Lucky duck that I am, I visited Italy earlier this year, southern Italy to be exact. None of that fashionable, decaying-but-romantic, artsy-wartsy way of life for me. No, siree.
|Going down a hill in Pozzuoli showed me this structure- what purpose did it once serve?|
(Although I reserve the right for those to appear in future trip posts, of course)
This time, the idea was to relax, to not rush around sightseeing, to have a home base and merely get to know the pace of life of a different place, this one being Naples and the surrounding area.
It didn't exactly fall out as planned. I took some advice to avoid the trains on the eastern coast because they're old and less reliable, and ended up taking more than a day to travel to Sicily, which I in no way regret. If you have the chance, go and absorb Sicily. It is beautiful.
By the way, those are landscaping bushes for a public park in Pozzuoli, yes, but they're also, wait for it, ROSEMARY! Why didn't we think of this?
Wherever I was in Italy, I was keeping a weather eye out for places that looked like local hotspots for good food. I was not disappointed.
|Wisteria vine scenting a sidewalk in Pozzuoli|
Since I found so much beauty scattered around southern Italy, I also include here some of the beautiful plants and flowers I encountered.
First off, first meal, all-star favorite: zeppoline. A relative of the doughnut, this version is savory and can include herbs. It tastes salty, has a satisfying crunch from the lightly fried batter, and appears to positively melt in the mouth. I tried to replicate this at home when I returned based on 2 recipes in Italian cookbooks, but it didn't achieve the lightness, saltiness, and snacky delight from those I had in Pozzuoli, my first night in Italy.
This is where I stayed: the Solfatara! Say it softly and it sounds like an incantation... and judging from the sulfurous steam emanating from the various pockets around this dormant volcano, there are some witches nearby brewing concoctions as well!
No, no, not really. I stayed just à côté, with some wonderfully generous friends who live high on a hill overlooking the Bay of Naples. So hard, I know.Not only do they contend with that view, but they also have to put up with the hillsides full of wildflowers, bursting forth with their colors. It was gorgeous, and this was still in mid-April when it was still overcast and foggy.
The second night in Pozzuoli led us to a local bistro-type place facing the bay with an outdoor heated patio, which was lovely for the temperature, but the heat lamp turned all the pictures electric shades of red and yellow. Notwithstanding the bad job of sizing up the light, the food there was excellent. We had the mixed appetizer plate, which contained zeppoline (I'd already fallen in love), mussels, egg and shrimp, octopus salad (another newbie but immediate favorite, unfortunately no good photos of the various 'polpo' we found along the way!), and a couple other things. Would you just look at how they present it? To be so proud of your work that it is a work of art- now there's an accomplishment.
Everywhere I ate, there were all kinds of fish- fried fish, fish in salad, fish marinated in vinegar. And they were all good! I normally don't consider myself a fish person, but in the spirit of learning the place, I bit into crispy fish heads and chewy tentacles. I'm glad I did! I hope that one day I will be able to procure the right type of octopus to make such a salad myself. It would have to go down better than the zeppoline.
|The simplest, and the best.|