Friday, December 31, 2010

Felice Anno Nuovo

Happy New Year! We have readied the house and yard for a festa tonight, which mostly involved stocking the fridge with Prosecco and picking up pieces of a dismembered gorilla (toy) that have migrated to every corner of the yard and terraces. For a small dog toy, Scully and his BFF sure managed to shred and spread it. The Glass House got an update with our all day trip to Ikea, which was as awful an experience as it sounds. Hours upon hours walking the aisles to decide on lamps and pillows and bookshelves and wardrobes! But we're now ready for the fireworks viewing. Italians LOVE fireworks. There are some for every festival and event. Every night, local teenagers light off firecrackers in the piazza up the street. It's now 2:40 in the afternoon, and we already have such heavy booming nearby that the dog is quivering on the sofa. He's going to have a long afternoon and evening.

Back to our previous two weeks though:
Nathan's Aunt B. and Uncle J. made the long trip across the pond for Christmas. After Nathan showed them Rome, Orvieto, and Assisi, I took over for a couple of local days. We visited Herculaneum, a place I've already blogged about. I did take some new pics this time, though:

The next day, we explored Centro Napoli, focusing on some of the beautiful churches there, as well as a walk down Christmas Alley. Napoli is famous for presepios (nativities), made of bark and moss, as well as many handmade figures to go into them. Christmas Alley is the place to go for these things. I didn't take many pics while down there, but I did get one that is so typical of Centro:
A gorgeous church, kids playing soccer in a piazza, and a humongous pile of trash.
Nathan had the Thursday before Christmas off, so we did an Aunt/Uncle split. Nathan and Uncle J. headed off to Benevento (a nice, mountain town) and then on to Pompeii, while Aunt B. and I headed to Vietri, yet another town I've already blogged about. Vietri is a small town on the Amalfi Coast and home to gorgeous ceramics shops and artist studios. Aunt B. cleaned up with some great finds that all made it safely back home in her carry-on luggage.

Christmas Eve found us on a train up to Rome, checking into the adorable M.D.M. Luxury Rooms next to the Vatican. I'd booked them online, and while the reviews were great, the name brought to mind a Vegas brothel. Thankfully, the hotel ran a beautiful, clean establishment. We stayed so close to the Vatican because the Aunt/Uncle combo had managed to secure tickets to the Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican. Despite a torrential rain all afternoon, the weather cleared just in time for our two hour wait in line in the square outside St. Peter's Basilica. Church doors opened at 8:30pm for the 10pm Mass, and we only had to elbow one group of nuns out of our way to get in. The others beat our elbows to the punch. Once inside, the dilemma was whether to try to sit closer to the front, but in the middle of the row, or further back and practically right on the aisle. We picked the latter, and if I'd transferred the photos of my iPhone, I could show you how this worked out! As they say in Italy, "Domani, domani" (tomorrow, tomorrow). Following a Christmas morning of sleeping in, we headed back down to St. Peter's Square for the Pope's noon blessing of the city and the world before running back to the Metro, and just making it before public transportation stopped running at 1pm. We headed home to Napoli and a nice Christmas dinner with friends.

The day after Christmas, we drove down to Paestum, an area that contains some of the most complete Greek ruins outside of Greece. There are three, standing temples that are just gorgeous. Unfortunately, we arrived 15 minutes after the ticket office closed, so we had to content ourselves with gazing at them over the fence line.

After another day of some local sightseeing right around our house, we said Arrivederci to Aunt B. and Uncle J. We had such a great time spending time with family and showing them a part of our new life here. And they'll definitely be back since they followed the time honored tradition of ensuring one's return to Italy:

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