The Featured image: Village life in Meta, Italy
We love the little village of Meta, quietly sitting on the Bay of Naples in the Sorrento region. Ok, quietly may not be the best adjective here; how about picturesquely. It is very much like a picture, but not always quiet. The rugged, old, cobblestone streets, squeezed in by the stone walls of stores and apartments, echo with the sounds of enthusiastic talkers, cars, and SCOOTERS! It took us almost the entire week to finally navigate our little village like the locals. You not only look for traffic. you listen. At the end of this post you can get a feel for Italian village life by watching a short video.
We have loved Italy since the first time we visited in 2003, and were looking forward to renewing our connection again. In Dubrovnik, at 20:00, we climbed aboard the overnight ferry, Jadrolinija, headed for Bari, Italy that left at 22:00. I am very pleased to announce that I spent my very last Croatian Kuna on board when we had dinner. Little victories are nice.
The ferry ride to Bari was uneventful. Leaving Bari, unfortunately, was. We have used Flixbus several times and have been pleased with the service. This experience was not so pleasing. After a taxi dropped us off at the ‘bus station’, which was just an unmarked, open area between stores, we waited for our 9:30 bus to arrive. Being good travelers, we were 20 minutes early. When 9:30 had come and gone, I asked three other bus drivers where we were supposed to wait for the Flixbus to Naples. They all said we were in the right place. Around 10:30 I called Flixbus customer service and was informed that our bus had stopped, picked up thirteen passengers, and was headed to Naples. I tried to explain our situation and was told I would have to buy a new set of tickets for the upcoming 11:50 bus. Deciding I would contest this later, I got on my phone to use the Flixbus app to buy more bus e-tickets. The app decided to be a brat and not work.
Travel Challenge fact #1: Anytime you are under a time crunch, stuff happens. Tick, tick, tick.
When the 11:50 bus arrived at 11:20 I showed the drier our previous e-ticket. He said, “No!” Then, waving his hand in a general direction, he told me to go buy a ticket. Off I scurried to talk to many shop owners for two blocks. No help. Tick, tick, tick.
Back to the ‘bus stop’ and the Flixbus app. This time it responded properly but my credit card was rejected. This is the same card we have been using for six months now. Tick, tick, tick. No problem, we’ll use Marsha’s card … also rejected. Tick, tick, tick. We tried another card and … it WORKED! The e-ticket downloaded to my phone and we got on the bus five minutes before it took off.
We have named our Google map ‘person’, Zoe. Zoe is on drugs. She has misled us on a regular basis. When we got off the bus in Naples we took the one-hour train ride south to Meta with no drama. Then we got off the train and opened Google Maps … drama ensued. Zoe must have just gotten back from an all-nighter. She had us wandering about for about an hour. Finally, a very nice teenage boy walked us to our apartment. He refused to accept any money. Such a nice Italian boy.
There was more ‘stuff’, but I won’t bore you with it because it’s ‘all part of the adventure.’
Meta is very untouristy, which we loved. The first night, after buying some supplies, we enjoyed a tasty dinner at one of the village restaurants while enjoying the outdoor ambiance of the streets. The next day we treated ourselves to an incredible meal. Our table was only 20-30 meters away from the water. The fresh shrimp with pasta, wine, and tiramisu made our two-hour feast a most memorial one. We were the only non-Italians there and loving it.
We took three day trips during the week.
SORRENTO – a ½ hour bus ride got us to this southern sea port for a nice walkabout and simple lunch of freshly-made sandwiches eaten on a park bench. A nice relaxed day.
NAPLES – a one hour train ride back north. Our intention was to go to their fantastic archeology museum and then back to the restaurant that claims to have invented pizza, Antica Pizzeria de Michele. Well, the museum was closed on that day and the lines to the pizzeria were way too long. So, we enjoyed a long Rick Steve’s walkabout and then enjoyed some pizza at Pizzeria Trianon that has been Antica Pizzeria de Michele’s competitor since 1929. A very nice day after all. The image below is of their Galleria.
AMALFI COAST. This was the highlight of our stay. We took a nine-hour tour in a very comfortable mini-bus with eighteen others. Our guide, Patty, was great. Although she has been living in the area for 30 years, she is from Ireland. Very interesting, combining Italian, English, with that beautiful accent. Not having to drive this cliff-side road was one of the biggest benefits of taking the tour. Trying to navigate the 1,776 turns as you dodge pedestrians, scooters, cars, trucks, vans, full-sized buses, and donkeys on these narrow roads would not be very enjoyable.
We stopped for 90 minutes at each of the beautiful villages: Positano, Almalfi, and Ravello. Words cannot explain the beauty. Pictures only hint at it, but here are a few to make that attempt:
During one of our several visits to the local Meta bakery, we started to leave after bagging our treats. I then noticed the doorway had turned red. It took a moment to realize that a delivery truck had wiggled into the narrow street and blocked our way out. The woman at the counter told us to walk through the actual bakery, right by all the dough, machines, and baker with three inches of ash hanging out of his cigarette as he kneaded the dough, to get out onto the street. Here is how that looked.
Here are some additional images from our little village of Meta. To get more of a feel for village life there, click on the image below of Marsha and the car.
CLICK on image to play VIDEO
Next week: We return to Oriento and Siena. Last time our stops were only day trips from somewhere else. This time we will be temporary locals. I wonder if they have scooters?
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Preston & Marsha
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