Italy; Sicily-Pompei

Aloha Kākou!!
Since leaving the Netherlands, we have been to Sicily; stayed in Palermo at an Airbnb and we took a day trip to Taormina (on the other side of Sicily, a 4 hour train ride each way!). We really loved Taormina and the gorgeous views from up in the town overlooking the beaches and isolla bella (a small island).

IMG_9828.JPGIMG_9829.JPGIMG_9836.JPGIMG_9867.JPGIMG_9868.JPGIMG_9873.JPGOur second day in Palermo we just walked around (after sleeping in until 11 because our room had no windows so it was so dark!!) and had pizza and then walked to the shore and got a gelato.

IMG_9835.JPGThen we just returned to the room and packed up and took a taxi to the harbor to catch our ferry to Napoli!

IMG_9845.JPGIMG_9848.JPGIMG_9853.JPGIMG_9855.JPGIMG_9858.JPGWe were not really expecting a big ol cruise ship type boat, and it was pretty exciting for me, my first time on a big ship like that! Hoapili had 8 months on a bigger one though, and had to keep reminding himself that this was only for one night!! We had our most expensive meal for the quantity on the ship at the restaurant and I flat out laughed when the food came at the portion size for 12 euro! We left still hungry and asking each other what we wanted for dinner!! But we made it safely to Naples in the morning and took the metro combined with walking to our hostel “Giovannis Home”. Giovanni himself was the nicest, funniest, full of character italian we’ve met! He was so hospitable and when we first walked in the door he got us water (we were sweating like pigs) and sat us down for the “talk”. He had a black and white map for us and used several different colored highlighters to guide us around the city.

IMG_9910.JPG He told us where not to go, where to definitely go, explained that Naples was no where on the top 10 of theft cities in the world but to still be cautious with small purses and jewelry and told me that I was safer alone walking the city than with Hoapili, because he was more likely to be mugged and sexual assault was non existent, the most they would do was look at me! After an hour of instruction and joking, we were now prepared for Naples! And we got scolded for booking two nights in Pompei because that is too much time, and that we should have booked a day trip to another island because Capri is too touristy, but oh well! We were shown our rooms and the kitchen, bathrooms and common area and then we set out for the day!

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We saw the Duomo, a big hall meeting place, a bunch of different piazzas and then we got a text from Giovanni telling us to come back for lunch! So we did and he made and taught us and three other hostel guests, how to make a simple “backpackers” pasta. It was just spagetti noodles, chili peppers, olive oil and garlic. And it was so delicious!! After our yummy lunch, we had gotten ahold of Venchinzo, Hoapilis 2nd cousin who lives in Naples and we made plans to meet with them at 530. So between that time and after lunch, we went to the Capella Sansevero where we couldn’t take photos, but I’ll take a photo of the post card we bought of the AMAZING sculture of Jesus. You can literally see every bone, veins, clothes, the cloth is so lightly covering its face, it is the most remarkable piece of art I think we’ve seen so far. And the building itself was small but filled with tons of other amazing marble sculptures that we were blown away by! One had a net wrapped around a man and it was so intricite, I don’t understand how someone carved that! We still had a little time to spare so we sat in the piazza we were ment to meet Venchinzo at and ate some gelato. He arrived with his wife and their two young and very cute daughters, both being pushed in a stroller and we all went for a walk around town. His English was much better than he claimed it was, and his wife was able to understand a lot, but speaking back was harder. Venchinzo managed to be interpreter and we all chatted a lot, learning about each other. We stopped at a really really nice coffee bar (they are just called bars here, but not usually with alcohol, just espresso) which they highly recommended and both had espresso and shared a rum baba (a deicious pastry with rum in it and it was soooo good!!! very moist and juicy) and the espresso cup was almost too hot to hold!! But that is the traditional style! I even drank mine without milk!! I think I may be done with espresso tho, Hoapili can have all of mine 🙂

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After we split up after the walk, Hoapili and I went to the pizza place that Giovanni recommended, (apparently the best in Naples, which we had to agree on) called Gino Sorbillo. The place was packed with a huge crowd outside, so we just went in and ordered two togo which was only about a 10 minute wait, as apposed to the 1hr+ wait some of the people in the hostel told us they waited!

IMG_0023.JPGWe grabbed wine (even though we read we shouldn’t drink wine with pizza because you can’t taste the pizza and especially the mozzella as well, you should drink beer) because we had been in Italy awhile and still hadn’t bought a bottle to share yet! When we got to the hostel we went out on the lānai to eat and Giovanni came out and scolded us for drinking the wine with pizza!! And we even knew it too! So we corked the wine and pulled out our two beers from the fridge instead to please him haha. But I did notice that the wine was very strong with the pizza… Almost lined your mouth too much to be able to use your taste buds as effectively. The beer was much better. That evening we shared our wine while talking with some hostel guests. In the morning we grabbed a yummy pastry and Hoapili got an espresso (ordered just as a cafe here) before going around the corner to the Sotteranea, the underground tour of Naples. This was by far our best tour experience yet, and we actually felt that we were getting the most of our money paid. It was a guided tour-in english, for almost 2 hours!! It went almost 40 meters deep underneath the city to tour the ancient roman water canal system which later became safe places for citizens to escape to during WWII when they had bomb raids.

IMG_0002.JPGIMG_0003.JPGAlso, we learned that many of the soldiers would escape down there and change into civilian clothes and go back up to get away from the Army. We learned ghost stories of the man who used to clean the water with a net like you would in pools who if the family who’s house was above the well whole it didn’t pay him, he had complete access to their houses from below so he would go and steal things or disrupt the house, which they say still happens today. After the underground part of the tour, we were taken into an apartment which just about 10 years ago was discovered to be build on top and inside an ancient roman theater!

IMG_0006.JPGWhen the wall plaster was peeled back, the ancient type of architecture were hidden behind! Plus, the high ceiling, large size of the apartment and the archways throughout the house all indicate it was roman, but the family living there before said they had no clue!! And underneath, there was what the family thought was just a really big cellar, but when it was further excavated, they found that it was actually the dressing room of the theater with a staircase leading to the stage.

IMG_0008.JPG It was really remarkable and we enjoyed that tour a LOT! Since it was a Sunday, the Castel Nuovo was due to close (according to google) at 2:30 so we went straight there (after getting ripped off for sandwhiches for lunch- never get anything in Italy that doesn’t have a price labeling it) but found it to be shut for working that day… So we walked on to the other castle by the see, Castle dellʻOvo, and debated for quite some time if we wanted to get in the water or not, and where was the best place since it was all rocky and a lot of the places that seemed accessable were lined with rubbish along the coast so after wasting some time, we just decided to go to the castle and think about getting in later, but as we walked towards the doors, they shut!!! Google said that castle was open until 7:30 so we were pretty upset. Two castles in one day! So we walked more along the water and found a better place to get in, where Hoapili did, and I just sunbathed (I have a cold and the water was kind of chilly, I didn’t want to get any worse). He said it was refreshing but REALLY salty, his shorts even dried white in some places because of the salt!! We took the metro back through a special one Giovanni told us is supposed to be the most beautiful one in the world, it was pretty cool, but the photos come out better than it looks in real life, to be honest.

IMG_0011.JPGIMG_0012.JPGFor the rest of the afternoon we kind of lounged around and chatted with two girls who had just arrived who were from Canada and we all decided to cook a pasta dinner together. We walked to the supermarket and then back and Hoapili did most of the cooking, very nerviously because Giovanni might tell him he was doing something wrong!! He ended up coming in and helping towards the end, and telling us not to use the “shit” pasta sauce we had bought and that the olive oil base would be enough flavor. He was right!! It was super good and we made so much that we all had seconds!! That night I was reading and Hoapili was practicing his Ukulele in the room when two girls in our room came screaming “There’s a fire!!!! Then we all panicked and they decided to add “not here, but next door! Come watch!!” Thankfully, it wasn’t our hostel on fire, but it was someones apartment a few doors down! We heard there was no one inside, but it was quite the fire! At first it was just going out the window and up, and then we heard it hit something like a gas line and it went straight across, melting the AC unit and the gutter of the apartment next door! It was intense and all the hostel guests were freaking out, but when I saw the firemen show up and start spraying it, I just went back to bed and read a bit before sleeping, I was too tired for all that craziness!!
In the morning we packed up all our stuff and left it in the landing while we went to the Castle Nuovo, open this time!

IMG_0014.JPGIMG_0015.JPG And then we went back to Gino’s for some more takeaway (lunch was crazy packed too!) We ate back up at the hostel and then gathered all our stuff to head to the train station to go to Pompei! We made it to the hostel (the shortest walk from the train station so far!! Halleluja!) around 4pm, checked in and got some maps and info about Pompei, and went straight to the ruins. They closed at 7:30 and we were there almost that whole time. It was really incredible, but to be honest, I was quite shocked at the mear size of the city! I don’t think I realized just how big it was! And I was a bit disappointed with the lack of bodies… Or even artifacts. Don’t get me wrong though, the ancient city of 2-3BC was freaking cool, it just wasn’t really what I had imagined. Plus we had to pay 13 euro each and I was mostly intersted in the bodies. And they had huge glass displays of bodies in the courtyard before the main entrance, that I could have seen for free… Anyway, Pompei is one of those must see’s, so I’m glad we saw it!!

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Today we were going to go to Mt. Vesuvius, but its awfully expensive to get there (10 euro each, once you get to Erculano town-another 3 euro train ride) and then 8 euro to get into the National Park… Double all these prices by two, and it just doesn’t seem justifiable to see a volcano, when we have one right at home!! Besides, I am still feeling sick with a really nasty cough so I didn’t really think a hike like that would be the brightest idea. Tomorrow morning we head to Naples to catch our 10am ferry to Capri! Can’t wait!!

Sorry for the delay in posts,

Na Leilani

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