Postcards From Italy

Dear Reader,

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for my absence lately – an absence that you probably haven’t really noticed. Either way, I’ve missed the past two times I should have posted, and the three posts before that were late. I’ve had a wonderfully busy month, starting with the trip that this post is about. On the 9th of July, I left for a holiday in Caserta, Italy.

Caserta is a town just outside of Naples, and about 45 minutes away from Mount Vesuvius, and the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. I was there with my parents; Joseph, the oldest of my two brothers; and Susan, my dad’s step-mum.

So with that bit of context done, onto the postcards!

 

Sunday – Arrival Day 

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Buongiorno

Today was travelling day – up at 2am, on the plane by 6am, landing in Naples by 9:30am, local time. We reached our beautiful villa by noon, and were shown around the complex by our landlady – glamorous, kind, and very Italian. Unfortunately, we were all a little too frazzled to take everything in at first. A stressful ‘dad forgot his driving license’ scene at the car rental place, and general lack of being prepared for the heat left us not entirely together. Either way – I’m sure that afternoons by the shared pool and evenings at the barbecue will be plenty. After that little tour, we went for lunch in a local restaurant, with a wonderfully friendly chef, who gave us the low down on the best local mozzarella. I like Italy already.

As always, with love,

Mima x

 

Monday – Caserta Palace 

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Ciao!

While the town of Caserta doesn’t seem especially amazing, it happens to be home to the largest palace in the world. You wouldn’t think it, because it’s all walled off, and there’s a grand total of one signpost for it in the entire area, but it’s there, and it’s beautiful. We spent the morning looking around the palace itself, all the fancy furniture and decorations and imitation ancient architecture when it was all really built in the 1500s. I liked that I knew all the myths the decorations were based on and got to tell the stories to my family. And inside may have been beautiful, but I’m pretty sure the garden was the highlight. There’s this long driveway, about 2km long, which we had to get a tram down, and this glorious fountain, flanked by wonderfully manicured and looked after gardens. We spent hours wandering around there, identifying flowers and fish, and running through sprinklers. I felt like a child, and loved it.

We got home and spent the hottest part of the day in the pool. It was marvellous.

As always, with love,

Mima x

 

Tuesday – Into Naples

Buongiorno!

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Naples is certainly not the most beautiful of cities, but it is one of the most interesting ones that I’ve been able to visit – and I’m not just talking about the driving. Narrow streets hung with laundry and cramped with mopeds are exactly what you think you’ll find in Italy, and they’re exactly what we did find in Naples – along with pasta shops, excellent coffee, plenty of churches, and a magnificent wine bar that we had lunch in. We were perhaps a little more than tipsy by the time we left. The tourist part of the city didn’t enchant us too much – every shop sold the same jewellery and t-shirts, and we got accosted by an accordion player the second we sat down. However, I have not a bad word to say about the gelato.

As always, with love,

Mima x

 

Wednesday – Pompeii and Herculaneum 

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Hi!

Finally! The whole reason I’ve been trying to persuade my parents to bring me here for years! An ancient history nerd’s dream come true, literally. We arrived early, and met the private guide my parents had insisted on booking – ‘if we’re going to finally do this, let’s do it properly’. Fabio really was an excellent guide, and I don’t think we’d have got half so much out of it if we didn’t have him. Pompeii was incredible, and we got such a vivid impression of ancient life. Herculaneum was different – better preserved, but very exclusive. It was like the Upper East Side to Pompeii’s Brooklyn. The entire thing was sensational, and made my inner nerd cease to be at all inner.

All that marred the day was the fires. Mount Vesuvius has been ablaze with forest fires for several days, and we didn’t get to walk up it, or have lunch atop it, like we’d been hoping. We thought that would be the worst of it. What we weren’t expecting is for the fires across the entire region to be so bad that we stayed up half the night waiting to see if we had to evacuate our villa. We watched the fire, about 150m away from us, until 2am. Luckily, a dusty road kept the area safe.

As always, with love,

Mima x

 

Thursday – Casertavecchia 

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Hello!

We were tired today, so after a bit of a lie in, we decided to take it easy. A short drive away is the marvellous Casertavecchia. It’s the old version of Caserta, built out of stone and perching on top of a mountain. We lapped it up – this was Italy as I think we had imagined it. Streets too narrow for cars, and too cobbled and bumpy for bikes. Walls stuck with fragrant flower pots, and restaurants literally hanging off the edge of a cliff. Magnificent churches in towns too small for them, and the remains of the castle. Laundry hanging from wall to wall, and the owner’s children fetching us coffee when we stopped for refreshment. Utter adoration is I think the only way I can describe my feelings for Casertavecchia. Unbelievably beautiful, and honestly? Somewhere I felt at home.

We returned to the pool back at our villa, and Joseph and I messed around with a bodyboard, while literal ash rained from the sky. The fires are still going on, but we’re safe here.

As always, with love,

Mima x

 

Friday – Paestum 

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Ciao!

Okay, so today was a chance for my inner ancient history nerd to return. About an hour and a half drive away is this town called Paestum, which was built on an ancient town. About a third of this town has been uncovered, and I studied three of the temples there for my recent exams. I was 50km away, and desperate to see them. So naturally, I dragged everyone else down there too. I was our tour guide this time. At least, I was when I wasn’t freaking out. Honestly, words cannot describe my level of hype. After the site itself, we looked around the museum before heading back to the car. We were out in ‘that direction’, so decided we’d head to the Amalfi coast for lunch. It proved to be well worth it – we had the best lunch of our trip, at a restaurant hanging over the clear blue Mediterranean, eating sensational food, and with a gorgeous view of nearby Capri. Although, driving along those cliff roads was honestly terrifying. I don’t think my dad will ever recover.

As always, with love,

Mima x

 

Saturday – Lazy Day 

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Hey!

Today, we did nothing. Well, very little. The morning was whiled away reading and going through Joseph’s photos of the week so far. The afternoon was spent entirely in the pool. I tried to get my mum to record one of those aesthetic wet hair flip video’s for me, but instead all I got was a few videos of Joseph throwing things at me and laughing out of frame.

We went out for dinner again – this lovely restaurant just around the corner, where the owner walked in looking all confident in a leather jacket and sunglasses, halfway through the meal. Before we realised he was the owner, my mum convinced herself he was mafia.

I’m sad we leave tomorrow – but ready for it, too, in a strange kind of way.

(Today’s postcard photo wasn’t taken today, but it’s of the fires from the other night and I thought it was pretty cool.)

As always, with love,

Mima x

 

Sunday – Departure Day 

Hi!

We packed this morning. Then we went back into Naples. We ate amazing pizza in an amazing restaurant by the sea. We drove to the airport.  We flew home. It was sad.  We didn’t take any photos, so this isn’t a postcard, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my time in Italy. I think you’d like it there, too.

As always, with love,

Mima x

 

 

(All except the first (and by far the worst) of the photos used in this post were taken by my brother – @joetakesaphoto on Instagram.)

(Also I promise it isn’t my fault that ciao and buongiorno were spelt wrong when this was first published.)

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