Traveling in Italy

June 06, 2018

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When we were in Rome I really wanted to travel down south to Naples but instead, we went north to Florence on an all-day tour. We had a great time and learned a lot, but I’d still like to make a return visit to southern Italy.

Rome’s famous and arresting Trevi Fountain

That’s why my interest was peaked when I spotted a piece in Condé Nast Traveler (March 2018) by Katie Parla, a writer who knows the best way to travel from Rome to Naples. There are two options: If one goes by high-speed train it takes just over an hour. But she elects to stretch her trip into a four-day journey and, as she says, “Sit for three courses at 400-year-old restaurants and visit Bourbon palaces.”

LEAVING ROME

She warns that one should rent a car that can handle narrow streets. Then begin your journey by heading for the hilltop town of TIVOLI. From here, drive south to OLEVANO ROMANO, a town of stone houses overlooking the area’s dormant volcanic peaks. Parla says, “I’ve driven nearly every back road of southern Italy – this view never fails to blow me away.”

A fruit stand in Naples, Italy – photo courtesy of Condé Nast Traveler, Vol. II 2018

In the morning, she follows Via Casilina to CIOCIARIA, a region known for its cucina povera (or humble cuisine) and otherworldly mountainous terrain. She advises one to, “Ignore the industrial parks you’ll pass through because you’ll soon be back on a green stretch and heading for the medieval town of ANAGNI.”

WHERE TO PARK

Most villages have pedestrian-only streets so it’s best to park in lots outside the town walls. Driving deeper into the Ciociaria region she says, “A great dinner stop is Agriturismo Cerere, with its homemade pasta. Then spend the night at Sotto Le Stelle – a rustic-luxe albergo diffuso that was once a bishop’s home. 

Parla notes, “The last time I did this trip, I began with a visit to Agricola San Maurizio, an organic farm and then drove south to a switchback road that led to the Abbey of Montecassino, a restored Benedictine monastery that was destroyed in World War Two.”

In striking contrast and 30 minutes southeast is SAN PIETRO INFINE, a stone village intentionally left in ruins to bear witness to the ravages of war. Its crumbling walls eerily preserve the aftermath of destruction.

A PALACE AND A PIZZERIA

Just 45 minutes south is Reggia di Caserta that was built by the Bourbons in the 18th century and has a mind-boggling 1,200 rooms. From here one can grab a table at Pepe in Grani – hands down the most celebrated pizzeria in Italy. Heading an hour southwest one finds SANT’ANASTASIA, a village on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Then, Parla says, “Heading west, I can tell I’ve hit NAPLES by the darting scooters.”  

Pizza pies from Pepe in Grani, Italy – photo courtesy of Condé Nast Traveler, Vol. II 2018

THE LATEST ON CUBA

CLICK HERE to read our most recent mention of Cuba. Now it’s time to give you an update on this island country because the federal government has put new restrictions in place. Here’s an easy-to-read overview:

  • You can no longer book your own trip to Cuba. Instead, it must be organized through a U.S. tour operator
  • There are 12 permitted types of travel to Cuba – including educational and religious activities. Tourists sunning on a beach is not allowed
  • Americans cannot patronize certain businesses and companies. This list includes tour operators, shops and hotels
  • Some airlines have scaled back or halted service. But JetBlue and American Airlines are still offering regular flights
Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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