Category Archives: Salerno

Italy Day 14, a Ferry, Salerno, a Car Rental, Torre Del Greco, and Occhio!



Amalfi’s Fountain in the Main Square


We felt comfortable knowing that the ferry from Amalfi to Salerno ran regularly.  There was some discrepancy in the scheduled times we saw, but not enough to cause concern.  We slept a bit late and packed.  To turn in the key, we walked to the owner’s flat, rang, and were buzzed into her patio. She came out moments later, “Buongiorno, Come stai?” We chatted for a while, mentioning again that Romeo messed up in not arranging to have our bags (and us) whisked up to the apartment.  Would we like a ride down?  “No, downhill is not a problem.”  With mille grazie on both sides, we parted and hiked down to a coffee shop near the ferry bigletteria.


Ellen waited at the coffee shop entrance while I purchased tickets.  The next ferry was at 10:20, roughly an hour away.  We ordered cappuccino and a doppio macchiato enjoying the sun.  Ellen mentioned she wished she had photographed a narrow street when we walked down.  “Go do it.  We have lots of time before the ferry arrives”  She came back well ahead of the ferry.  We moved to the dock to wait.  It was a glorious morning with some high clouds in the sky.  Not enough to threaten rain.

The Ferry





The ferry for Positano arrived first and it was packed on departure.  Fifteen minutes later we were on the ferry to Salerno, which was half full.  We sat close to a couple with a baby girl. She was gorgeous.  Part way through the trip, we commented on how beautiful their daughter was.  They were on vacation from Sidney for two weeks visiting relatives in Campania. Their parents live in Sidney with them. He is a firefighter, she a teacher (If I remember correctly).  I have great respect for firefighters.  California is just coming out of a drought and has had four years of severe fires. The 40 minute ferry to Salerno went by quickly.  As we left I joked, “Can we take your daughter for just a few weeks?”  I’m not sure they heard me, probably for the better.  We landed at a familiar port, unloaded and walked to the car rental (europcar) with the help of my Italian Smart Phone (thank you TIM).  It was a short walk away, made longer by heading in the wrong direction for a while before the GPS corrected itself (err, me).



We bantered with the rental host in broken English and Italian.  Had our passports photocopies, signed here, there, everywhere on a form, and were walked to a pristine, white, Alfa Romeo Guilet sitting practically on the sidewalk.  I was shown how to open the trunk (not obvious) how to open the gas lid (would have got that one) and , “Should I show you how to find reverse?”  “No, I think I’ve got that. Thanks.”.  He walked off, while another europcar fellow stood nearby watching closely.  I think there was a bet going, “how far will I get before causing a crash or could I even drive off the curb?”  It took my time settling in, adjusting the mirrors, figuring out how to shift into reverse (lift a ring under the shifter and move the lever into reverse), setup our Garmin Nav with a Fodor’s map of Italy.  It took some time.  The attendant patiently stood by waiting.  Into first gear and a soft push of the throttle and the car lurched forward. I think I scared the fellow who made room for me as much as I frightened Ellen. I was too busy to be concerned. I was free and driving in Salerno.

There are two GPS maps of Italy available for the Garmin Numi today.  The Fodor’s is the best of the two.  It is very good at getting close to your destination, but very bad at locating it.  We use our Italian masterpiece and Google maps for the last 20 km.  I had wanted to see Bacoli, a small town on a peninsula west of Naples, but we thought it best to avoid Naples and went directly to Torre del Greco.   The surface roads getting to the autostrade are hit and miss, some good others not so much. The autostrada was great.  Smooth except where marked, and fast.  I did not see one polizia the entire drive.

I chose Torre del Greco because it is close to Pompeii.  I wanted to visit the ruins and they were just off the autostrade.  Arriving at Pompeii, I parked in the first place I found after some difficulty (fun) crossing cross traffic.  We parked and were told that parking was free if we had lunch there.  We were starving and not thinking very straight.  Sure.  We sat, ordered, then were told that we had to spend 40 euros for free parking.  Our order was less.  But you could get the mozzarella and a water and be ok.  Humm, 3 euro per hour, we could stay overnight for 40 euros, but we were starving.  Ok.  The pizza was good, not great.  The mozzarella was not buffalo.  The beer was good!  We felt like we had been had, and we had been. With a shrug, we were off to the ruins.


Free Parking with Lunch, Do Not Eat Here

I have been to a number of ancient archeological sites, some very well preserved.  Nothing I have ever seen prepared me for Pompeii.  It is massive.  It is an entire Roman city that was destroyed when Mt Vesuvius erupted. Think about that: an entire city.  destroyed, volcanic eruption.  I’ll post a photo showing Mt Vesuvius today. If you run a line up both sides of the volcano, they intersect well above the saddle in the current mountain. The area below that intersection is the amount of the mountain that was blown into the air along with probably an equal mass of molten lava from the earth’s core.  This is astounding in its magnitude.


The Nine Regions of Pompeii, Pompeii is Vast!


Modern Sculpture Abound on Site, Beautiful but do not be fooled.

Equally astounding is the extent of the city the Romans had build by 79 AD, the year the city was destroyed. You have to see it to believe the size. And not just the size, but the quality of life shown in the layout and decorative skills of the artists and artisans of the period.  The mind runs in several directions when confronted with Pompeii.


A Human Body Encased in Ash and Turned To Stone


More of the Same

Destruction, annihilation, extinction.  When randomness in the universe was first proposed, the church opposed the theory on the basis that God would never allow the earth to be destroyed by some random act of “nature” (or God).  That a massive asteroid ended the dinosaur’s evolutionary path is well accepted.  Ours, mankind’s, could end just as abruptly.

I hope this video gives you a sense of the size of Pompeii.  This is a video of one small part of one of the nine sections of the ruins of Pompeii.

Quality of Life.  What defines quality of life.  Nearly 2000 years ago, these people had a very good and relatively advanced culture.  Arguably, from a literary or philosophical point of view,  as advanced as our own today.  Scientifically and gadgetarily there is no comparison of course.  But does having more “stuff” imply a better life?


Classic Tile Floor from 79AD, Pompeii


Mosaic 79AD, Pompeii

Empathy. Why did I feel such abject sadness that an entire city was wiped out.  I have no immediate connection to these people who perished 1,938 years ago. Yet I felt sorrow, tearful at the event and what remains now.



It felt strange walking the paths that these long gone people once walked, embraced on, and even were immolated on.  There are ash encased remains on display here and there, with clothes and muscles as detailed as in life as if clinging to life.  Hands held to mouths to shelter one more breath from the heat or ash.


The mosaics, the two amphitheaters, that must have played a role in entertainment.  Making the mundane more bearable, like our jaunts to the big screen for some escape.


The Lesser Amphitheater


Expanse of ruins

We got lost finding our way out.  Who knew there were three entrances and therefore three exits.  Which entrance did you come in?  Well, we don’t know.  Let me check our ticket.  With that and some help from a docent, we found our way out.  In the process we saw much more of the ruins that we expected.  At some point anything as large as this becomes overwhelming.  I cannot take more than a few hours, three at the most, in the Louvre.  Saturation sets in, I get “punchy” and have to leave. Pompeii is huge, far too big in size, scope, and implication for more than three hours.


Painting On Stone, Pompeii


Steam Heated Walls in 79AD, Pompeii


A Courtyard, Pompeii


Another Stone Body, Note Clothing and Hair Detail


Mt Vesuvius In the Distance

Look at Mt Vesuvius in the background of the photo above. If you continue a line along the right slope and left slop they intersect at a point high above a little below and left of the left cloud.  The part of the mountain that is missing was blown away.  Probably an equal amount of molten core material exploded into the air, rising up into a column of super-heated rock probably miles high.  When that column collapsed back to earth, it engulfed Pompeii destroying parts of the city while covering other parts in ash leaving Pompeii largely intact but buried.


“Herculaneum was discovered in 1709, and systematic excavation began there in 1738. Work did not begin at Pompeii until 1748, and in 1763 an inscription (“Rei publicae Pompeianorum”) was found that identified the site as Pompeii.Sep 13, 2016”

Leaving Pompeii, our Garmin Numi got us close to Hotel Poseidon, Google Maps took us to the doorstep.

At reception we met Germano, who was very accommodating. Room Keys, Breakfast downstairs 7:30 to 10:30, park out back, take the elevator to your room, this is a seafood town all the restaurants serve very fresh seafood. Enjoy.  We tried to speak our limited Italian, but Germano was having none of it.



Hotel Poseidon, Torre del Greco

Hotel Poseidon is modern and decorated as if you were staying at the bottom of the sea.  It is so modern, I could not figure out how to use the elevator! Seriously.  I’ve seen electronic panels with touch sensitive regions that spring to life when you press them.  I pressed away to no avail.  Lights came on, but nothing happened. Germano,, at the desk said (as if he’s done this many times), “Slide your thumb, don’t press!  Like this”  He slid his thumb across the panel, the up/down indicators glowed red, and after some whirring the elevator doors opened.


Looking Down to the Lobby, Hotel Poseidon, Torre del Greco

The apartment was new and clean. All the fixtures in the bath room were bright shiny new.  The shower had a wand and overhead rain head with plenty of hot water. The bed was firm and comfortable.


Taverna a Mare viewed from the Lido

Settled in, we left to explore the town. We walked down to the wharf/marina which clearly is a working marina. We walked until we could walk no further and had to turn back. At that point on the 2nd floor was a restaurant that looked inviting, but wasn’t open. “Let’s go check it out”. It was not obvious how to get there and in the process we passed an interesting café/bar with enclosed street side seating. Cool. We continued on trying a few dead end streets and eventually came upon the front entrance to Taverna a Mare.


They were setting up for dinner. At the entrance was an ice lined display case of seafood that one fellow was setting up.  It was enormous.  Scusi, then I said in English that I’d like to make reservations for this evening.  He spoke with another fellow who scurried off to find someone.  I followed close on his heals. Moments later I was face to face with the manager, a tall big hulk of a man in his late 30’s, imposing with jet black hair and a full beard.  We do not open until 8pm.  We can seat you then if you like.  Yes, that would be fine.  Then he did something strange.  He paced his right index finger just under his right eye with the finger running down his cheek, lowered his head, and glared at me for too long. It was unnerving.  What is this guy doing?  I had the sense not to react at all.  After probably 30 seconds of this he relaxed and showed us out. Strange. The gesture is called occhio, and it means, “I’m watching you and I am not a fool”.. Check these Italian gestures out:




Da Ciccio

To kill close to an hour we went back to that bar we had seen, Bar da Ciccio.  This was a fun place to stop for a while.  I ordered a birra della spina and Ellen a limoncello.  Where are you from and we were off.  We used google translator to talk to each other.  First the gal then a guy.  We went back and forth.  Later I ordered another round and the conversation grew.  Ellen took photos of the group, who said, No let’s all be in the photo. The time came to go to Taverna and we parted with many Arrivederci’s, salves, and ciaos.


Da Ciccio Crew

We were seated at Taverna a Mare beside another couple. The Italians do this. They are a gregarious lot and expect cross table conversation to flourish.  I had seen scorfano on ice when we entered, and ordered scorfano.  Ellen had coveted my spaghetti vongole the last time I ordered it.  We had house wine by the glass.  Ellen asked if she could have extra clams on her order. “Si, madam”.  I’ve probably mentioned this before, but the vongole, clams, are very small and very tasty.  They’re smaller than little neck clams of New England.  Ellen’s vongole was excellent, but my fish was amazing. The first bite was firm, mild, and very flavorful.  It was like a bit of perfectly cooked Main lobster, but tender.  I was ecstatic.


Video of Taverna a Mare, just for the audio.

The couple beside us each had spaghetti vongole for their first course and salt encrusted fish for their second. This reminded me of the time Markus and Axlexandra visited in Venice.  The four of us wanted to share salt encrusted fish at a restaurant, but a Russian party ordered the last one.  That started a conversation about fish with the couple, Jonathan and Anna. Anna joked that her name is an anagram, demonstrating a thorough grasp of English.  They had driven down from Switzerland on a two week vacation.  They would go as far as the Amalfi coast.  I recommended Da Gemma in Amalfi and we raved about Ravello. Anna is a PhD candidate in biochemistry.  She is striking, poised, and very quick witted.  It would be fun to get to know them better.


Some of Torre del Greco’s Fishing Fleet

A word about Torre del Greco.  For fresh seafood, this is the best place we have visited thus far. The ice bar, to your right as you enter Taverna a Mare, is at least thirty feet long and five feet deep.  It is filled with whole fish and shellfish, fresh caught that day.  There is more seafood on display in that restaurant than most seafood mongers have in their entire shop.  The variety as well as the extent of the display was staggering.  Yes, they had scorfano and clams and muscles, and lobster, and fish I’ve never seen before.  Use Torre del Greco as a stopover to see Erculano, Pompeii, and perhaps Bacoli.  Walk the beach, check out the working marina and fishing boats.  Enjoy a drink or two Bar da Cicco.  Talk with the staff, they’re really happy friendly people.  Iif you’re really lucky (or unlucky) you’ll get “the occhio” at taverna a Mare. There is a “there, there” at Torre del Greco, but it is not on the surface.


We walked back to Hotel Poseidon happy, sated, and ready for bed.

Italy Day 12, Ferry to Sorrento, Our Driver Inna, Positano, Amalfi



The Amalfi Coast

Capri, Toni and Nunzia

We arranged to meet with Nunzia today to have our passport photos taken for the authorities.  Toni was out working in the yard.  “Buongiorno, Toni” and we were off.  He loves talking about anything and everything.  We were still talking when Ellen came down.  Shortly after Nunzia came out and joined in.  Eventually Nunzia photo’d our passports and the conversation wound down.  I mentioned Torre del Greco as one of the places we will visit.  “Be careful there.  Be very careful.”  Ominous, a harbinger of doom? I’d have put more credence in this had Toni not been so wary of the Sicilians too.  “They’re not true Italians.  They have their own government and call us (Italy) the mainland.”   Torre del Greco is a few days away.  It will take care of itself (I hope).

We grabbed our bags and walked down to the marina.  I bought two one way tickets to Sorrento and was told the ferry was already in at port 12.  We had thirty minutes, more than enough time for a quick breakfast of espresso and cornetti.

Private Day Tours

I had arranged through Gianluca Savarese of Private Day Tours, , to have a car and driver meet us at the Salerno ferry and drive us to Amalfi.  I wanted to enjoy the view as we drove the coast and not be bothered by the traffic.  I knew the day we would arrive in Sorrento, but not the time.  There were too many variables to commit to a specific time.  In emails we agreed that I would call ahead once I knew when we would arrive Sorrento and a driver would be there for us.  I called Gianluca while we waited for the ferry.

Ferry to Sorrento

It figured, port 12 was the last on one the pier. We boarded the gangway, handing our tickets to an agent as we walked on.  The theme for Capri was “almost empty”, it was never crowded.  This hydrofoil had three other passengers aboard.


Empty Ferry Capri to Sorento

The crossing was swift.  The rhythmic swaying, rocking put me to sleep.  I awoke as we neared the dock.  Ellen dozed off and on too.  Disembarked, we looked for our driver among the tight knit group waiting to board. He was nowhere in sight.  We thought, “strange” and continued on toward the street exit.  A short while later a tall, lanky blond woman rushed up and asked “Ron”.  Here was our driver.  There was such a crowd getting onto the ferry that we missed each other.

Inna, our driver to Positano and Amalfi, Private Day Tours


Inna Taking a Turn on the Way to Positano

We walked over to a brand new Mercedes, put our bags in the trunk, and were off. Inna introduced her self.  She pointed out buildings of interest in Sorrento and other small towns as we wound our way in traffic toward Positano and Amalfi.  The coastline was gorgeous, full of mountains dropping into the sea with enclaves of villas perched on ridges or built  together up ravines to form small towns.  It was similar to route 1 in California, but with so much more history and architectural variation.

Inna stopped at a scenic view and we took a break from our ride to stretch our legs and take a photo or two.  It was a gorgeous location.

A stop on the way to Positano

A stop on the way to Positano


Picturesque Positano

Further on, Inna stopped in a parking garage in Positano.  We were hungry. “Let’s go straight down to the shore, eat something, and walk back more slowly”  “OK”.  Of course Ellen could not resist taking a few photos along the way.  Ellen and I walked down to the sea, passing a myriad of shops, tourists, and shoppers on the way.   This reminded me of Capri’s main shopping street.  Still we made pretty good time navigating the tourists. At the shore we found a number of seaside restaurants.  Had this been peak tourist season, we would never have had time to eat.

On the beach we chose a restaurant with tables in the sun and had a Margherita pizza and a beer.  We had just enough time to eat and walk back up the main street.  Positano is a shopper’s paradise. I was left wondering what hiking trails were accessible in Positano.



A feel for the crowds in Positano.


Positano, A Steep Stairway.

Inna was waiting for us at the top of the hill.  I called the manager of the apartment where we would stay next to ensure someone would be available to meet us. The Amalfi coast is a beautiful drive.  I could have driven it with no trouble at all, but it is far preferable to enjoy the dramatic scenery than it is to “enjoy” oncoming traffic. The blue of the sky complimented the blue of the ocean.  The cliffs and gorges cut into the limestone were precipitous.  Often the roadway was built out from the cliff on stone arches.  We passed two small public beaches and did not stop.  Eventually at the eastern end of Amalfi, Inna pulled into a street and parked.   Romano, our booking agent appeared, Inna, Ellen and I made our goodbyes. Romano now ushered us up to the apartment.


Lemon Candles, Ellen Stopped then Moved On.



View from The Top, Positano



On the Road to Amalfi

Romano and his cohorts at the real estate office all said it was a short walk with not too many stairs. Sounds good, right?  Wrong on two counts. It is a short walk if you’re not carrying baggage up the hill, we turned sharp left and walked up a very steep incline for 100 meters, then negotiated 104 steps to the apartment door.  Romano stopped by the owner’s flat to get the key.  She came out and greeted us; a very warm friendly woman.  She then turned to Romano and asked something in Italian and Romano looked sheepish.  She then told us she would have been happy to take us and our bags up the hill in her small 3-wheeled truck!  Good naturedly, but seriously at the same time, I ribbed Romano about the hike.  We had left a bag or two at the real estate office and had to repeat the “ordeal” yet again.  All in all the hike was not a problem.

The apartment again was exactly as presented in the photos, though the view from the windows was misrepresented.  I assume it’s typical of a real estate agent’s approach to selling; make the property look as good as you possibly can and deal with any fallout later.  We did have an expansive view, just not so much of the water.  Most of the time we are out anyway.


We Purchased Fruit Here


Classic Meat Market, Amalfi


Early Morning Buying Fruit for the Evening

A leisurely walk down the main road took us past meat shops, cheese shops, fruit stands, a hardware store.  As we drew closer to the gulf of Salerno, the shops changed from every day shops for locals to some then more tourist shops.  Amalfi, unlike Positano or Capri, developed in a very narrow canyon.  This limited the town’s sprawl and also the number of shops catering to tourists.  There are no “high end” or designer shops in Amalfi.  The town is not the glamorous jet-setter destination we expected.  We were glad for that.  Amalfi is a rustic quaint town alive today as it has been for decades, perhaps centuries.  The rich and famous have expansive villas built into the hillsides around Amalfi, but they are mostly hidden.  Sofia Loren’s villa sits along on a promontory between Positano and Amalfi.


Amalfi’s Duomo

Learning from our mistake in Salerno, we found the ferry terminal and the bus stop to points north and south.  Amalfi’s seaside is quite small.  Back at the apartment with our other bags, I recalled a restaurant that Megan, practically a family member,, had recommended on her honeymoon on the Amalfi coast.  Checking my “play book” I found Da Gemma and called them on my trusty Italian phone.  Yes they could make a reservation for 7:30 tonight, how many?  “Due, per favore”.  The Italians just know which language to switch to.   It can be hard to practice Italian; I do it anyway.  Every now and then I’ll ask something in Italian, and I’ll get a barrage of phrases strung together that could be individual words or could be one big run-on germanic like word.  It’s fun.  Usually my blank expression is clue enough that that last question I asked might just be the only “good” Italian I know!

Da Gemma

We found the restaurant with ease and were guided to a less than perfect table.  Ellen asked to be seated by the windows. “ I am sorry but that is not possible.”  During most of our nearly 3 hour meal that followed, the window seats remained empty. But about an hour before we left, they filled.  It is not unusual for an Italian family or couple to linger for hours at a table enjoying each other’s company.  In Italy, you are not simply paying for a meal.  You are paying for the table for the night.  Tables the appear empty are often being held for a party that could show up early or (more typically) late.  That group would rightly be very upset if “their” table was not available.  If you read through any restaurant reviews posted by Americans in Italy, many of the poor reviews revolve around poor service or not being seated where the couple expected: no window seat when there were clearly numerous seats available.  Dining in Italy is a wonderful experience.  “When in Rome…”



We started our meal at 7:30 with a bottle of aqua con gas and a bottle of white wine and some good natured conversation. The restaurant opens at 7, there were a number of people seated already. The waiter brought a small appetizer with compliments of the chef, one for each of us.  With a hint of plantain, it was a welcome surprise, very tasty, with not easily recognizable ingredients. Perfect.  I had seen a number of scorfano on ice when we entered.  This was the fish Toni had raved about. Ellen had the house specialty pasta, Mezzi paccheri alla genovese and I asked for scorfano, one of the special fresh catch of the day.  I was told it would be grilled and fileted with a touch of olive oil and lemon on the side. Perfect.  The wine improved as it breathed, the meal was very very good.  After the main course, the waiter brought each of  a mousse to clear our palette for dessert.  The bottom layer was a cream with a hint of lemon, the next layer was a hint of strawberry, and it was topped off with small flacks of caramelized ginger. We ordered variations on chocolate for our dessert. It consisted of five chocolate presentations: one was white chocolate with a small egg sized serving of chocolate gelato, another was a small chocolate lava cake, another was a chocolate and chili mouse. All were very good.  We were happily considering asking for the check, when the waiter appeared with another dessert dish, this one with eight mini pastries.  A very tiny cream puff, another was a cherry cream puff, another candied mango dipped in chocolate,  the fourth escapes me.    It was now 10:10; the restaurant had filled and was very lively.


First Teaser Appetizer, Complimentary

The first appetizer was a fried cheese with a hint of plantain with a splash of pesto reduction and tangy red pepper sauce.


Half an Appetizer, We Shared

We ordered a mixed appetizer which included hand made sausage, ricotta stuffed zucchini flower, and tuna carpaccio.  I had fresh scorfano sautéed in olive oil and served with no embellishment.  Ellen had Mezzi Paccheri alla Genovese.  Grandma Gemma’s Genovese pasta recipe of short rigatoni stuffed with her special meat.  Both were great, though my single serving fish was small.


We Shared a Bottle of White Wine

The wine was very good, but needed time in the glass to develop.



We ordered a mixed dessert of chocolate chili mouse, volcano chocolate cake, white chocolate mousse with chocolate gelato and caramelized ginger, and a scrumptious something.


Palette Cleanser and Chef’s Complimentary Dessert

After we thought we were done, our waiter brought out two orange ginger palette cleansers and a set of pastries: a mini coffee cream puff,, a sour cherry mascarpone soft cookie,  butter cookies, and chocolate dipped candied mango.  The orange ginger drink was exquisite.


A Representation of Amalfi built into a rock face

In the back of the main street in Amalfi is a representation of houses stacked together much like those in Amalfi.  It was fascinating to look at. Going home from Da Gemma, we found that the artwork is electrified and has tiny lights glowing from the house windows.


Stairway to Our Apartment, 1/3 of the way up.

Today was a week day; Amalfi was asleep.  There were a few couples walking about, but noting was happening.  It felt like the sidewalks had been rolled up.  It was a long day for us, coming from Capri, to Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi.   We went home and right to sleep.


The next 1/3 of the way to our lair.

Italy Day 10, complications, consternation, and Luigi too!


The Promenade, Salerno

Departing Salerno

We awoke refreshed. As we do every morning when we are not rushed, we went out for a morning stroll and an espresso.  Luigi provided a voucher for a simple colazione at a café, nearby across from the Duomo.


An Open Air Market, Salerno

Much to my surprise Luigi was leaving as we arrived. “Buongiorno”   Luigi was working on the upstairs apartment, would we like to drop in and see it when after we’ve eaten?  “Certo, grazie”  Our espresso and cornetti were excellent. And we headed back to pack for our ferry to Capri.  You will seldom have a bad cup of cappuccino or espresso anywhere in Italy.


Luigi, Professore

“Professore, Professore” I called as we approached the apartment.  After watching Montalbano, Voice of the Violin, I’ve wanted an excuse to say that.  Luigi’s head popped into a window frame and called us upstairs and inside.  This apartment was larger and much brighter than the one we rented.   He would rent this one to us at the same price as the one below, if we wanted to visit Salerno and the Amalfi coast again.  Given prices in Positano and Amalfi, this is a tempting proposition.


Living Room & Dining Room from the Kitchen Level


Kitchen Level and the Stairway to the Rooftop Patio


The Kitchen Level and Front Door

We talked about the work he is doing on the upstairs apartment.  He showed us the patio upstairs above a charming circular wrought iron stairway.  We lingered enjoying each other’s company.  The feeling that Luigi would rather be having fun and not working was palpable.  Finally we had to pull away to pack.  Luigi asked where we were going next.  The ferry to Capri.  We discussed where it departed and were at odds.  He thought on one pier, we were told on a different pier.  Luigi called around, called again. looked serious, called another place. He had a few long conversations with who knows whom.  Something was amiss.


The Ferry Pier for the Amalfi Coast

And something surely was.  There was a single ferry each morning that departs from the pier we were told.  However, there is only one ferry at this time of year and it left at 8AM! We could take a ferry to Amalfi or Positano, then take the ferry at 8PM to Capri and arrive late. I knew the ferry from Salerno to Capri could be trouble, but the latest information I had was that the ferry would be running hourly by now.  Not so!  Luigi continued calling.  At one point he said, I know a fellow who owns a boat.  He will take you to Capri if the ferries are too expensive. By now we had finished packing.  Luigi mentioned that the only direct ferries to Capri now were from Sorrento and from Napoli.  He could drive us to Sorrento!


On the Train to Napoli

I know that train service between Salerno and Napoli runs regularly like clockwork.  I went round and round with Luigi about what the best method to get to Capri might be.  We finally settled on taking a train to Napoli and taking the ferry to Capri, “but be careful in Napoli.  It is not safe to leave bags outside”  We had left a bag outside the apartment for a long time wile researching ferry options.  “I can take care of myself, don’t worry Luigi. We will be fine”.  Luigi walked us to the train station and carried my bag the entire way.  We continued an interesting conversation about dialects, Napoli, Salerno, about life in general, and about being happy as a way of life.  We parted at the train station after we had verified that ferries from Napoli ran regularly to Capri and having discussions with women in line for tickets about options to get to Capri.  It was agreed that going by way of Amalfi, while possible, would get us there late in the evening.

The tickets to Napoli were under 5 euro each, very reasonable.  The train was scheduled to leave at 12:10.  It was not 11:45.  We were good to go!

The train ride was fast, 40 minutes, and uneventful. Departing the train station a fellow asked, “You want a taxi? Where To?”   I said “Traghetto per Capri”  “Si, I take you”  (Lesson Learned Prior)  “Quanta Costa?”  “venti euro”  “Ma, No. diece euro”  “quindici”  I walked on.  Another 50 meters a second fellow asked “Taxi?” “Traghetto per Capri” “quindici Euro”  “dieci”  “dodici” “certo” and off we went to the ferry for 12 euros.

On the way the taxi driver asked Traghetto or something else.  Not being sure what the “something else was” I said “Si, traghetto” and shortly we were dropped of at a street corner.  The driver accosted a coupe crossing the street with baggage and asked if they were going to the ferry. “Si”, and he motioned to us to follow this couple.  The four of us eventually found the Traghetto, the car ferry to Capri.  We parted ways as they already had tickets and followed the signs for biglietteria.  By now we knew that was the ticket counter.  We arrived behind a very talkative group of Italians who seemed to have an issue with the agent.  They went on and on about the same thing forever it seemed.  All good natured, but the group was trying to find a way around or through some problem.  Eventually they gave up.


Ferry to Marina Grande, Capri. Ellen Chatting with justin and Kate

Our turn. “Il traghetto per Capri a qui?” “Si” “A che ora?”  “sedici e mezzo” “Ma troppo tardi”  The agent switched to broken English and said that there is another ferry that leaves sooner down that way, pointing further down to our right.  Great.

We turned around and the couple behind us asked, “there’s another ferry leaving sooner?”  “Yes”  “can we follow you”  “Of course”, not that we knew anything more than it’s “that way”.  Off we went.  Justin and Kate from Texas were newly weds (well less than a year married) and this was Kate’s first trip to Italy. We had a great time chatting about Texas, travel, languages. As we walked I stopped frequently to ask “Dov’e il Traghetto per Capri” and often people wanted to send us back to the car ferry.  We persisted.  Eventually Justin said they had dropped a car off right there, “Oh, that’s the car we dropped off.  They told us to go to the ferry where we met you!”  There’s lots of confusion about ferries.  We pushed on baggage in hand.  We saw an arch with people coming and going, “that could be it”.  “It looks like a cruise ship portal”, Ellen was correct.  By now we were flagging, it’s been over a kilometer and no sight of ferries.  Turning a corner we noticed a low white building across the street. It was nondescript, but could be a ticket counter.  “Wait here, I’ll go check it out”, and off I went. I entered the front door to find a long counter with two agents staring at a display to my left and an agent helping someone to my right.  It still was not clear what this was, ticket counter, private tour operator, local undercover police, who knew.  Again the agent and the Italian were having a great time discussing the pros and cons of the color of the tickets or whatever was of interest.

After a few minutes of this, out of my mouth popped, “allora”  The two agents looked up from the screen and both said, “prego” (it’s that easy?  Who knew.)  “Dov’e il biglietteria per il traghetto per capri?”   “e qui”  “Si?”  “Si.”  I went outside and signaled that this was the place.  Not getting a response I shouted, “Andiamo”  wrong context I should have shouted “Vieni qui” but it worked.  We all bought tickets.  Leaving I asked, “Dov’e il Traghetto”  what I meant was where do we board, but the agent got the message. “andare in giro poi dritto e sinistra”, motioning around then straight and left.  Cool. we were off.

With a few missteps, we found the boarding area, got aboard directly and were on our way to Capri.  Once aboard the ferry, I texted Luigi that we were safely headed to Capri.  Ellen gave Justin our travel card.  We never have pen and paper to exchange contact info with like minded people we meet travelling.  With “retired” cards we no longer have that problem.  We arrived Capri mid afternoon, beating the car ferry by many hours and not inconveniencing our hosts.  GPS guided us toward the rental and up to a dead end.  Great, GPS is useless.   We turned back and took a reliable route.  I called Nunzia who said Toni would be waiting for us at the supermercato superiore. “OK”, I said knowing I had no idea where it was.  We could always ask.  Walking back across the marina promenade, I asked a waiter where I’d find supermercato superiore.  He pointed across the street then wanted to have us sit and eat.  “troppo, non adesso per favore”  Clearly the market across the street was not “superiore” we kept walking.

A few hundred meters I asked again and got a gesture of up the street then around left and back around right and it’s up there. Vague, but something to go on.  Nunzia called and said there’s a stairway on the left we’ll see as we walk that’s a shortcut.  Toni will meet you at the market.  Cool, Up and around left then right, was quite a slog.  Then up a long flight of stairs.  Then left along a very narrow curvy road with cars and an occasional bus going buy (slowly luckily). Eventually we saw the market and a fellow hopped off the wall beside us and asked, “Ron”  “Si” Toni introduced himself.


The View onto Our Terrace

We are roughly the same age.  I may be a number of years older.  Toni showed us down a long walkway then left and right (or was it right and left?) through a locked gate ( just reach around and press the first switch to open the gate) and here you are.  Up a short flight of stairs and there’s a view of Marina Grande, Capri. The water sparkled in the sunlight.  Ferries and tour boats left white wakes streaming behind.  We were “home”.


Marina Grande, Capri

This was a relief.  We could have been stranded in any number of places between Salerno and Capri.  Toni showed us how to work the heater/AC while talking about Capri.  He could not find an English version of a map of Capri, but he marked up a French copy.  “Here’s the bus schedule,, you can reach the blue grotto from Anacapri.  No need to take a tour boad, the rowers will pick you up from the shore here.  There are old English forts along this side of the island and a walkway between them.  There was a famous sea battle between Napoleon and the English that took place here.  The forts were there to protect the British. You should walk.  Don’t just sit outside in the sun. Walk.  Explore.  See the Island!”  That’s toni.


Sunset Over Marina Grande, Capri

I was late.  We had had two long days with uncertain connections.  We turned on the heaters, warmed up the apartment, and relaxed some, then headed off to Capri before sunset.  There was one restaurant I wanted to try.  I knew it was close to the two rocks, Faraglioni di Capri, the symbol of Capri. To reach it we would take a bus to Capri and walk down the south side somewhere.  Not knowing the restaurant’s name put us at a disadvantage.  It was unlikely we would find it among the nest of narrow streets and walkways.


A Typical Capri Stairway

Capri is steep. There is much more up and down than walking on the flat.  We walked down to dead ends and private property a few times.  We always retraced our steps and continued in a east south east direction.  Eventually we passed a restaurant that “looked right”.  “I think this is the place”, I told Ellen.  Let’s eat here.  The restaurant was closed but opened in half an hour around 7:00.  Could we have reservations at 7?  Certainly.  See you then.


Terrazza Brunella is Villa Brunella’s Restaurant

Terrazza Brunella

A bit further along east, we found the Faraglioni overlook and a trail that winds below.  We easily consumed half an hour walking, watching the sun set, and taking a photo or two.  At the witching hour (a bit early perhaps) we returned to the restaurant and were seated. Ellen would have preferred a window seat, but accepted what we were given.  Often an Italian restaurant will have reservations for particular tables at 9:00.  That table will be held even at 7:00.  It is not unusual for a party to spend three hours over dinner.  The excellent Italian restaurants are much more interested in the qualify of the food and the dining experience than they are with turning tables.  Many a US diner has complained either at slow service or at not getting the table they want.  Understand the Italian culture and roll with it. Why not?


The View from Our Table, 7:15 PM



These Were So Yummy We Ordered a Second Serving!

On the menu for an appetizer was fresh sardines in olive oil and lemon with balsamic pearls and chili. I like the canned sardines we get in the US, Ellen does not.  Still she acquiesced and let me order the sardines as an appetizer.   She ordered a filet while I had dorado.  The house wine was a good choice.  When the sardines arrived, they were small thin individual rolls drizzled with oil.  I tried one having no idea what to expect.  Surprise, surprise.  These were mild and melted in your mouth. They were not fishy nor salty, but a mild clean fish flavor enhanced with a mild olive oil flavor and a hint of lemon.  They were outstanding.  I suggested Ellen try one.  Again I had no idea how she would react.  I had high hopes of consuming the entire appetizer myself.  That would be heaven.


Dinner By Candle Light as the Sun Set.

Ellen loved the first bite and the second.  Wanted another, then three more. My dreams of “drowning” in this exquisite sardine dish evaporated.  When the sardines were gone, Ellen said, “we should order another!”  Really?  I signaled a waiter and said, “we would like another order of the sardines, provided it does not interfere with preparing our main course”.  In no time another dish of sardines appeared and was quickly consumed.


Scrumptious Filet Mignon

Fresh sardines, and they must be fresh as the oils change character quickly, but fresh they are a delicate soft meat very unlike anything else. These were extraordinary.  My main course was very good; fresh fish sautéed in olive oil with nothing else.  Only fresh fish can be prepared this way.  Ellen’s filet was slightly charred on the very outside and medium rare inside.  Prepared, seasoned, and cooked perfectly.


Not Masters of the Selfie

We shared a dessert and espresso.  We enjoyed talking about our trip thus far, relating current events to past humorously, with hints of the next few days and weeks adventure.  Food courses were presented in a slow even flow along with an occasional top-up of our wine or water glass.  We watch the evening change from late afternoon to sunset then dusk as our table was lit by the sun. But slowly the candle light became the only source of light (there were low wattage ceiling lights that were outshined by the candles).  It was a very romantic evening in a romantic setting. We left the restaurant a little after 9:30, a wonderfully slow paced meal.


The Funicular Terrace, Nearly Deserted

A walk and a bus ride took us back to our apartment.  We were “home”.


Late Night, Capri