Week 3 was nothing short of amazing, however, anything that happened Monday to Thursday was completely overshadowed by the most spectacular weekend I spent road-tripping with the other Rotary Exchange students to Pompeii and Naples.
To say there were many “hurdles” along the way would be putting it lightly. The drive that was supposed to leave us at our hotel at 7:30 pm got so delayed by blocked roads, accidents, snow storms and wind led to us checking in at 1:30 the next morning! I’ve never been able to open up and connect so deeply with a group of people that were practically strangers. There were discussions about religion, sexuality, gender and farting in public.
Straight after checking in, we decided to explore the town a bit. I came across a “Pinterest street” – an ideal travel pin of a street to include on your “Wanderlust” board: black cobble stoned road lined with beautiful trees and vintage looking street lamps glowing gold. I forced everyone to walk down the road with me, and much to my disappointment, I was met with men falling out of Smokey bars, boys whistling at us from cars slowly passing by, rubbish on the curb and abandoned buildings. I guess not all that glitters (with the Pinterest glow) is gold.
The next morning after breakfast, we introduced ourselves to the Rotary club members (who were all dressed very sharp) and we met the other exchanges from Rome and the other the southern cities. We were then taken on a tour of the Pompeii ruins. There we met a stray dog with which we played and formed a bond. After the tour a group of us girls decided to head out for some pasta and followed by some gelato. When we were leaving the Geletaeria, the stray dog from the ruins was waiting for us outside. Our hearts melted. We let him walk with us back to the Duomo and decided to name him Pompi. At the Duomo we met with the rest of the exchanges and walked back to our hotel (with Pompi following). I was nearly brought to tears when we had to go inside and he remained outside sitting on the steps of the hotel, waiting for us.
At 8pm we were taken to dinner where we were fed to our hearts desires. Supli di Riso (deep fried balls of rice with cheese in the center), French fries, mozzarella, prosciutto and PIZZA! If we didn’t have food in our mouths, we were laughing our hearts out. After supper we kind of divided into 2 groups – people who went out to paint the town red and dance all night and then people like me, who changed into their PJs and played card games until the early ours of the morning.
Sunday Morning found us on the road to Napoli. It was a gorgeous sunny morning that easily let me forget that back home in the north, it was bone-freezing cold. Upon arrival it was suggested to us to leave ALL valuables on the bus and not to make ourselves targets to pickpockets (in broad daylight on a Sunday). As some people might not know, Naples is the crime capital of Italy – the Mafia is alive and real yo – so we all had to be extra vigilant.
Napoli left much to be desired. It took my breath away, not in its beauty, but rather in the pungent stink of the rubbish on the street. The ally ways – which photographed beautifully – were not very pleasant to walk along. I was disappointed to see that a lot of the monuments and buildings in front of which I wanted to take pictures, were covered in scaffolding and graffiti.
Although It wasn’t what I was expecting, Napoli is a place I will definitely come back to. Compared to the other Italian cities I’ve been to (including Milan) the shopping and the food is unmatched. Shoes I would see in Udine going for half the price and hand made bags that made me stop and stare and food that literally brought me to tears definitely made the dog poo dodging walk worth it.
We also visited Santa Chiara Complesso Monumentale. One of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. The sun, florals and company made this place just so magical.
It would almost be criminal to visit Napoli without having a slice of Pizza. It’s been a week and I still have dreams about that Pizza. I never thought I would be so privileged to indulge in pizza that was able to transcend all my senses and emotions. I won’t even try to describe it – It would almost be blasphemous – words could not do it justice. We had a selection of other Italian dishes after, that too were amazing, but completely irrelevant compared to the pizza.
After lunch, we went off to buy some peperoni’s (peppers) to give to our host parents as good luck (a tradition people practice when they visit Naples – it’s considered bad luck to buy one for yourself) and then we began our journey back to the North.
This weekend was filled with some of the best moments of my exchange thus far. I can’t express anymore how lucky and privileged I am to enjoy these experiences with the most amazing group of people.
Sorry for the delay again! I’m thinking I need to schedule a time to sit down and write every week, otherwise the days just run away from me!
Ciao a Presto! xx