Posts tagged italy
Posts tagged italy
While staying in Positano we had the great pleasure of staying at the famous Le Sirenuse hotel. This hotel opened in 1951 and was originally a summer home for the Serasale family. Two years after opening, John Steinbeck visited Positano and wrote a great piece for Harper’s Bazaar. In his article about Positano he mentions Le Sirenuse. He described it as “an old family house converted into a first-class hotel.” After it was published, tourist flocked to Positano for years to come.
Read John Steinbeck’s article here: http://www.sirenuse.it/fileUpload/downloads/1/Steinbeck.pdf
Le Sirenuse is a luxurious five-star boutique hotel settled on a hillside above the Mediterranean in Positano. Le Sirenuse meaning “The Sirens,” refers to the nearby island of the sirens which was named after mythological sirens which are believed to have inhabited the island.
As we pulled up to Le Sirenuse, the first thing I noticed was the unusual auburn red paint of the exterior. The staff were very hospitable and greeted us with warm welcomes. They made us feel like we were coming home. Since it was my husband’s 40th birthday, we were informed that we were in for many treats during our stay. When we were handed our keys to our room, Scott and I both looked at each other with baffled looks. The hotel keys were normal, but the bulky metal charm attached to it displaying our room number was not. I mean, you could hurt someone with that thing! In my opinion they should do away with them. (They were impractical and became an inconvenience to carry around while site seeing.) Enough about the key…let’s move on to the good stuff!
Arriving at the famous Le Sirenuse hotel in Positano
Exterior of Le Sirenuse
This 63 room hotel is quaint and comfortable with an unpretentious feel. It is decorated with an abundance of eclectic antiques which gives it that “home” feel. Though cozy, it still maintains poise. On our hall were little reading nooks and a quiet bar, a perfect place to curl up with a cocktail, book…or both. The Champagne & Oyster Bar upstairs sounded interesting since I am a huge fan of both, but I was dissapointed to hear it was closed during April. It stays open from mid-May to October.
I highly recommend booking a room with a view of the ocean. The view you will get it is like no other you have ever had, I promise! If you don’t, you will probably cry! Though small, our room did have a balcony which overlooked the pool terrace and the Mediterranean (score). The room was very clean and charming and the bathroom had a giant jacuzzi tub which made me dance. I am big on my baths so this is one of the first things I look at when I walk into a hotel room for the first time. One surprisingly pleasant touch was the hotel’s signature collection of perfumes. One of the Serasale daughter’s created eight different fragrances which represent the essence of Italy. I really enjoyed trying a different smell daily!
Since it was Scott’s birthday and they did promise us suprises, we had a bottle of champagne on ice waiting and a kind welcome note. We sipped champagne over our balcony as the sun started to set. We are truly blessed!
The bar on our hall
The view from our balcony
Clean rooms with chamber maids who tidy up hourly
Our welcome note & complimentary champagne
THE POOL TERRACE
Scott and I having lunch at the Pool Terrace - Le Sirenuse
When Scott and I were not site seeing, we resorted to the hotel’s pool terrace. After Rome and Pompeii, we were so ready to lie around and do nothing! Lunch was absolutely delicious but a bit pricey. We sat at a table overlooking the ocean and enjoyed another bottle of complimentary champagne. We were first served a basket of breads and olive tapenade. Scott’s sandwich he chose was perfection. It was a club crab sandwich with tomato and arugula. This was by far the best club sandwich both of us had ever had. It was so good, we were craving it the next day. I highly recommend ordering this dish when visiting! For my entree I chose fresh anchovies which were caught that morning. They were served marinated in olive oil and garlic with a side of crunchy toast. I also had a locally grown side salad. These anchovies were to die for! I’m normally not an anchovy eater because you can rarely find fresh uncanned anchovies in Texas, but the fact that they were caught that morning really appealed to me. There was no fishy taste and they were not overly salted. The toast and dab of the the olive tapenade made them twice as nice. As I ate, I kept thinking about how much I wanted my dad to come here and experience this. As a little girl my dad and I would always eat anchovies together because no one else in the family liked them. I really hope we can come back with my parents one day!
Scott’s Club Crab Sandwich with arugula and tomatoes
Freshly caught anchovies marinated in olive oil & garlic
Locally grown side salad
I love the fact that while laying around the pool, servers will bring you locally grown olives and nuts to munch on. We’re in Italy, what else do you expect? The olives are thick and juicy and I’m in Italian heaven.
They have Lemons bigger than your head in Positano!
The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coast line off the Mediterranean in southern Italy. There are 13 little towns and villages on this coast. The prettiest (in our opinion) was Positano. This is where we stayed for our time on the coast (see photos of us below with Positano behind us).
When we caught our first glimpse of the Amalfi Coast it took our breath away. Aldo our driver pulled over at a look out point so we could get a real look. I never thought looking at a pretty view would actually bring tears to my eyes! Right next to us was a little old man selling local fruits & veggies. I DIED when I saw how large his lemons were! Lemon’s are one Positano’s main crops. Locals will peel them and eat them like we do with oranges. They are so sour that it cringes me to think about so I didn’t try them, but I was told they are a bit sweeter than the ones we are use to.
This morning we left Rome and headed south of Italy to Positano on the Amalfi Coast. On our way there we stopped for a private three hour tour of the old city of Pompeii. It took us about three hours from Rome to Positano. Along the way we stopped for lunch at an Auto Grill. Auto Grill’s are all over Italy along the major highways and they are basically like a gas station/restaurant. They are very convenient and the food is surprisingly good! They have freshly made food ready to grab and go or if you want a sit down meal, they have a restaurant where you can order different Italian specialties and drink a glass of vino! They also have a market where you can purchase wine, meats, cheese, crackers, etc. Scott and I both ordered a hot sandwich to go. Mine was a Capri made of bread, mozzarella, prosciutto, tomatoes, arugula and basil. Yum!
Lunch at the Auto Grill!
After our lunch we had another hour before arriving in Pompeii. To be honest, I didn’t really know much about Pompeii before our tour but I left there with much more knowledge! Pompeii is partially buried with ash and pumice and is over 2,000 years old. It was built by the Greeks and Romans. It was known as a big shopping city and people from the Amalfi Coast and Naples would travel to Pompeii when they needed more supplies, food, luxuries, etc.
The road leading into Pompeii
Mt. Vesuvius was the volcano that erupted. It sits about 5 miles from the city. The people of Pompeii had no idea that Mt. Vesuvius was a volcano until the eruption happened. It was a very devastating disaster. We learned a very random fact! (For all you Pliney the Elder and Younger fans out there) I swear I’m not lying about this… Pliney the Younger was a Roman who lived in Pompeii who was the first person who saw the beginning of the eruption happening. He saw the smoke and warned the city of what was coming! I asked our tour guide about him and she said that Pliney the Elder was Younger’s uncle! Haha too funny! Today there is still a lot left of the old city. It is actually very large!
The forum in Pompeii
Here you can see Mt. Vesuvius . It sits 5 miles from Pompeii.
This was so sad!!! Here is a body imprinted in ash. Right after the eruption there was a quick pyroclastic surge that fell on the city (hot gas and ash), followed by a layer of pumice. When rain fell afterwards it caused the ash to turn to mud and turned the bodies into molds. This person was obviously praying during their last moments before they died. This is the signature photo that represents the devastating Pompeii disaster.
The thing that surprised me the most was how extremely well these people had it! I mean, this city is over 2,000 years old and these people had fast food, luxury spa’s with saunas, beautifully decorated mansions, shopping, and two theatre’s for entertainment. It was obvious these people were way ahead of their time and lived so much better than even some cultures in our world today! Our guide said the Romans were very intellectual people. During our trip we learned that they built their own sewage systems and even had lead piping. They also built speed bumps for the middle of their roads as well as reflectors so they could see where they were going at night by using the light from the moon.
These were all little shops. All stores had sliding doors and you can see the slit in the stone where the door was.
They had spa’s!!
Another bath in the spa
Here I am cooking up something yummy in a kitchen of an old upper class home!
This was a dining room of an upper class family.
The funniest thing we saw was in their Red Light District. They had a brothel where men could literally order off a menu to fufill their sexual desire lol! Each room inside the brothel had a stone bed and above each door was a painting of a different “position” and depending on what they were in the mood for then that would be the room they would go to. CRAZY! LOL we cracked up about this and so did all the other tourist in there. I took a photo of it below….
The bed inside the brothel!
The menu!! LoL
Such an interesting tour! If you plan to go on this tour just know that Pompeii is larger than you would probably expect and be prepared to spend at least three hours or longer on this tour. There is a lot to see!
I forgot to mention a couple of things in my last post! Scarlett Johansen is staying at our hotel this week! As we were walking down to the lobby to meet our tour guide yesterday, there was a crowd of people standing outside waiting for her to leave. Apparently she is here for the premiere of The Avengers movie. Too bad we didn’t get to see her! Also, our tour guide told us that she had the pleasure of giving Tory Burch a personal tour when she was in town for the opening of her store. She said Tory was a very sweet lady. Anyhow, on to the important stuff lol….
Good morning Rome!
So today is was our last full day in Rome and we went on a personal tour of the Vatican City. I didn’t realize that the Vatican is pretty much a small country within a country! It sits on 110 acres and is surrounded by huge walls. Daniela, our tour guide today was very kind! She was born and raised in Rome and her parents raised her Catholic. She decided at age 12 to leave the Catholic religion because she felt that there were pieces missing for her. Daniela is now very spiritual and plans to move to Umbria, Italy. She said that many Saints were born in Umbria and she believes it is one of those places on earth that possesses a powerful force of some kind. She hopes to find what she is looking for there…..I hope she does! Daniela may not be Catholic anymore, but she definitely knows her stuff! She gave us a wonderful tour and brought us through the gardens and museums which display works by Raphael and Michelangelo, as well as the Sistine Chapel, St Peters Basilica and square, and the Pope’s apartment.
Scott listening to our guide, Daniela.
“Laocoon” by Michaelangelo
My favorites on the tour were the Sistine Chapel and St. Peters. We spent a good while in the Sistine Chapel with our heads turned to the ceiling just gazing at the incredible works of Michelangelo. So many stories and little hidden secrets…I love stuff like that!
The celing of the Sistine Chapel
St. Peters Basilica is just massive….I would expect that given that it is the largest church in the world. It is thoroughly decorated and serves as the burial grounds for all 91 popes that have reigned in the past. There was one Pope (I think Pope John XXIII) that was embalmed after he died and they actually have his body on display in a clear casket! Thankfully he is robed and has on a mask to cover his face. (See my photos below). When we went outside to the square we stood at the “special spot” that is the only spot in the whole square that shows the double row of columns lined up perfectly. What a fun tour this was! Definitely put it on your Rome “to do” list.
Inside St. Peters Basilica
The list of all the Popes who are buried under the first floor of the church.
The pope that was embalmed and put on display!
Standing on the “special spot” in St Peters Square. (Sorry the photos is turned, this blog will not let me rotate it!)
A fountain in the square.
Scott is drinking from a public fountain in St. Peters. They say the water in these fountains are extremely clean but I keep opting out! lol
We also saw the Pantheon today. It is such a beautiful building inside and out, and the hole cut out at the top of the dome makes it so unique. I would love to see it from the inside when it rains or snows! Warning….don‘t take photos of the idiot guys dressed up like they are gladiators because they will expect you to pay them! I think they got kicked out of the Colosseum so now they have resorted to the Pantheon. The Pantheon is surrounded by a cute little square that is filled with coffee shops, gelaterias, and cute restaurants but out tour guide suggested that we not eat there because it was a tourist trap. A tip she gave us was to never eat at any of the restaurants where the waiters are standing outside trying to pull people in (you will see this a lot). She says that the food is usually not fresh and is frozen and reheated.
For our last meal in Rome we shared a bottle of red wine with fresh bruschetta to start. Scott had homemade gnocchi with mussels and prawns and I had my favorite pasta in Rome, Cacio e Pepe. It is such a simple pasta but it is so good! You would think that maybe my favorite pasta here would be something a little fancier than Spaghetti noodles cooked al dente, olive oil, salt, Parmesean and cracked black pepper! LoL I’m not kidding though….It is so good that I had to order it two nights in a row! I think it’s something about using cracked pepper instead of regular. I will definitely be making this when we get back home.
Heading to dinner!
Our wine of choice
So….you can’t go to Italy and not get Gelato!! After din we ran across the way to a Gelateria that looked busier than all the rest. We saw that it had great reviews online so we tried it! Out of all the zillions of flavors, Scott and I both wanted the same flavor lol “Oreo Biscotti.” Yes the taste lived up to the name! =) FYI the name of the Gelateria is Giolitto, see photos below.
Getting our first taste of true Italian Gelato!
All sorts of treats!
What a great trip to Rome! We really enjoyed all of the historical sites and learned so much! Now we are off to a quick stop in the historical city of Pompeii and then on to the Amalfi Coast for some relaxation and birthday celebration!
Hey everyone! Hope everything is good in the states. Im just now able to post this blog I wrote from day 2 in Rome! For some reason my ipad has not been working with the Wifi in our hotel!) Enjoy! It was a beautiful day in Rome today! Sunny skies and mid 70’s. Neither of us slept good last night though…we woke up exactly at 3am and then couldn’t go back to sleep! Let’s hope that we get better sleep tonight. This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant which is outside in a beautiful garden. Very peaceful! In my opinion, the coffee here is TO DIE FOR! I don’t even have to doctor it up with sugar and cream. We had a long tour scheduled for today so we got in some shopping and then grabbed a slice of pizza and a Peroni. A Peroni is an Italian beer produced here in Rome. (Very good but it has nothing on Pliney). The first thing we saw on our tour today was a fourth-century Basilica, the Basilica of San Clemente. The church has three levels to it. The top level is the current Basilica that is still used today. (They built the new Basilica on top of the old church). When we walked through the doors I couldn’t believe how amazing it was! I honestly felt chills go through my body. I have always seen these old churches in History books but seriously…. the photos do them no justice! It’s just an amazing feeling to think about how many people have walked those floors. The 2nd level was the older previous church which was later used as housing, and the 3rd level is a cave/cavern that was used for a type of religion called Mithraesm. We had to go underground to get to the 2nd and 3rd level and it was freezing, dark, and scary! There was a priest in a black robe that kept walking around down there and it was creepy as hell! (dont mean to offend) but I was relieved to get back to the peaceful, well-lit 1st level!! I couldn’t get many photos of it because there was no photography or video allowed but the photos above are the few that i got. Very neat church… would definitely recommend! The 2nd stop on our tour was the Collosseum! My favorite of the day! Our awesome tour guide took us straight through without any wait or long lines. We felt like we were “somebody” as she was pushing through everyone to get us through! Haha! Definitely the way to roll in Italy! We got to see where the gladiators use to train, as well as where they kept the animals they use to battle. “Lions, tigers & bears oh my!” Got some nice photos below. The forum was 3rd on our list. It was pretty cool. Lots of old buildings, columns, arches and rocks…. Glad we got to walk through but Scott and I both agree that we do better when we hear the most important details and whip in and whip out! I have photos of that below as well. Fourth and last thing on our tour was the one and only Trevi Fountain. It is much bigger in real life! There were way too many people there so we quickly threw our penny in and made some nice wishes. Rumor is you throw your penny in and it will bring you back to Rome one day. I sure hope it does!! After a long four hour walking tour throughout the city we were so ready for more Italian food and wine! We went to a restaurant that I chose called “Le Bolgonase.” Very cute place with white floors, walls and bright red chairs. Our waiter must have loved us because he kept bringing us free stuff lol. He first brought out fresh Parmesan to nibble on and then after our meal he brought homemade ice cream sandwiches, caramel with chocolate chip gelato, Biscottis, and last but not least… Lemon Cello. Dear lord it was on after we drank that! For the Italians, Lemon Cello is how Tequila is to us Americans. It is potent! After dinner we managed to climb the Spanish Steps and then Scott thought it would be a good idea if I climbed on a Lion statue/fountain and pretend it was a bull. We laughed so hard about it. We couldn’t stop! (Please see photos below.). What a great day we had. Looking forward to day 3! -Ciao
Feeling jet lagged but excited, we have finally made it! As we were landing we looked out the window of our plane and expected to see old architecture and tons of buildings but we thought it looked similar to landing in Alexandria! “Uh oh, did they fly us to the wrong place?” Lol. We found out quickly that its a 30 minute drive to the city. Once we got our bags we were greeted by our friendly Italian driver. One of the best decisions I think we made for this trip is that we are using an agency here in Italy that puts together your itenerary and also provides you with a personal driver to and from each city we visit, so neither of us has to worry about driving in the Fiat madness while trying to read Italian road signs! We can literally sit back and enjoy the sites with ease. Once we arrived at our hotel, Hotel de Russie, we were greeted by friendly Italian doormen wearing top hats “Buongiorno.” (Hello, good morning). The hotel is stunning!! Fresh flowers in delicate vases were displayed in the lobby and light from the huge windows poured through from the view of the courtyard…. I’m in heaven! As we waited for our room to be finished we were escorted to the outdoor courtyard and bar for a complimentary morning cocktail of our choice. The courtyard reminded us so much of New Orleans. Finally in our room, we freshened up and went out for our first walk through the streets of Rome. Of course our hotel had to be right in the middle of the shopping district lol. Stores and shops galore…we could definitely do some damage! Since we were so jet lagged we decided to take it easy for the day and so we walked a bit, ate lunch, and just paced ourselves. We did see the Spanish Steps but were in no shape to climb them! We will save that for a morning exercise after some good rest! We somehow managed to force our eyes to stay open until 9pm and then called it a day. After half a day in Rome, I’m already in love! So romantic and filled with history. I can’t wait to see and learn so much more! Will catch you all up later. - Ciao
Our adorable lunch spot yesterday!