Monday, September 22, 2008

Eating our Way Through Naples

Today was our last port--Naples. We booked an all day tour before we came on the cruise. The morning would be spent in Sorrento and the afternoon in Pompeii. I'm so happy we booked this trip!

We started out very early (7:30) and got on our bus heading toward Sorrento.  Before we got to downtown, we stopped at a farm. This family operated farm produces olive oil and wine. They also grow tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, lemons, hazelnuts, and they have pigs, cows, horses, ducks, quails, goats, peacocks, cats, and dogs. It is a beautiful farm!

When we got there, our host--one of the daughters-in-law of the owner--gave us a demonstration of how olive oil is pressed. She had a huge machine behind her and walked us through the steps. Then she showed us how they make soft cheese like mozzarella. She showed us what happens 30 minutes after milk and rennet are combined (the milk starts to curdle). Then she put the curdled milk in boiling water and pulled it out of the water, put it in cold water and then formed a little ball. And there you go. You have mozzarella!

We got a great plate full of bruscetta, cheeses, and roasted veggies. All drizzled with olive oil. We asked for vegetarian, but everyone else had home-cured meats. It was such a great experience.

After looking around the farm and sampling their limencello, we got back on the bus and went to downtown Sorrento. Even though we had just eaten all of those antipasti, we knew we had to have a pizza from the Napoli region. We made our way to a pizzeria that was recommended to us by the guidebook. I'm so glad we did! This was true pizza. Crispy flat bread, gorgeous bubbling cheese...what more could you ask for?  We had a carafe of wine to make the meal complete and just enjoyed life.

After that we headed toward Pompeii. I've been looking forward to Pompeii since my last trip to Europe. We were supposed to make it down here, but then Leah, unfortunately, sprained her ankle pretty badly. It all worked out in the end as we spent the remainder of our vacation in Greece instead. Anyway, the point is that I was really excited about Pompeii. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint me. I loved every second of it!  Our tour guide was pretty good. He showed us many of the sights and told us what the significance was and who lived there, etc. But really, most of the spectacular sights spoke for themselves. The plaster cast bodies showed the fear and surprise of the citizens of this ancient city. The brothels, in particular, were amazing to see because of how well preserved it was. The one we saw (only one of about 20) still had the pictures above each room describing what would take place behind closed doors. It was like a menu for all the foreigners who didn't speak Italian. It was awesome!

The rest of the city was great too. It just really gives you an insight as to what living in Pompeii in 79 AD must have been like. After Pompeii we did a quick stop at a cameo shop where we learned how they're made and saw a master at work. I didn't know they were made out of shells. They were so beautiful, but way out of my price range--damn euro!

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