England & Italy: 10/08 – 10/14

Brighton >>> (Italy) Naples >>> Rome

10/8- Fly to Naples, Italy! Try authentic Italian Pizza!
10/9- Social time at an Italian feast, Explore Naples
10/10- Explore Capri, Anacapri, and the rest of the beautiful island!
10/11- Rest day in our Air BnB, Best Pizza in Naples!
10/12- Explore Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast
10/13- Arrive in Rome and tour the sites at night
10/14- Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums

10/8 
Fly to Naples, Italy! Try authentic Italian Pizza!
+ Today we were leaving the UK and heading to Naples, Italy! So we ate brunch in the morning and fed the bunnies. Then we tidied up the house and headed out towards the train station.
+ After a short train ride to the nearby Gatwick airport and checking in our bags, we hung out in the airport for a bit waiting for our flight. We had a few snacks left over from the housesit we were munching on, including the rest of Corey’s favorite spicy cheese!
+ On the flight, we finished up notes on Italy and reviewed what we wanted to do in and around Naples. Then we watched the movie “Independence Day: Resurgence”. It was pretty crappy.
+ Once we touched down in Pizza land, we had to wait almost an hour for the public bus (that was supposed to come every 12 minutes) to get into town. Then a short metro ride got us close to the Air BnB we’d be staying in.
+ Our host, Emanuela, was nice enough to meet us at the metro station and walked us to her place only 5 minutes away.
+ She had some friends over and we chatted with them briefly before leaving to go grab food. We’d tagged Starita, a popular pizza restaurant nearby, and took the shortest route there.
+ The line was out the door in every direction and after Corey managed to speak to the host, we learned it was over an hour wait until we’d be seated! And it was 11:20 at night! While he was inside talking to the host, Liz was people watching outside. It was raining so everyone was huddled in groups under umbrellas. These groups of loud and happy Italians would periodically come pouring out of the restaurant and hug and kiss each other goodbye as they parted ways. The groups of older ladies were Liz’s favorite as they reminded her of Alyssa’s Nona calling everyone “Bella!” with kisses on the cheek for each friend.
+ When Corey squeezed his way back through the restaurant out into the rainy night, we discovered there was a takeaway option around back. It was the same restaurant but there was no line and the prices were even a little bit cheaper! I wonder why everyone really wants to sit inside so badly?
+ We walked back through the rain to our AirBnB and ate our pizza. They don’t cut the pizza into slices here in Italy, so the proper method was to fold it into fourths and eat it like that. They were both delicious but we agreed the Diavola one Corey got was better.
+ Before getting in bed, we applied for some more house sits starting in 2+ weeks when we’d be back in the UK after our campervan relocation.
+ Liz called it a night and got in bed, but Corey wanted to watch at least some of the FSU vs. Miami game that was starting at 2:20 am our time! Well it ended up being a close and competitive game throughout and Corey was too excited to go to sleep. So he stayed up the whole game (until after 6 am) to see FSU pull off the 1-point win! Go Noles!

10/9
Social time at an Italian feast, Explore Naples
+ After we woke up, we went into the living room and hung out with our host and about 6 friends she had over. They were having a big traditional Italian feast and had invited us to join! They gave us some leftovers from thwir earlier feast. These greens which they kept calling “broccoli” (but it was more like a very bitter spinach) and also a type of casserole. They were drinking wine and all sorts of other homemade spirits. They offered us a sampling of this huge dessert tray filled wirh typical Italian pastries and cakes. We split a “Bobah” a spongey cake soaked in rum. And we mean soaked!
+ Most of Emanuela’s friends spoke English pretty well and it was fun to talk to them. One of her friends was named Rosario and had a cute little toddler. (Rosario also looked like an exact twin if Liz’s 3rd grade teacher!)
+ When they left, we decided to do the same and explore Naples. So we walked through the town and stopped at a few different roadside pizza joints. They were good, but not as tasty as the night before. Still, with the pizza only costing about 2 or 3 euros for the whole pie, Corey was happy to try out every stand in town in search of the best!
+ Eventually, we’d made our way down to the seaport area and discovered a big Science fair going on. The place had about 8 big tents set up, all focusing on different fields of science and they were all free to enter. We walked through about half of them, but since everything was in Italian, we couldn’t understand much.
+ While wandering through a few more neighborhoods, we worked up an appetite again and ducked into a yummy looking Gelato place. We split a medium with 2 different chocolates and they were both delectable! This will definitely be the first if many gelato stops here in Italy.
+ Not wanting to walk almost a full hour back to our place, we opted for a metro. Even though the station had a huge M on it, there was no metro to be found and only infrequent trains. Of course we barely missed the train we needed so we had to wait a full 45 minutes until the next one! So frustrating! Public transportation, especially trains/metros were definitely Corey’s least favorite part of travel!
+ Once we’d made it back to the apartment, we relaxed and played on our phones. Corey watched highlights from the NFL games that day while Liz talked with family/friends back home. We somehow still managed to not go to sleep until super late!

10/10
Explore Capri, Anacapri, and the rest of the beautiful island!
+ The beautiful island of Capri was our destination today! So we munched on some breakfast snacks and made our way down to the port.
+ Our 45 minute ferry ride felt much longer as we both tried to fight off any sea sickness from the extremely wavy ride.
+ When we arrived into solid ground, we bought the 4 ticket pass that allowed us to go up the funicular to the actual city of Capri and eventually take the bus to Anacapri, and vice versa.
+ After walking around Capri and doing a bit of window shopping of all the items we can’t afford, we decided to walk the 40 minute trail out to the Natural Arch. However when we got there, we discovered the whole arch was surrounded by scaffolding! This made our view much less beautiful, but we still enjoyed our time sitting on a bench admiring the impressive natural architecture.
+ We continued our hike onto a different pathway and walked the southeastern corner of the island in a clockwise loop for about an hour. Along the way, we passed many schmancy hotels and restaurants that were way out of our price range but all with fantastic views. We did enjoy some yummy Gelato and amazing scenic overlooks of the coast though! (Liz’s favorite gelato so far was the hazelnut flavor with little Ferrero Rocher bits she got here!)
+ The whole area was extremely beautiful and every turn revealed a new angle of some stunning islands, cliffs, or precariously built towns!
+ After we completed our circular hike back to Capri, we took a bus to Anacapri, the largest town on the western side of the island for a more local feel.
+ From there, we wandered the town and admired a few more fancy jewelery and clothes on display. This whole island was definitely outside of our backpacking price range!
+ We wanted to see the Northwestern most spot of the island that housed the world famous Blue Grotto, but found out from our bus driver the grotto was closed due to choppy seas. Still, we made the journey and walked down the steps to where the crystal clear blue water crashed against the towering cliffs. There, just 5 feet away from us, was the little sliver of an entrance into the grotto.
+ Unfortunately the waves were too large and no boats were talking passengers into the cave today. Corey had been hoping for some locals to be swimming in/out so he had an excuse (and some company) to join in, but the only people around were friendly fishermen not interested in getting wet. So we just took pictures of the outside.
+ When another bus dropped us off back in Anacapri, we chose to walk a foot path back down the mountain to the main ferry dock. This allowed us to see more of the island and not need to pay for another ticket! The views were incredible from the mountain top overlooking the sparkling blue waters with Sorrento, Pompeii, and Naples in the distance!
+ About an hour later we had completely descended the mountain back into town. With an hour to spare until the ferry left, we hung out near the fountain and people watched while sampling a new Italian beer.
+ On the ferry ride back, we both fell asleep and woke up with big crooks in our necks. On our way back to the apartment, we picked up some pizza from the restaurant featured in Eat, Pray, Love. The place was super packed so we got it to go and brought it back with us. They only offered 2 choices (marinara and Margherita) and while it was still delicious, it was much more basic and soupy than other pizzas we’d had.
+ After some showers and browsing around online, we watched some Monday Night Football on the tablet before bed.

10/11
Rest day in our Air BnB, Best Pizza in Naples!
+ When we woke up this morning, neither of us felt like rushing over to Pompeii and spending the next 4-6 hours walking around old ruins in the rain. So we chose to spend the day in our big red room napping and doing whatever we pleased.
+ We watched National Lampoon’s European Vacation and a few other things on YouTube. We also booked our transport and accommodation for Rome and knocked off a few other things from our to-do list.
+ For dinner, we headed back to the pizza restaurant from the first night Starita, but this time managed to get a table and eat it hot and fresh! We got seated in what turned must be the English speaking room as every other tourist was put in here. The service was not fantastic and as is custom in Italy, we got charged extra just to sit down. So although the pizza was probably the best we’d had so far in Naples, maybe we’ll just grab it to go next time.
+ That night, we figured out some stuff for our campervan to London and then watched more YouTube videos. Overall a nice relaxing day!

10/12
Explore Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast
+ Since this was our last full day in Naples, we were doing a day trip out to Sorrento and then catching a bus to explore the famous (and ritzy) Amalfi Coast!
+ After our long metro ride we bought train tickets to Sorrento and had to quickly jump aboard without any time to buy lunch. Luckily, we still had some granola bars in our backpack so we munched on those to hold us over until we could get something else.
+ The train ride was extremely packed at first. So much so that some people couldn’t even get on the train and had to wait for the next one! For the first 30 minutes we stood but as people slowly trickled out at each station, we eventually got to sit down. The views out the window got better and better as we left flat land and came into the mountains. There, we crossed over scenic valleys with views of the picturesque coastal villages!
+ When we arrived in Sorrento, we quickly found a restaurant that had been recommended to us by the tourism info office and we ate some pizza there. Although it wasn’t the best we’d ever had, it wasn’t the worst and it still completely filled us up. We are getting so spoiled by the excellent pizza here!
+ We caught the first bus headed towards Amalfi and settled into some seats on the right side of the bus for the best views.
+ The drive was just as incredible as we’d heard and the amazing views made it worth every penny. With the sheer drop offs on one side and towering cliffs on another, both with Italian style villas intricately built into the side of the mountain, the drive was perilous yet thrilling.
+ Before our bus had reached Amalfi however, the bus driver stopped in Priano to turn around the bus and head back to Sorrento! We had to get off and walk half a mile to the next bus stop if we wanted to continue onwards towards Amalfi. A bit perplexed, we did what we were told and after another 30-40 minutes, a different bus pulled up and took us the rest of the way.
+ This bus was packed to the gills though. Unlike the other one where we got seats, this one had us standing in the back stairwell with our bodies and almost faces pressed up against the glass and praying the doors didn’t accidentally open or else we’d go tumbling down the steep cliff to the sharp rocks below!
+ When we finally arrived in Amalfi, the journey had taken so much longer than anticipated that we had to choose to just board the next bus back to Sorento and forego any exploring in the town of Amalfi! That way we’d be sure to catch the last train from Sorrento back to Naples today. So after hours and hours of travel to get here, we weren’t even going to get to fully explore it! Still, at least we got the beautiful ride and sunset s well as the chance to see the city as it got dark and lit up for the night.
+ The bus ride back started the same way this one ended: packed in like sardines. Eventually it did thin out and Liz was able to snag us 2 seats to rest our weary feet.
+ The guidebooks warn traffic on the Amalfi coast can be horrendous during the summer even requiring locals to only be allowed to drive certain days of the week. Our buses were so full and often had to do some harrowing maneuvering due to traffic pileups in the narrow streets- I can’t even imagine what the scene is like in the summer!
+ After bussing back to Sorrento, we grabbed the next train back to Naples.
+ Transportation in Italy may not be the cleanest or most glamorous, (all the trains outside of some lines in Naples are very old and covered in graffiti) but! We sure do appreciate how cheap it is! Especially coming from spending so much time in London recently and watching our funds disappear after even the shortest of rides.

10/13
Arrive in Rome and tour the sites at night
+ This morning we checked out of our Air BnB and made our way to the bus station to catch our Flix bus to Rome.
+ Liz was looking forward to her usual bus nap and Corey was probably doing something lame like being productive. (Corey was being a good traveler and preparing for the days ahead by mapping out possible Switzerland itineraries)
+ The moment we stepped off the bus in Rome and grabbed our bags, the first thing we see is a young couple ferociously making out. They must be very happy to be reunited!
+ After we finished giggling at that, we made our way to the train station to find a train that would get us within walking distance of our our hostel, Rome Metropolitan Guest House.
+ We rode the train to Termini, the large main terminal with Rome’s 2 metro lines and short or long distance trains.
+ Once we left Termini headed for our hostel, the people watching only got better. Being near the train station, there were plenty of people down on their luck and plenty of others dressed to the nines in the fancy Italian brands of our imaginations. To our delight, suddenly around the corner comes an older woman with a modern hair cut sashaying down the sidewalk wearing a designer dog carrier on her chest. Inside the carrier was a frou frou white poodle who seemed to be enjoying her “walk”. Liz knew she liked Rome already!
+ We unpacked and met the other young people staying at the Rome Metropolitan Guest House: 2 Italian guys from Torin and 2 south Korean girls. All very friendly
+ We set off just before sunset to get our bearings and doing some night time sight seeing. We walked and saw the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon (outside only) and the Alter of the Fatherland ( a monument commemorating Italy’s unification). All 3 were very impressive even at night.

10/14
Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums
+ One of the Italian guys at our hostel, clued us in that the Vatican Museums would be having night openings Fridays in October. This would be a great opportunity to see the sites hopefully without the usual crowds.
+ We explored the outside of St. Peter’s basicila and the square where the pope addresses the crowds. (We would have gone inside but it was already closed for the day.)
Liz had read online that the Rick Steves audio guides were even better than the audio guides you can buy at the sites and best of all they’re free! So we spent most of the day and evening attached together by the pair of earbuds we were sharing. The audio guides made the sites that much more interesting and we were really happy we had downloaded them.
+ After St. Peter’s we made our way over to the rest of the Vatican museums for our 830pm entrance time.
+ The guards outside the Vatican museum carry huge guns and have a long black feather in their cap. We watched them curiously as we waited for our entrance time to the museums.
+ After we entered we started up one of the Rick Steves audio tours and listened as he explained thing we would have definitely missed otherwise. (He even throws in a few “dad jokes” here and there to keep thing interesting lol)
+ The museums wound through many hallways and buildings which used to be the old residences of past popes. Sculptures, massive paintings, and even Egyptian mummies were on display.
+ Liz’s favorite part (besides the Sistine chapel) was “The Belvedere Torso” a sculpture of a man’s torso by an unknown artist that came to influence many of Michelangelo’s paintings (such as Adam receiving the spark of life, and Jesus rising from the dead— both in the Sistine chapel) but really Liz only liked it so much because of the explanation and background the audio guide gave us.
+ The grand finale was the Sistine Chapel. We had downloaded a specific Rick Steves audio guide for this and it did not disappoint! After entering the chapel we snagged a seat against the wall and just took it all in. The guards would perodically loudly remind everyone “Silencio” and that no photography is allowed. Despite this, you could still tell everyone was in awe of this great work of art. Listening to Rick point out nuances and details we would have otherwise definitely missed made the experience so much better. Overall we spent 45 minutes in the Sistine chapel alone and it was a highlight of our trip! Too often the works of art or tourist sites are so underwhelming and not worth the expense or the hype. We were both happy to see one sight live up to and deserve it’s popularity and reputation!
+ On the way home we were looking for a decently priced meal instead of the overpriced tourist restaurants. We decided on a place a block or 2 from our hostel and took seats under the outside tent. And not a minute too soon! Suddenly the sky opened up and the rain poured down with thunder and lightning. Because it was nearing midnight we haven’t even notice the storm clouds roll in.
+ Liz decided on homemade gnocchi and Corey had some spicy penne. Both plates were yummy.
+ As the rain had stopped we made a run for our hostel and called it a night.

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