Saturday, November 26, 2011

Casa di Roth

Who would have thought that it would take until mid November to be completely settled into our new home? All of the shipments have been delivered, boxes have been unpacked... it's contents are just about put away, and the loaner furniture has finally been picked up. After almost five months without a home (and most of those days living in one room with a dog) we are ecstatic to finally be settled.

We are fortunate to have an amazing view of Lago d'Averno, the Tyrrenian Sea, Monte Di Procida, and Capri. Lago d'Averno is a volcanic crater lake. The Ancient Romans considered this lake to be the entrance to Hades. It gained it's name from a Greek word meaning "birdless" referring to their belief that birds who flew over the lake dropped dead because of the poisonous fumes it emitted. Today we are lucky that there are no birds that drop dead over the lake and there aren't any poisonous fumes (we hope!).

Lago d'Averno with Capri in the Tyrrenian Sea in the background.

A close up of Capri.

A lemon tree decorates our yard as well as two small palm trees and an area to grow grapes. We have picked a couple of lemons off of our tree and the landlord sometimes gives us oranges from his orange tree.

Maya loves the new yard and the space! Here you can see her chewing on her bone in the grass.

The weather is gorgeous this time of year... a high in the low 60s with clear sunny days makes us want to sit on our outdoor sofa lounger, drink wine, and look out on the world ahead of us. Life is good.

A hazy day... you can't see Capri!
The other day we decided to take a walk around Lago d'Averno. As we searched for an entrance to the path by the lake we came upon an agriturismo, which is a vineyard/restaurant/farm. The owners showed us around and picked oranges off of their tree for us to eat. After giving us their business card they pointed us in the right direction. Oranges in hand we continued on.

Jon and Maya in the vineyard near the lake.

Along the path of the lake is the Temple of Apollo, which was built in the 2nd century. This thermal complex had a dome roof almost the size of the Pantheon's in Rome. It's amazing what you can find right outside your home!
Temple of Apollo.
Around the lake.
 We feel like we chose the perfect spot for our time here and are excited to explore the area more!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Montecassino Abbey

For my parents' last day in the Naples area we took a tour of Montecassino Abbey. We couldn't let them leave without squeezing in some World War II history for dad :) This abbey was destroyed and rebuilt four times in its long history. It was founded by St. Benedict of Nursia around the year 529. One of the most devastating events that it endured was the battle of Cassino on February 15, 1944 in a series of heavy Allied air raids. Montecassino Abbey was left in ruins and was rebuilt according to the original plan following the war.

This site is about an hour and a half from where we picked up the bus so our tour guide gave us a lot of information about the Abbey and the Cassino area. One tip that he mentioned was to make sure you pronounce both "s"es in the word Cassino. The word casino with one "s" means "brothel" so if you told locals that you went to casino then they might look at you a little strangely! We drove up the steep mountain towards the abbey which is situated on the highest point in the area. High in the clouds, our twisting, turning road was reminiscent of our time in Capri and Amalfi.

There are 19 monks living at Montecassino Abbey at the present time. At one time it was home to over 200 monks. It's such a big establishment that 19 is a very small number for such a large space. The basilica, below, is adorned in marble and gold. 

Fragments of tiles and walls were available for us to see, but for the most part everything was destroyed in 1944 and later rebuilt. We were able to go to an underground area that is not open to the public. Here we saw the original walls that were not destroyed. We learned about one of St. Benedict's miracles while we were underground. Basically when he fell onto a large rock it softened and absorbed his fall. The imprint of his arm was left in the stone and it is known as the Miracle Stone.

Dad testing out the miracle stone.

The lower level of the Bramante cloister holds an octagonal well supported by columns. The balcony offers a beautiful view of Liri Valley. The garden displays a statue of St. Benedict surrounded by monks.

The garden.
Lower level of the Bramante Cloister.

View over Liri Valley  

The abbey houses many mosaics and stained glass. The mosaic on the left was untouched during the bombings, as was the statue in the middle which was made in 1736. 

All in all, this was a very informative and engaging day. With a history as rich as this abbey, it's no wonder people are intrigued by it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

More time on the Amalfi Coast: Sorrento, Positano, & Amalfi

This past week my parents, Alan and Gaye, came to Italy to visit us. It was their first time in this beautiful country and we planned a packed itinerary for them. We hired Gerry from Sorrento First Choice to be our tour guide and driver for the day on Saturday. Mom was hesitant at first about going on the twisty winding roads of the Amalfi Coast, but quickly lost any feeling of nausea when she saw the beautiful sights below her.

Our first stop was Sorrento, which Jon and I had never been to before. The main street was lined with high end shops, hotels, and cute restaurants. We walked down a narrow street with shops catering to tourists in the market for art, ceramics, and other Italian souvenirs. Of course we gobbled it up! We walked towards the water and took in the scenery. Sorrento is a charming town and we can see why so many people flock to it.

Our next stop was Positano. We walked the tight uneven streets down to the beach and were met with gorgeous views! The sight from the beach looking up the cliff side was one that we had never experienced before.  The sharp edges of the mountains jutted out as the waves crashed into the shore. It was quite a scene!

Positano from above.
Next was lunch at a cute restaurant atop a cliff with amazing food! It was actually the same restaurant that a different driver took us when we were with Lori and Joe. With all of the different foods and wines that came out I thought my parents' eyes were going to pop out! There were about 10 different appetizers and four different pastas, along with four different desserts. The food just kept coming out! We laughed and joked around as we started to feel the wine. The meal ended with limoncello shots. We had told mom she had to drink the whole thing and not waste it. Before we knew it her drink was gone before any of us had barely touched ours! More than impressed, the three of us drank ours and giggled our way out (it was revealed later that she took the limoncello and dumped it in her remaining wine... that crazy mom!)

The view from our table.
A plate at the restaurant.

It sure was a quiet ride on the way to the town of Amalfi. The winding roads mixed with wine and limoncello (plus some jetlag for mom and dad) made us all very tired and sleepy. We stayed in Amalfi for about an hour and before we knew it, it was time to drive back. What a fantastic day on the Amalfi Coast... many memories were made and we'll never forget the time we spent together.

A street in Amalfi.