The 100th Post!!!

Joe and Rach
on the
Amalfi Coast

We've returned from our wonderful vacation to Italy and I've sufficiently dealt with the post-vacation reality check to blog about our adventure. Five nights in Amalfi, two nights in Rome and a whirlwind tour of Paris. An exhausting 36 hour day of travel planted us in the town of Amalfi well after sundown in a driving rain. After a few wrong turns we discovered our home away from home, the Residence Caprice. We were greeted by the extremely friendly staff, Vincenzo, Maria and the other guy, who were very excited tell us about the wine sent to us by some guy named Jo (Thank you Joanne, the wine was excellent!!). The wine would have to wait for us to recover from our travels however and we promptly drifted into a coma-like sleep. We awoke bright and early and after a nourishing breakfast of croissants and Nutello we set out into the labyrinth of "streets" in Amalfi which are actually just tunnels winding through the aged architecture of the town. The waves crashed and the wind roared as a huge low-pressure system crawled across the entire country. We were lucky enough to see two sides of Amalfi, the stormy maritime community and the summertime beach haven that attracts so many tourists. The storm quickly receded and by noon on our first day the water was like a sheet of aquamarine glass. We spent our first few days relaxing and forgetting we even had a home elsewhere. We drank wine at every meal and ate the delicious food until we could scarcely even go up the ancient stairways. Here are some photos from our trip:

Amalfi in the morning from our terrace

One of the highlights from our stay was hiking from Ravello back to Amalfi. We took a bus to Ravello and hiked downhill by way of the Valle del Dragone. The walk took us through the heart of the agricultural community, I was absolutely astounded at the methods that had turned cliffsides into farmland. The produce turned out in this valley is like nothing I have ever tasted, I even drank most of a glass of pure lemon juice, which the vendor assured me over and over again was chock full of vitamins. The lemons were so potent that it makes my teeth chatter, my toes curl and my eyes twitch just to write this paragraph.

Ravello sits high in the hills giving way to beautiful vistas like this one, the town of Minori can be seen tucked into a deep fold in the Earth.
This is at the end of our walk as we enter the town of Atrani, walking on the same paths that were used for centuries by the locals as the only means of getting from town to town until the roads were built in the 30's.

The hillsides are not obstacles to building your house on the Amalfi coast, it is the foundation of your structure!

Who would have thought that public transportation could be a highlight of the trip?!? The bus ride to Sorrento was part roller coaster and part lesson in Italian profanity and Gesturing 101. This picture shows our bus going head to head with a tour bus. The drivers are politely presenting their cases to each other to determine who has right of way....
We spent a day in the ancient metropolis of Pompeii and I was utterly speechless to be in such an old place, I couldn't believe how huge it was and how beautiful some of the wealthy people's villas were!

My favorite structure in all of Pompeii, one of 800 thermopoliums, an ancient snack bar. It was rare to eat lunch at home in Pompeii, they usually met up with their buddies at one of these places to enjoy rowdy converations over a hot meal. Some things in Italy just don't change.

On to Rome, we were sad to leave Amalfi and reluctantly declined an offer from our sweet hostess Maria to put us up in her family's home if we wished to stay longer. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Flora in Rome. We were very excited because right outside our window was part of the ancient Roman city walls, it's hard to go anywhere in Rome without stumbling into something ancient. We navigated our way through crowds and lines and managed to see everything I had wished to see with the exception of the Sistine Chapel because the line was so huge on account of Easter.

A picture of me and something old....
I would have been a ruthless gladiator known for my eye-poking and name-calling...

This structure was breathtaking to me.....I still don't know what it is called, the top part is a temple for the god Jupiter. The statues in all of Rome demanded my attention and I could have spent an entire day staring at each one!!!

Trevi Fountain, one place where I was truly grateful we had come in the off-season, I can't imagine the crowds in Rome on a hot summer day. Again, the statues were incredible, particularly the wild demon war horses rising out of the depths of the fountain.

After watching so many people in Amalfi drink from fountains I had to see what all the hype was about, so I found this leaky building and took a quaff. Mmmmmm...........ancient water........

Paris in 23 hours, we could write a book about our layover in Paris. We toured by metro, only popping our heads up out of the ground long enough to get a peek at all the sites. We scaled Arc de Triomph, toured Notre Dame(the Gothic style was a huge contrast to the Duomos in Italy), and managed to finish the day, and our stay in Europe with a delicious steak dinner, some awesome duck pate that Rach insisted I try and all you can eat french fries!!

Rachel demonstrates proper candle lighting technique at Notre Dame ;)