When my mom and I visited my brother and his family in Naples, Italy, Matt and Emily made sure we saw the sights. For one thing, I’m pretty allergic to cats, and Emily wanted to minimize my exposure to their cat by getting us out of the apartment as frequently as possible. For another, we were in Italy — and who knows when or if we’ll be back?
So the photos below — a mix of landscapes, food and cute baby — are largely in chronological order of our travels around southern Italy and then our four-day excursion to Rome and Florence. Enjoy!
Our first outing took us along the Amalfi Coast, where the views and seafood are ample.
Matt and Emily generally feed Layla “real people” food. She’s not allowed extremely salty things like prosciutto, but she can handle Indian food and a variety of other cuisines, and Emily always cuts up small samples of the meal for Layla to eat. So, nobody was surprised when Layla grabbed one of the lightly fried sardines that Matt left on his platter…
…but everyone — including Layla herself — was surprised when she ate the tail end of the fish:
…and we discovered that Layla, who previously hated gelato for its frigidity, is okay with it as long as she’s holding the spoon:
It’s easier to say Matt and Emily live in Naples, but they’re a bit removed from the city itself. Anyway, Emily took my mom and me into downtown Naples to check out some old churches (including Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo di Napoli and Museo Cappella Sansevero) and, of course, eat true Neapolitan pizza.
We learned that verace pizza napoletana (“true Neapolitan pizza”) is taken pretty seriously. There’s even a sort of governing body that inspects and approves pizzerias that produce verace pizza napoletana. Matt was a big fan of L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele — until he found out that that’s where Julia Roberts ate pizza in the movie Eat Pray Love. (Awful movie.) Since then, his loyalty lies with Pizzeria di Matteo (whose website includes an entire section about Bill Clinton’s visit there), where Emily took us:
It was pretty tasty.
Matt and Emily spent their fourth wedding anniversary in Rome… with their baby and the in-laws.
And then the restaurant where we ate dinner (I had carbonara) had a pretty teeny bathroom, so Emily had to change Layla’s diaper in a dark alley between parked Vespas. Typical.
The next morning, Matt and Emily dropped my mom and me off at Musei Vaticani, where antiquity is on display for thousands of tourists and their iPad cameras. One of my favorite rooms was the map room:
After going through la Cappella Sistina, missing the Raphael Rooms (sigh) and deciding not to tour la Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano because of the crazy-long line leading up to it, Mom and I reunited with Matt and Emily in time for lunch at a trattoria on the other side of the river. Oh yeah, and Layla too:
Later that evening, we trotted back across the river, back to la Basilica di San Pietro, in hopes that we could go right on in, right before it closed for the night.
Sure enough, an hour before closing, there was absolutely no line to get into the basilica. And, as huge as the place is, it was quiet and intimate. Tourists were strangely respectful, and often difficult to distinguish from those who had come to pray and pay respects. We had, by this point in our trip, seen quite a few churches and a lot of antiquity, but I was overwhelmed by the basilica. History happens there, and you can feel it as you walk up and down, as statues of saints and popes watch over you, as visitors who would otherwise be loud and obnoxious dare not disturb the reverent hush.
The next morning, Matt, Mom and I visited il Colosseo — the inside — before we left Rome, and after seeing the majesty and feeling the history in la Basilica di San Pietro, I was left somewhat unimpressed by the amphitheater. Certainly it’s older than the basilica, but I had a harder time picturing history there, especially in its much-altered condition almost two millennia past its heyday.
We then left for Florence, where Emily had rented out a flat via Airbnb. The flat came equipped with a moderate kitchen, which included an oversized ladle that didn’t quite fit over Layla’s head:
Then, per our landlady’s recommendation, we ate at a wine bar after an evening walk around Florence.
The food was pretty spectacular. We’d been eating traditional Italian for several days, so it was refreshing and amazing to eat modern, non-traditional Italian:
The next day, after a few detours (including a closed-on-Sundays market, Italian “leather” goods sold by Indian street vendors and Galleria degli Uffizi), Emily and I ran through the rain and lumbered our way up the 414 steps of il Campanile di Giotto, which is the free-standing belltower adjacent to il Duomo di Firenze, on top of which sits la Cupola di Brunelleschi, which is basically the biggest reason why anyone would climb 414 steps in Florence, Italy.
(I don’t think I have enough dependent clauses there.)
I’ll have a (very short) blog post dedicated entirely to la Cupola di Brunelleschi, but for now, suffice it to say that we were trapped inside the top of the tower due to a heavy downpour… so, Layla got some exercise while we waited out the rain:
Then, 414 steps down and a few hours later, we found ourselves back at the Italian “leather” goods street stalls.
The following morning, we said farewell to Florence…
…and hello to…
Montepulciano is a Tuscan town known for various food products including wine, cheese and pork. But we had a very specific mission to complete in Montepulciano: Eat Matt’s favoritest Italian dish.
We ate this monstrous piece of meat — as well as a few primi piatti — at Osteria Acquacheta:
One last picture of baby with ridiculous hat…
One last look at an Italian (Tuscan) countryside…
And then back to the province of Naples…
…where Mom and I ate our Last Supper (in Italy):