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barry hoggard - Trip to Rome, Naples, Campania, Basilicata and Apulia - May/June 1997

General Notes

Places Featured:


For most of my Rome notes, see last year's trip notes. On this trip we re-visited Osteria del Gallo, Da Lucia (where they remembered us!) and Ristorante San Eustachio.

Hotel Rinascimento

A three-star hotel on a relatively quiet, very narrow, street near the Campo de' Fiori, which is our favorite part of Rome for a stay. The rooms are pleasant, and have air-conditioning. We wouldn't want to rely too heavily on it in hot weather, however - it's not that strong.

Osteria dei Nostri Tempi

A small but comfortable wine bar in Testaccio. The staff is helpful and the wine list is very good, with wines from all over Italy (and some beyond). It's a great place to sample some wines, accompanied by small dishes (hot and cold) from the kitchen. The best plates we had were the assorted meats and sausages made from goose, and a kind of crepe with truffled cheese.



Click here for photosSome guidebooks talk about Anacapri as being more "rustic" than Capri, but on our visit, before the high season had gotten into full swing, it was already very crowded with tourists and t-shirt stands.

**Da Gelsomina

This wonderful restaurant is a 30-minute (or maybe 40) walk outside of Anacapri, on the trail toward the Belvedere della Migliara. The food is excellent, there are great views from a large comfortable terrace, the staff is friendly, and it's very relaxed - quite different from most of Capri.


Click here for photos Naples has a reputation for being noisy, dirty and dangerous (a bit like what most people in the USA think of New York). From what we have heard, it has been cleaned up quite a bit from a few years ago. We found the city beautiful and the people charming. Staying there for almost a week was one of the most pleasant experiences we have had in Italy.

Hotel Rex

A comfortable three-star hotel in a good location - just off the Via Partenope near the Castel dell'Ovo. Breakfast (included) is served in the rooms, and arrived promptly at the time requested.

Ciro a Santa Brigida

The restaurant, near the opera house of Teatro San Carlo, has a more formal interior than most places we usually visit in Italy. The service is professional but friendly, and their suggestions for the regional dishes served there are helpful without being too pushy. Like many Neopolitan restaurants, the place really gets going later at night. We went at 10:00 on a Tuesday night and it was quite busy, especially after the symphony concert at San Carlo let out. The best choices are fresh fish and pastas.

Don Salvatore

The menu degustazione is definitely worth trying, at 65,000 lira. You'll have seafood and pasta courses, and the wine list is very good as well.

**Ristorante Transatlantico

This beautiful restaurant has great food, comfortable service, and an excellent location - on the island of the Castel dell'Ovo. We ate here more often than any other place in Naples, from lunch to late afternoon or evening meals. There are tables outside on the marina, where during the day one can watch adults and children swimming and rowing about in boats. We had everything from pasta to pizza to seafood (both fresh grilled fish and a good cold seafood salad). The wine list features good choices from Campania.


Click here for photosThis site is known for its well-preserved Greek temples. Unfortunately, two of them were covered in scaffolding when we visited.

**Ristorante Nettuno

In Italy one can often find good restaurants near tourist attractions, and this is one of them. There's a pleasant outdoor area that's shaded. The inside is probably more formal than most people will feel comfortable in after wandering about the dusty excavations. Don't skip the desserts - they were excellent.


Click here for photosThe excavations are called Pompeii (two i's), but the modern city next to them are called Pompei (one i). There is a surprisingly good cafeteria-style restaurant inside the excavations - but make sure you bring water and a snack in case it's not open.

Ristorante Zi Caterina

Pompeii is such a huge tourist attraction that it's difficult to find decent restaurants. We were pleasantly surprised by the food and service here. I recommend sticking to simple dishes like pasta e fagioli, and it doesn't hurt to speak a bit of Italian either.

Da Carmine

A place for grabbing a quick pizza slice on the run near one of the entrances to the excavations. I mention it because our friend Bartolomeo's family owns it.


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Pensione La Tonnarella

This hotel, located high on a cliff outside Sorrento (with a private beach), is a good bargain for the area. The restaurant is pretty good, although the staff can be rather stiff. There's a half or full pension option which might make sense, unless you enjoy driving the Amalfi Drive at night.


Basilicata is the region above the "arch" of Italy's boot. Most people are unlikely to visit it, except on the way from one place to another (in our case from Campania to Apulia).


Hotel Due Pini

A comfortable hotel near the train station.


Potenza is one of the provincial capitals of Basilicata. The ancient town's buildings (but not its street plan) are mostly rather modern, even in the center, because it's an area that experiences occasional earthquakes. However, the center is quite pleasant, and the town is a comfortable place to spend a night. We walked around during the passegiata the night we were there, and stumbled across a string quartet playing Brahms in a small square with a fountain. I'm sure we were the only people there not from the neighborhood or the university.

Tourist Hotel

A very comfortable, but slightly odd large hotel in the center of the old section with pictures of Padre Pio in the hallways. It resembles a former East European hotel, and there seemed to be only one other occupied room the night we stayed there.

Ristorante/Pizzeria Fuori Le Mura

An off-beat employee-owned restaurant. The food is great, with home-made pasta like orrechieti. Be sure to try Aglianico (a Basilicata red) with your meal. It's the sort of place where the local priest comes in to eat dinner with his newspaper and falls asleep in his chair after the meal.


Apulia is definitely a part of Italy worth visiting, with beautiful white-washed hill towns, a deep history with influences from other Mediterranean peoples, and good food and wines. The people there can be less gregarious than some Italians, but are charming and warm once you get to know them a little better. If you're going to visit smaller towns (and most of the ones worth visiting are small), it can be pretty important to speak some Italian. We went days without hearing English spoken, or encountering people that could speak it. A few Germans and English tourists visit here, but not many, and it can be hard even to find a newspaper from outside the region. We found it a welcome relief after the relentless tourism of the Amalfi Coast.

**Castel del Monte

Click here for photos This place is the site of a stunning octagonal stone castle built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 1200's. It's a beautiful building, probably utopian, and no one is quite sure of its intended use.

Ostello di Federico

This restaurant is located just down the hill from the castle. The food and wine list are very good, and the setting is comfortable, but the service was a bit distracted and nervous when we were there.


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Trattoria dell'Emigrante

A small restaurant with vaulted rooms in a pretty white-washed town near Martina Franca. This is a place to put yourself in the hands of the friendly woman who runs it. The local cooking is great.


**Trattoria Casareccia

If you only eat one place in Apulia, this is the one. Our meal here was the best we have ever had in Italy. It's a small charming (but casual) restaurant run by the dynamic and talented Concetta Cantoro. Put yourself in her hands, letting her select the menu. Warn her if you're not ready to eat a big meal, because she will want you to try a bit of everything. The wines are house wines served in carafes, so if they have the fresh rosé, don't miss it. Don't miss the fava beans with chicory or the pasta with ceci (prepared without the usual tomato). When she learned we were from New York, she showed us pictures from a trip to the USA where she prepared traditional Apulian meals at Felidia and Hudson River Club in New York, plus restaurants in Boston and Washington, DC.

**Martina Franca

This beautiful little town makes an excellent base for exploring much of Apulia (by car at least). It's also less touristy than some of the other towns of similar size in the area known as "Trulli Country". The ducal palace has a facade by Bernini.

**Hotel Villa Ducale

This four-star hotel was one of my favorites of the trip. (We think it's closer to a great three-star, actually). The people running it are very friendly and helpful, and it's located on a park at the edge of the old town. There's a rather expensive restaurant in the hotel, but we didn't try it. Breakfast was one of the better we've had in a hotel, with cornetti from a local bakery.

Castellana Giovanni

An inexpensive place to have pizza. According to one of our guide books, there are tables outside on summer evenings, but nights were too cool for that when we visited in May.

Scacciapensieri Trattoria/Pizzeria/Bar

A very cheap neighborhood place with great pizza, plus full meals. We watched a soccer match with the locals while eating our pizza one night. The name means diversion or hobby.

La Tavernetta

The restaurant is located on the main passegiata route of the town. The food is good if not exceptional. The antipasta della casa is worth trying, since you're in an area known for this course, but be warned it's a huge amount of food.

Trattoria ai Portici

The food here is good, but the service was extremely disorganized.


Click here for photos The oldest quarter (on an island) of this ancient port city appears to be disintegrating from neglect, but still has some beautiful areas.