North America, Europe · 10 Days · 33 Moments · May 2017

The Clarkes go to Italy

13 May 2017

Overnight layover in London!!

12 May 2017

One of my favorites so far. So glad we did the night tour of the Colosseum!
Wow, yesterday really did me in. So much walking! We did two guided tours pretty much back to back in Rome, and even walked from one tour to the other. Friday set this trip's record at 25,500 steps and 10.25 miles. So although it's probably obvious where we went from the pictures, here's some shots of the Vatican (OMG, so many people were there!) and the next group is the Colosseum (it was a really cool night tour and very few people were there).

11 May 2017

Random shots walking around Florence.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (in English "Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower") is the main church of Florence, Italy. Il Duomo di Firenze, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style with the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The cathedral complex, located in Piazza del Duomo (a 5 min walk from our apt), includes the Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile. The basilica is one of Italy's largest churches, and until development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed. Giotto’s Campanile is the slender structure next to the Duomo that has 47 ft sides and is 277.9 ft tall (with 414 steep steps that we climbed).
We waited 500 years to meet David. He exceeded expectations, and not only because he's 17' tall. Breathtaking is an adjective that gets overused; however, today it was an accurate description.
Before our cooking class yesterday we shopped in the Mercato Centrale (basically a huge indoor farmers market which is commonly referred to by locals as the new market despite opening in the late 1800s) for all of our ingredients and then we went back this morning since it's right downstairs from our apartment. I bought some nice 20 year aged balsamic and cheese to bring home. Next... we need to buy a suitcase to carry everything I bought. 😜

10 May 2017

Cooking class three of three.
Cooking class two of three.
Today was the day we most anticipated... our cooking class. Such a GREAT time with fun people!!! We learned a lot making: bruschetta, tagliatelle (basically fettuccine), pizza, roast pork, roasted potatoes and tiramisu. Throughout we drank more than enough Chianti Classico. The views were ridiculous. I am posting three sets of pictures since this was such a great day.

9 May 2017

Random shots taken during our walk around Florence.
Today we saw the incredible cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore from the outside and on Thursday we will tour inside (pictures to follow). In advance of Thursday's tour, today we visited the Duomo Museum with a private tour guide who's passion and knowledge of the history of Florence couldn't be beat. Some info: The Opera del Duomo Museum was first opened in Florence in 1891. 'Opera' literally means 'work' and that's what you can see here, all the works carried out for the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, the bell tower and the baptistery. Construction of the Florence Duomo complex started in 1296 when the first brick was laid for the basilica. Works here include Ghiberti's newly restored masterpiece, the 'Gates of Paradise', the bronze doors made for the baptistery, Magdalene, a wooden sculpture by Donatello, originally placed in the Baptistery and the "Pietà" by Michelangelo, which was removed from the cathedral in 1980.
Our first meal in Florence was everything I expected from Florence. Perfecto.
Finally got to Florence!!! Everyone I talked to who has been here told me this was their favorite place. Now it's mine!!! LOVE LOVE Florence. We're staying three nights at a cute Airbnb loft right in the center of town. One picture is of the front entrance, a few are the view from our windows and the rest are inside.
We stayed in Naples as a base for Pompeii. It was definitely an interesting place. Traffic was unbelievable, even compared to NY city (probably a result of the thousands of scooters that clearly don't follow any traffic rules). We walked into a building not realizing that it was actually a mall under heavy construction. When it is completed it will be one of the most majestic malls ever. One of the photos is inside the mall.

8 May 2017

We took a large bus up a ridiculously steep and winding (and narrow) road to almost the top of mount Vesuvius, an active, but dormant, volcano. We then walked up a very steep path for about 1/2 hour to the top. Of course the mountain tip was covered by clouds so it was like being in dense fog up there. Kinda cool to be up there... but we couldn't see much because we were basically inside of a cloud. But I did pick up a few cool lava rocks to bring home. :)
More pictures of Pompeii. This group has the preserved bodies... pretty crazy. She said the can use some kind of ultrasound (or whatever magic they use) and see the bones inside, still there since the eruption in 79 AD. By the way, the last time it erupted was 1944, and they said they were due for a big one. Fascinating place. I'm going to do more research on it when I get home.
Pompeii was very cool! I saw a movie when I was a kid (The Last Days of Pompeii) and I've been fascinated ever since. A few things about the tour.... it was MUCH more crowded than I expected (especially for a Monday!), I had no idea it was such a huge place, & we learned a LOT from our great tour guide, Elisa. By the way, most our tours were purchased from Viator and all were highly rated. I'm going to post two groups of Pompeii pictures since it was such an interesting place. The first group has pictures of one of the 40 brothels they dug up and I posted three photos from that building. The photo of the huge group of people were waiting to go inside. The next picture shows one of the little drawings that were above each room in the brothel and then you can see the bed in the one after that.

7 May 2017

Ravello was the second stop on our Amalfi Coast tour. This town was the smallest we've visited so far but the views here were seriously unbelievable. Lunch was a very special and memorable occasion so I'll post a separate "moment" soon.
We had lunch today in Ravollo at Trattoria Cumpa Cosimo. It was recommended by Lorenzo, our driver. Turns out the same family has owned the restaurant for 300 years, and Mama Agata began cooking there as a child 75 years ago. She famously cooked for Humphrey Bogart while he was there shooting a movie in 1953. And she was there today. She came by our table and determined that my plate of chicken marsala was not enough for me, so she returned with a plate of fettuccine Bolognese to have with it. She was very pleased to see that I cleaned both plates. My reward? A piece of tiramisu.
The first stop on our excellent tour with Lorenzo from Monetti's car service was the town of Amalfi. We visited Amalfi Cathedral (dates back to the 9th century), people watched from a sidewalk cafe and stopped in a little shop while they custom made a pair of sandals for me.
Relaxing for a few minutes before our driver picks us up for our tour of the Amalfi coast. We definitely deserved the break after already walking 6000+ steps and climbing 25 flights of stairs today and it's only 10:30am here. Calves=😳
This is Positano Art Hotel Pasitea. We found it through Airbnb but it's more like a small hotel than an apartment. As you can see, they added lots of little artistic details throughout and it's fun to notice different things every time we walk through the halls (and up even more stairs). The place was very conveniently located, a pretty fantastic breakfast was included, and the view from our private balcony was incredible.

6 May 2017

Very high up in the hills of Montepertuso and overlooking the magical town of Positano, each and every part of the family-owned, Trattoria La Tagliata, is truly local – from the organic vegetables grown in their own gardens, free-range meat from animals raised on the surrounding farmland, handmade pasta right from the kitchen, to the vibrant ceramics, created and hand-painted by local artisans. We were surprised when we were told they didn't have menus, mama cooked and they brought it out to us. We were pleasantly full long before the main course. Each dish is fresh, full of flavor and a surprise since we had no idea what was coming next. At the end I was excited to finally try my first limoncello. The coolest part was right before we left. Mama (the cook) came out into the dining room and received a hearty round of applause. Never experienced that before. :)
Here are a few shots we took walking around Capri. Very very quaint adorable streets full of cute shops and charming people. Gregg got to practice his Italian and I did a bit of shopping (and gelato tasting).
So glad we took the chairlift up to the highest point of Capri. It was about 12 minutes to the top, we had a bite and a glass of wine, took pictures of the amazing view and came back down.
Today we took a boat tour to the Island of Capri, a place I've wanted to visit for many years (since seeing an episode of Giada visiting Capri). These pictures are from the boat on the trip over and back. Highly recommended day trip.
Heading down to the pier for our boat tour to Capri. I'm sure we walked down 800 steps to get to the beach

5 May 2017

Took about a 30 minute stroll through town and wound up at this fantastic hotel and restaurant with an amazing view. Had a lame sounding (but very delicious) first dinner of a tuna sandwich and a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich with 2 bottles of wine. The hike back up the hill will not be nearly as easy.
Some of the sights on our way from Naples to our first night in Positano. REALLY glad we had a driver (really charming & chatty guy named Carmelo).
Kind of crazy drive from the airport to the train station in Rome... so much to see (and somewhat overwhelming on 3-4 hours of sleep). We are looking forward to spending more time here next week.

4 May 2017

We're off..... ✈️
We're finally on our way! Less than 24 hours from now we'll be arriving in Rome, with the final destination tomorrow afternoon in Positano, Italy. One of us packed light. 😜 Now we're chilling in the Centurion Lounge in the Miami Airport waiting for our flight.