Friday, July 15, 2011

Wanders with Winkie #3: Italy

In Italy we felt warmth, comfort and welcome - in fact a complete contrast to France.  My sister and I wondered if this was because we were familiar with the culture and people of Italy (our grandparents were Italian immigrants) or if indeed there was a difference in the atmosphere in this country.  I have to believe that it was both.  We indeed were more familiar with the social norms but also, there was a much more relaxed, accepting, welcoming feel to the country.  We visited three ports:

Tuscany:  I fell in love with this part of the country.  We visited Pisa. this was built as an elaborate bell tower to attest to the affluence of the area.  We climbed to the top and "touched the bell" and took in an awesome view.

We also visited a small winery where we got to sample an assortment of wines.  I wish I had brought some home, but I was unfamiliar with the procedures both on board the ship and going through customs.  This place is on my list for a re-visit.  They have apartments to rent on the property.  I could SO stay here...maybe even live here.  As I said, I fell in love with the place.

Rome/Vatican City:  These cities were both way TOO crowded to enjoy.  Perhaps it was the day we chose to go, but both places were a total body crush of people.  We spent more time trying to "follow the paddle" of the tour guide to prevent getting lost than we did enjoying the place.  The best part of this day was the lunch we had between the two major stops.  We were taken to an Italian restaurant and served a great meal.  I also enjoyed St. Peter's Basilica.  Any return to either of these places would be under much different circumstances such as a less busy time of year!

Sorrento:  I also liked this city.  We drove along the Amalfi coast::
And then visited a farm where they grow olives and lemons and make cheese.  We had a cheese making demonstration:

We had samples of their cheeses, oils and lemon cello.  They sold a lemon flavored olive oil which I thought was fantastic.  Dipping it in bread was almost like having desert.  Apparently the Sorrento area is known for their lemon cello.  Many stores were offering samples of their version.  It is a sweet liquor that is served ice cold.  Some small bottles came home as souvenirs. 

After the farm we had time to spend in the town looking at the shops and finding lunch.  We opted for a pizza place.  My nephew and his wife ordered a seafood pizza which came with clams as the seafood.  Our surprise was that the seafood was still in the shell! 

Next we visited Pompeii.  This was fascinating.  It was hot and we were tired so again, we just hit the high spots.  You could spend an entire day or more walking through this restoration.  It is very well done and gives good insight into life during that era.  One of the most visited places is the brothel complete with explicit pictures of the services available and beds....stone beds....ouch.  This is a picture of a pizza oven!

So, that concludes Italy!  I hope to get back some day and maybe have the chance to visit the little town our grandparents came from.  After all, now I'm an experienced international traveler!

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