Today we leave the island of Ischia and head North for our next week of adventures. First step is the ferry from Ischia to Naples. The ferry leaves at 10:30am. We leave the hotel, all packed up and ready, at 9:30am, and B takes his morning nap. All is going according to plan. But Ischia is a small place filled with one way streets, so we get turned around on our way to the port. Still we arrive early, but there is a long line of cars waiting to get on the ferry...so we get into the mix. I get out and try to find the 'biglietteria' to buy our tickets, while Chris navigates our Fiat through the maze of other cars all angling and wedging their way into line. I find the place to buy ferry tickets, I ask to purchase for 2 people, one car. Documents?, She asks. Oh no, I have forgotten they need these damn documents for the car. "Un attimo" (one moment), I say and walk quickly toward the line of cars inching their way toward the ferry boats. I find Chris in the line and grab the documents from the glove compartment. I run back to the shop and buy the tickets, and commence sprinting back to our car in my mini skirt and flip-flops. I check my watch. Three minutes until 10:30am, three minutes until we miss the boat. I just paid 50 euro, so I really hope I get to the car in time to get on the ferry. I run in my flip-flops and little skirt all the way to the boat, where Chris is at the end of the line, talking to the ferry man collecting tickets. I hand him the tickets, jump in the car, and we pull on. We are the final car. After we pull on, the cranks start going and the back of the boat pulls off of the dock. Wow, JUST barely made it. I ask Chris, What were you going to do? Filibuster? iIf I didn't get back were you going to just stall until I made it? He said he wasn't going to take NO for an answer. I tell him I now understand how he is part-Italian. Every once in a while little personality traits creep through. Being in Italy, the land of his ancestors, gives me some further insight into this man I have been married to for 4 years and known for 11. He also has started talking with his hands while he drives, and mumbling insults at people who are driving poorly. Hmm.
Arriving in Naples is again a zoo of people and sounds and commotion. We get on the autostrada and say "Arrivederci, Napoli". We are excited about going North, and make it almost to Rome when Bodhi wakes and we need to get out, stretch, and get some food. I like the highways here - they carry steep tolls so they are not crowded with cars, there is not much traffic, and there are easy stops along the way. You don't have to drive through some historic little town looking for a gas station. There are defined exits for restaurants and gas, that literally only take seconds out of your way. Chris actually looks forward to these travel days on the highways because of the delicious and gargantuan "Autogrills" that are positioned along the autostrada (toll highways). They have salad bars with more vegetables than we have seen in any restaurant. They have warm prepared foods, deli sandwiches, wonderful espresso bars, and cheap wine and cheeses to make your own picnics. In short, a real experience if you are traveling around Italy. Nothing like the road stop depressions we see in America where to stop for food is to surrender to gross fast food or packaged chips and candy.
We follow the road northwest from Rome toward the coastal beach towns. We are heading toward the port town of Civitavecchia. We are looking for a place to stay along the sea, just for the night. It is a frustrating proposition, since it is a Saturday night, in a seaside town, on a summer day in Italy. There is not much available. We go from place to place and each place is either sold out, or exorbitant. We see family reunions, weddings, parties. Apparently the beach was not our best decision for a quick stopover for meeting our two criteria: available, and under 100 euros a night. We are getting desperate, & Bodhi, who has been exceedingly patient for the whole day's journey, has had enough. He is fidgeting and complaining. He is hungry and tired of being in a cramped car seat. I sympathize but tell him he is learning patience, as we all are. We almost decide to just take this place that is WAY over budget, and absolutely not worth it, with a cramped monastery of a room, no terrace, and no place to be once B falls asleep for the evening... We are at our wits end, bickering, pleading with B to last a few more minutes, and almost give in to this place... then decide to press on a little further. It is in these moments that test your resolve, that often you are rewarded. I think this is true in life as well as travel; those moments where you seem at your breaking point, to have reached your absolute limit, this is when if you keep going, you will be rewarded. We were rewarded, with a recommendation for an affordable but quaint place outside of the town of Santa Marinelli on the coast, called "Portofina". I called on our way there, and they had a room, so we backtracked five miles to the hotel. It was perfect. We walk in and there are small shirtless children running around the 'living room' in the lobby of the hotel laughing. There is a hippy-looking man with long curly hair who greets us, and I know instantly this is our kind of place. People are talking, children are playing soccer, and the beach in front of the hotel has rolling waves and is dotted with surfers. We found the surf town for Rome vacationers. I love it here. We get into our modest hostel-like room, get settled, and go outside. Bodhi gets to run around and play - there is a slide, a playhouse, a field of soft grass, and a beach filled with smooth large rocks. He is giddy with excitement. We play and laugh until it is time for dinner, and we have one of the best meals we have had yet. I have pasta with crawfish and salad with shrimp, arugula and fresh tomatoes. Everything so fresh and simple, and fresh from the ocean. After a long drive and an exhausting day, we have arrived at a wonderful stopover and it has been a great evening after all.