by this drawing on one of the walls….

…but even more intrigued when I started thinking about doing machine quilting along these lines (pun not intended but it does work)…..

There was this piece (by Bruno Di Bello) that I could see as a quilt design…..

I spent an inordinate amount of time observing this wall…..

The yellow design is painted on the wall and the bars are a shiny metal so that it reflects the design on the wall. AND, it changed as you moved around and observed the reflection from different angles.

There was one room with a bunch of tile designs…..

Several of them were interesting, especially the ones making use of insects and other animals…..

As I walked into an outside courtyard, I noticed a cupola and steeple not far from me…..

I figured out that it was Chiesa Cathedrale De Napoli and decided to head there next. As churches go, it is very ornate…..

….even some of the side Apses…..

….and the ceilings as well…..

I did find three things that I liked greatly. The first was this tile floor…..

It is seldom that you see these as long rectangles rather than cubes.

I loved this stained glass window…..

…probably because of the simplicity of the scene.

Finally, it was fun to look at some of the old frescoes that were preserved in the church…..

This quiet primitiveness is more to my taste!!

As I left the church, I took one more photo to capture the gorgeous skies……

I now headed back along Christmas Alley and found it to be much less busy today and a lot more fun to walk thru. I searched until I found a sewing machine scene…..

As I slowly made my way back home, I bought a few souvenirs for myself and friends and then passed a clothing store that I hadn’t seen before. The other two that I had visited had been European stores….ie…located all over the continent. This one was “Piazza Italia” and only contained clothing made in Italy. I spent the next hour trying on clothes and emerged with a hefty bag to carry back to the flat!!! We are definitely going to have to either buy another suitcase or pack a bunch of stuff into a canvas bag that we brought with us!!!

Michael texted that he was on his way back to the flat and I was able to have dinner pretty much ready when he arrived. We were both too pooped to walk out for Gelato so just called it a day…..

All in all, it was a fun day!!!

Art Gallery time…..

On Tuesday Michael had to be at the University all day so I was on my own to find something to do. My first thought was to visit the Contemporary Art Museum but, when I put it into Google Maps, I was informed that it was closed on Tuesdays….Boo!!!

I hopped on my computer and started looking for somewhere else to go and settled on the Capodimonte Museum. As always, the first trick was getting there!!

I knew that I needed to catch the Metro at Municipio and ride it to the Museo stop. After that, it was all up to Google Maps to get me the additional mile down the road. But then things got interesting……

Yes…this is the street that I had to follow for an entire mile. Only a portion was steps, but the rest was curving and straight up!!! Here is another view looking down from where I had just climbed…..

The street was tiny and there were cars and/or motorcycles parked on either side and when a larger vehicle approached, it was “plaster yourself to the wall time”…..

It took a while, but I finally reached Capodimonte park and found the sign for the museum…..

I have to admit that when I saw the word “Porcellana”, I almost didn’t enter, thinking that it was going to contain tons of Porcelain figurines….the kind that my Mother LOVED!!…..

But I went in anyway and was so glad that I did.

The museum is located in the Palazzo di Capodimonte , originally designed as a hunting lodge for Charles VII of Bourbon. This monumental palace was begun in 1738 and took more than a century to complete. It now holds more art than you could EVER view at one time!!!

As I bought my ticket, I ordered an audio guide and was handed a player as well as a sheet listing all of the pieces that were discussed. I was also handed a map of the gallery, telling where the different rooms were located….all 160 of them. Finally, I was handed an I-phone and headset to use for the special exhibit….

….altogether too much to keep up with!!

I started the tour in the special exhibit which was an interesting look at the art, music and culture of Southern Italy. The iphone/headset would click on as you entered each room, first giving information about the room and contents and then playing music as you continued to look around. It made for a very pleasurable experience.

The first room that I entered contained various musical instruments and I was drawn to this Mandolin-esque guitar. Look at the designs on the frets and at the end of the instrument……

I liked this sculpture, but really liked the shadow that it threw onto the wall behind it…..

….and this man was striking as well…..

When the gallery was about the culture of a time, they used these funky “dolls” to convey the people. This was an example of a game night…..

Some of the scenes were a little weird but I loved the “expressiveness of this “woman”…..

It is amazing what can be conveyed without a lot of details!!!

In addition to the art itself, the castle rooms were astounding. In this room, there was a video playing with “people” sitting around watching it, but I was too drawn to the chandelier and other aspects of the room to notice it……

When I did concentrate on the scene in the room I realized that it wasn’t all dolls. Can you find the two real people?…..

These characters were dressed in period clothing and I loved the decorations on this bodice and skirt…..

As I left the special exhibit, I handed in my iphone and started to concentrate on the audio guide. The problem was that none of the artwork was marked to let me know which ones were talked about so I had to….1) figure out which room I was in, 2), look at the index list and figure out which pieces were in that particular room, 3) find the artwork that was being discussed, and 4) hold the guide to my ear to hear because they didn’t provide headphones!!! Needless to say, I gave it up after the first piece of art and decided that I really didn’t need to know all of the details about the pieces!!!

(As a note going forward…..I put a set of earbuds in my purse so that I wont be caught without them again!!!)

Instead, I chose to pick out certain things that I found interest in,

….such as why this portrait by Michelangelo Anselmi was painted with another person in the background?

Or….exactly what is the ogre looking thing in this seemingly religious painting by Joos Van Der Becke…..

The museum went on for hall after hall with many of the paintings being set in dark rooms with dark walls and little light. Unfortunately, I quickly tired of this!!

Then I came to an area that I loved….. the “Depositi”. These rooms hold all of the “other” artwork that is owned by the museum but isn’t currently in it’s permanent exhibits. I loved the serene look on this girl’s face……

….and the tag giving the details of the sculpture didn’t bother me a bit!!

I am still not sure about this piece…..

….and why there is a turkey riding on a wild boar.

There were rooms and rooms that looked exactly like this……

….and I found out that they even had excess picture frames…..

I loved this picture of the “Last Supper” by Batista Franco…..

….and this table reminded me of a good applique design…..

….although I would probably opt for something a bit simpler…..

And then I saw it…..the “Blanket”……

I used my iPhone measuring app and determined that it was about 9 feet wide. As you can imagine, I spent a good bit of time recording many of the bits and pieces of this wonderful quilt…..

Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be longer halls with more art in each room…..

I eventually made my way into the “Contemporary Art” section but was disappointed in the 10 or so pieces that were displayed. I did like this one…..

….especially since it was made of paper that looked liked kid’s drawings…..

Because this Palace is located on one of the hills of Naples, the views out the windows were spectacular…..

…..and yes that’s Vesuvius again!!!

The hike back home was easier since it was downhill, but still took a little over an hour to walk….metro….walk…..back to the Flat.

I had one more quick trip out the grocery store and was not surprised to see that my phone said that I had clocked 15,400 steps and climbed 38 flights of stairs!!! I call that a good day!!!

Dem Bones….Dem Bones

On Sunday morning, we decided to find a church to visit and happened upon Christ Church Anglican Church……

It was a gorgeous church, inside and out….

….and the people that we met were so kind. Fortunately the service was in English which made it much easier. It was moving to go forward for communion and have the Vicar place the bread into my hands…very different from me taking it from a tray.

After lunch we wanted to do one more “touristy” thing and picked…..

The Cimitero della Fontanelle !! Here is some of the history of this cemetery…..

The cemetery is an ossuary located in an old quarry on the high end of Naples. In the 16th century, churches with crowded cemeteries started moving the bones of their long dead in the cave to make room for the newly dead. The remains were interred shallowly and then joined in 1656 by thousands of anonymous corpses, victims of the great plague of that year. Sometime in the late 17th century, great floods washed the remains out and into the streets. The anonymous remains were returned to the cave, at which point the cave became the unofficial final resting place for the indigent of the city in the succeeding years—a vast paupers’ cemetery.

So far so good…..then things got weird!!!

In the 19th century a cult developed whose members began to adopt the skulls. They named them, put them into little houses, brought them flowers and asked them to intervene with God for favors from the next life.

The cult of devotion to the skulls of the Fontanelle cemetery lasted into the mid-20th century. In 1969, Cardinal Ursi of Naples decided that such devotion had degenerated into fetishism and ordered the cemetery to be closed. It is now considered a historical site!!

So, enough history….let’s see the photos!!!

Many of the skulls were in little stone houses with various charms and offerings……

This one was a little strange with the hat on the skull….

….and I really have no idea why one of the seven dwarfs is there…..

Michael decided that this was the Italian version of “Go Fund Me”……

Here are a few other weird photos…..

Even though it is weird, I really like the composition of this photo…….

It was fun to look at the cavern….note the size of the people for scale……

There was a nativity scene in one area and it was interesting to see it from BEHIND…..

The cemetery was located in a less affluent part of town but we loved seeing the streets…..

…and the colors (and tile patterns)……

The happiest thing about the visit was this building…..

Yes…..it was a weird way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but when in Naples……

Isn’t this funicular pointed the wrong direction??

Saturday morning started out with rain again, but it soon cleared up and we headed out for Castel Sant’Elmo, a huge fort-like edifice that overlooks our area of Naples. The trick of the day was to figure out exactly how to get there. We knew that there was a funicular but we couldn’t figure out how to get to that station. So, we climbed back on the metro train and went a few stops further where it said that there were Escalators. We walked out of the station an started following the signs for the Castel and, lo and behold, there were escalators!!

Then we saw the sign for the funicular and both sighed with relief that we had found what we were looking for. We bought our round trip tickets and happily climbed aboard the train but became disoriented when we realized that the train was pointing DOWN rather than up. But then the doors closed and there was nothing more that we could do, except enjoy the ride down. Now most funicular rides are short and sweet, but this one went on for about 15 minutes and even had a station stop in the middle.

When we arrived at the BOTTOM of the ride, we got out, found a sign that said Castel Sant’Elmo was UP….got back on and took the ride back up again!!!

When we arrived back where we had started, we followed the signs up a couple of flights of stairs, and we were there…..

Castel Sant’Elmo is a fortress located on a hill overlooking the city of Naples. The structure is dated to 1275, but was enlarged in the 1300’s.

One of the things that I loved about this castel were all of the windows, doors and other unknown openings that it contained…..

There was a church inside the fort boundaries, built in 1547…..

It was a small chapel and, of course, my eye was drawn to the candelabra design…..

Even though the structure was amazing, the real point for the climb is to see the views of Naples…..

And of course, Vesuvius hovered ominously nearby!!!

I loved the colors in these buildings……

….and when I saw this church down below…..

….I immediately had to zoom in to see the tile floor in the entrance……

We enjoyed looking at this piece of artwork….a mix between a Dalek and Darth Vader….

My favorite shot of the outing was this one…..

Back in our train station, we spent a few minutes looking at the tile designs on the wall. I never figured out what the overall design was (maybe you can see it and let us know)….

….but it was interesting to look at the individual tile sections, especially this first one where they had used organic materials between the tiles…..

We returned to the flat, happy with our excursion and determined next time to check and see WHICH direction the funicular was going BEFORE we got on!!!!

It’s a Shopping Day

It didn’t start out to be a shopping day, but that is just how it evolved!!

We first walked to our local-ish metro station (Municipio) and successfully bought a ticket and ALMOST made it into the station unaided!! When you walk up to the turnstile, you insert your ticket in one slot, it prints on it and pops it back up for you to retrieve. Then the turnstile is opened and you can enter the station. Well this time everything worked great except that the turnstile wouldn’t let me thru. While we were trying to figure out what had gone wrong, a kind Napelese man quietly said “It’s on the other side”!! I was using the turnstile on the left side of the barrier instead of the one on the right side!!! Oh how much we depend on the kindnesses of strangers!!!!

We boarded the train for Garibalidi and then walked 7 minutes to Porta Nolana. We could have taken another metro but decided that it would probably be faster to just walk.

We were headed to the fish market area and knew that we were getting close when we started to smell the distinctive aromas and see the men in rubber boots. This was a fairly small market, but was doing a thriving business…..

We watched as the shopkeepers rinsed and prepared the catch…..

And marveled at how fresh this fish was. These fish were still in rigor…..

We loved seeing these Stingrays and were reminded of the night that we ate Civeched Stingray in China…..

The fresh Eel was going quickly, especially with some of the Asian shoppers…..

Michel and I had long discussion about these little fish…..

…wondering if we could figure out how to flour and fry these little guys. We remembered that we had really enjoyed eating them when we were here before.

After you bought your purchases, you could go to these guys to get the fish gutted and cleaned…..

As with many fresh air markets, this one was filled with the vendors calling back and forth to each other, probably yelling that their prices were better!!! There was one guy that was louder than all of the others and we were not surprised to see his stall a bit away from the others…..

We left the market and started the 30 minute walk (stroll) to Christmas Alley, but got distracted along the way by shoes…..men’s shoes to be exact. Michael was having trouble getting one of the shoes unlaced and the shopkeeper motioned for him to put his foot up. This photo ensued……

He didn’t speak much English but did get the word “Facebook” out!!!

With that purchase safely tucked away in the backpack, we resumed our trek to Via San Gregorio Armeno, aka Christmas Alley. When we were here in 2010, this area was filled with artisans creating wonderful decorations but today it was mostly just shops that carried the same basic products. Having said that, I did find a few pieces that I wanted to add to my Christmas collection.

Many of the pieces were designed to be part of Nativity Scenes, ranging in size from table top to room!! There are also a number of pieces that are designed to be part of a Christmas village….think Studio 56. But these are far more fun……

I did see this man working on his creation…..

At the end of the street stands the church of San Gregorio Armeno. It was a vast building….

…..filled with lovely arches and cupolas…..

The altar was typically ornate…..

I appreciated this statue…..

…and the design of this altar…..

I giggled that this small area that contains great works of art is simply used to store extra chairs…..

And of course, there was one design on the floor that I had to photograph…..

Since we had a backpack full of stuff, we decided to go back to the flat for a late lunch and to rest for a bit. But we both had the shopping bug so we emptied the backpack and headed out again.

The first stop was to OVS which is one of our favorite stores in Italy. Michael found several shirts and pants…..

….and I found a few items as well. We then split up and, as Michael walked back to the flat, I continued to H&M, a store that I had found when we were in Vienna. I bought a few more items and then returned to the flat.

Neither of us were up for cooking, so we made our way back to Pizzeria Brandi, enjoying a batch of Bruschetta…..

….and then two HUGE pizzas.

But, as there always is….. there was room for Gelato!!!

Is this what a quiet day looks like??

The Weather Channel told us that it was going to be raining all day and the morning started out that way so we expected to just have a quiet day in the flat. I spent time working on my Needlepoint piece and listening to a few podcasts that I had gotten behind on. Michael spent the morning at the desk, working on various projects.

BUT, about 1:00 we looked up and it had actually cleared up although the W.C. (Weather Channel, not Water Closet), told us that the storms were supposed to arrive around 2:00. I was desperate to get outside so put on my shoes, grabbed my umbrella and headed down the hill.

I ended up at Plaza Plebiscito…..

I liked these two statues, especially the pigeon hanging on to the sword in the second one…..

I also visited this mall…..

The ceiling was more interesting than the stores!!! The busiest venue was the McDonalds!!!

At 1:45 it was still clear blue skies so I texted Michael and asked if he wanted to meet me for Gelato. He jumped at the chance.

As we stood on the street, enjoying our frozen creations, Michael checked the W.C. again and it said that the storms were now arriving at 6:00. So, we decided to use the time wisely and see what we could see!!! The first goal was to find the Promenade and the Bay of Naples…..

….but that also meant that we saw Vesuvius…..over…..

….and over again……

We enjoyed walking along the roadway…..

The destination for our walk was Castel dell’Ovo (In English….Egg Castle) which is located on a small peninsula in the Bay of Naples. It is the oldest standing fortification in Naples. We had fun walking thru it an seeing what we could find there.

I love this rooster…..

….and this painting of a rendition of what the Bay might have looked like……

The cannons were interesting, especially since several were being “ridden” by various tourists!!…..

The views looking up into the city were wonderful…..

But, our favorite view was of this fun seagull…..

…who was probably wondering why these strange people were taking photos of him!!!

We left the Castle…..

….and headed for home.

We came to the same street that I had photographed yesterday……

…and Michael had the idea that, since we had to go up to the next city level anyway, why don’t we climb it here. My reaction to his “trust me” was……

So, TWELVE switchbacks later we arrived at the level of our flat and only 5 minutes away from it. Way to go Sweetie!!!!

It was great fun to know that we were traveling down streets that we had never been down before and, if we hadn’t taken this route, we wouldn’t have seen this sculpture over a door……

We arrived back at the flat and about 30 minutes later the thunder started rolling again and it was soon storming.

We were both so glad that it didn’t end up being such a “quiet day”!!!!

Tomorrow we are off to the Fish Market…..sounds stinky!!!!