A few people have asked us why we chose Italy for a trip this year. The appeal of this country is obvious to me: the art, the food, wine, and music, the people, the history. I’ve never been to Europe before and I have always wanted to go. We discussed Holland, and Ireland. I want to see France as well. In the end, it came down to a passage I read last year that had set Italy in the back of my mind ever since. I was reading Eat, Pray, Love and at the part in Italy where she eats pizza, I gasped and read it aloud to Tyler, describing the foamy, dipping, gooey treat. I’m not even a huge pizza lover in general but this made me want to go to Italy and EAT, someday, and why not now?
So when we started blocking out places to go, I jumped at the chance to travel through Naples, where pizza was invented (created? born?) and Tyler looked online for the top pizza places. Number one popped up – a simple place called Da Michele which serves only 2 kinds of pizza. It also had a photo of Julia Roberts (who starred in the Eat, Pray, Love movie version) and was within walking distance from the train station. It seemed too good to be true – I could actually go to the place from the book! I was beyond excited as we left Florence, stood in line to get our train tickets and finally arrived in Naples where we would change trains to go to Sorrento. It was around 1pm and I was more than willing to wait in a long line for this – the world’s best pizza!
Scribbled map directions in hand, we trundled with our luggage through the streets of Naples, dusty and filled with litter, following the turns and twists and almost giving up when it didn’t match our map, but then, I saw the right street, finally, and we turned the corner in eager anticipation of our amazing lunch and…
CLOSED! I guess when we checked online it didn’t occur to us that this place may not be open on the weekend, and we were out of luck. I felt so bitterly disappointed and slumped down on my suitcase to collect myself for a minute. Tyler suggested we try out a pizzeria across the street, and I followed like a lost puppy and sat down forlornly at the table, feeling silly for planning this and not taking into account the important detail of when the shop was open.
Then we sat down and ordered, and I realized this place (it was called Pizzeria Trianon de Ciro) was looking pretty good too. I could see the chef kneading and flipping floury pizza dough, and when my meal arrived, the pizza was steaming hot, densely chewy, and yes, foaming with cheese (turns out this is from the incredibly fresh mozzarella). I dug in happily, washing it down with icy cold Coca Cola and it was utterly perfect. Best pizza hands down I have ever eaten. Probably even better than that joint across the street anyways!
Satisfied, we rolled ourselves back through Naples, which I had though about adding as a pit stop in our travels, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t – it was pretty run down looking, and a quick taste (literally) was enough for me, for now.
Onwards to take the commuter train to Sorrento. We were fortunate enough that it wasn’t too busy, and Tyler was also lucky enough to sit beside the Italian version of Riley and Brittany!
We were pretty pooped by the time we arrived in Sorrento, and while I had the directions ready, we couldn’t find the street name or whether we were north or south right off the bat. The info booth was closed as well, so we chanced it but went the wrong way – eventually we got turned around and made it to our hotel, tired and ready for a rest.
First thing the next morning found us back on the train heading for the ruins of Pompeii. This is an amazing historic site: the ruins of an ancient city that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. A fully functioning city with maybe as many as 20 thousand residents, all lost, It was discovered in a well-preserved state in 1749 and excavation has been ongoing since.
I adored Pompeii, once we made it out of the crush of people at the start of the site. There’s such a sense of tragic history and a true glimpse into the past. It was like stepping into a replica of how life was back then. I loved walking down the cobbled streets and peering into the brick formations, checking in my book on whether it had been a Roman bath, a house, or a shop. The day was overcast, with grey clouds looming heavily overhead all day, which lent to the atmosphere of the ruins.
We checked out a lot of the places by walking around the site, from the Temple of Jupiter and Temple of Venus, to the Forum Granary (where you can see plaster casts created from the bodies found), frescos on the walls of some of the age old houses, the Themopolium of Vetutius Placidus (sort of a snack bar that served lunch), the Necropolis, and the Ampitheater.
After a few hours of gorging ourselves on history, we headed back to Sorrento, and caught enough of the late afternoon to enjoy a meal of pasta and more caprese, some wine and a shot of the local limoncello, and the sights of this pretty seaside town.