Naples + Sperlonga

The cooking, baking, and recipe testing I usually reserve at least some of the weekend for has been replaced with a little traveling this Summer. There are the weddings, first of all -- I've been invited to 8 (!!!) this year, most of them in the Summer, requiring a bit of travel -- plus the fact that my oven, already faulty on the best of days, has finally given out, more specifically in a cloud of eye-stinging black smoke that came out of the top of the stove (yikes). While I wait for my landlords to find a solution, I've put my baking and some of my cooking on hold, spending my past two weekends outside the Eternal City -- a weekend in Naples, this past one in Sperlonga, and this upcoming one in Venice (more on that next week) because its not Summer without a little vacation, right? 

Translation: I haven't had much time to cook for you lately, but here are some photos of my days off, take these instead!

My sister and I traveled to Naples, Italy, two weeks ago to meet up with Anna Larkin, a friend from college who you might remember from this post on NYC and also this one. Anna also chose Bologna, Italy, as her study abroad destination for one magical year back in 2009, which we hands-down all agree was the best year of our lives so far (you really can't beat study abroad). She's the most optimistic and infectiously sunny person I know, as well as the funniest -- its nearly impossible to be in a bad mood when Anna is around. Anna is also an awesome baker, even appearing on Food Network's Bakers vs Fakers where she won the show with her Chocolate Halzenut Pretzel Cupcake recipe (!!!) She's one of my very favorite people and I was so happy to see her in Naples. Here's us back in our college days:
Anna works in New York City, now, and while we usually meet up there, we were able to meet up in Naples this time (much easier from Rome) where Anna was spending the weekend on her way back from visiting her family in Ischia. Anna being a fellow foodie, she was thankfully on the same page regarding the purpose of the visit, which was, of course: Pizza (what else could be top priority in Naples?!) Anna came prepared, sending us ahead of time a list of possible pizzerie for Neapolitan pizza (feel free to use these as suggestions):
We ended up opting for Pizzeria di Matteo in Via dei Tribunali for dinner, arriving at 7:30 to avoid any lines (this was a good idea -- when we left around 9:30, there was a line of people waiting outside). All three of us went for the classic Margherita con la bufala, or tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella di bufala, on a thick crust, something worth mentioning as Neapolitan pizza distinguishes itself from Roman pizza primarily in its crust. Roman pizza has a super thin crust, while Neapolitan pizza has a thicker crust. Here it is below -- have you ever seen anything so gorgeous?! 
Like any good expats who have spent extended amounts of time in Italy, we polished off all of our individual (but very large) pizzas as we had learned to do, no problem. We also shared a fritti misti platter as an appetizer, with all sorts of fried goods (fried dough! fried potato croquettes!) which are also typical of Naples. Just a light Summer meal, really.
The next day, my sister and I explored the city a bit as Anna had left for New York on an early flight (see you at Christmas, Anna!) It wasn't my first time in Naples -- I had been there in 2012, shortly after moving to Rome -- and hadn't gotten a great impression of the city the first time around. I found it too chaotic, too dirty, and overall a bit intimidating. This time, however (after nearly 6 years of living in Rome, a city that is not exactly the picture of tidiness and order) I found the city to be charming, honest, with a "take-it-or-leave-it" or "what you see is what you get" sort of way. On my second trip to Naples I could see that the city is quite beautiful, the people are kind, and the food is spectacular -- I won't wait another 5 years before traveling there again. 
Before getting our afternoon train, we finished our short stay in Naples off with lunch, spaghetti con cozze e pecorino, or rather, spaghetti with mussels and Pecorino cheese. While seafood and cheese don't usually mix in Italian cooking, they do make some exceptions, sometimes, with cozze e pecorino being one of them. It was delicious and the perfect send-off to a weekend in Naples -- special thanks to our friend Mari for the excellent restaurant suggestion!

After a weekend near the sea in Naples and a long week in a new job at FAO that I am not having the easiest time adjusting to, I felt like a weekend by the beach was in order, so we booked a bed and breakfast in Sperlonga, a little town about an hour and a half outside Rome by train, right by the sea. Since food is always a priority -- the restaurant on the beach had not only spaghetti alle vongole and other seafood but also prosciutto e melone and caprese, two of my heat-less Summer standbys, plus a specialty of the region, tiella, which is a savory pie with either a scarola (escarole) or polpo (octopus) filling. Delish. 
To finish off the post, here are a few photos of the beach, mostly so you can see how blue the water is (after years of going to the beach in Rhode Island, with the not-so-calm, not-so-clean water of the Atlantic Ocean, this always impresses me). We had our own umbrella and lounge chairs, the water was the perfect temperature, and there was even a little breeze so it wasn't even so hot out. I read an entire book, got somewhat of a tan, and slept late. What more could you want in a weekend?!

That's all for now! I'll be back next week with hopefully an (oven-less) recipe and another post on a trip to Venice. Have a good week everyone!


  1. What fantastic photos! I must go to Naples again. I haven' been there for years. It must have been wonderful to catch up with your sister! You look so alike! Have a great Summer. I hope you have enough energy for all those weddings. :D

  2. Hi Lisa! I do recommend a visit to Naples again, especially for the food! Ahahah if my sister and I look alike its because we're identical twins! Heading to wedding number 3 today, in post to follow! xo