NAPLES AND BEYOND
by, 04-09-2007 at 11:13 AM (33823 Views)
After leaving Rome in the early afternoon (Saturday) by the Eurostar train to Naples we got into Naples a couple hours later in the late afternoon. Having been forewarned about Naples being dirty and crime ridden we took a cab to get to our hotel as quickly as possible. The area around the train station was scarey, not to mention very dirty. Once at the hotel we felt better. The hotel was in a very nice area and so we took a stroll around the area and the waterfront which was most appealing. We visited Castello dell' Ovo and marveled at the sea and then wandered into an art auction at the Excelsior Hotel next door to our hotel, the Grand Hotel Vesuvio. Since we had travelled most of the day, we did not want a heavy dinner, just something light and quick. The hotel stirred us to a small Napolitan Pizzaria called Mario's just around the corner from the hotel. Mario's was perfect. We were seated not far from the open wood-fired oven where the cook was bussy preparing the pizzas and we were able watching them being cooked in the wood-fired oven. There were a lot of locals there which is always a good sign.The pizza was heavenly and we washed it down with a nice cold beer. We felt happy, satisfied and refreshed, but it was time to turn in for the night.
The next morning, (Sunday), we got up early, had a quick breakfast and took a stroll aroud the area and watched the fishermen come in with their catch and selling their wares. What a lifely market it was.... The road by the waterfront was closed off to all traffic and the Sunday bikers were out in force. We also wandered into an antique show/flea market at the nearby park not far from the hotel. We were quite impressed with the quality of antiques and the art works they sold there that we wound up buying a wonderful 19th century painting of the Napolitan country side at a fraction of the cost of the paintings that were sold at the auction the night before.
The success of our trip, however, was mostly due to our driver. As I had mentioned in a previous post, we had rented a chauffeur driven car for two days for the four of us. The price was 150 Euros a day from 10AM to 6:00PM. (Umberto Izzo, Driver, www.italydriver.com e-mail: [email protected] - I can highly recommend Umberto, he was wonderful). We would have never dared to drive there in all that chaos in Naples. On Sunday, our 2nd day in Naples, our driver took us to the Amalfi coast, but when he found that the route to Sorrento was very congested, he took to the hills and we wound up in Ravello and Amalfi first and had a wonderful slow drive back from Amalfi to Naples. The views were fantastique... Of course we stopped at all the tourist stops (cameo factory, ceramic factory, wood inlays factory, etc.). but I was sorry we were unable to have a closer look at Ravello, but time was short. The Amalfi coast is wonderful and I am sure we will be back to do some more exploring in this area. That night we had a lovely dinner right across the hotel at the Marina at Ristorante Transatlantico, Centro Nautico Santa Lucia, Via Luculliana, 15 (Borgo Marinarai), Napoli, Tel: 081.764.88.42. The hotel made reservations for the four of us and the restaurant welcomed us with a complimentary glass of champagne and we took it from there. The food, especially the fish and seafood was excellent, fresh out of the sea, and no one was able to resiste the dessert menu....we had plenty of wine and we felt no pain as we happily walked back to our hotel for the evening
On the third day (a Monday) our driver took us to Pompeii for 3 hours. We saw enough to get the idea. We skipped Lunch since we wanted to see the Bourbon Palace in Caserta. The wonderful palace and lovely gardens were well worth the visited, especially since I am very much interest in the Bourbon history. Our driver allowed us 2 1/2 hours there and then we sped back to Naples to still catch the Archeological Museum, an absolute MUST, since it was closed on Tuesday, the following day. We loved the Archeological Museum, seeing all the Pompeii and Herculenium original mosaiics. We could only marvel at those mosaiics and imagine what life in Pompeii and Herculenium must have been like at the time. Without our driver we would have never seen what we did see.
We spent our fourth day (Tuesday) wandering around in Naples, visiting The Royal Palace, taking a tour of the History of the Royal Palace revealed room by room, visited the Castello Novo overlooking the busy harbour and ferry port, the Umberto Gallery, Teatro San Carlo, had lunch on the Via Tipoli in a wonderful Pizza restaurant called Pizza&Baba which served excellent brick oven pizza and even better Baba-o-Rhum. Then we took the bus up to the other Bourbon Palace in Naples proper which offered a most beautiful view of Naples. And the inside of the Palace was an absolute gem which I wouldn't have missed for the world. Their art collection of the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries is spectacular. I would have loved to spend more time there. We were only able to take a short tour of the Teatro San Carlos. We could have seen the "Ballet Rustica" in the Teatro San Carlos, that evening while we were there. The price was somewhat high (64 to 48 Euros) but we were also whipped from all the sightseeing we had done. Thank God we had a wonderfully comfortable hotel, the Grand Hotel Vesuvio, opposite the Castello dell' Ovo, which I can highly recommend, which let us rest in comfort and security.
The Grand Hotel Vesuvio is a LHW property which I would like to recommend for LL to consider as a LL property. LL could use a good property in Naples. Our rooms were spacious and well appointed, and most of all, had a wonderful view of the Castello dell'Ovo and the sea. A bottle of Champagne was waiting for us in the room when we got in. But the hotel also gave us a box of wonderful chocolates and for the ladies a small silver and coral trinket of a local good luck charm. Breakfast was included in our room rate and presented excellent choices. Breakfast was set up in their breakfast room on the 2nd floor with a fantastic view of the Castello dell' Ovo. We also had drinks and dinner in their roof top restaurant on our last evening, expensive, but nice and a view to die for....
The next day we were off by train to catch up with friends in Gaeta, 80 km North of Naples, at the Ulyssis Riviera, but that's yet another story....