Robert and Maryann Minutillo of Washington, D.C. and Richard Minutillo and Dorothy Nestor of Roslindale MA spent several days in late October/early November 2008 touring Italy, mostly in Campagna.
Richard was particularly interested in seeing Foiano di val Fortore, ancestral home of Nicola Minutillo, a place ob had visited twice before, and Bob and Maryann were interested in revisiting some of the stops from their original trip through Italy in the 1960's. The itinerary ended up quite busy, but as usual a lot of fun, interesting sights, and great food.
The travellers landed in Rome where we stayed two nights, visited the Capitoline Museum, and had dinner with Maryann's former boss at the peace Corps, Gaddi Vasquez, at his ambassadorial residence. Then we picked up a car and went off for two nights in the Witch City of Italy, Benevento, which was our base for a day trip up to Foiano.
After Benevento & Foiano we headed towards Salerno and the little town of Vietri sul Mar where we stayed at a resort hotel with striking views of the Bay. This was our base for day-trips to Paestum and to Amalfi.
From Vietri we headed for three nights in Naples: some crazy driving, castles and museums, a classic lunch on the Piazza Dante, a pleasant afternoon with Marzia Keller and her family (she had been Bob and Maryann's Italian instructor for a class they took in Bethesda) and, on TV at least, an exciting end to the Formula 1 racing season. Well, our pace was a little like Formula 1.
Finally we headed back to Rome for a last night near the Piazza Navonna and dinner in the Antica Taverna.
October-November is rainy season in Italy, and we were expecting coolish, wet weather. We got comparatively little rain (except for the afternoon driving back from Amalfi) and unseasonably hot temperatures. You never know!
The trend to eat more on each trip continued, and we had some remarkably good lunches including a picnic of specially baked calzone-like sandwiches outside the cemetery in Foiano. We're older now; we walked less, we ate more. Weight gain was minimal, however, and well worth it!
Photography was a bit scatter-shot (except for Paestum, the photographer's delight.) I have organized selections from all of the photos from all participating cameras into city-by-city galleries.
Fair warning: You click on a thumbnail to get the full-sized image. I have not adjusted the resolution of these photos; some are small-format snapshots but most are high-resolution large files. So click responsibly.
Rome, The Capitoline Museum and other highlights.
Our first night in Rome we had dinner at Ambassador Gaddi Vazquez' residence. He used to be Maryann's boss at the Peace Corps. The next day, The Capitoline was on our list of things to do.
We returned to Rome for one last day before flying home, and wandered around the Piazza Navonna before enjoying one last trattoria.
Benevento, the Witch City
Benevento is a the capital of the province that includes Foiano di val Fortore. Benevento was also the ancient seat of the Samnites, one of the more powerful non-Roman latin tribes. The Samnites defeated the Romans nearby at Forche Caudine (no one knows exactly where that was, probably in the west, at the mountain pass to Caserta.) Benevento is the home of the Alberti company which makes Strega and Torrone, among other things. There's also a remarkable little museum in just off the town's walking street.
Foiano di val Fortore
The plan was for me to get dramatic shots of this hill-side town as we approached on the road, and lots of picturesque street-scapes. We didn't quite do that.
We did get in a session with the town archivist, and learn a few new things, including the fact that our great-grandfather Pellegrino Minutillo was a "pizzicagnolo," which means, roughly, a deli-keeper.
Vietri sul Mar and the Bay of Salerno
After a couple of days in Benevento and our visit to Foiano, we headed to a luxury hotel in Raito, which overlooks the town of Vietri sul Mar, in a little seaside village famous for its ceramics. Great views of the Bay of Salerno, and a good base for exploring the coast.
Paestum - one of the great archaeological sites in Italy
Paestum, an relatively easy drive from Vietri, has been high on Richard's list for quite some time, and the site has improved even since Bob and Maryann's recent visit. The day was sunny and hot, and the site and museum were fantastic. A rewarding day.
Amalfi and the coast, a nice drive on a rainy day.
Well you have to drive a bit on the Amalfi coast if you can, and I did! This was the day after our trip to Paestum, and the weather was a bit different.
Luckily, since I was busy driving, Dorothy captured some dramatic views out the car window, and Amalfi itself was picturesque, if a little damp and windy. It was also a little nostalgic for Bob and Maryann, who had spent some time there back in the 60's.
A fine lunch at da Gemma was a nice bonus, and a heavy rainstorm on the way home just made the driving all the more exciting.
Naples - See it and die!
Naples has it all: funny accents, crazy drivers, natives who won't wear their jewelry in the city, and a volcano looming over everything. We got to the Archaeological Museum and 'the Castle,' as we had hoped, but missed some others.
On Sunday Marzia and her family showed us some sights on the western shore of the Bay and introduced us to some fine Seafood at La Sirene. There was lots more to see (and eat) but, alas, so little time.
The videos are a bit selective, depending on whether or not I carried the camera on a given day. I've done my usual self-indulgent job of editing and preparation, but this time decided to use Flash Video to present the result: highlights in seven reels, including a brief 'postcard' from Paestum.
If you aren't into Flash, or the page doesn't work for you, there are links below to simple files in Real Media format which should spawn their own player, once they download (they're quite large.)
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