Beth Eats Italy Part 1: Naples

Traveling and eating are two of my favorite things and on this trip to Italy, I did a lot of both. In 9 days I ate my way through Naples, Capri, Ischia, Ravello, Positano and Rome. It was a lot to take on, so I began mentally preparing for the weight gain well in advance. Good thing, because starting in Naples, everywhere I went was like going to my Grandmother’s house because everybody wanted to feed me!!

Here is Part 1 of what I like to call “BETH EATS ITALY” (ha):

To start from the beginning, I left LA on a Monday, arrived at FCO/Rome on Tuesday and spent the better part of that day in the VIP lounge of Alitalia awaiting my connection to Naples. I had not slept during the 12 hour flight and was deliriously tired. After waiting for 6 hours for my 25 minute flight to Naples (next time I’m taking the train!), I finally arrived around 8:00pm. A dapper representative from the Hotel Romeo (Maurizio) greeted me in a very nice Jaguar and drove me to my home for the next couple of days. When I was checking in, I stumbled across the five other travel agents and wonderful host of this great adventure, who were already having cocktails in the lobby. It was my intention to crawl into bed and finally get some much needed sleep, but everybody was heading out for dinner, and how could I say no to food. Especially my first meal in Naples! I ran upstairs, splashed water on my face, then turned around in the clothes that I had been wearing for the past 24 hours and headed towards my first food coma of the trip! We went to a wonderful little restaurant called Pizzeria Mattozzi, and there I spent a fantastic night with new friends and great food. Here’s what we had:

It all started out with the biggest home-made buffalo mozzarella cheese I ever saw with cherry tomatoes, an eggplant parmesan, a casserole made from mashed potato, proscuitto, hard-boiled egg and mozzarella cheese topped with bread crumb, a pasta dish of giant rolatini with parmesan cheese, basil & smoked mozzarella with cherry tomatoes (a tribute to al dente – this was hands down best pasta I ever had), octopus salad over arugula and fried dough with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese (looked like a giant savory donut). Topped off w/Nutella Cake and limoncello.

This feast was my introduction to the ‘real deal’, and was a precursor to what was to come. I should have paced myself better because the next 9 days were going to test my stomach’s ability to keep up with my mouth!

Day two in Naples looked something like this: Woke up to a nice breakfast buffet which is included in the room rates at Hotel Romeo (and at many of the finer hotels in Italy). I’m not going to write much about breakfasts since they were pretty much the same everywhere with wonderful fresh breads, fresh cheeses (ricotta was my favorite), fresh fruits, eggs, smoked salmon, yogurts, cereals, etc. After, we all re-grouped and headed out for a casual walking tour of the city. Naples is a crazy metropolis that appears to be a controlled chaos. It’s bustling, ancient and at the same time modern, with everything to see from castles like the famous Castel dell’Ovo to churches to archeological digs to Mount Vesuvius. With it’s important port, Naples is a great jumping off point to continue on through the Amalfi Coast since there are ferries that can take you everywhere from Capri, to Sorrento to Positano and has a constant stream of cruise ships coming and going.

Lunch was at Mattozzi Ristorante (a different Mattozzi from last night but owned by relatives). Alfonso, the proprietor, is a famous culinary teacher and this place was obviously not for tourists. We were introduced to this little gem by my host for the trip’s friend, Nello, who is a local that runs incredible Villa rentals throughout the Amalfi Coast. Here, we were immediately greeted with another huge handmade mozzarella ball, octopus salad and a lovely crisp white wine called Greco de Tufo, from Naples. Alfonso’s daughter, Fabiana, was an amazing hostess and decided what we’d have for lunch, which turned out to be pizza margarita and a calzone with smoked mozzarella and escorole! Crispy and salty yumminess! I loved every inch of this restaurant because you could literally feel the love that went into the food (not to be hokey or anything!). While we were sitting there, their fish monger walked in still wearing his wet boots to show his daily catch to Alphonso for his approval before bringing it into the kitchen. I was a happy camper.

Much of this trip was planned around learning about fantastic hotels (another one of my passions), so after lunch we were treated to a tour of the 5 diamond deluxe Hotel Romeo, which is where we were staying. It is a one of a kind experience in Naples, with an eclectic art and furniture collection that is featured throughout the property. It’s high level of service, high style, high-tech look and feel beautifully contrasts with the old city using deep colors, clean lines creating a very hip ambiance. The spa, which will open shortly, the restaurants (Il Comandante and Zero Sushi), the unique room types (ie: the wellness room with a Kinesis Machine by Citterio for Technogym, cyclette, leather exercise mat by Hermes, lounge chair by Hermes -worth $20,000 thankyouverymuch – and Pilates ball) the electronics and the fabulous staff make for a special hotel experience! In fact, you can request what kind of linens you’d like on your bed and even the color scheme in advance. Talk about customized customer service!

I could go on for days about Naples, with it’s rich history, narrow streets, insane traffic, amazing food and wonderful people but rather than write a guide book, I’ll stop here and suggest visiting for yourself! Suffice it to say, that two days in Naples was a wonderful way to begin a trip touring the Amalfi Coast.

Tomorrow, a short hydrofoil ride to Capri! The Hotel Romeo is conveniently located just across the street from the port, hence the fun view I had from my room of all those cruise ships:

Ciao for now!

Oh, and if you’re interested in traveling to Naples (or anywhere else for that matter) let me know! It’s my job to send people off on great adventures! You can reach me at Beth@elitetravelinternational.com or
journeybybeth@yahoo.com. Or, follow me at http://www.twitter.com/BethLovesTravel and http://www.Facebook.com/beth.friedman1

For more details on the Hotel Romeo (pronounced RomAo) ask me (I know people!) or go to http://www.RomeoHotel.it

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