Yes, that’s right: 11 trains. Sounds a bit overboard (off the rails?)(UGH! She is stealing my jokes!), but it just kind of happened that way. We started out Friday taking a cooking class about 25 minutes (by train) outside of Rome. That required getting to Roma Termini by Metro and then taking the regional train out (stay tuned for a blog on our train mishaps!). Four trains round trip.
Saturday morning we headed to Pompeii. Back on the Metro to Termini for the intercity train to Napoli followed by the regional train to Pompeii. But wait! We went from there to Sorrento on another train. Keep up with me here; we’re up to 8 trains.
Of course, we had to get back on Sunday, so Sorrento to Napoli, Napoli to Termini, and Metro home. Phew! But, it was all worth it because cooking class, Pompeii, and Sorrento!
Our cooking class was taught by Claudia, with entertainment by Bruno, her husband. They are a great combo. One other couple (Hi Eva & Hosea – sorry Hosea if I have misspelled your name) had also signed up for the class and they turned out to be fun companions (I was a little concerned when we first met them because they are from New Jersey – but despite that – they were really great). We spent a lot of time chatting as we made two kinds of ravioli and beef rolled and stuffed with something (what do I know, sono vegetariana!). While we rolled dough and blabbed, Claudia made a delicious salad of oranges, fennel, fresh olives (from their trees), salt and olive oil (which she makes) and Bruno provided piano accompaniment with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely, John Lennon’s Imagine, and a jazz version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall And Volare! I’ve been in Italy for 4 weeks and it’s the first time I’ve heard it.
The delicious dinner took a bit longer to complete than expected and we ended up rushing out the door at 20:05 to try to make the 20:12 train, a 15-minute drive away. Quote of the weekend from Bruno: “I think it’s impossible, but we will try.” Try and succeed after a mad dash to the platform. Thanks to the conductor who held the train for us while we ran up the steps with very full stomachs.
You already know how we got to Pompeii. We did have an OK lunch in Napoli, allegedly creator of pizza, and then got back on the train. BTW, Napoli is a bit gritty, but it’s hard to get a fair judgment from the area around a train station in any city. Certainly no one approached us and we never felt we or our belongings were in danger.
We arrived in Pompeii about 13:30 and wandered for 3 hours. I had no idea how big the city had been. Being there turned Steven and I philosophical. He was musing on the scope of time and I on how beautiful and civilized a place it seemed to have been. Bathhouses, government buildings, commercial streets, an amphitheater and a societal structure of haves and have nots (and the have lesses) all wiped out by caprice only years after a major earthquake followed by rebuilding.
One of the joys of traveling off season (and at what I hope is the tail end of COVID restrictions) is that nothing is overly crowded. So much nicer to travel without elbowing through throngs.
Pompeii shuts down around 17:00, but we reached our limit about 16:30, so we got back on a train and headed to Sorrento.
We had a room in a hotel just around the corner from the train station (Diamond Suite), but when we arrived, we couldn’t find the place. The manager (owner?) Michele kindly came downstairs and found us. He was a wonderfully helpful person and I bet if we were staying longer, he would have had some secretly great recommendations for us. The place itself was no luxury hotel, but it was spotless, had a nice balcony and a comfortable bed (but the shower did have mood lighting!).
After a short rest, we wandered the narrow streets of Sorrento until someone got a bit hangry (not saying it was Sue, but it was totally Sue). After fruitlessly marching around looking for restaurants based on Google information (COVID has changed a lot and times in Italy aren’t exactly set int stone), we landed at La Maison Douce. The food was delicious, but the waiter made the night. He was friendly and comped us limoncello. (Think he knew we had a blog?) Plus, they had FEW gin, straight from Evanston, IL. Who would have thought(I used to live a block from the distillery, and have done the tour…just a few times.)
It was a day for (death) marching. We headed down to the water for some photo ops at the Marina Grande. Ah, ancient stone dwellings built into cliffs and the requisite restaurants and their touts beseeching you to eat lunch at their establishment. Plus, an obstacle course for drivers. Why do people buy big cars in Italy?
We realized we couldn’t escape without having an aperol spritz, so we gave in. I knew it would be a bit bitter, and it was. I steer very clear of Campari because it’s even more bitter. I’m plenty bitter without adding to it(notice I am not saying anything).
We planned a late lunch because we wouldn’t be home until well after dinner time. Steven found a place, O’Parrucchiano La Favorita, but neither of us had any idea what a big deal it was. The place was huge, packed and it had lemon groves out back. Once again, the food was yummy. I guess you just can’t go wrong with pasta. We thought we had plennnnty of time, but suddenly it was 16:00, we had to stop at the hotel to pick up our backpacks and our train to Napoli left at 16:24. Oops! Getting the timing right on the little things can be the toughest part of travel. Sometimes we’re sitting around at the airport for hours and other times we’re sweating it out.
We made the train without a hitch, but it stopped for extended stretches at a few stops. Steven turned to me and said, “I think we’re going to be late.” We had left 30 minutes between the Napoli train and the one back to Roma, but we had to find the right track, walk from the local station to the main station, well, we worried a bit. All’s well that ends well, however. We had no difficulties (this time) and made the train with 10 minutes to spare. To cap off a great weekend, we got to the Metro platform just as our train arrived and we were home by 20:00.
Once in the door, Steven said to me, “I’m really tired for 7 o’clock.”
I replied, “It’s not; it’s 8.”
“Then, why does the clock say 7?”
Oops! We had completely forgotten about daylight savings time. No wonder we slept so late. Good thing for cell phone clocks or we really would have messed up our train schedule.