It didn’t start out to be a late lunch. Today is May Day, a major national holiday, and as all cultural institutions and most of the other kinds are closed, we had decided to take a boat trip across the Bay of Naples to Sorrento. We stayed there two years ago and had our lunch plans all made.
We were first in line at the port, Gate A4, along with about 100 other people eagerly awaiting the docking of our ferry. There seemed to be a lot of confusion, but since this is Naples and confusion is the constant state, it took all 100 of us ten minutes to realize that the Sorrento ferry had actually been two docks over, and, as they say, our ship had already sailed.
I will spare you the words that were said in many languages, but suffice it to say that we had two hours to kill before the next ferry. Never expect an apology in Naples. You just have to understand that mistakes happen and, yes, okay, they forgot to tell the passengers where the boat was actually waiting for us. Must have been a light load on the way to Sorrento.
The time passed quickly as we found two American mother/daughter teams who were lots of fun and equally caustic. Our kind of people.
We finally made it to Sorrento by 2:00, and saw that nothing much has changed, though the number of tourists seems to have increased exponentially. Why not? It’s a lovely small city, whose official color must be yellow. Sorrento’s lemons are enormous, and many of them find their way into limoncello, and anything else one can make from them.
It was a nice though somewhat brief stay, and we were able to navigate our way back to Naples without much hassle. (Getting home from the port? Another story.) We waved to Vesuvius on the way, and will now rest up for our big day in Pompeii tomorrow.
Don’s Food Corner
After our stressful journey to Sorrento, we were in no mood to experiment with some untried restaurant. Instead, we returned to a place where we had had a good experience with two years ago. The restaurant was packed with Italian tourists — all talking at the same time in very loud and demanding voices — and I think the staff was a little rattled by all the, well, rattle.
We were hoping for a relaxing few hours before rushing to the boat back to Naples. We both ordered a starter (after really starting with a couple of Aperol spritzes). I had a hot dish; Jo had ordered a cold dish. My dish came immediately. I ordered a specialty of Sorrento — gnocchi alla sorrentina. This is gnocchi baked in tomato sauce with mozzarella. To my surprise, the gnocchi wasn’t made as individual dumplings. Instead, it looked like the gnocchi had been rolled out in a long log and then cut across into small cylindrical shapes. I think that’s cheating a little. But it was cheesy and had a great light tomato sauce. However, poor Jo was sitting there without her first course, melon with prosciutto. We had to wave our arms a bit to remind the staff of her order. By the time the melon arrived, I was almost done with the gnocchi. Think I was going to wait? Forget it.
Jo’s choice as a second course was pizza diavalo (pizza with spiced salami), which arrived about two minutes after the melon. (One reason the melon is shown after being hurriedly consumed.) Where to put all the dishes? There was a timing problem. We held out hope for an amazing pizza because the restaurant had a gigantic wood-burning pizza oven. And the pizza was pretty good. Not on as high a standard as we had yesterday in Naples, but again better than anything we’ve ever had in New York.
I had an order of mussels that had been prepared simply in the juices of the mussels themselves with pepper and salt. It was served with two huge lemon wedges, apparently cut from one of those gigantic Sorrento lemons.
I fear that the disorganized nature of the service did not soothe us in quite the way we had hoped.