Published: May 27th 2007May 27th 2007
Today was definitely a good day. It started a bit slow, but we were in no hurry. First, our hotel's hot water supply gave out about 8:00, so I decided to postpone my own shower in hopes of at least getting some water pressure. Greg went to breakfast and reported enjoying a sfogliatella. We finally got out the door about 10:00, but by the time we got to the train station, there wasn't another train to Caserta for an hour. So we sat around and read our guidebooks, no problem.
When the train pulled up to the Caserta station, we could immediately see the Reggia palace behind it. By this time, it was noon, and we didn't want to count on finding something to eat inside the museum, so we wandered the streets of Caserta looking for an open pizzaria. We finally found one, but they weren't serving pizza yet. So I ordered the gnocchi and Greg had farfalle in cream sauce with proscuito. Mine was good, but his was even better.
Then, we tried to walk to the palace. Only problem is, they're redoing the entire front yard gardens, so it's all blocked off. Not to mention it's huge. We circled around it one complete time before arriving back at the train station and asking directions. A nice lady walked out to the street with us and pointed the way we had just come, insisting that there was an open gate just out of sight. We assured her that there was no such thing, so she looked at us skeptically and pointed us to go around the nearest city block to get to the front door. That didn't make any sense to us, so we thanked her and headed that way. There was an underground street that ran under the palace yard with a pedestrian entrance which we had tried before. This time we chose a different door (nothing was labeled) and did end up climbing the right stairs into the middle of the front yard. Finally! When we got to the building, we could see that the lady's directions to go around an entire city block would indeed have worked fine.
We decided to see the gardens first, since rain had been forecast for late afternoon. They were huge! It took us forever to walk all the way from the building to the waterfall on the hillside that fed the whole gardens. It was also hot and sunny, go figure. In fact, we never saw a single drop of rain today. That probably means it will rain on us all day at Paestum tomorrow. There were some fountains in the gardens, which were impressive if not great works of art. We were surprised by how many locals were there, just like it was their local park (with an entrance fee). Once at the top, we rode a bus back down to the building.
Then we walked through the palace itself. It's very similar to Versallies or Buckingham, as its builder intended. But still very impressive. We noticed places where Star Wars had filmed. But most of the interior rooms were almost absurdly ornate. Very cool, though. Makes me want to paint all the ceilings in my house with frescos.
Overall, it was a neat day trip. A bit too much nature for me, but still okay. We arrived back in Naples by 6:00, and took the metro to the Spanish Quarter for some gelati. Then we walked all the way down Via Toledo to the Galleria Umberto, the Opera house, and the Castel Nuovo. Only the Galleria was open, but it was still a very interesting walk. Lots and lots of people were wandering up and down the street, many with their small children. Some shops were still open, and the street vendors seemed to be doing plenty of business. I don't know if it's so crowded every night or only because today was Sunday. But it was both relaxing and exciting for us.
We tried to go to a restaurant recommended by one of our books, but saw the menu from the outside and decided we didn't want that much food. So we walked back up Toledo until we found an open pizzeria. The wonderful waiter there wasn't going to sell me just a small glass of wine until I told him that I am "incinta." Then he got all excited and explained in Italian that his wife was expecting their third (that took me a while to decipher), and he brought me a free glass with about 1.5 ounces of red wine. It was so good! Then we ordered our two perfect pizza margeritas and enjoyed watching all the people go by.
We were back to our hotel by 10:00, though we still had to take the time to wash some clothes in the sink.