Thursday, May 1, 2008


From Rome we cycled three days towards Naples. We reached the coast on the second day, and passed through resort towns, quiet and vacant prior to the summer season. We passed through agricultural towns, and bought melons bursting with juice from roadside stands. There are small markets everywhere, but they all are stocked with the basic essentials of good quality -- cheese, bread, vegetables, fruit, olive oil. Food is plentiful and excellent, but we need to be sure to get it early, since shops close in the afternoon from about 2 to 4 pm.

Outside of the tourist routes foreign travelers are less common, and the people have been so kind to us. We stopped to eat our lunch of bread and cheese at a gas station and market. Sitting next to us were a couple of gentleman with lunch bags the size of a small coolers. Out came multiple courses -- bowls of salad, cheese, bread. One man pulled out a salami and started slicing off chunks. He offered a large section to us. We hesitated at the unexpected generosity and our supposed vegetarianism. But we took it, and found it to be very delicious. Apparently made by the man himself, he beamed when we expressed our pleasure.

Our goal was Naples. Having made a contact with the Langella family through, a networking site for bike tourists, we had a place to stay. As we approached the city, we encountered dense traffic and more cobblestones. We called Francesco, our host, and he met us by the docks on his bike. He then us led us throught the streets of the city to his home in the old part of town, through tunnels of buildings and narrow streets, where vendors display their wares, throngs of people walk, and scooters and cars buzz by with just a cautionary honk. For the next two nights we were spoiled by a personal tour of the sights of the city, home-cooked Napolese cuisine, and the company of our superb hosts.

We visited The National Archaeological Museum of Naples, and also the famous cloister of Santa Chiara, where the painted columns were strikingly beautiful. We met our host for a hike for a panoramic view of Naples from the Castel Sant'Elmo. We stayed up too late, ate too much, but left happy and with the joy of a new friendship. On our final morning, Francesco led us through the city of the last time to the dock, where we loaded ourselves and our bikes for a trip across the bay to Sorrento for the next leg of our journey.

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