I must be in heaven. I'm sitting on the front porch of a magnificent villa overlooking the island of Capri sipping Prosecco and nibbling (well, gorging on) mozzarella di bufala made fresh this morning garnished with perfectly ripened tomatoes, tangy basil, and olive oil. There is a splash of balsamic vinegar and some pickled eggplant strips (tasting way better than you would think) to boost the flavor.
Below us is the bay of Baia littered with yachts built by one of the most exclusive yachtmakers in Italy, Fiart (Ivana Trump's yacht came from here). The bay is guarded by a castle built by Catherine of Aragon, creating an imposing skyline. That's on the right. On the left is a string of beaches, an extinct volcano, and Lago di Inverno, the Gates of Hell according to the ancient Romans, a sulfuric lake which inspired Dante's Inferno. We can see two former Roman temples and the ruins of some Roman baths. Straight ahead is the former Roman seaport of Pozzuoli, where it is said that the apostle Paul landed on his way to see the Roman Emperor. You can't get any more Italian than this!
But I digress. Let's back up a bit.
Earlier today, Susie and I walked out of the plane into a warm, sunny afternoon in Naples. Lucy was waiting for us with her two adult children, Will and Adrianna. We were swept up in Lucy's friend's husband's car (her car dropped an engine on the road last week and is in the shop) and we launched into the crazy traffic. Passing by the city of Naples and in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, we head about 20 minutes north of town to Pozzuoli.
On the way, we stopped at the store/cafe/casino/spa/pool for our welcome treat ingredients. We were given a quick lesson on how to buy vegetables (do not touch them – there is a dedicated store employee to bag and price them for you) and meat. Up the hill we chugged to Lucy and Maurizio's gorgeous villa.
Our nosh was followed by a walk through the neighborhood, meeting all of the neighbors who were out. Her street has a small hotel and a number of eventi, or buildings that are rented out for parties. These eventi have even better views than Lucy's villa because they are on the tip of her little peninsula and are unobstructed.
In the evening Lucy hosts a “hail and farewell” party – goodbye to Will and Adrianna, who are heading back to their jobs in Japan and San Diego, and hail to Susie and I for our first trip to Naples. I don't even get to talk to all of the people who came for dinner, but we had homemade tiramisu and limoncello for dessert.
It's only our first half-day here and yet, it feels like our second home. Bella Italia!