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.”
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:
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I’ve never liked cheapskates. I once worked with a guy who – when we went out to lunch – would make sure he only paid for what he ordered. And when it came to figuring the tax he made sure the other person paid the extra penny. The result was that, instead of just “splitting the bill” there was a lot of bookkeeping and figuring going on. After awhile no one would go out with him.
On November 1, 2019, I decided to visit MoMA on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues to see the final result of this stupendous project that opened for all to see on October 21st. Frankly, I was amazed at the number of people who showed up. After all, it was a Friday afternoon at 4:00 pm. People should be at work – or at school I thought. Or, was it because this was the day after Halloween? Obviously, I’m a bit out of it because MoMA was like Times Square on New Year’s Eve – but not quite. Everyone was very well behaved and incredibly focused and interested in the art.
On Tuesday, October 8, 2019 – the first day of Yom Kippur – we headed out to our favorite Kips Bay Theatre (2nd Avenue and 31st Street) for a 6:20 pm showing of Downton Abbey. Kips Bay currently has a terrific deal: If one signs up for an “Insider” card (it’s free) you can see a first run movie at any time during the day or night on Tuesdays for $6.00 – which is pretty incredible. Or, paraphrasing The Godfather, I’d say, “That’s an offer we couldn’t refuse.”
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