On Monday we were met at the hotel by our driver, Paulo …..
…and his stretch limo
to make the trip to Naples. Paolo was full of information about the area and about things that we should see while in Naples. While in route we passed a vendor with a huge wagon of Porcini mushrooms that would have been picked earlier that morning. We also crossed “Mounte Latta” (Milk Mountain), so named because one area houses many cows that produce milk and cheese and the other part holds the Buffalo whose milk is used to ferment Buffala Mozzarella.
The trip was very relaxed….it was clear that Paolo had no place better to be than in a car with us!!!! As we passed his home church, he crossed himself and he talked some about his two daughters. Apparently his 7 year old prefers to have bread with olive oil and garlic as her after school snack!!! It was interesting to watch him drive, talk, and gesticulate with his hands all at the same time!!!
The tourist season here ends in November and resumes in March and we asked what he did during that 3 month hiatus. Surprisingly, we found that he builds models of cruise ships that are displayed inside the ships or inside the ship company’s office. He said that the company provides the plans and photos of the ship and that he creates the model entirely by hand. His comment was that he loves both of his jobs and is so glad that he doesn’t work in an office like his wife (an attorney).
We arrived at the Royal Continental hotel which is located on the causeway of the port of Naples. We walked down the causeway in search of lunch and ended up at a local restaurant. We had a starter of Bruschetta that had wonderfully grilled bread and really fresh tomatoes, and then we had Pizza Margherita which has a light tomato sauce, cheese and basil. Let me say here that I am in LOVE with Neapolitan pizza ….the crust is a bit thicker and the outside edge is a wonderful soft dough that has been oven fired to perfection!!!! Michael also tried to order a glass of wine and the waiter said something and motioned “small” so we said yes that was it. What we got was a quarter of a liter of wine, served in a cute glass pitcher. It was just the right amount for two people at lunch.
We laughed when, at one point, the waiter ran over to the side, grabbed a can of “Shout” and a brush and then sprinted back to a customer’s table. He then sprayed the gentleman’s shirt and cleaned the stain…..where is this guy when I am eating!!!!
We walked a bit further and then returned to the hotel to relax for a while and watch some TV in English!!!!
Salvatore picked us up at 8:00 for dinner and we walked around the corner (on Via Santa Lucia) to a fun restaurant called Ettore. Neither of us were truly hungry but we ate like field hands!!!! The Starter course was a mixture of fried foods…..eggplant slices, zucchini strips, mozzarella, and small calzones. OK…I’m full. “Primi” (1st) course for me was Minestrone soup while Michael had a spaghetti with pepper sauce on it. Salvatore was amused when I ordered soup because he said it was more of a cold weather dish. I explained that I had prepared Minestrone at home and wanted to see how they differed.
We finally ordered “Secondi” (main course) at 9:45!!! Michael had grilled octopus (THREE of them to be exact) and I had Chicken Cacciatore. Once again I wanted to see how it compared to the stuff I make at home. All of the food was wonderful and we enjoyed the short walk back to the hotel. The only problem was laying down and going to sleep so soon after eating such a meal.
We have noticed that the waiters do not “push” you to hurry and leave and will not bring you the check until you ask for it. They also wait a decent amount of time between courses so that you have a lot of time to chat and relax. Basically, it is not just eating food for nourishment, but is a social event!!!
We were dining outside of the restaurant on tables that had been set out on the sidewalk. As more people arrived, they simply moved the partitions out further and brought out more tables and chairs.
We talked to Salvatore a lot about Naples and he talked about the economy of the city and that it has a “submerged economy”, that being the Mafia and non-legal forms of employment. We thought that it was a fun way to describe it!!!!