Scott & I really need to do a better job collaborating...

So for visuals of all the stuff I'm about to write/ you're about to read, just scroll down and look at the photos Scott included a moment ago :-)

We sucked it up, rented a car, and had a family outing that *wasn't* comprised of walking next door to eat caprese!  We went to Ercolano and experienced Napoli driving for the first time.  We had heard, 'Most Italians view stop lights as a suggestion... Neopolitans don't view them at all.'  Difficult to explain, but this video does a pretty good job of showing better than I can tell.

Ercolano* itself... magnificent.  If Pompeii was L.A., Ercolano was Beverly Hills.  Ornate mosaics... sliding doors...  underground sewage system... wrestling center/ gym... fast food places where the vacationing senators could stop for some freshly baked bread and a goblet of wine... a spa with steam rooms, swimming pools, and massage tables... Not bad, 79 A.D.  After thousands of years and a disaster that decimated its population, the grandeur of Ercolano is still stunningly apparent.  The generosity here continues to amaze us.  Very few areas were roped off, and when I stopped Kylie from ducking under a rope, our tour guide told us, "This is my house, it's okay~ let the bambina play."

Our exploration experience was enough to galvanize us into action, so we drove from Ercolano to a used car dealership and got a cute little can-navigate-though-itsy-bitsy-European-streets-and-hopefully-make-us-stick-out-less car :-)

Saturday morning we drove to the Amalfi coast and had gelato and an epiphany about why Italians don't bother with car seats.  When weaving through traffic on a moped with an 18 month old sitting on the tank is the norm, trying to enforce 7 year olds in a booster seat seems kind of pointless...

Saturday evening we went house hunting and found a gem of a house & a family.  While Scott and I looked around, the landlady (Signora Garofalo) and her son entertained the girls.  Our limited Italian left us basically unable to communicate, but our Realtor translated what the son (Vincenzo) was saying to Avalon which went something like:
"Oh you are so cute!  With your hair and your eyes if I carried you down the street, everyone would say, 'What a pretty little toy doll that man is carrying!'  You are such a sweet little doll!"

As we were admiring the tile work, Signora Garofalo dashed out of the house.  Two minutes later, she returned with espresso, chocolate, and her mom who reminded me so much of my Nana I felt like I had come home.  After Scott said we would like to rent the house, we were invited for Sunday lunch the next day with the whole family.

Scott did an excellent job covering the lunch we ate today, so I'll just say that it may be the best meal of my life.  It had all of the warmth and comfort of Thanksgiving dinner with the taste and attention to detail of a nicely catered wedding.  Nearly immediately we realized that our limited Italian and their limited English hadn't miraculously improved overnight and communication would have to happen in a less traditional, more creative way.  With the help of an Italian-English dictionary, our smart phones' translator app, and excellent wine, our trite guide book phrases gave way to miming, gestures, and desperately hoping that the words we knew in French/ English/ Spanish were close enough that our thoughtful Italian hosts would know what we meant**.

After what must have been 8 courses and about 4 hours, we all went outside and chatted while the girls ran around the house/ driveway/ garden and were told in numerous languages that they shouldn't touch the cacti :-)  Phone numbers were exchanged, and Scott and I are looking forward to a double date with Vincenzo and his fiancee to hike Vesuvius.

Wonderful food, wonderful family, wonderful day.

Love from Italia!

*named for Hercules, the patron god of the city.  Also had lots of altars and mosaics to Apollo, Poseidon and Aphrodite
**and no, most of the time they weren't :-)

A week of successes.


Last Sunday we explored the ruins at Ercolano and had an awesome Italian tour guide.

During the week we were mostly busy with area orientation and taking care of paperwork, but did have the opportunity to look at some beautiful homes.

Saturday was very eventful. We spent the morning driving to Sorrento and exploring the beautiful Amalfi Coast. By the afternoon we had to be back in Naples to meet with our realtor and check out some more wonderful homes.  We ended up finding an incredible one-story place in San Marcellino with the best landlords.

They speak about as much English as Avalon, but they invited us over for an authentic Italian Sunday meal complete with lasagne, calamari, insalata, chicken, potatoes, dessert, coffee, broccoli, mozzarella di bufala, meatballs, eggplant, steak, fresh fruit, magic, vino, and champagne! Lindsey informed me it was considered rude in Italian culture to leave any food on the plate, so needless to say, I am stuffed.  The meal was awesomely awkward given the language barrier, but with the help of our smartphones and lots of ignorant smiles, we made it through. Everything was absolutely terrific and we're looking forward to living there with such amazing landlords next door! Also, we have even more incentive to learn the language (as if we needed more reasons :) )

That pretty much covers the week, and anything important that I missed, I'm sure Lindsey will cover in her report.


-- Scott


A Domestic Update

 If all goes smoothly, by  our next post we'll own a car and be posting fabulous pictures of us in some location that *isn't* within 2 miles of our hotel.  Until such time though, here is some of the awesome and adorable that's been going on in the vicinity of Hotel Agora.

This is what we awake to every morning~ not too shabby.
Avalon trying to catch sunshine

"Hey Mom, what's that?"
  "Oh, that's just a herd of sheep running down a main road..."

My pensive princess

And last, but never least, some of the interesting vegetation we've come across.  The first is their cauliflower... the second I haven't the slightest idea, but figured America might enjoy seeing it.


One Week in Italy: Complete

So we've now finished off our first week in Naples as a family and still haven't been robbed, maimed, gotten in to a car accident or even chipped a tooth.  Looks like this place might just be a decent locale to set up some roots after all!

The search for a home and a reliable automobile continues, but we've been making the best of our hotel confinement by going on walks and trying out the local cuisine and I've been going to the base almost daily which has provided some great opportunities to maintain ties with American culture as well as given me an opportunity to work on my Italian with our driver who speaks no English whatsoever as far as I can tell.  Grazie, Reynaldo!

Highlights from the week include:

  • Finally getting a cast on my broken hand (which is making it a real pain in the arse to type this blog post)

  • Playing with the girls at a park on base for a couple hours while Linds struggled through some boring orientation lectures

  • Getting new cell phones and feeling like we can actually communicate with the outside world!

  • A rousing game of peekaboo with the craftiest player around.

  • Its getting late and all the ladies are asleep, so I will mosey that direction as well.  Standby for more meaningful updates tomorrow morning from this lady:

-- Scott