Campania, Italy

As I mentioned in my previous post our trip was split between Rome and Sorrento in the South of Italy. The train network across Italy is actually really good and we actually had a lovely journey from Rome to Naples travelling first class on a very peaceful train. However, as I mentioned before the train journey from Naples to Piano di Sorrento (where we stayed) was busy and so hot I could practically feel the beads of sweat forming. I must stress though, none of the rest of our journeys on the Circumvesuviana were as crowded or as intensely warm (although their lateness caused an issue a couple of times). (Also make sure you pay for any Circumvesuviana tickets in Naples with as close to the exact change as possible. The guy in the ticket office is notorious for ripping Tourists off by giving the the incorrect change. I must stress this was not an issue in any of the other stations and the service is very inexpensive in general.

Onto the major positive – we got to visit Pompeii. Both of us had been desperate to visit the site since childhood. We were both absolutely overwhelmed by the size of it as we had underestimated this and were expecting a village rather than a city. Although it is boiling (take a lot of sun cream if visiting in the Summer) and I would urge you to remember a drink there are places to refill your bottles so you needn’t spend a fortune on staying hydrated. Anyway, it was a fascinating place and definitely a place I highly recommend visiting. Although in some ways it was sobering imagining a whole city wiped out within hours.

We also visited the main town of Sorrento and some local beaches which were so beautiful and typically Italian. Although the beach near our hotel was one where you have to pay for its use, this actually made it more secure and we felt comfortable leaving our belongings on our sun loungers while we swam in the sea.

However, one of the holiday favourites was a boat trip around Capri which stopped off at Positano. Both of which are two of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Swimming off the boat with a view of Capri was a wonderful experience. We had a few hours happily looking in all the little shops and exploring Positano. I would love to go back and spend more time in both of these places. I think that’s the thing with travel, it always gives you a thirst for more.

Fortunately, or unfortunately Piano di Sorrento absolutely ruined both of us for pizza. We discovered a pizzeria next to the station called Pizzeria All’Angolo. Popular with locals and tourists alike, we enjoyed some fantastic pizza and local wine. The waiters and the staff were all so friendly and welcoming to us and every time we have had pizza since our return we lament that it is not at this particular pizzeria. (It was also as inexpensive as it was delicious, who says you always have to pay through the nose for unforgettable dining experiences?) Although the restaurant overlooked a station car park we actually had quite a companionable time spotting local cats and giving them names. It’s the simple things in life that provide the most amusement.

All in all Italy is an unforgettable experience and I think a pretty perfect travel destination for D’s first trip abroad. However, 8 days was not nearly enough time to full explore Rome or Campania, let alone Italy as a whole.

Still, not to beat around the bush, the humidity did cause havoc with my hair and there were several days where I looked frighteningly like Hair Bear of the hair Bear Bunch. Still, it was worth it for such a wonderful holiday.

 

Rome

A month ago this week we flew to Rome and enjoyed the delights of Rome and Sorrento (but not really the delights of the Circumvesuviana from Naples to Sorrento without air conditioning on one of the sweatiest days of my life!). Anyway, I thought it would be nice to add a few more recent travel themed posts and as Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world it would be a good place to start.

We flew via Ciampino Airport and travelled round mostly on the Metro and on foot. I would really recommend buying a Roma pass; which as well as giving you a 3 day travel card for the Metro, also gets you into 2 attractions (we opted for the Coliseum and Castel Sant Angelo). I would really 100% recommend buying your tickets for the Vatican Museum before you travel, the queues were insane and we were grateful not to have to worry about queuing in the heat. On the subject of the Vatican, I would also plan what you want to wear in advance, make sure its an appropriate length and covers your knees and elbows otherwise you will be made to cover up, either in a shawl or paper trousers. I don’t know about you but paper doesn’t feature heavily in my travel wardrobe.

Apart from the above attractions we also paid a trip to the Pantheon, explored Trastavere and mistakenly attended Mass in the oldest Christian Churches in Rome (the congregation were so lovely to us and the church was beautiful). I certainly felt like we could have spent a fortnight there and not seen all of the wonderful museums, churches and historical sites.

I would also advise caution when it comes to things like touts, people coming up to you to try and sell you things outside tourist attractions etc. It can be difficult to walk past them politely but tickets are nearly always cheaper from attractions or online vendors and a lot of street sellers will try to rip you off (I feel pretty bad writing this as I am aware its to make ends meet, every beautiful place has some downsides).

However, I would recommend walking round the city and getting a feel of the place. Rome is so beautiful and has so many different areas. We stayed just down the road from the Coliseum in a hotel called Hotel Centro Cavour – the hotel itself was a good base and the staff were so friendly. Upon arrival the man on the reception gave us a map, added the best places to visit on your first visit and explained the best routes to each place.

Although Italy has a reputation for being more on the pricey side, we actually found it pretty reasonably priced for food and drinks. I don’t know what it is about European cities but one of the loveliest things about being on a city break is always sitting outside a bar in the early evening with a drink before the sun goes down.

On the topic of food, embrace gelato. It is one of my absolute favourite desserts and the flavour range is fantastic. I particularly loved raspberry, passion fruit and coconut flavours as the temperatures soared.

One last thing, I  saw another blogger recommend getting up as something ridiculous like 5am to avoid crowded places in more touristy areas. Its very rare something makes me get up this early when I am not in work, but I don’t think this is the sanest, or safest advice. However, if you DO want to visit some of the more popular places at quieter times; crowds tend to disperse around 7.30 to 8pm which provides ample photographic opportunity and a chance to see things at a more leisurely pace.

2000 Trees Festival, Gloucestershire

So this weekend marked my first experience (at the grand old ages of 27) of camping at a festival. Something I never imagined a couple of years ago I’d be doing. However, D being a music journalist with Already Heard got the opportunity to attend the festival with a press ticket so I went along for the ride. 2000 trees is an alternative music festival in its 9th year and its a lot smaller than the bigger names with a capacity of 5000. I highly recommend it, we felt extremely relaxed sitting in the sun with ciders listening to music in beautiful surroundings. In addition we watching some stand up comedy ranging from painful to hilarious. While festival toilets are pretty grim (especially first thing in the morning), at least we actually saw the portaloos being cleaned (while watching this was unpleasant I feel there are far worse alternatives).

I have experienced festival food at Slam Dunk and Pinky swear festival; and I really liked the setup of the latter. However, the food here was amazing and a must for any foodie who enjoys a healthy amount of live music with their street food. We dined very nicely on delicious burgers, pizza and local cider. In fact, I could almost cry with happiness as D will now eat Pad Thai! It must be said though, apart from our first day we didn’t actually drink that much over the course of the day. I feel this is important to mention anyone who is wary that it might detract from the fun and feel like the odd one out. Just enjoy your day and do what makes you happiest.

Anyway, some festival favourites for me were the following:

Skinny Lister – I loved the energy and how different their sound was

The Lion and the Wolf – beautiful acoustic music and the nicest man ever

Rob Lynch – nothing can stop you singing along with this man

The Subways – listening to their acoustic set gave me a new appreciation of their sound

Bury Tomorrow – while this music isn’t totally what I would normally pick I loved how everyone responded

Sam Russo – Understated and lovely

Also, I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful having a path was after 3 days of waking up in a hot tent and washing with cold water.

Vivido – Harrogate

So tonight my friends and I decided to have a casual meal out and a catch up after work. We actually do all work in the same place, but it gets busy and its nice to spend quality time together outside of work. My friend DC suggested Vivido as it has a decent early bird menu and she’d heard some good reviews.

Inside Vivido is a spacious restaurant with a relaxed modern feel. Luckily as it was a Tuesday night the restaurant was quiet and we could sit by the window. Now I love sitting outside or by the window in restaurants. I think it’s because I am basically a big nosy kid who wants to know everything that’s going on. Anyway, it was pretty lovely sitting by a window, with the sun shining drinking wine and eating pizza.

We all decided to order from the early bird menu which is basically 2 courses and a glass of wine or a soft drink before 7. The normal menu looked absolutely lovely and we all were going pretty dizzy with the choice, but thriftiness won us all over.

ED ordered whitebait to start. I’ve never tried it before (I used to be shockingly fussy when I was younger). The batter was lovely and crispy and ED said it reminded her of eating it on holiday.

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Here fishy fishy fishy

DC, Miss S and I all had insalata caprese which was tomato and mozzarella salad with a green pesto dressing. The mozzarella was good quality, as were the tomatoes. Sometimes simplicity is best and this was one of those times.

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Cheesy

For main course Miss S and ED had salmon tagliatelle which they both enjoyed. I tried some and it was pretty nice, despite me not being particularly enamoured by cooked salmon.

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Pre parmesan

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Post parmesan

DC and I opted for pizza with prosciutto. The base was thin and crispy and the pizza was really tasty. I’ve not had pizza since approximately January and this one was pretty decent. Not the best I’ve ever had, but I really enjoyed it.

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Pizza pizza pizza

ED and I chose not to have dessert we were both pretty full) but DC has a sweet tooth so she and Miss S shared a slice of chocolate fudge cake. Doesn’t it look glorious? I was pretty damn jealous!

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Now I would say that the menu we dined off was pretty fantastic value really. It has made me very keen to try other things on the Vivido menu so I will definitely be visiting here again.

You can find more information about Vivido here.