Monte Di Procida: the place where streets are crowded, pizzerias are frequent and going out on a boat is just a normal Monday afternoon. It's also a super special place in our hearts! My dad grew up in Monte Di Procida and it's where my Nonna and tons and tons of family members reside. We do our best to visit every few years but it never seems like enough time with them in this quaint little seaside town.
Let me just give you some insight: Monte Di Procida is city located in the Neapolitan region, which is a completely different ball game when it comes to Italy. Aside from a few day trips up to Rome and a weekend spent in Venice, it's the only Italy we know! It's super busy and hectic, but it's alive. The local squares are always bustling with people, young and old. Lunchtime is religious and dinnertime doesn't even start until about 9pm. The pastierrias are have lines out the door on Sunday morning and by 2pm, the streets are bare because shop owners are home for a 3-course meal (at least!) and a siesta. Every single restaurant has at least these same 7 things: pizza, panino, French fries, cheesesteaks, seafood, espresso and gelato. The pizza is thin, simple and oh so amazing. Seat belts might as well not even exist in cars while street signs are just suggestions. People dart out in the middle of the street while others are whizzing by on Vespa’s. It's an absolutely incredible place while being completely terrifying at the same time. What's not to love?
At the beginning of our stay, we made the drive to Naples to pick up the family flying in from California and Idaho. We were so excited to pick up my parents, brother, sister-in-law and 6 month old niece at the airport and The idea of getting to spend quality time with all of our Italian family in this incredibly crazy/beautiful town made our hearts so happy!
We spent our days making espresso in the morning, lounging over that tiny cup of coffee, playing with Tessa (our insanely adorable niece), spending hours at the table eating more food than we could have ever imagined (or should even be legal!), taking drives around the neighborhoods my dad used to roam, and ending the night with a pizza, gelato or both! They were the kind of days that we dreamed of and the kind of days that meant so much to us.
Monte Di Procida sits right along the Mediterranean and is very much a fishing village. Every street corner has a Pescheria (fish market) and every restaurant is chalk full of seafood dishes. With that being said, almost everyone owns a boat, including my uncle. Some of our favorite memories from past trips as well as this one are days spent on the boat. There really isn't anything like it. We would gather up a lunch, load ourselves up with sunscreen, head out into the crystal clear waters of the Mediterrean and park ourselves along the island of Procida or the coast of Monte Di Procida. We sat there in amazement a few times, reminding ourselves that we were there. We were present. And we did our best to engrave the memories and the feelings into our minds. But then we would snap out of it when my Zia (aunt) would call us back to real life for lunch on the boat where the table was full of salumi, cheese, olives, peaches and beer and the only thing that followed that feast was jumping in the water for a quick rinse, a little siesta in the sunshine and then a freshly made cup of espresso handed to us as the boat rocked back and forth. Then we went back to pinching ourselves.
Another incredible experience that we had was celebrating our marriage - Italian style! Our 2 year anniversary is quickly approaching at the end of the month but we had the best experience of feeling like we were a bride and groom again. Let me just start with this: 8 years ago, my parents renewed their wedding vows for their 25th anniversary at a beautiful church in Italy. After their ceremony (which felt just like a real wedding) we got our party shoes on and enjoyed their reception. Now, receptions in Italy are not like receptions in America. Let me warn you - if you ever get invited to an Italian wedding, please, I beg you, wear something that is elastic and do not eat the week before! Ok, that's a little extreme but seriously, you will eat a lot. With that being said, we ate, we drank and we celebrated my parents. The reason for this big celebration was #1. Because marriage is awesome and why not celebrate it? And #2. Because my Italian side of the family (other than my grandparents) could not attend my parents wedding in California 25 years prior so it was a time where they all could witness their vows and their love in a wedding setting. Ok ok, you're wondering where I am going with this, right? Well, flash forward 5 years later and my brother and his new bride ventured to Europe for their honeymoon and like any regular family, we followed them there. Wait...that's not normal? Oops. Well, first they went on a European cruise AND THEN we met up with them in Italy. Minus the church ceremony, they had the exact same reception at the same restaurant with the same love and happiness surrounding them. So, I got my little sister hat on and basically wanted to copy my older brother and that brings us to a delayed Italian wedding reception at the same restaurant as my parents and my brother for Sean and I. It was amazing and we loved every second of the long dinner and the cutting of the cake with a side of prosecco. I might be jumping the gun here but I pray that one day, Sean and I will be creepy parents that follow our kids to their honeymoon so we can have an Italian wedding reception for them. No pressure, future Call spawn.
As if the beautiful seaside town of Monte Di Procida wasn't enough, we craved views of more beautiful towns that neighbored the clear waters of the Mediterranean so we hopped in the car and decided to take a day trip to the Amalfi Coast. The drive there and back was incredible...I think. I'm not really sure because I spent the whole time slamming on my invisible brake in the passenger seat and shielding my eyes from the terror that was the road along the Amalfi Coast while wanting to cry every time a bus rounded the tiny corners. So yeah, I'm sure it was beautiful. Once we made it to our first stop in Positano, we were ready to explore the little city that was built into the mountain. Tiny streets loaded with tourists, shops, cafes and the occasional Vespa was the setting for an afternoon of sweating our brains out and stopping for lunch. We made an effort to find a really beautiful restaurant nestled in the mountain but after a few flights of stairs and no success (it was a really sad attempt at the mercy of the blazing hot sun and a poor outfit choice), we settled on a nice restaurant in the middle of an alleyway where we quickly ordered icy cold beverages. Once we figured out who we were again, we enjoyed a caprese salad and freshly made pasta and all was right in the world. From where, a quick swim and a nap on the beach was how we ended our time in Positano and made our way onward to Amalfi. Alas! It was nighttime so we FULLY enjoyed our time there in the cool air and felt inspired to just have gelato for dinner because...why not? We sat in the square and watched Italy buzz past us. A nice walk under clothes lines of laundry and Nonna's sitting on their balconies and we were in awe of this beautiful seaside town.
The other wonderful day trip was spent on the beautiful island of Ischia with my brother and sister-in-law! We hopped on the ferry and within 20 minutes, we were in the Vespa shop signing rental papers and having a mild panic attack about whizzing around the island with crazy Italian drivers and only a little scooter to save our lives. But! That is what life is all about, right? The moments that thrill us! We strapped on those helmets and let the wind cool us down from the blazing hot sun as we rode around in search of a beach. We found a place where the water was shallow and crystal clear and we knew – yup, this is some version of paradise! We basically spent our whole day going from one beach to the next and stopping only for a Panini, beer and gelato. Not a bad way to spend the day if you ask me! Especially because we got to spend it with my brother and sister-in-law -- we laughed, we joked, and we soaked in the moments of it just being us 4.
Aside from the boat days, the wedding reception and a few days’ trips, our absolute favorite part about our time in Monte Di Procida was quality, uninterrupted time with our family. Sure, it made it WAY harder to say goodbye to them at the end of the 2 weeks but all good things come to an end, right? Not only that, but we had no choice but to remain close - there were 10 of us sharing my aunts tiny, but beautiful, apartment (I mean, we shared a room with my mom for goodness sakes...how's that for being "newlyweds?"). We spent so much time with my relatives – seeing a different aunt or uncle or cousin or family friend everyday while sipping an espresso and eating cookies. Yes, that is life in Italy. Espresso and cookies. Why don’t we live there again? Someone please remind me. I could seriously go on and on about how wonderful our family is who live in Italy, but that will come in the next post regarding all the delicious meals we ate and the special times we spent around the table.
I think we left a piece of our hearts in Monte Di Procida, but I have no doubt that we will be back soon to fill up on lots of family love and cups of espresso.