Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Buon Giorno!

I finally crossed "the pond". Now back from a 10-day trip to Italy. The group was following the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope with Astronomy magazine. Thus, we started with 2 days in Rome, followed by 3 in Florence. 4 of us opted for an additional 3 days in Sorrento to see Pompeii and Capri. I feel I basically saw much of the history of mankind, including an extensive exhibit in Florence covering the history of astronomy, with artifacts from the earliest conceptions of the universe. Star constellations played a major role in the development of answers to the question "how did we get here", with the creation of astrological signs and gods to explain the forces of nature.

On a very secular note, along with the prominent and profound art and architecture I saw, one of the highlights was visiting the "Pizzeria da Michele" made famous in the book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. This visit was certainly not part of the tour, but devised by me in the quest for finding the best pizza in the world. As we landed at the Naples airport, we besieged the poor driver to diverge from his assigned task to take us to Pizzeria da Michele on the way to Sorrento. Happily, the driver knew how to get to it and we found it to be a very unassuming facade on a small street that almost no one but locals must know about. As I expected, there was a line waiting outside the door. Undaunted, we went in to ask for pizza "via" or to go. We were able to order it at the cash register and then stand inside to wait. Sadly, I got the abbreviated version of the whole experience but I did get to witness the guys making the dough and putting the pizzas in and out of the wood-fired oven. It is a small place, hence the line waiting outside for table space. While waiting, a very nice older man dressed in a white outfit and apron chatted with us, albeit in Italian. He was so friendly. Eventually in my broken Italian I said that I spoke a little French. He said (in French) that he also spoke French - so then in my fragmented high-school French phrasing I asked how long he'd worked there and he told me he was the son of the founder of Pizzeria da Michele! Then I asked his name - Luigi - and I finally understood I was talking to the proprietor! He was so sweet and one of my prized photos of the trip is of me and Luigi...

I took about 3000 photos from the trip, so after I get them organized I will post a few here.


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