Tag Archives: #italiain40

The hashtag for my 40-day solo trip through Italy in 2014.

Italia in 40: Day 29…A Castle, Magnum, and Pink House Cafe!

Today I got an early start and my friend and I dropped her daughter off at school and then went to get a coffee and pastry at a local cafe. After the cafe  drove to downtown Naples. We parked in a garage and walked to Castel dell’Ovo. Vitigno Italia 2014 was going on and although it didn’t begin until 2, we got to walk around their venues and saw a schedule and then walked to the top of the castle and took in the panoramas. I would love to go to that wine festival someday; the European School for Sommelier was there and my brain exploded. I have wanted to become a Sommelier for years now and being at the same wine festival with students from the major European Sommelier institute was super awesome!

After the castle, we walked back the garage and retrieved my friend’s car and drove down to city-center and parked so that we could walk around by Piazza del Plebiscito. We walked to the new Magnum Pleasure Store. You get to pick a Magnum bar, choose what coating to dip it in, the toppings you’d like (3), and a topping to drizzle…all for 3 Euros! It was delicious and amazing! I got pistachios, rose petals, and pearls! We ate our ice-cream and then went shopping. There were two stores that I liked: Kiko and Alcott. They are both really, really reasonable and were very “Italian.” Kiko is really low-priced makeup and Alcott is “vintage American” clothing…I would compare it to Abercrombie, but with a European twist. This may sound weird, but I liked more of the guys clothing than the women’s. The women’s clothes are CUTE and super HOT, but I know I could never pull any of their styles off, but I found like 3 pairs of shorts and two shirts and the guys section I would have purchased had I had the money.

After we shopped for a while, we drove back to Aversa to pick up my friend’s kids from school. We made it back a little early, so we stopped and had lunch and a glass of wine and then went back to her house.

We rested, I did some laundry, we ate some snacks, and got dressed. One thing that has bummed me out about this trip is that I should have packed less cool weather clothing and more “going out” clothes. I did great with the color schemes I picked for this trip, but I should have brought more of my stylish things. I assumed I wouldn’t be going out at night since I’m by myself here, but I will know better next time!

We went out to a cool lounge/cafe tonight in Aversa: Pink House Cafe. The lady that accompanied us to the catacombs on my first day here came with us and two other ladies that are friends with my friend. We had fun laughing, drinking, snacking, and talking. I like getting to know new people that are nice, so it was fun! The manager was SO nice at this cafe. He gave us free snacks and invited us to all of their events and was trying hard to promote his establishment. It was really reasonable and the drinks were very well made! So, if you happen to be stationed/live in the Aversa area, I highly recommend this place.

Today was a great last day in Naples and while I don’t think I’d ever travel here alone, the city is very interesting, intriguing, and beautiful. It’s jarring at first and I’ve never been anywhere that I can compare it to (even in Italy), but I would definitely suggest you spend a few days in the south, if you ever come to Italy. It will help broaden your understanding of this country and the vast challenges faced by the people of this region. There are complex issues and challenges at play in this city and there is no better way to understand them than seeing it for yourself. Also: CAPRI!

Tomorrow is another travel day, so I will talk to you fine folks tomorrow evening all the way from Assisi!

Italia in 40: Day 28…Amalfi and a true Neapolitan Commute!

Yet another gorgeous day in southern Italy!

We left Naples around 11:30, but there was a horrible traffic jam, just as we reached the coast, en route to Positano. We were stuck in tunnels for over an hour, but finally got moving and made it to Positano around 1:30 ish. We parked and walked down the hill to the main town and I tried Granita for the first time. It’s basically a lemon slushie, but SO much better! It’s 2 Euros per cup and I got two while I was in Positano.

I was obviously fangirling because I loved Under the Tuscan Sun and part of that film was set in Positano (I am not sure about the filming location), so it was cool to finally visit!

After the first Granita, we walked further down the hill and found a nice restaurant called Capricci. It was a little pricey, but nothing compared to Florence or Venice. The food was DELICIOUS! I got spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, a side of fried zucchini with garlic and mint, and a glass of Prosecco for 23 Euros! It was freshly cooked and light. So good! After lunch I went down to the beach and laid out for a bit. I got some more sun and put my feet in the water. It seemed colder than Capri and dirtier. It was still WILDLY clear. Just a tip: if you go to the beach in Italy, PLEASE bring Reefwalkers because the beaches are rock, not sand, and they hurttt your feet and get hot! It makes the water so much more beautiful though because you don’t have all of the dirt stirred up by the waves.

It was really crowded on the beach, so I just stayed down there for about an hour and then met back up with my friends. We walked back up the hill and I got another Granita before we went back to the car to head to Amalfi.

I’m fascinated by maritime history, so it was great to get to visit Amalfi. It was after 5, so there were no museums to visit or anything, but it was still cool to visit and see everything in the main square. We walked to the church and there was a wedding happening. It was cool to see the bride and groom and entire wedding party on the steps of this huge cathedral and hear the bells ringing. That’s the second wedding I’ve seen here in Italy and it’s so interesting to see that the bridesmaids and other members of the wedding party don’t wear matching dresses or suits and it appears that they don’t have receptions…

We walked around the little piazza for a minute and then went down to the shore. There were lots of couples going hard in the paint down there, so we just went back to the parking area and waited for my friend’s husband to come back to get us.

From Amalfi we drove back to Aversa and it was genuinely the most beautiful drive I have ever taken-only rivaled by the Pacific Coast Highway and some places on the Big Island in Hawaii. We drove along the coast for a good while, through several other small cliff-side towns and then went through the mountains coming out above the valley surrounding Vesuvius…OMG…OUT OF THIS WORLD. The mountains were lush and green and the drive was so neat.

We got stopped by the Carabinieri for a random insurance check and after some confusion regarding my friends’ American insurance (USAA since they are military), they let us go.

The drivers on the road were ridiculous-passing on narrow switchbacks and being assholes, but we made it back alive!

I suggest this drive to anyone that visits Italy and if you are lucky enough, you should try to make it around dusk because the sunsets here are phenomenal!

I think tomorrow we are headed to a castle downtown and then I am going to pack and do some laundry before heading out on Tuesday!

Italia in 40: Day 27…A Palace, Aversa NEX, and a Hail and Farewell!

Howdy! I can’t believe I have such a short time left in Italy! Around the 11 day mark I was really regretting the length of my trip and it felt like the days were dragging by, but now they are flying and I’m starting to get a little sad about having to leave in a couple of weeks!


Today my friend and I went to the Royal Palace of Caserta. I’m not going to lie and tell you guys I knew all about it and was super happy to go there because I literally had no clue it existed until this morning. It is definitely worth a visit. The entry of the palace is really dilapidated and there is even (what looked like) an abandoned hotel in one of the wings outside the main palace. The inner courtyards and parts of the entrance are under restoration, but you are free to visit the royal apartments, several wings of the palace, and the expansive gardens out back. It reminded me a lot of the Pitti Palace in Florence, but it was more modern and I thought it was better organized and also easier to navigate. When I left I was sure I’d seen it all and the signs in each room of the apartments were really interesting. Other than the main picture rooms, some of the art wasn’t labeled which was frustrating, but I’m sure you could find books that tell you everything you need to know.

I wish I could write at length about the history, but I need to read more about it…I know it was a Bourbon palace for the newly founded Kingdom of Naples. It was gorgeous inside and there were lots of famous portraits of royals, beautiful ceilings and chandeliers, as well as fascinating furnishings!

There is a cafe on the grounds which is really nice if you want to get a drink or snack, but lots of people were picnicking in the gardens, so that would be a fun option as well.

There are several ticket options, but if you want access to all of the sites there is a 14 Euro ticket that includes everything. I believe the cheapest option is 7 Euros, but I don’t know what it includes.

Although the royal apartments were all I saw, I feel like more of the wings of the palace could be open because it is GIGANTIC!

It was SO hot outside today, so after stopping into the cafe and bookshop, we just walked to the first pond in the gardens and then back to the main palace. There are buses, horse drawn carriages, and bicycles you can rent to take you part of the way through the gardens. They are really pretty and kind of a mix between the gardens I saw at Villa Manin and at Pitti Palace. It’s definitely somewhere you could spend all day, if you wanted to find good entertainment and history for 14 Euros!

After the palace we drove back to the base and I finally got to go to the NEX (Naval Exchange-a tax free department store for sailors and their families). I got a few travel size toiletries that I’d run out of and we had lunch in the food-court. I went to KFC and it was…interesting. I’ve only eaten at American fast food chains once or twice on all my trips to Europe (and always McDonald’s) so I didn’t know what to expect. My friend explained a few days ago that most of the products served here have to come from the commissary on base because food stuffs from the economy (off base) are not USDA approved. So, like, school lunches, hospital meals, and meals from the NEX food-court are produced with ingredients from the commissary. The chicken strips and BBQ sauce were good, but the biscuit and macaroni and cheese were weird, not bad, but weird. And no, the mac and cheese was not fluorescent orange like in the U.S., it was legit Italian mac and cheese…white as can be. The potato skins had the same flavored seasoning as the ones at KFC in America, but they were made from little bitty potatoes and the coating on the outside was different-not as crunchy.

After our lunch we went back to her house and rested and got ready for dinner. Two of the soldiers form her husband’s unit are leaving Naples so they were having a Hail and Farewell dinner for them. I never got to go to any of my dad’s Hail and Farewells, so it was cool to see all the guys give speeches about their comrades and talk to everyone.  They rented out part of a local restaurant called Barolino. It was 20 Euros a person for wine, water, salad, an appetizer, pasta, mussels, and cake! It was SO delicious and it was nice to see everyone I’ve met throughout the week. We just ate and talked for a few hours before coming back to her house.

We were going to go on a hike tomorrow, but it’s so hot and she has kids, so we are going TO THE BEACH AGAIN! YAYYY! We are going to Amalfi and I’ve never been there, so I am STOKED!

Only 12 full days left in Italy, so keep reading and see what other kind of trouble I get in to! 🙂

SN: I uploaded pictures some pictures I took on my phone to this blog, but when I do that they all post at the bottom. They are below the break, if you are interested.

Continue reading Italia in 40: Day 27…A Palace, Aversa NEX, and a Hail and Farewell!

Italia in 40: Day 26…Beach, Beach, Beach!

Today was gorgeous!

My friend drove me to the Capodichino Airport and I took the Allibus to the port in Naples. I bought a ticket to Capri and made it there around 12:30. I bought the Capri Unica pass for 9 Euros which means I got unlimited rides on the Funicolare and the three bus routes on the island. I rode the Funicolare up to Capri and then bought some snacks and headed for Via Krupp in an attempt to go to my fantasy beach.

SN: I bought some beer and chips at a little store in the luxury part of the island, but there is an AWESOME store that I found when I was about to leave. If you are exiting the area where the ferries dock, take a left, and it will be about 200 yards up on the right. Up the hill, I got two cans of beer and two “snack size” bags of chips for 7 Euros, but at the place by the docks I got a beer, a water, two bags of chips, and a sesame candy for like 6 Euros!

On my previous trips to Italy, I’ve been to Capri twice, but always in March. I’ve seen this one beach every time, from up above in the Augustus Gardens and I’ve wanted to go down to it so badly. Of course, when I got to the trail to go down to it, after almost 9 years of anticipation, it was CLOSED for maintenance (single tear). I looked on the map and found another route to Marina Piccola, but sadly couldn’t go to my dream beach, so that just means I’ll have to come back again! 🙂

I got back up to the main square and took the bus to Marina Piccola and then walked down to the beach area. Thankfully, I happened upon a free beach area and although it was packed, I found a spot where I could hide my purse and lay down, so it worked perfectly.

I had my beer and snacks and laid in the sun for a few hours. I put my feet in once or twice, but the water was really cold. During the last hour I decided to get in and swim because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t.

I love the beach, it’s my favorite place in the world! I’ve fantasized for years about swimming in that water, so I bit the bullet and jumped in. It was so beautiful and clear! I lived in Hawaii for several years as a child and this is the only place I’ve been to since then that could compare!  I swam for about 30 minutes and I’ve forgotten how much exercise swimming and treading water is. I really need to do it more. I got some good exercise, some sun, had some beer, and got to go to the beach and swim in the ocean for the first time since 2011.

After swimming around for a bit, I had to walk back up to the bus stop. It was super busy at the bus stop and there were tons of study abroad kids and tour groups, so I had to wait for the second bus to go down to the port. I didn’t stop back at the main square, unfortunately, because I needed to get back to Naples. I would love to stay in Capri one night sometime, but it’s like you stepped into a Chanel catalog. All of the stores are so expensive and everyone looks so tan and chic!

The first time I went to Capri, I did buy a pair of Dolce and Gabbana jeans. That is the first and only time I ever bounced a check-because I was 15 and didn’t understand the seriousness of exchange rates-LOL…and I can’t even fit them anymore 😛

Sometimes I wish I was rich enough to go to places like that and buy anything I saw that I wanted, but I know I would feel guilty for staying at $1000 a night hotels and buying outrageously expensive clothes…but boy, oh boy, were there some GORGEOUS outfits in the windows today.

Anyway, I got back down to the port and bought my ticket back to Naples, but still had some time to kill. I went to buy some snacks and that’s when I discovered the awesomely cheap store. On my way from the port to the store, one of the waiters that stands out in front calling out to potential customers followed me all the way down the front of his restaurant asking me to stop and eat and when I said no he said, “I have more information, I am single, are you single?” It was hilarious! I started laughing and the old man that was calling out potential customers at the next restaurant started laughing and said, “He’s stupid” in Italian.

I bought some snacks and drinks and got on my ferry back to Naples. The ride only takes about 45 minutes and my friend agreed to come get me because she was close to the port already.

We jumped in her truck (she got her window fixed, thankfully) and headed back  to the base to go to a BBQ. I looked like utter poop and smelled disgusting because I had been at the beach all day, but I had some awesome food. Most of the people from the wine tasting were there and one of them (this pretty girl from Guam) brought two kinds of kimchi and lumpia…I was so happy my heart exploded. I haven’t had lumpia in over 10 years and kimchi is on my “last meal” list-seriously delicious!

SN: When I met her for the first time I remembered to say “Hafa Adai” because it’s the only Chamorro I remembered-from FIFTH GRADE! I had a crush on a Guamanian boy when I was in 5th grade and my dad was cool and taught me that so I could impress this kid, LOL. I was so proud of myself for remembering it! 🙂

We stayed at the BBQ for a couple of hours and then I came back and took and awesome shower, nursed my sunburn, repacked my suitcase, separated my dirty laundry, and saved all my pictures to my computer.

Tomorrow we are going to a castle somewhere, so I will talk to y’all then!

Italia in 40: Days 24 and 25…Prostitutes, Roman Ruins, Daddy Yankee and Buffalo Wings!

Yesterday was polar opposite day.

We woke up and drove to Capua in search of an ancient amphitheater there! We tried to use the TomTom, but it didn’t work so we drove around Capua for a couple of hours and finally stopped at a gas station and asked some construction workers for help. My friend and I were able to get the gas station attendant to help us find the correct coordinates. They didn’t even know what we were talking about and had to show them online and they still didn’t even realize there were Roman ruins literally 10 minutes from them! I can’t imagine having access to all of this history and not even knowing that it exists.

The ruins are about 15 to 20 minutes from the base, so it’s a great place to visit if you are north of Naples!

There are several sites with Roman ruins in Capua. This amphitheater was home to Spartacus and it is insane. You can walk all around it and go underneath and it’s basically deserted. There was one man walking around making sure no one climbed up it, but other than that you literally have free reign (and if you really wanted to and were a d-bag, I’m sure you could make it happen). I would MUCH rather go to this amphitheater than to the Colosseum in Rome. It was so nice and kind of sad that they don’t guard it and keep it up as well as they could, but there was a nice, brand new, cafe on the grounds, as well as a museum and a guidebook of all of the sites in the city you could visit with your ticket.

It was so cool to go under it because although I’ve been to the Colosseum three times, I’ve never been down to the very bottom so it was awesome to see all of the construction!

If you like ancient history, you definitely need to visit Naples (who’d of thunk it?!)! As I’ve said a million times, I never really liked ancient history, but seeing these ruins has really intrigued me!

I have NEVER seen so many prostitutes in my life as I did on that drive from the base to Capua. OMG! They just sit on the side of the road on a bucket, maybe with an umbrella, and wait for clients. They even flash male drivers sometimes! I have seen prostitutes in Hawaii, but damn, these girls GET IT! It’s insane how it’s just so out there. I will try to take pictures before I leave on Tuesday, but no promises, hahaha!

After walking around the ruins, we drove back to the base and I got a day pass so that I could go to the NEX with my friend. We got a coffee and she returned some shoes before we went back to her her house.

I took a nap and then started getting ready for the concert. I didn’t really have anything glamorous to wear or any kind of  “club wear” because I’m on this backpacking trip, so I felt out of place, but I wore a black top and jeans with flats. I also don’t have a straightener and the concert was by the sea, so I’m sure you know that I looked FABULOUS! Vodka definitely helped me not feel rachet (or not pay attention to my rachetness) 😛 Everyone looked so gorgeous and hype. We paid a man 5 Euros to park and he was a dick to us so we kind of got smart with him, but we got to park really close to the venue.

We were in the VIP section so we got bottle service and had couches to sit on, in front of the crowd. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience to see all of these young people partying and going wild. People were smoking and dancing and just going wild. After the concert, DJs came out and started a set and the party just got more crazy. I would love to be able to party like that in Europe, if I wasn’t traveling alone; maybe one day!

Of course, when we left the venue, what did we discover? My friend’s car had been broken into. Nothing was stolen, but I did leave my sunglasses in the door and they were gone (thank God I only paid $12 on Woot.com for them…if you’ve never used that site, I highly recommend it). Also, it was such a stroke of luck that while we were all at the concert my friend’s husband showed up because he’s a DJ in Naples and his crew was at the show.  We yelled at the guy we paid to park and I think he freaked out when he saw my friend’s husband and his posse come to the car to confront him because when we parked it was just 6 American girls. Her husband drove us and we got back to the base around 2:45 in the morning.

Today, we were a little hungover so we just hung out at my friend’s house and then tonight we went back on to the base to the guest house. There is a restaurant there that serves American food (obviously) and I got some buffalo wings and a German beer. Buffalo wings are one of my absolute favorite foods and I usually eat them once a week when I am in the U.S., so that’s the thing I’ve missed most during this trip. I am so happy I got to satiate my craving! We got dinner and drinks for four (all meals included meat) for $36! My wings were 6 bucks for 6 wings though, but I genuinely could NOT care less. It was delicious!

After dinner I packed for my day trip to Capri tomorrow and uploaded all of my pictures.

Tomorrow, I am going to Capri alone and going to try to go to this beach I’ve wanted to go to since I was in 11th grade!

SN: I just had a major heart attack. It’s almost 11 p.m. and I am sitting in my room and heard 6-7 loud, random booms. I thought for a FACT there was a drive-by happening (I was on the phone and even told the person I was talking to to be quiet because I thought a shooting was occurring). I texted my friend immediately and heard her laugh all the way in her bedroom. She messaged me back and said it was fireworks from the local church to celebrate a certain saint’s day…#italyproblems

Read on tomorrow, folks!

FYI: I have been taking LOTS of pictures, but the WordPress picture uploader is really horrible. I’ve been trying for almost a week, with various WiFi speeds and networks, and it takes 10 minutes to upload one picture. I will keep trying, but for now, keep a lookout on my Facebook page and Instagram and I will try to upload my pictures to there!