international Italy travel

Isola di Capri

Our Blue Grotto Guide
Someone needs sunglasses.

We got a late start, but made it to the Isle of Capri before noon. Our first priority: The Blue Grotto, aka La Grotta Azzurra, known since the Roman Times and visited by Augustus Caesar. To get there in 2010, you hire a boat in Capri’s Marina. The big boat takes you past these amazing cliffs of insanity to rowboat jockeys. Then you wait near the grotto entrance for your rowboat turn, and then your guide takes you into the legendary sea cave. The process takes an hour for a five minute cave tour but the journey makes it all worthwhile.

As we approached the cave in our little boat, I had that same sensation I do in the opening moments of The Pirates of the Caribbean. Here, there are no rails.

The blue reflection is spectacular. Our guide sang well, putting others to shame. Instead of sailing back to Capri’s main harbor, we asked our guide to drop us off at a pier nearby.
Blue Grotto

Then, we took a bus to Anacapri, a small town way, way up. We found another pizzeria for Quattro Formaggi (this time with blue cheese amongst the usuals).

Our next stop would be the chair lift to Monte Solaro. I’m not sure what I expected but it was definitely something more akin to chair lifts at ski resorts. At Monte Solaro, you sit in a singular wooden chair and ride for 20 minutes high above the fields up the mountainside to a viewpoint with a cafe. It was mostly very peaceful & my favorite spot on Capri, barely edging out the Grotto. I loved it so much that after an hour in the cafe we nixed plans to hike down and took the chairlift back. I considered the roundtrip journey again.

We spent some time walking around Anacapri, the Capri Palace, & Villa San Michele’s grounds before riding back to Capri for gelato and a final ride on the funicular down to the Marina.

The last hydrofoil leaves around 6, which seemed early on paper. After a day full of sights & crowds, this 6 hours felt perfectly adequate for a day trip.

More pictures from our day in Capri here:

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international Italy travel

Sunday in Sorrento

Our Terrace's Lemon Tree
We switched into vacation mode today, with a full roster of nothing. We awoke to sunshine & lemons on our terrace.

When practicing la dolce far niente, one still must eat. We chose Inn Bufalito for lunch.
Inn Bufalito
Ok pizzabread salad

It was no Da Franco (a little bland, actually) but gave us plenty of energy for wandering Sorrentine alleyways & the marina, and to get our bearings.


alley in Sorrento

We ended our day at Il Buco, a well-known place in a restored convent. We had our second great dinner in a row: local prawns, octopus ravioli, buffalo mozzarella made nearby & served 4 ways, fettucine with walnut sauce, and baba au rhum.

The service was even better than our dinner, though maybe this was unusual — Mr. T overheard the nearby table remarking to each other that the staff was fawning all over us. I say hey, sometimes you just hit it off. I’ll take the good times.

Inside Il Buco, an old convent

international Italy travel

Hello, Italy, Hello Pizzeria Da Franco

The Best Pizza South of Naples, Maybe in Italy
I wasn’t sure what to expect of Southern Italy. I can be pretty Type A. I like order. Schedules. Lists. Plans. Following those plans. Italy is legendary for mixing it up. The further south you go, even more so. Would I go crazy from all the chaos? Even more importantly, would the food be any good?

Good food isn’t a guarantee in Italy — during a 2004 trip, I encountered as many downright bad meals as decent ones. Foodwise, I’d been disappointed & resigned myself to not being into Italy. Maybe France was just more my speed? But. I also know I am in a very different place in my life now. I’m much better at finding good places; I’m much more comfortable traveling in unknown circumstances. I wanted to try it again, and not solo unlike last time. So when it came time to choose springtime honeymoon destinations and given our predilection for Mediterranean destinations, Mr. T & I decided it could be the perfect setting between the coastline, potential for great food, & plenty of things to see and do. The Sorrentine Peninsula! Pizza! Pompei! Panini! Capri! Lemons! Gelato! Positano! The Amalfi Coast! Sunshine!

We arrived shortly before noon in Napoli Capodichino. Between transit & late afternoon snacks & naps, we weren’t out for dinner in Sorrento until 9 PM. How southern European of us! We picked simple: a pizzeria written as curiously beloved by locals. Curious, as in, the author wasn’t exactly sure why the patrons packed the place despite the crowds & plastic silverware and disposable cups. Curiously packed & beloved by locals? This sounded like a recipe for success to me.

Yes, dinner blew my expectations away. I knew immediately we’d come to the right place. I considered the police officers waiting for their pizza to be a good omen. When our number came up & we were seated, I ordered pizza alla diavola & Mr. T chose a pizza with parmesan & arugula and some sort of prosciutto or ham or something. I’d give you the name, but it doesn’t really matter because anything these guys at Da Franco put on their pizza tastes amazing. Plus, it turns out there’s not standardization amongst titles and their corresponding ingredients. Each establishment interprets their pizzas as they see fit. Pizza alla romana can mean anchovies in one place where anchovies are the centerpiece for pizza alla siciliana somewhere else. That’s Italy! Always mixing it up!

This pizza was something else: the flavors amazing & the crust was cooked to a perfect char. It was refreshing to spend 20 euro on dinner for 2 when we’d been ordering a single entree in Dublin for the same.

We noticed everyone else polishing off their own pizzas, but Mr. T & I could barely make a dent in half. I caught our server’s attention to ask for a takeaway box. He winked, then demurred: “Of couuuuurse.”

Then he brought us this box. Oh, Italy!
Da Franco's, ta go