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Trip Report Holiday Treats---Paris, Naples and Rome

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This is my first post under what seems to be a new alias for me---the kathrynj (with prior Italy trips) one I used in the past did not seem to work so I am now Kathtravels......

Back from a 2 week holiday trip to Paris, Naples and Rome and want to post before too much more time passes! Thanks to those of you who had good suggestions and thanks Kerouac for the wonderful preview of the Paris department store windows which were only more beautiful in person.

Left on 12/18 from Baltimore and took the BA flight to Paris with a change in London and not much time to spare---Heathrow security was a disaster and the lines were daunting. We rented an apartment on the Ile St Louis which was a perfect choice for this group (me, my daughter, my almost 10 year old granddaughter and a friend of mine). Being right on the main street there with the charming stores right outside our door way was a delight for all and proved very convenient (nothing like walking past Berthillon and Le Cure Gourmand all the time).

We walked all over since this was my granddaughter's first trip to Paris (or Europe). The highlights for her were the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the pastries, crepes. I didn't do the usual planning and foodie obsession things for this trip since I wanted a more relaxed pace too.. The one place we reserved in advance (for the tasting menu) was a recommendation from John Talbott's blog (in the past I have totally depended on Alexander Lobrano). Pirouette was the choice and it was a super experience. Nice people, delicious meal, beautiful presentation, etc.

Enjoyed the holiday markets by the Eiffel Tower as well as the massive stretch on the Champs Elysees (we only did one side and that was as much as we could handle). Walked around the Marais, St Germain, and tried to see a variety of things and neighborhoods in the 5 days we all had together.

Weather was as expected----some drizzle, some rain, some partly cloudy, 50's temps. This is my 3rd time being in France or Italy at holiday time and I love all the decorations and festivities. It proved a lot of fun for this group.

Then, on the 24th, my friend and I took Easy Jet to Naples from Orly (I got the ticket online and paid the additional fee to purchase the seats in advance). Worked out well and got to a cloudy Naples mid afternoon. I believe Ekscrunchy recommended Palazzo Alabardieri for a hotel in good location and it was a perfect choice. Nice room, pleasant staff, location that felt safe, near enough to the water as well as other areas of interest.

Xmas Eve dinner was reserved in advance (after much anguish in finding something for that night as well as next day). Very good set menu at the George Restaurant at Parker's Grand Hotel Naples with the seafood/fish courses. Well done. Took taxi there and back----lovely hotel with what would have been a beautiful view but it was dark so the bay could not be seen. Totally filled dining room.

On Xmas day, everything was closed. It was really dead----have been in Bologna on Xmas and it was so much more active. That said, we walked around and then had a special lunch at Il ristorantino dell'avvocato, a place I had seen someone write they went to on Xmas. We were the only English speaking people in the room, charming place and excellent choice as well as a fun experience.

Things were still quiet on the 26th but we were able to spend a chunk of time at the Museum of Anthropology, a must visit place in Naples. We also went over to Via San Gregorio Armeno, the street that has all the handmade nativity scene type figurines. The weather that day was the worst on the entire trip----huge downpours, even hail at one point! That said, even with the rain, we were glad we got to walk a bit in the area even if we got soaked. Had Naples pizza for lunch and I don't love it (sorry)----gets too soggy for me...... Dinner was at Umberto which was good but not as good as I had expected it to be.

The 27th was much nicer and it was important that it be that way since I had hired a recommended driver, Renato Cuomo (Renato Cuomo Limousine Service based in Sorrento), for a day drive/tour of the Amalfi Coast. Perfecto. He was absolutely great and I highly recommend his company. It was 200 euros for the two of us and well worth it. We stopped in Positano, Amalfi and Ravello (which continues to be my favorite from years ago). He recommended our lunch stop and it was a charming place.

Really enjoyed Naples. It reminded me a lot of Palermo---hectic, crazy, busy, colorful, interesting. Wonderful architecture. So glad to have gone there since I had not spent time there before.

On the 28th, it was a return trip to Rome. Ah Rome. My favorite. At last it has taken over numero uno from Paris. Stayed in the same neighborhood I have stayed for the last 3 visits----near Via Guilia on Via Banchi Vecchi. The apartment (Mirella Cassio's) was the right choice and Mirella was an excellent hostess.

Highlights in Rome: walking around Via dei Coronari and finding a beautiful porcelain shop as well as seeing an artist displaying his canvases to a small group waiting to purchase (and speaking to someone who said he is a well known artist), eating lemon pasta at Il Pompiere in the Ghetto neighborhood, walking around Trastavere in the rain but loving every single second of it, seeing all the Xmas witches and everything else at Piazza Navona, seeing the Pantheon at night, the amazing colorful holiday lights everywhere.

Did the Vatican tour again and it was soooo mobbed since it was New Year's Eve Day and things were closing early. Kind of frenetic pace to it all.

New Year's Eve was dinner at the apartment (hooray for cinghiale sauce and pici with precorino on top) then fireworks from the rooftop of the apartment building. Totally crazy since the fireworks are literally being shot off from everywhere, all over. Better just to look and watch and not think about where they might land........

I left Rome eager to return since each time I feel like I am still just scratching the surface. Every corner presents another visual treat. Meandering along streets is just so wonderful. Love it.

Rushing to finish this and sorry it is so rushed. Happy to help if any questions.

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