Saturday, 4 April 2015

A tripe sandwich.

"What I'm looking forward to more than anything" says the elderly American gentleman sitting at the next table,"is having a tripe sandwich." He delivers this very loudly, with his heavy New York drawl, as if sandwich is two very distinct words rather than one.

Middle One and I exchange glances. The guy sounds exactly like something out of Seinfield, which Middle One loves and which consequently I also know rather well. Every episode.

"You gotta go to Roma," he continues, "all roads round here lead to Roma." 

As you may have gathered we are on holiday in Italy, Sorrento to be exact, staying in a hotel on the cliff top. This is for a number of reasons:

1. We wanted to get away over Easter.

2. I love Italy and I book the holidays.

3. I have for some time been keen to see Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Day two and our guide up Versuvius, Raffaele, tells us it could erupt again at any moment. He says this as we are standing at the edge of the crater. Raffaele has a dark complexion, compact frame, wild curly hair, mad eyes. I can't emphasise enough about the eyes. 

He goes on to tell us that his wife is so terrifying she could kill a shark. If the volcano erupts they will move to Australia, he says, where his wife will swim in the sea and despatch any shark who dares to swim near her.  Middle One and I exchange glances.

Perhaps breathing volcanic fumes all day has done something to his sanity? Or perhaps telling tourists the exact same thing all day, every day has scrambled his brain? Or perhaps he was mad in the first place? Either way Raffaele is plainly bonkers and gives us something to talk about later.

On Capri we escape the crowds in the main square by heading up a steep covered lane which wends its way out of town, right across the island to the opposite side where we suddenly find ourselves alone, standing on a high platform, surrounded by cliffs on all side, staring out to sea. It's spectacular. 

"The Emperor Tiberius lived on Capri" I say, as the wind whips around us and howls through the trees. "He got up to all sorts. He had lovers he'd grown tired of thrown from the cliffs, possibly these very ones."

Husband looks at me warily.

"Nice," says Middle One.

In Pompeii we visit the stunning Villa Mysteri where we come across one of the calcified bodies for which Pompeii is so famous. It still has teeth. You can clearly see the open mouth of the person who died in agony two thousand years ago. Possibly he lived in this beautiful villa. Certainly he strolled this stunning land, nestled between rolling mountains and azure sea. The Bay of Naples is a beautiful place, I think, but it is the people here, both past and present, that make it so fascinating.

That evening, back at the hotel, the loud American is heading for the lift. "Over the counter drugs!" he shouts to his companions. "Take some and I guarantee you'll sleep all night. Don't come to me in the morning telling me you had a bad night's sleep if you had over the counter drugs: antihistamine. You'll sleep all night. That's guaranteed." 

Love E x 


P.S. After writing this yesterday we visited Herculaneum. It was absolutely incredible. If you ever get the chance, go. It is a perfect little Roman town sitting where the archeologists found it, in a huge hole in the ground. You are able to clearly see where the town originally met the shore line and where many of its inhabitants sheltered from the volcano in cellars and sadly perished. Their skeletons are still there.

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