Some of us slept, some of us didn’t, and then we were there. I couldn’t believe we were back in Roma, but this time with most of my favorite people.
For the others, their first glimpse of Italia was through the glass-walled arrival corridor. We passed through La Dogana — Customs and Passport Control — and emerged into the packed arrival hall, scanning the crowd for our transport driver.
Right away we spotted an attractive Italian guy holding a sign: “BROVELLI.” As Giuseppe led us to our taxi-van, he seemed pleasantly surprised that we were traveling so light — no doubt most Americans he encounters do not.
We were headed south, away from Rome, so the sights of this glorious city would have to wait for another day. Therefore, the first views of Italy, other than the autostrada with its pint-sized cars zipping along beneath Italian-language road signs, were of unattractive industrial buildings and flat, non-descript terrain.
But those disappointing sights quickly gave way to gently rolling hills, still green with spring’s carpet. Periodic clutches of stone buildings perched on distant hilltops promised the true Italia we had come to see.
Although the trip was purportedly to take four-plus hours, it didn’t seem very long before we were circling the Bay of Naples, our driver Giuseppe pointing out Mt. Vesuvius as we cruised past Ercolano, the smaller sister city of Pompeii. Soon we were at the brink of one of the most astoundingly beautiful coastlines in the world: The Amalfi Coast.
The road narrowed, carved into the side of steep and jagged mountains that crash straight down into the Mediterranean Sea. Just as we embarked on this glorious roller-coaster ride, we begged Giuseppe to stop somewhere. We were starving.
He knew just where to take us and veered the taxi van off to the side, our vehicle now looking quite large on this tight, narrow road. We had pulled up in front of a little deli named Saltimbocca — “Jump in the Mouth,” Giuseppe explained. I knew that saltimbocca is also the name of an Italian dish; as the name of little place to eat, it was a cute play on words.