This year has been marked by several outstanding events. From weddings to engagements, to conventions, Broadway shows and milestones. On a personal level, it is a year to remember. Entering October, with three months still in the balance, it’s a good time to go through a little reflection. Not to mention, I’m also gearing up for NaNoWriMo, which I’ve done the past three years (and won).
Fall is my favorite season. It really boils down to the coziness of the entire time. Also, the best things happen in fall. New York Comic Con, Halloween, Thanksgiving… basically nerdy stuff and food. I will be at NYCC this year as an attendee, which is nice considering last year I worked at the event. Looking toward next year, I hope to return as a guest. It will be another great year at the event as I am already booked to meet the great Stan Lee.
On Sept. 21, I had the opportunity to see Hamilton on Broadway. The musical created by the genius Lin-Manuel Miranda went above expectations for me. It was humorous and honest, self-depreciating and intelligent. I have been listening to the soundtrack on a daily basis since November of last year and it has truly been gift to me throughout the entire year. I mention it because I want to get to my point.
My life is filled with so much art. And fall is always that season where art is incessantly there. I curl up with books more, watch more movies and television shows. Even video games fit into this section. I am my best self when I am surrounded by it, and people who feel as strongly and passionate about art.
With a chill in the air and leaves returning to warming hues of autumn, I am most excited for all the art that I will get to experience.
So I had another lovely weekend after my visit to Napoli. The only downtrodden thing was Italy losing their match against Costa Rica on Saturday. We’ll rebound against Uruguay tomorrow.
After the match, we had dinner, and then I showered. We took in a trip into Sora to see them setting up l’infiorata, which is a traditional festival before Corpus Christi (Corpus Domini). There were people creating street art with flowers and vegetables depicting biblical scenes. There was also a large stage set up in the piazza and they had little kids singing songs and it was really wonderful. I also got to try Italian frozen yogurt. I chose Nutella syrup and strawberries as toppings. Let me tell you how great of a decision that was.
On Sunday we headed back to the charming seaside town of Sperlonga. I bought a bathing suit right on the beach for 14 Euro. Not a bad price at all. The top fits perfect but the bottom is a little small. That’s okay because I like to mix and match my bathing suits anyway.
My time here is beginning to wind down. I feel it. I leave on July 3rd, so I still have plenty of time to soak in the local sights and culture. But, I already feel that sadness seeping into my mind. We were driving back from the beach and I was looking at the mountains against the sunset and I got a bit teary-eyed. These sights have become so precious to me and I know I will miss getting to stare and revel at their beauty. I am envious of this life.
On the 28th, my cousin and I are going to Ponza for three days. The island of Ponza is where my moms side of the family originated from. They all moved to New York in the early 1900’s. I’ve heard varied stories as to why but the one that interests me most is the one where they were targeted by the fascist party and left to avoid capture by Mussolini’s camp. The island of Ponza and the neighboring island Ventotene served as political prisons for opponents of fascism. Mussolini himself was imprisoned on the island for several weeks after he was overthrown in 1943. But that was much after my family had left.
I’m so excited for this trip. I won’t rush through the week though because I know how short my time is running.
Everyday has been spectacular here in Italy, and yesterday was another day of pure bliss added to that.
We left in the morning to my cousins boyfriends house a few towns away and made our way south to the town of Caserta. I asked what we were doing here and the reply was La Reggia di Caserta. I didn’t know what ‘reggia’ meant at the time, so I quickly resorted to a translator. Reggia means Palace, and this place was nothing shy of elegance, extravagance, and immense beauty.
As a bit of a history buff I was disappointed I didn’t know about this place prior. However, I am happy to report I am caught up with its historical context and will impart some of my newfound wisdom to you as well. The palace was built in the 1700’s under the oversight of Charles VII of Naples and his architect Nicholas Vanvitelli. This Baroque period palace was never slept in by Charles VII, as he left to abdicate as the King of Spain in 1759. The palace was handed over to his son, Ferdinand IV. In terms of volume, it is the largest palace in the world.
We started our tour at the gardens. It took a long time on this muggy day to walk all the way to the end but seeing The Fountain of Ceres, The Fountain of the Dolphins, The Fountain of Aelous, The Fountain of Venus and Adonis, and the Fountain of Diana and the Actaeon was well worth it. At the last fountain, the Fountain of Diana and the Actaeon, we enjoyed some ice cream, sat in the shade, and took the bus back to the palace.
We sat to have some lunch in the cafeteria and then made our way over to the Honour Grand Staircase, which is aptly named because it is lined with marble and has a beautiful vaulted ceiling. It surely raises the bar for everything else named ‘grand.’
First we visited the chapel, lined with gold and structurally fortified with grey and pinkish marble. Magnificent. We then ventured to the art gallery, which featured classical paintings from that time and also modern/contemporary art.
After a stroll through the gallery, we set our eyes upon the stunning apartments in La Reggia. Each room toppled the next one. The vaulted ceilings, the smallest detail-laden trinket, each room was magnificent. And there were so many of them!
My personal favorites were:
The Throne Room. One of the largest rooms The Throne Room is open, airy and is tied together with an insane gold vaulted ceiling. It cries opulence. The lack of furniture in the space is also really appealing.
The Honour Grand Staircase. As mentioned before, it elevates you to a whole new place. I don’t know how I didn’t trip on the stairs when I just kept looking up and around.
The Second Antechamber of Joseph Murat. Probably my favorite out of all the rooms, the ruby red wall paint got me, and it had that lovely Victorian-esque design I adore. By the way, who even needs one antechamber? And this guy had at least two.
The Third Room of the Library. Expansive, filled with old books, globes, a telescope, what more could a bibliophile ask for? The dark wood also set itself apart from the rest of the rooms.
I can go on and on about how stunning this place was, but I hope I’ve said enough that if you’re ever in the Napoli area that it is a must-see.
After La Reggia di Caserta we headed to Napoli. We walked around the historic center, the seaside, and gazed at the menacing-look Mount Vesuvius. I still can’t believe I saw a real volcano. Napoli is charming. However, I must say as we were driving through the port looking for a parking lot, the driving there is certifiably insane. It’s like all the rules of driving are out the door. No lanes, scooters zipping in and out, cars turning from the left to make a right. I don’t think I could have gripped the car seat tighter than I did.
We visited Piazza del Plebiscito, I saw the most important bar (cafe) in Italy there. It’s called Gambrinus, and it is where the President of Italy buys the first coffee of the New Year.
After getting our hands on some delicious Neapolitan pastries we took the car back to the old part of town for a few more hours of walking and wandering. We went to the Naples Cathedral where the crypt of San Gennaro is. We visited the famous streets of the nativity and also musical instruments.
Then, at around 6, we headed over to Sorbillo’s and after a ten minute wait I had the best pizza I have ever had in my life. Nothing could seriously top it.