A Travellerspoint blog

Franco's Sorrento

Whenever you make it to Sorrento's restaurant in Olympia, you will meet Franco Cannava. Although raised in Sicily he blossomed as a chef, lifeguard and I suspect extremely charming young man here in Sorrento.  I can just picture him here, strutting down the beach, flirting with all the girls and being the life of the party.  We are all certainly thankful that he recreates the taste and charm of Italy right in downtown Olympia with his gusto personality and mouthwatering food.

I have been anxious to see the place that Franco spent so much time, and as I trudged down the street from the train station, travel worn and traumatized by the connection at the Naples train station, the streets of Sorrento brightened my smile with the lemon and orange trees escorting me all the way to the hotel. This is such a sweet little charming town, mom and pop shops, tiny restaurants with fruit tree limbs floating down from the ceilings above and the buildings barley clinging to the cliffs above the sparkling turquoise Mediterranean sea.  I guess I'm on vacation from my vacation.  I slept that night for 14 hours, must have needed it.  

Before I headed to bed to recover from my fabulous Rick Steve's boot camp, my first night here was quite exciting. I explored the town a bit and then planted myself at a patio wine bar in the main square.  Lots of people were out, mostly families and young people socializing.  It got busier and busier, then there was loud music, and someone talking on a PA system.  Of course I understand so little of what the announcer is saying, I'm clueless to what is going on... Then all of a sudden all the lights on the towering Christmas tree in the square came on and fireworks blared above the crowd. Shocking, but what fun, another moment in Italy to tuck away forever.

Foodgasm: angel hair pasta tossed with lemon, olive oil and spinach, served in half of a huge hollowed out lemon - but I'm soooo tired of pasta, not possible right? It is all so fabulous, but I've been craving QB tempeh tacos

Bacio ball wisdom: You cannot be wise if you are not sometimes a little foolish.  Bravo! I agree and with all my foolishness on this trip, Wooh am I gonna be wise...

I'm sorry for the lack of pictures. This little hotel must have an extremely slow connection. I'm so thrilled any of you are reading my babbling at all and I love all your comments.

All Smiles...Cherish

Posted by cherishthelove 13:08 Comments (1)


How do you say goodbye to friends that have joined you on such a journey?  Ending the Rick Steve's tour was bittersweet.  I met and bonded with wonderful people, learned so much about Art, history, magic tricks with wine corks (an important cultural phenomenon), and acquired incredibly useful travel skills from Donnatto. Time shall tell if I retain the travel skills...but, I'm ready to embrace the last leg of my Italian quest, even though it was painful to leave the group and Donnatto's careful shepherding through metro lines, buses, art galleries and bars.  

I was so fortunate to have connected with people from all over the country, including a fellow Texas Tech Alumnus, two couples from Dallas, a family and two lovely ladies from Seattle and the list goes on....Our final dinner together was memorable. The tables were plentiful with wine, Grappa and Frizzante, amazing food and plenty of toasts.  We even had some performers serenade us with their lively music.  We were quite the rowdy bunch! Donnatto moved us all to tears in his final speech and I have to say he was the most attentive, knowledgeable, fun, organized and congenial tour guide we could have hoped for.  

Things I learned from Donnato:

  • How to use the subway
  • How to use the bus
  • How to eat pasta correctly
  • It is possible to chug Prosseco in a rush if need be
  • Pasta di Donnatto
  • You can live the life you want
  • Travel opens your mind and heart to new people and experiences
  • Do not throw too large a denomination of coin into the Trevi Fountain or you could actually get stuck in Rome rather than ensure your return - yes, I am "stuck" in Rome and extra day, I threw in 1 euro
  • How to not get run over
  • How to spot and avoid pickpockets 
  • Countless bits of knowledge about the art, history and culture  of Italy. 
  • You are who you meet - his final parting words to us

The train strike kept me in Rome another night but I was able to arrange a hotel and enjoy some sights I missed including the Borghase Gallery - amazing!  Luckily the Texans and the Seattle ladies (my roommate included) were also in town another day. We all met up for dinner and had another companionable lingering evening.

Take a deep breath everyone, I'm on my own again...but a little more experienced.  No blue bouncy dot in sight. Uh oh :(

Bacio ball wisdom: Fortune is already on your side  - thank god cause I'll need it

Foodgasm: arugula salad with the most perfectly ripe tomatoes and freshly pressed olive oil, oh my

I stop and pet every dog I can and take pictures of every stray cat that crosses my path. Sigh....

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Wanderings in Rome

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All Roads Lead to Rome

So I've finally made it to Rome, the center of the universe....

At every quaint little hotel that I have stayed at in Italy, the first thing I do when I walk into my room is open the rusty window latch, push the shutters out and reveal a courtyard frozen in time or a narrow cobblestone street bursting with character. I never thought the courtyards would be so reminiscent of ancient Rome, what I had clearly pictured in my mind but imagined had been lost with time. But the Romans seem to live very much as they always have, spending much of their time outside, shopping at open air markets, and chatting with gusto.  The little fountains trickle water still brought in from aqueducts and the statues hold their poses eternally. The living spaces here lend themselves to appreciating the moments. Dinner is sometimes a 3 or 4 hour leisurely chat with friends, the food slowly arriving in courses, the wine flowing excessively and absolutely no rush to go or do anything else.  Did I mention I'm in love with Italy?  I even happened upon an off leash dog park in the Borghese Gardens during one of my aimless wanderings reminiscing of a time when I could look at a blue dot and actually know where I was.  Though, some of my most treasured memories have been created while being lost here....All roads may lead to Rome and I feel I've been lost on most of them ;)

I have to admit I had mixed feelings about coming to Rome. For all my studies and obsession with the ancient world, I feared the experience might be a bit anti climatic and I would loathe such a metropolis that is so loud and crowded.  That turned out not to be my experience at all.  Very much like New York City, the place is crowded and dirty in parts, plenty of beggars and you must rely on public transportation: my forte, right...But I have loved every minute of it of this beautiful city and its monumental sights. Rome is a spectacular city!

We had the most phenomenal guide for Ancient Rome!  There is not a possibility of doing justice to this tour with my description, but I will humbly attempt...She started by taking us into a church that spiraled down and showed all the layers of Rome, or as she put it: " Rome is like layers of lasagna" and 80% still remains buried under the modern city. We started in a modern church if you call the 17th century modern, then descended to a medieval church and finally ended in the villa of an ancient roman where we were able to stand on street between two structures and imagine the thrill of what it would have been like to meander old Rome. This guides ability to create ancient Rome around me was captivating and our visit to the Colosseum and walk through the Forum was a unique and emotional day for our whole group.  She reminded us of a quote, "Nothing is real until it is experienced"   That touched me very much because it has been a theme on my entire Italian journey. After our tour in the Forum ended, I perched myself on a pile of marble rubble, had a a little picnic, and wrote in my journal with what is left of ancient Rome towering above me and the ruins at my feet.

Bacio ball wisdom of the day: Pull up your sleeves (not sure that one translates well)

Foodgasms:  I've got two for you but they don't count as multiple because they happened at two different places. 1) chocolate canolli filled with a dark chocolate ricotta cheese blend, not vegan, and a glass of chianti.  2) spaghetti with eggplant and pine nuts tossed in a mouth tingling tomato sauce,very vegan and specially created for me by a lovely chef willing to accommodated me rather splendidly I must say.


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Tuscany Vinyard

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