15 September 2010

amalfi coast, pompeii

We decided to take the train south to the Naples/Amalfi coast area. Amalfi is in the southwestern region of Campania. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (which, by the way, I had to look up why that's significant...the UNESCO program aims to catalogue and preserve sites of outstanding importance, either cultural or natural, to the common heritage of humankind. Now you know. And me too.) and is known for its extraordinary beauty and its iconic medieval cliffside Mediterranean fishing villages.

Once we got to Naples, we took another train to Sorrento and then caught a bus to go to the town of Amalfi. This drive quite cool--you're driving along the coast, up high on a cliff, on a big bus that just seems way to big to be on that tiny road, all the while looking down at the lovely sea, with crashing waves into the cliffs. It was raining, so I couldn't get any proper pictures from inside the bus, but we stopped to pick up peeps so I stuck the camera out the door...

We got to Amalfi all in one piece and took a walk around town. It's a lovely little town, but quite busy and full of tourists! There were a few interesting fountains...this one had all kinds of little figures on the 'cliffs' and under the water there was a nativity scene. For real.

Awesome night view.

Another of the weird fountain things, this one had lots of buildings and a few little figurines.

We stopped at il Museo della Carta--the paper museum. The Amalfi coast used to have many paper mills. During the 10th century, Amalfi was a sea power with a large network of trade routes, and a high demand for paper to document the transactions made between the merchants. While the Arabs closely guarded the secret of papermaking (which they had learned from the Egyptians), the technique was eventually discovered, and perfected. Amalfi became one of the regional centres for this craft.
Unfortunately, the Amalfi paper industry eventually dwindled, and all that remains is the Paper Mill and Museum on the Valle delle Ferriere. It was established in 1959, by the local papermaker Nicola Milano. His family (one of the oldest and most respected names in Amalfi) had been in the papermaking business for generations, and in the Museum he captures the history that his forefathers helped to create.
We got to try out the calligraphy pen to sign the guestbook. Mike's is in process.

Walking back from the paper museum, we ran into one of the super cute Fiats. I want one. However, I don't think that it would last in the snow.

Check out that colorful laundry.

We went into the Cathedral of Amalfi in Piazza Duomo.

It has a lovely area called the Cloister of Paradise. It was originally built as a cemetery between 1266 and 1268.

The Cathedral is dedicated to St Andrew, and has relics of the saint in the church. According to the history, the head of the saint, along with a finger and some small parts of the cross (how he died) was donated by by a guy to Pope Pius II in 1461, in exchange for a crusade would take Constantinople.

More great Italian food--Mike's seafood pasta came in a shell!

View of Amalfi town.

We took a ferry back to Sorrento, which was just great. We had just one stop in Positano, which is the 'posh' area to stay on the coast. Very pretty!

The boys posing.

View of the sea from Sorrento.

I seem to take a lot of flower pictures.

We stopped in Pompeii on the way back to Naples.

Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of Mt Vesuvius spanning two days in 79 AD. The eruption buried Pompeii (5 miles away from Vesuvius) under 4 to 6 meters of ash and pumice and it was lost for nearly 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery around 1592. Since then, its excavation has provided an very detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire.
It is a very large site, as this was a city of 20,000. You could spend days and days there.
This was one of the Bakers--there were mill stones and a huge oven. Fun.

Cool view.

And of course we went to the brothel--the funny thing about this one is the frescos on the walls near the ceiling. There are at least 8 of these, and a guide that we heard mentioned that they were there for the people (men, those dogs) who didn't speak the language, so they could just point to what they wanted...

The amphitheater.

View of Vesuvius from Pompeii.

Hi boys!

Then we headed back into Naples so that Mike could catch his train back to Rome to go home, and we could catch the sleeper train to Sicily. On the train from Pompeii to Naples, we sat with a lovely young man from Naples. We asked him where we could get good pizza, and he told us that Da Michele is the primo pizzeria in the world. So we decided to try it!
After a bit of wandering and Josh's good direction asking, we made it.

So the pizzaria first opened in 1906, but had to be moved in 1930 to it's current address. It's been described by experts and journalists and guidebooks as the 'sacred temple of pizza.' It was quite busy when we got there, but the wait was short and we got in to see the menu, which consisted of straight up authentic Neapolitan pizzas: Margherita, Margherita with double cheese, and Marinara. And only 4-5 euro per pizza! So we got three. And we ate them all.
The story of Da Michele's menu goes back way before World War I. Apparently, Da Michele wants to keep pizza affordable for all people and simple enough to appreciate what pizza was meant to be when it was invented in Naples in the 19th century.

Love the wood fire. And this dude. He thought that Josh looked like a tennis player...we don't know which one. Anyone know of any redheaded tennis players that Josh resembles?

The pizzeria with a growing line...

And then we stumbled back to the train station, full of tasty pizza!

No comments:

Post a Comment