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Rome is our first stop in backpacking through Italy. The first thing you notice in Rome is that the locals call it Roma (Italian). Roma, also known as the eternal city, is the capital and the largest city in Italia.
Backpacking Through Italy – Piazzas
My second observation is the wide-open spaces. These spaces or Piazzas are the heartbeats of Roma. They were pulsing with mopeds, uber small cars and skinny well-dressed locals.
The word Piazza is cognate with the French and English “place” and Spanish “plaza,” all ultimately derived from the Greek plateia, “broad street.” The most celebrated Italian piazza is designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in front of Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano, Roma.
On our first night, we did an eating tour with Dominico from Eating Europe in the Trastevere neighbourhood in Roma. The four-hour walking and eating tour had us stopping at four variably different spots to try Roma street food, a local pizza and the best penne pasta I’ve had in a while. As we meander through the narrow vein-like streets of Trastevere, there were many Nasone’s. One could use it to quench your thirst. These drinking fountains reminded me of standpipes in Trinidad.
Piazza Venezia is the pulsing heartbeat of Roma. It connects Via dei Fori Imperiali and the Via del Corso. The traffic circle in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Altare della Patria, part of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, first king of Italy.
All the various historic sites in the city were walkable. If you didn’t feel like walking, you had several options of public transport: bus, scooters, and Uber. The drivers in the city were very accomodating while we zipped around on scooters from one spot to the next.
Sorrento, Capri, Positano, Amalfi
Leaving the hustle and bustle of Roma we took a high-speed train to Sorrento. Think Amtrak, but ten times faster! From the country to the city in less than three hours. Sorrento is a town overlooking the Bay of Naples in Southern Italy. It is a sleepy town with a vibrant town square. Sorrento is the jumping-off point to get to Capri, Positano and Amalfi.
On a comfortable ferry from Sorrento and pronto, you are on the small island of Capri. Capri is an island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrento Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples. The laid back characteristic of the locals and the on-point limoncello spritz were well worth the less than ten euro ferry fare. The seaside ambience and modest local feel with the fishing boats transported me to my early childhood in Mayaro.
Adapting the expressions of the locals, the first words one learns are thank you and welcome. After that, Grazie and prego became the words of the day as we continuously extended our Italian.
The town of Amalfi was the capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Amalfi was a popular holiday destination for the British upper class and aristocracy.
Our next stop, Bologna. The lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy. Ciao!