Ciao from Southern Italy – our Italian adventure continues!
Our Eurail Pass got us business class train tickets on the highspeed train from Florence to Salerno – so cool, classy and peaceful!
Salerno was another port city that gave us a short-lived, but bad first impression. As we made our way from the train station to our hotel, a strong wind spiralled garbage about in the streets and at out feet. Many shops were closed and the neighbourhood appeared gritty. Bye bye classy and cool. The next day however, we wandered further and found clean streets and a busy shopping area; it was like night and day.
We visited the vibrant centre of Salerno with medieval churches, neighbourhood trattorias, wine bars and boutiques.
Salerno’s medieval Cathedral is a main tourist attraction of the city.
The crypt was wonderful!
A Saint with a sense of humour!
Salerno recently invested €12.5 million in regeneration in the historic neighbourhood. Once the tree-lined seafront promenade is completed, it will really enhance that part of the city.
Nice view of the fort from a little park:
Look closely in the background and you will see the ‘thinking man’. He is thinking ‘why is it so hot???’
We stayed in a boutique B&B hotel hosted by a lively Italian woman named Grace; she took great care of us for 5 days. We had a lot of pastry breakfasts. One morning we asked Grace where we could get a haircut and she promptly locked the office and walked us half a block to a busy salon that primped as both right away. Such service!
A trendy restaurant across the alley won us over with our first lunch in Salerno and we dined there several times during our stay. Good food, good people, and after exploring all day, great location.
Dinner between us one night was anchovies, pasta with clams & mussels and breaded swordfish:
This famous pizzeria in town was really good! I ordered the ‘8 item’ pizza; whatever the chef’s 8 whims were that day, you got. Joe thought they might serve the items individually per piece, instead of mixed all over the pizza. I doubted that very much. Joe was right – a very unique pizza!
We discovered a wonderful fish restaurant where the owner/chef greeted us and translated the entire menu.
He took us into the kitchen where they were just prepping for the night and showed us the fresh sea urchins being cleaned; and still alive! And we tried them! :0
Our appetizer was a local specialty; anchovies! They were nothing like the anchovies we get in the little tins. These were fresh that day, deboned and stuffed with warm mozzarella between two fillets. And NOT salty at all! Delizioso!!
We shared a seafood salad, I had pasta with (cooked) sea urchins, Joe’s was with clams.
We loved this restaurant and the entire crew that worked there. They even had their own fans which were handy for the hot nights on the patio!
After being overcharged 3 times and misunderstood at other local cafes, this dining experience was refreshing.
This place had build-your-own hamburgers and yummy nachos!
Based on its geography, Salerno is nicknamed the Tourist Triangle of the 3 P’s with the corners of the triangle being Pompei, Paestum and Positano. We visited two of the P’s and one A…Amalfi. The beautiful Amalfi Coast is what lured us down to the south western coast of Italy.
A quick ferry took us along the gorgeous coast with stops in both Amalfi and Positano. Ferry dock:
The pretty little village of Amalfi has a small beach and is easy to walk from one end to the other.
There are very few historical buildings remaining since most of the old city and the 70,000 residents slid into the sea during an earthquake in 1343. How horrible!
Today the population is only about 5000. During the summer though, Amalfi becomes very crowded!
Positano is considered to be the coast’s most picturesque and photogenic town and we agreed.
Just like in Cinque Terre, the terracotta houses seem to tumble down to the sea.
The steep streets were colourful too and wisteria draped the hotels and shops – so gorgeous!
Lots of restaurants and gelato shops. It was holiday time in Italy and Positano was filled with families on the beach; there were so many boats on the water!
The boutiques are popular with chic shoppers from Milan and we saw them in every nook and cranny up and down the streets. Positano is also expensive….
One day we realized it was only a 30 minute train ride from Salerno to Pompeii, how could we not go and visit it again?
But we found things had really changed since we were there in 2008. There was so much restoration going on, it seemed like more sites were closed than opened. That also made for a lot of deadend streets on a very hot and dusty day. We couldn’t find the brothel Irene Thompson – remember that?
Pompeii ran into trouble in 2010 when a site called the Villa of Gladiators, collapsed; followed by more collapses the next year. Pompeii’s walls were literally crumbling and heavy rains were making things worse. This set off international alarms and the EU provided funding for restoration. After years of neglect, corruption, mismanagement, and then threats from UNESCO to remove Pompeii from the World Heritage list, progress has now been made.
They still have problems in Pompeii but Italy says they are on schedule to meet a EU deadline of spending 105 million euros of EU money by the end of the year for maintenance and restoration projects.
We made the best of our morning and recognized a few things from our first visit. It really is a fascinating place…
When Pompeii was destroyed in A.D. 79 by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, it was a busy Mediterranean city. Thousands of people were buried in the city in six meters of volcanic ash; life came to a permanent standstill.
That ash also helped preserve Pompeii’s treasures, providing precious information about life of Roman civilization. Not just buildings but art, customs, inside of houses and shops; a preserved picture of their daily life.
Holding up the fort?
The first excavations only began in the 18th century, and still today only two-thirds of the site’s 60 hectares have been uncovered!
The (current) City of Pompei:
On August 1 we practically flew by high-speed train (monitors showed speeds of 249km/ph !) to our final European destination of Rome. We are in a little apartment complex a 30 minute bus ride from the city centre. It will be interesting to see how the August holiday month that Europeans enjoy, affects us. We already know a few of our neighbourhood restaurants will be closed for at least two weeks. Might be a good time to start our diet!
Roma, what a fantastic city to spend our final two weeks in Italy!
Paula and Joe