Almalfi, Money and Armpits

Written By: Kim - Aug• 21•11

At my urging, we headed to the town of Almalfi. Since we cannot seem to get out of the villa before 11 am, we boarded an already crowded SITA bus. There does not seem to be any other kind of bus here.

Connor, Josef & Abby at the Almalfi Beach. This local came to our rescue. ©Mike Howard

When we finally made it to Almalif town center and we got off the bus, my daughter asked, “Did you see that girl’s pits?” Abby had just been introduced to the European method of female hair removal: It is optional. I chuckled and explained that it is common in some cultures. My American kid was not amused.

There were several public beach front options here, so we picked one right in front of an eatery. Since we did not intend to stay all day nor rent a beach chair, Mike and I sat by one of the deck tables. It was not crowded and we were not taking up space for a paying customer.

A few minutes later, the owner figured out that the kids were hitting the beach, he came over with a waitress and asked if we wanted to order. He did not ask us to leave or rent a beach chair, so we stayed. Since we had already eaten, we ordered a water. It never arrived.

The table next to us clearly had three regular patrons who were quite animated with their conversation. They consumed a traditional Almalfi meal: fried sardines, bread, white wine and mozzarella. I wish we had understood the language because they were a fun bunch. The kids enjoyed the water in Almalfi because it was warmer than previous locations and the rock beach consisted of smaller rocks so the wading in was much easier. We stayed about two hours. The kids changed in to dry clothes and we proceeded to leave. But not without the drama.

The owner asked us about paying for the mineral water. We said it never arrived. He said, “no, you had the water.” An argument quickly ensued. He then threatened to call someone if we did not pay.

Joseph, the regular sitting next to us spoke up and confirmed our story. As he did, the owner also confirmed with the waitress that we never received the bottled water. We also never received an apology. All of this for over a €2 bottle of water.

After we toured the marina and marveled over some extremely big yachts, we headed for a

Abby climbs the steps of the cathederal in Almalfi Town Center. ©Mike Howard

canoli and a cappuccino at the town center. There was a lovely cathedral that had amazing front of mosaics decorating the front facade. Connor and I hit the shops for some goodies to take home for everyone at the office and something for Abby. The salesgirl who helped us was “hot” as my 13 year-old son said. But, she was wearing a sleeveless dress and as Connor said, “I’m not in to ‘optional’ hair removal.”

Back on the SITA bus we went, standing room only. Again. The tight spaces in which drivers must maneuver in Italy continued to amaze us. We had a new respect the bus drivers, but the other drivers are simply rude. A “me first” attitude continued to prevail. Why don’t people in any country learn that the biggest rig on the road has the right away?

We had dinner at a restraunt we had been eying from our balcony. We were one of three patrons since we arrived around 7 pm. The first server was attentive. The last two were awful. Here, most of the servers could care less.

I really miss American customer service.

Alone in the Borghese Gallery

Written By: Kim - Aug• 07•11

On our last full day in Rome, I spent two hours in the morning at the Borghese Gallery. Alone.

The side view of the Borghese Gallery. ©Mike Howard

What a glorious way to start your day.

The museum houses several sculptures by Bernini. His sculptures are so realistic, you can see every fold, muscle tone, or toga fold. One of the sculptures, Apollo and Daphne, has such intricate details on the leaves between the two bodies, that I simply could not believe what a master talent this man had. Restorers say that when you touch the leaves, they ring like crystal.

The museum, which was once a villa owned by Cardinal Borghese, also houses other artist’s sculptures and paintings. Get the audio tour and go at your own pace. I learned two paintings I was looking at were actually made of miniature mosiacs. Once I moved closer, I could see the details. I would simply have thought they were two oil paintings and would have moved on to the next room.

The gift shop had your typical items, but I did purchase a set of cufflinks with bees on them, which were in the crest of the Borghese family. I also picked up a lovely silk scarf that I can’t wait to wear when the weather cools.

Italian divas Abby and Mom at the Borghese Gardens. ©Mike Howard

The museumn is located in what is Rome’s answer to New York City’s Central Park, but on a smaller scale. We rented bikes, dipped our feet in to the large swimming pool-like fountain and watched the kids spend an hour pedaling go carts. There are plenty of shaded areas for picnics as well.

We spent our last night in Rome at a resturaunt we discovered two blocks from our hotel consuming yet another plate of prosciutto and melon. We also said goodbye to our Italian gelato friends we made at their shop since we frequented them everyday.

We highly recommend the hazelnut and lemon creme gelatos. Excellent.