Friday, February 17, 2017

The show has begin!

This is the time of the year when we gardeners get really impatient for Spring. Whenever the temperature is over 40 degrees I wander around my garden searching for signs of life. I am so grateful for snowdrops! They usually emerge in January and I have had snowdrops for about a month now.

The witch hazel emerged a few weeks ago.

And the winter jasmine has been out for few weeks, now blasted by a recent cold spell.

Crocus foliage and even a few early daffodil shoots are beginning to emerge and my begonia tubers stored in my unheated attic are beginning to sprout!

Friday, February 3, 2017

In Naples, even the pigeons love pizza!

Naples deserves its reputation for the world’s best pizza!

I had intended to write a blog post with Naples and Rome restaurant recommendations soon after our trip to Italy, but the shock of the election pushed thoughts of Neapolitan restaurants to the back of my mind. Time has passed, my memory is fading, and my notes are missing, so this is not the detailed list I had promised my friends, but as I always appreciate my traveling friends inclusion of restaurant recommendations in their blog posts, I want to do the same.

We used to do extensive restaurant research and would travel all over town to a highly recommended restaurant. Now that seems like just too much work; instead we ask the hotel for recommendations of nearby restaurants. If we like their first recommendation, we stick with their list.

We made a restaurant reservation based on the hotel’s recommendation for Ristorante Mattozzi, but the taxi took us by mistake to the Pizzeria Mattozzi. I am so glad he made that mistake—both for the wondrous pizza and the sociological experience. My husband is not a fan of pizza and if it hadn’t been for the taxi driver’s mistake, I would not had had the best gorgonzola pizza I’ve ever had in my life. As for the sociological experience, it was fascinating to watch Neapolitans from all walks of life pouring into this pizzeria. The customers ranged from teenagers to senior citizens, working class families to affluent expensively dressed professionals.

As one would expect considering its location, Naples has excellent seafood restaurants. The best we went to was the simplest—a small seafood restaurant , da Doro. I’d also recommend the more upscale (and more expensive) La Cantinella and Ristorantino dell’Avvocato, Naples is less expensive than most major European cities and thus going up a notch or two in restaurants is not that painful. Our hotel restaurant at San Francesco al Monte was acceptable and had a spectacular view of the Bay of Naples. In Naples, it’s always worth trying to get a hotel room or a restaurant table with a view.

In Rome we followed the hotel’s restaurant recommendations, most within easy walking distance of the Piazza di Spagna. We went to Dilla twice we liked it so much. However—and this has happened a lot in our travels when we have returned to a restaurant—it was not as good as we remembered it. In this case on our return visit the restaurant had the wonderful food at low prices which we remembered, but despite our reservation we were told there was no table available except tables outside on a chilly November night. When we mentioned that our hotel had made a reservation for us, we got the reply that it was Saturday night. They didn’t seem to think any other explanation was needed. We didn’t have the energy to search for another restaurant, so took the outdoor table which turned out not to be too bad as there was a large space heater next to the table.

Other restaurants within walking distance of the Piazza di Spagna in Rome:

Il Falchetto —friendly, good trattoria food, relatively inexpensive.

Ad hoc, for us more expensive than we’d like, but very good value with a spectacular wine list most of which was totally put of our price range, but there were some very good lower priced bottles.

Osteria Dell’Antiquario, by far the best, a beautiful little restaurant on a quiet street near the Piazza Navona. We were there on a warm November night and had an outdoor table.

Marco G., not in walking distance but in Trastevere, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Rome It’s a lively trattoria with reasonably good, affordable food and very friendly service.