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Trip Report Back from Campania - Benevento

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Well, we debated about adding two days in Benevento to our 2 week itinerary - but a number of tour books called the Benevento/Caserta/Avellino area a "hidden gem", visited only by Italian tourists. And that was irresistible.

We left Amalfi by car, and stopped in Vietri Su Mare to check out the gorgeous ceramics. This is a must stop if you like ceramics, there are some very famous studios and tons to choose from. We bought a few things we could squish in our suitcases and proceeded to Benevento.

We stayed at the Hotel Villa Trainano, very nice and just steps from Trajan's Arch. This arch is incredible, worth a trip in itself - it's the most well preserved Roman arch in the world and was cleaned 10 or so years ago. Really magnificent. We walked around the historic district, checked out some famous churches, ate gelato...

Dinner was one of the very best of the trip - at Nunzia, a local favorite, and now OUR favorite. I'd read about it in a guidebook and the hotel also recommended it. We had trouble finding it, and because we were in a non-touristy part of Italy - very few people spoke English. We asked a man for directions and all I understood was "two" and "left". Fortunately, a nice woman was with him and she basically dragged us the 3 blocks to the DOOR of the restaurant, chattering in Italian the whole time. We hugged and kissed when she left!

This is a mama-run kitchen. No menu. Mama shops in the morning and decides what she's going to make - and it's not a set menu, she makes LOTS of things. So she comes to your table to recite the long list of items - in Italian. We were VERY lucky that her son spoke English and helped us order. Wonderful bruschetta with white beans (which doesn't sound like much but was divine). Square pasta with tomato and basil sauce. Stuffed Squid and something LIKE squid but smaller and darker, with peas and a delicious sauce. We had NO idea how much anything cost - but with water wine and covert the total was...... 30 euros. Unbelievable.

The next day we drove to Caserta, destination the Royal Palace or Reggia. It was built to rival Versailles and it truly does. Huge, ornate, full of marble, gilt, frescoes, statues, chandeliers, long rooms.... Outside is a garden with a series of waterfalls. We decided to walk (so as to enjoy the waterfalls more), but our perspective was off and we were bushed when we got to the end. I decided we were taking the shuttle bus back even though we hadn't bought tickets.

The bus came and we jammed on with a field trip of 8 year olds! My husband was in the front of the bus, I was in the back, surrounded by adorable 8 year boys. One of them could speak English and I was grilled. Was I English? No, Americano - AAHHH! Where from? Washington DC - AAAAHHHH!!!! My name, my favorite color, did I like cats or dogs, what time did I eat breakfast. All this information was duly shouted to the kids at the front who were missing all the excitement. I felt like a Martian!

We were too tired when we returned to have a 2 hour dinner at Nunzia again (although that had been the plan). Instead we went to a close-by neighborhood place, Ristorante Pizzario Traiano. Good but not great. BUT, the treat was more BOYS. A group of about eight 9 or 10 year olds trooped in sans parents, took over a big table, pulled out their video games. The waiter brought huge bottles of coke, then fries. There was also a younger brother, maybe 5 years old. A parent didn't show up for 45 minutes!

The whole area is very nice, and it was a treat to be somewhere where tourists don't usually go. If you get the chance, DO it.

Alice

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