OK. Blog Number 2. Now what? Thanks for all the support for “Talking on Corners”; at least I know I can write.
The theme for this Blog is TRAVEL and my recent trip to Italy. Even though it feels like years ago it was actually only 2 months back.
Where to begin? There have been numerous movies made about Italy (most of them funnily enough have to do with middle aged women going to “find themselves”). It’s thanks to my sister that I’m doing a blog about Italy; when I came back she asked that do a travel blog.
One thing I never expected was to completely and utterly fall in love with a country. Yes, it’s true, it does happen! I thought it was some cliché but alas, it’s in my blood and I’m already planning the trip back for next year!
Let me also add we did the trip in Italian Summer – July. Now I’m born and raised in Africa, so I thought I could handle heat, haha, have you ever heard of someone of Africa ending up with a heat rash???? That was me! Putting as much foundation on my arms as possible to try to combat the redness, which was probably increased by the fact we were walking everywhere.
SO where did we go? Rome (of course), Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast and Rome again.
We had 3 full days in Rome, but I would suggest that 4 days is perfect. The 1st day alone is ALL about the sight-seeing and filling up at least two memory cards of your camera. Taking pictures of the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum at every single possible angle (you can delete and edit at home).
Our first day there was just that. Sightseeing.
We ended up getting the “Green Light Tours” Hopper Bus (Similar to London’s sightseeing buses). Except I think we travelled a mere 3 Km’s or so and jumped off, but, it was worth it though as it takes you through the Vatican City which is a little bit out. Most of the famous sites in Rome are all within walking distance of each other.
We were fortunate to stay in the Grande Hotel Palatino which is literally one block away from both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. From there hit a right and you have one LONG street (Via dei Fori Imperiali). Your jaw will be open and your camera clicking for the next 40 minutes. This street takes you into the heart of the city where behind every corner is another landmark. The Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are so hidden they seem to “jump” on you. MUST DO is to buy a nice big gelato at the Trevi Fountain.
And then there’s the food, I think I need a separate Blog just to go into all the detail. The area just south of the Spanish Steps is full of gorgeous cafes on picturesque cobbled streets. When we sat down you literally had to pull in your feet when cars drove past. The food is simple, fresh and delicious, and even the restaurants that seem to be tourist traps will still feed you well. Without fail every place I ate at had the most amazing food, and the staff were friendly.
BEST parts of Rome? Without a doubt, the feast for your eyes. Every single street, every single building is absolutely breathtaking. On our last day there we actually just “roamed” (pardon the pun). We got lost a couple of times but the aim was literally just to explore. We stumbled across the changing of the guard in front of parliament as well, a big ceremony with LOTS of yummy Italian men in uniform. Navy, Police, Army were all present and marching.
Bad parts of Rome? If any? The only thing I would complain about literally is the fact that all of the clothes shops are ridiculously expensive. I had grandeur dreams of going to Rome and coming back with Gucci, Versace, all these Italian brands but I could not part with 400 Euros just for one top. The second thing is the fact that every single souvenir store was not owned by an Italian? Yes, mostly Chinese.
Next Part – Capri
Known for its Celebrities and Lavish shops Capri may be Italy’s version of Monte Carlo. Extravagant yes, and deservedly so. Capri is possibly one of the most beautiful places I have seen. We ended up taking a bus to Napoli and catching the Ferry to Capri. Not only does it have the beauty of an “island” it also has the “drama”, with sheer rock cliffs and beautiful sea beneath it. It is also “Pretty”, the buildings are quaint, every single balcony has flowers hanging off it, the streets are cobbled and lemoncelli is available at every corner. The name Capri can actually be traced back to the Greeks, the first colonists to populate the island. This probably explains all the white washed buildings. I will however warn you in advance of the roads, I thought I had seen it all with driving in the Caribbean, but no. Capri tops it all. I cannot even begin to explain the number of times I closed my eyes.
Picture the scene, driving on winding roads in a “mini” mini bus, on a single lane road with about a sheer 500 foot drop to the ocean below, crashing onto lime scale rocks. Then add another mini “mini” bus coming from the opposite direction, with a couple of scooters overtaking every now and again. It was an experience in itself. Enough said.
It was also in Capri, that I had the best pizza of the entire trip, walk down the main street just off the Piazza and your nose will direct you to a little Bakery. It was a mini Margherita with fresh basil on top and the dough was so fresh it felt like a pillow!
That evening we took possibly the biggest ferry I’ve ever seen from Capri to Sorrento to settle down for the next few days.
Sorrento and The Amalfi
Sorrento is beautiful, again, breath-taking with its sheer cliff’s. Probably the friendliest of the towns we went to. It is centred around tourists and is the perfect place to make a base while you tour the Amalfi. It also has cheaper shops (I finally got to buy clothes). I bought some hilarious kitchen tea towels with recipes for limoncello that had spelling errors all over it. Sorrento was also the place where we truly got to experience proper Italian nightlife, we found a jazz café on a side street courtesy of a local.
We did a tour of the Amalfi coast; every corner we turned, the views had all of us going wooooow! There is absolutely no way to even begin describing the views! Favourite towns? Positano and Rafello without a doubt.
Positano is the cutest cobbled town nestled in the hills and leads to the coastline. Filled with ceramics and a gorgeous café that has fresh buffalo mozzarella. Most of the ceramics have fruit, scroll work, or scenery painted on them. They consist of decorative pieces such as plates, tiles, bowls, and figures. The lemon, by far, was the one object used as the focus on most of the pieces. I also found the best home made herb mixes on the side of the road here, perfect for re creating lasagna’s and pastas at home. The Sorrento and Amalfi coastlines are famous for their lemon groves and lemons that grow to be the size of small watermelons.
Amalfi has two larger beaches on either end of the town, the long and pebbly Marina Grande beach (where we swam) and the rocky Le Sirene beach behind the port. For African skin the water is cold! Not what we are used to. We ate at the Ristorante Garden in Ravello, possibly the best view I have ever, ever, ever seen in my life! A peaceful area with a small population, Ravello offers stunning views of the Mediterranean. Food was good, not exceptional but good, but with the view overlooking the entire Amalfi Coast it was top class!
And that was Italy!
Must Do’s? Ceramics from Positano, A dip in the Mediterranean Sea, A tour of Capri (no matter what) and Gelato at the Trevi Fountain.
Now onto the next trip….
Recipe of the day?
Roast Italian Fish
- 4 fillets of firm white fish
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 500g cherry tomatoes
- 50g black olives
- 25g pine nuts
- large handful of fresh basil leaves
- 4 Tablespoons of chilli basil pesto
1. Preheat the oven to fan 180C/ conventional 200C/gas 6. Take the fish fillets with the skin on, and season with salt, pepper and a dash of chilli. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the fillets skin side down for 2-3 minutes until just crisp. Transfer to a large roasting tin, skin side down.
2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter around the fillets. Cut the olives in half and scatter over the tomatoes, followed by the pine nuts. Season. Put a tablespoon of Pesto on top of each fillet.
3. Put the tray in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the fish is tender. Remove from the oven and scatter the tomatoes with a the basil leaves. Spoon onto four warm plates and top each with fish. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.