Last time, I shared with you the amazing start to our Italian adventure – culinary style! I covered our first night’s cooking class, gelato and pizza in San Gimignano, our most expensive meal in Venice, and how we happened upon the BEST taverna in Italy – and met Guiseppe!!! Here we are for part two, which kicks off in Rome!
Our first night in Rome we arrived around 4pm and immediately hit the streets for an audio walking tour that we enjoyed via our free downloaded Rick Steves App! I highly recommend this option for the adventurous traveler and will delve into this great traveling tool in another blog!!!
This evening we enjoyed some street food (and gelato) while we roamed the streets of ancient Rome, beginning at Fiore del Campo (the field of flowers) and ending at the Spanish Steps. I won’t give too many details as I intend to do that another time, but let me just say there was a wonderful surprise around every corner and our hot paninis, espressos and slices of pizza did not disappoint!!!
Our second day in Rome was a walking extravaganza! We started off with egg sandwiches at home (the beauty of staying at an AirBnB is that you can make a few things at your home base and save money for the bigger meals) and hit the road for our Vatican Tour. For lunch we stopped en-route to the Colosseum at a street side taverna and enjoyed wine (duh), pizza, caprese and more. We had gelato at least once😊 and walked about 12 miles this day and it was HOT!!!! But one of the best experiences of this day was our dinner….
Being Americans, we tend to eat earlier than most Europeans. We were toast from a LONG day of touring and walking and headed to dinner near our accommodations around 6pm. We picked a lovely taverna we had passed on the way to the Vatican (our “home” was about 3 blocks from the Vatican) and settled in for an amazing meal. Our server was fabulous and the food was great – but what made THIS particular meal so memorable was the fact that near the end of our meal (when most Italians are thinking about going out to dinner) 20+ priests walked into the taverna to have dinner – it was like the set up for a joke, “Twenty priests walk into a bar….”! It was so ROME – next door to the Vatican – and they just settled in to a great meal – now, we might have been a bit punchy with wine, too much walking and a gorgeous limoncello toast, but this rounded out our Roman experience like no other!!!!
We departed Rome and headed for Sorrento. On the way, we stopped at an Italian Autostrada rest stop – these cool inventions are fantastic and a cultural experience on their own and deserve to be highlighted. These traditionally stretch OVER the highway and are pretty monstrous buildings. They have restrooms, cool gift shops and WONDERFUL fresh cuisine that is not what you would expect at a rest area. If you ever road trip in Italy, I highly encourage you to stop and check these out even if you don’t NEED to – it is an Italian experience!
Our arrival in Sorrento was thankfully, uneventful – aside from arriving early and having to wait on meeting our AirBnB host at our apartment – which, by the way, was lovely – more on that in another post. We had been eating out a lot so this evening, my sister, Kelly, decided to cook for us, so we ventured down the street to the local Carrefour (European grocers that we have found in Italy, France and England and I am sure they are elsewhere – but you know what you will find there so that is nice once you are able to recognize some chains) and picked up some staples – eggs, wine, cured meats, cheese, pasta, bread, basil, coffee and chicken breast – and my sister made us an incredible homemade Italian meal! It was great to eat at home, relax on the balcony and soak in the Sorrento charm. That evening, we picked up our scooter rentals for our next day of touring (don’t miss THAT blog for sure!) and we walked off our dinner enjoying the winding ancient streets of Sorrento. And we had gelato!!
The next day was our self-touring scooter extravaganza – and memories we will never forget – especially the picnic lunch we enjoyed at Villa Cimbrone in the cliff-side Amalfi Coast town of Ravello. We had planned a lovely picnic for this day of adventure including our meats, cheeses, bread and sweet treats and had the most delightful picnic in the most amazing setting on the Amalfi! Picnicking is one of my favorite ways to really experience the joy and simplicity of Italian food, so don’t miss out on this classic culinary gem. Here are a few pictures…
Our final full day in Italy was anchored by a train ride to Pompeii and Rick Steves audio tour of this ancient delight. I have, for a long time, been a connoisseur of history, culture, languages and people. Pompeii is an iconic destination for people like me and in my book, only second to visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza (someday!!) We had our customary breakfast at home, picked up some panini on the road, enjoyed some gelato in Pompeii, then had a lovely sunset dinner at a hotel across the street from our apartment. Our last meal in Italy was a feast for the senses and as we had done so many times before, we each got a different dish and shared – and no one was disappointed. This meal really highlighted the unique and fresh cuisine of Sorrento – with daily caught fish, lemon risotto (let me tell you – there is NOTHING like a Sorrento lemon), gnocci with red sauce and wine! It was a bittersweet meal that put the icing on an amazing culinary journey taken by four women, ready to taste Italy!!!
I don’t know if you have noticed the theme aside from food, but it’s the people, the sights and the senses that are awakened by experiencing something different. Travel is a story that unfolds through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the mouth and through touch. It is one of our only activities that engages us on so many levels, and I believe that is why travel is something we desire so greatly. There are so many adventures to have, people to meet and experiences to have. Happy Travels!!
Indulge me a bit and enjoy this short time lapse video of us scooting our way up, up, up to the cliff side town of Ravello!