Tag: Italy

Procida, the hidden gem of the Gulf of Naples

I’m really glad to be back blogging about travels, today, since this was the original, and main purpose of this blog. Despite covid-19, the lockdown and all that jazz I still want to travel. A lot. Of course not right now, but hopefully in August.

Everything is still confused here in Italy, nobody knows when we’ll be able to move around the country, let alone the world, so it’d be unwise to plan a two months trip to Madagascar right now. Living in the south of Italy, anyway, has its perks. The three small islands of the Gulf of Naple surely is one of them. Anyway, Capri is a wonder of nature, but definitely pricey, Ischia is usually crowded, so this leaves me with Procida. Let’s be clear, it’s not a makeshift! Procida is an absolute gem, totally underrated and sort of secluded from mass tourism, thus worth a vist or ten.

Its colorful, still tied to tradition, and the scent of lemons is everywhere. Il Postino by the late Massimo Troisi was shot here, among its narrow streets and almost desert beaches. Btw, it’s a wonderful movie, I strongly recommend it.

Marina Grande is Procida’s main harbor. It’s a village of multicolored houses crossed by a network of alleys full of restaurants and artisan shops. On everything stands the walls of a 12th century building, and the baroque bell tower of the Church of the Pietà. Another lovely medieval village is Terra Murata, right in the heart of the island, it offers a wonderful panoramic view because it’s built on the top of a hill, and just like the previous village it’s made by .a labyrinth of narrow streets. The third small village you just can’t miss is Marina Corricella, a mix of Italian and Arab architecture, with domed roofs and balconies closed by masonry arches, that are reflected in the crystalline sea. The last time I went there I was just a little girl, but I remember the fishermen repairing their nets, and the smallest, most lovely restaurants ever. It’s not that I’m against progress, but I hope that charming atmosphere is somehow still there.

It nothing changes drastically, I doubt I’ll be brave enough to go to the beach. Not that Procida doesn’t have a few amazing corner of paradise, it’s just that I don’t think that keeping a reasonable distance on a beach (in August) is possible. Anyway, there’s another way to enjoy the nature, and that way is definitely Vivara. Basically it’s what remains of the crest of an ancient volcano, as of today it’s a moon shaped islet connected to Procida via a bridge. Most importantly it’s also a magnificent protected area. You can truly be in contact with nature, dive to admire the underwater archaeological finds or even do some whale watching. Dolphins are pretty common in the area too, actually it looks like one of the most important colonies of the Mediterranean Sea lives just nearby. I just hope that the unavoidable crowd of the summer doesn’t scare them too much!

When you can’t travel…

…Go to see art!

It’s an excellent way of enrich yourself and still travel, in a different sense. You’ll move around just a few kilometers but you’ll see, you’ll learn, you’ll be moved or even get excited. An emotional journey is still a journey.

In case someone is wondering, this is Santiago Calatrava, on exhibit in Naples Capodimonte Museum. One of my favourite architect ever, in one of the most amazing museums of Italy. About that, it may be not famous as the Uffizi Gallery, it may not be so well connected like MANN, but it is totally worth a visit. If you happen to be in Naples don’t miss it!

New year’s eve for ladies

As usual I find myself starting this story from afar, but I’ll try to keep it short. Well, a long time ago, when I was a teen ager, I loved last year’s celebrations very much. I didn’t go to clubs and I didn’t spend uncanny amounts of money in fancy restaurants, I usually had a very abundant dinner with my enlarged family, then went out with my friends after midnight. This was more or less the italian tradition. Time passed by and we all get a bit older, which was even better because it was dinner with friends and a party at home soon after. As it happens, yet more time passed by, so friends were tired an started to claim they wanted to go to sleep right after midnight, then some of them had children and all that jazz. I found myself associating boredom, loneliness and depression with one of the holidays I used to love the most. For a period I told myself, give it a rest, this is just how life goes! Then I changed my mind. I started to tell myself I’m still alive, I want to do things, I want to be happy now! So what saved me from all this decay? As usual, the solution is within ourselves, it only takes a small act of will. I truncated that sort of umbilical cord that tied me probably too tightly to my friends, people I still love more than my own life, with whom I don’t have so much in common anymore, and I started reorganizing myself, for myself, by myself. You should never, ever, delegate your happyness to other people, not even in small things such these.

Well, last year I found a small agency that organized dinners and parties for people who never met each other before. It was fun! I made some new friends and got the chance to wear my favourite dress, the dinner was great and we partied almost all night. This year, tho, I find myself running out of the necessary amount of energy to interact with brand new people. I’m basically an introvert, so making friends doesn’t always come naturally to me and I decided to do what I always do when in doubt. Travel!

My first step will be the little, lovely Tivoli, near Rome. Easy to reach by train from Tiburtina Station, not too expensive and surely equipped with some amazing gardens and ancient villas to see. I honestly don’t know why I never went there before, there’s so much to see and I even found a lovely apartment to rent. I’m almost more excited about that than all the things I’m going to see! Soon after I’ll go to San Gimignano, Tuscany, where I’ll even meet two friends I didn’t get to see since last year. Now, San Gimignano is really, absolutely a must see if you happen to be in Italy. It’s probably on every, single travel guide and if you go there you can see why. It’s a small medieval town, with stone towers, narrow streets and amazing art hidden inside the churches. The last time I went there I was a little girl of maybe ten, so I remember almost nothing, but I still have a small, marble owl my parents bought me as a souvenir. The only flaw, maybe, is that the ancient burgh is not immediately linked to Florence. You can still get there by train+bus, so this is not even a real problem, and probably it’s even easier to reach if you’re in Siena.

Well, of course I’ll be back on this topic probably at the very beginning of 2020 and hopefully with some nice pic to show you. Let’s hope the weather will have mercy.

Why nobody talks about Molise?

Why have I never done it? What’s Molise, anyway?

Well, let’s start from the beginning. As I’ve already told you before, probably more than once, I’m definitely an autumn enthusiast. This means I really enjoy red leaves, fireplaces, crisp air and all the package. I really wish to experience autumn in Canada, for an instance, but this is another story. Since I had a couple of free days, two weeks ago, I decided to leave for a small trip with a few dear friends of mine. The problem was, where to go without spending a small fortune and without having to stay in a car for the whole duration of the trip? As it turns out there’s a region in the south of Italy which for some reason isn’t really on the main tourists roads, despite being pretty close to some beautiful and well known villages, and also on the road to a few of the most popular ski resorts in the south. This region also has some amazing landscapes, is not crowded at all so you can really enjoy its relaxed, peaceful atmosphere and if this were not enough, with a little luck you can run into the truffle festival!

Well, this is Molise for you! For me there’s just a virtual, self-inflicted clip behind the hear because of course I knew Molise existed, but it never occurred to me to go there, despite it being really close to where I live.

We had to choose the easy paths for our walks because it was a rainy weekend but it was wonderful just the same. I got to collect a small booty of pine cones and acorns with which I am having fun making some Christmas decorations. We also visited a sanctuary for injured or sick animals, where they are currently treating wonderful birds of prey and some turtles. Or maybe the turtles are just there as permanent guests, I’m not sure.

Unfortunately, deer and does were nowhere to be seen, but it is completely understandable. You never know what some smelly humans can do.
As far as I know in the region there is also a large peat bog where you can meet wild horses, among countless other species of animal and birds in particular. It must be a beautiful place, and definitely something I will want to see sooner rather then later. I’ve already seen something of the sort in France and it was really far beyond amazing. Sadly for this I will have to wait for spring.


In the meantime, my advice is, if you are in the south of Italy don’t snub Molise!

There is something about fall

And that something is color. The beauty of summer sunset can be simply moving, and the sparkling white of the snow is incredibly pretty. Let alone the joy that only spring flowers can bring. Yet, the warm color of the autumnal nature is the best thing in the world, for me. It makes me dream of long nights spent reading in front of the fireplace, or collecting mushrooms with granpa.

I live in a flat in the middle of the big city so I don’t own a fireplace, and I doubt I’d survive mushrooms collected by myself, but I’m a walker. I run from the city whenever possible and my natural habitat of choice is the forest. There’s nothing better than an easy, relaxing trekking among tall trees, when the sun is in the sky and the air is crisp but not cold yet. Fall is perfect for this, so I organized a trip a couple of weeks ago. I was with some friends and a kid, so we choose a level path called La Camosciara. It’s part of the Abruzzo, Campania and Molise National Park, in the south of Italy. It’s really suitable for everyone, this means that you don’t really have the feeling of being completely surrounded by nature because for the most part you walk on the asphalt, but I still strongly recommend it.

A small river runs close by the main road, the water is liquid crystal and all around there are all kind of threes and plants. The river bank is the perfect place to have a small pic-nic and rest for a while, if you feel hungry. You sit on a soft blanket of leaves, and the smell of wet soil is incredibly good, feels like something pure and clean. It’s somehow revitalizing. There are tiny fish swimming in the water, it’s fun to try and feed them with crumbles, even if they seem to like insects better. Back on the path the trees make just the right amount of shade so that you can even choose if walking under the sun or not. In October the foliage is a glorious red and orange and gold, and all the shades in between. A truly stunning view. There’re actually mushrooms, a lot of mushrooms, some of them so small and perfectly shaped they looked like they came from a fairy tale. There are supposed to be chamois, in the area, and boars, wolves and all sorts of wild life as well, including the Marsicano bear, the symbol of the park and its mascotte. We weren’t so lucky to meet any animal, tho, I guess they prefer not to interact with humans too much, and I can’t even blame them. Birds are less problematic in this respect, so small hawks were easy to spot, and this is always a huge emotion for me.

The last part of the walking path is a short and undemanding climb that crosses the woods (no asphalt here, yay!) and leads to a couple of waterfalls. The first one is thin and you can’t really reach the water. The second one is bigger, the water runs on huge, white rocks that looks like giant eggs. There is a short dry stone wall easy to climb, if one feels like it, but the wet rocks are really slippery, and they form a very steep climb.

I’m quite sure there are other paths close by, leading up to the mountains that surround the area, but this time I didn’t get to explore them. I guess I’m not adventurous enough to go around with the wrong shoes and without a map. On the other hand there’s a tiny restaurant/bar, not far from the waterfalls, with a huge stove inside that takes almost half of the room. The warmth is a nice feeling after walking in the woods all day, the muscles seem to relax all at once. The owner of the place is a lovely lady who also sells postcards, a true rarity these days. She has some souvenirs, too. Some of them are kitch enough to be funny, and thus worth the money! It’s the right place if one wants to enjoy some hot, sweet tea, always a good way to end a fall afternoon.

So what’s the point of all of this, besides the obvious will to share a lovely experience? Well, the point is to share also a bit of love for the most underrated season. Come on, people, autumn is pretty and deserves better!

Flower power

Unfortunately Naples, although beautiful, lively and very rich in culture, is not a city that makes you think of large green spaces and pure air to breath, but in the heart of the historic center, on the edge of a gray and busy street, there is a wonderful park full of history and rare plants: the Botanical Garden. In May it also hosts Planta, a market and exhibition dedicated to plants of all kinds, the rare ones, the exotic ones, those typical of the Mediterranean area and so on. Even on a rainy and windy day the colors of the flowers are vibrant and magnificent and it is wonderful to see the people happy and smiling for something as simple as a flower.
I was lucky, the whole time I was there it rained only ten minutes and the uncertain weather also discouraged the large crowds typical of Sunday afternoons. The next edition will be in a year’s time. What a pity! How wonderful it would be if an event like this was organized more often, especially in the city, where it is most needed.

By the way, this is my little purchase. I couldn’t buy more mostly because I didn’t know how to carry heavy vases at home all by myself. It’s an Albuca Spiralis, it comes from South Africa so I guess it should find itself at home in the south of Italy too. It’s pretty, it should have small flowers too, and quite low manteinance, perfect for my not so green finger.