Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Italian Job!

Italy was wonderful. We were staying in a villa which was all old tiles and spacious rooms with bourgonvillia and jasmine on the outside. The windows openned onto an outside covered terrace which looked straight to the Med, we were woken by the sound of birds and the occasional boat and the sound of the sea and the hooting by the bus drivers as they went by on the road above.

We had a tiny man made private beach that we had to walk down about 5 flights of very steep stairs to get to, and we had to walk up the same to get the the main road, which is the only road that takes you along the Amlfi coast so it's madness - scooters, buses, cars, pedestrians are all using the road, all apart from the pedestrians are at break neck speed around many hair pin bends. There was a lot of bus action and a lot of bus on bus action which always involved lots of horns and backing up and so on.

The nearest town was Minori - one of the least touristy towns on the coast and gorgeous. It still had holiday makers, but it's full of local charm and was relatively inexpensive. We spent a lot of time there and became tempoary locals, hanging out at the bars in the square, or eating gelati, or at a couple of great restuarants. The first week, for the most part Matt and I relaxed and slept and ate and walked and sunbathed.

One day we decided to walk to Ravello which is a steep up hill stair climb (about 1 mile) it was a beautiful walk past terraced fams of peaches and lemons. We saw mules bringing the lemons down and picked up ones that had been dropped. By the time we got to Ravello the weather had changed and there was a torrential downpour and we had to shelter in a shop. We did get back there another time and it really is a pretty town - amazing views. After the walk up there we had sore legs for days!

Matt's parents arrived on the Friday in time for the World Cup to start so there was more hanging out watching the footie. but as they brought a car we were able to travel around a bit more. My birthday was spent in Pompeii. Most of the artifacts are in museums but it's still worth a visit - we enjoyed it very much - it's big though and there's still a lot to see. We avoided Naples and the museums this trip.

We also visited Capri, and took a ferry there and back- very beautiful with some stunning walks. Also incredibly expensive. Mind shatteringly so. I bought a pretty handbag which wasn't too extortionate, but some of the designer stuff was ridiculous.Amalfi is also a pretty town but packed with tourists and not as friendly as some of the other places we visited. Found a wonderful handbag shop and another leather shop so it was worth visiting for those reasons!All in all we loved the area, and will probably go back.

Because we were staying in a villa we had the freedom to eat out or in - when we ate in we bought wonderful fruit (peaches etc) and tomatoes (the best I've eaten) and proscuitto and bread or made very simple pasta. For breakfast we had cereal (the locals thought we were made because italians don't really eat cereal for breakfast much) or went into town and had cornettos (croissants) that had surprise fillings, such as chocolate, marmalade or apricot jam. And we ate many multi course meals - lots of seafood - for much much less than you'd pay in London.

Being in Italy for the world cup was great fun - the local bars moved the TVs outside so we could watch the various games and there was a party atmosphere when Italy played. On our last night it was the Italy - US game and we were in the back with the locals - there was an audible sigh of relief when we cheered for Italy - they'd been giving us funny looks because they assumed we were supporting the US! And as our friendly waiter said "Theese country ees crazy".

I loved the Italians and the sense of community and the food was fantastic.

When I got back I had my first 3 month check up. So far so good. Next one is in September. Now we can enjoy the summer!

Z x