23/04/2024 to 30/04/2024

Doreen and I took granddaughter Zoe and her brother Maayan to Italy for her batmitzvah.  We celebrated her birthday dinner on the 24th at our favourite Rome Restaurant, AL34.  It was a special dinner, not only were we treated like royalty by Renzo the waiter who has served us on our many visits to the restaurant but also because Courtney Mills a renowned opera singer with a resounding voice sang "Happy Birthday" to her. (See This Week's Picture Archives)
(Hear Courtney Mills sing an aria from Turandot.)

Zoe Batmitzvah

The visit to Italy was an opportunity for Zoe to taste and eat foods she is not used to:

Oysters at Baccano   -   Spaghetti Vongole at Il Tunnel    -   Zucchini flowers at AL34
Zoe BatmitzvahZoe BatmitzvahZoe Batmitzvah

On the way to the AL34 restaurant we visited the Spanish Steps. I remained on the steps while Zoe and Maayan climbed to the top.
Zoe BatmitzvahZoe BatmitzvahZoe Batmitzvah

The next day we visited the Colosseum and the adjacent ruins. As always, the Colosseum is impressive and awe-inspiring. At Titus Arch Doreen explained its significance including the last depiction of the menorah as displayed on the arch.
Zoe BatmitzvahZoe Batmitzvahmenora

It was fortunate that we visited the Colosseum first because the next day was Liberation Day, a holiday with free entrance to sites, museums etc. We joined the many thousands of visitors at the tourist sites.
At the Trevi Fountain we stood behind and let Maayan and Zoe negotiate the crowd on the way to the fountain. At the Pantheon it was Doreen who did the negotiation and used her charm to get us direct entrance without waiting in the line.

trevi crowdPantheon crowd

Zoe was very impressed by the Pantheon and enjoyed her visit there.
Zoe Batmitzvah

VenciOn the way from the Pantheon to Trevi we enjoyed Doreen's favourite ice cream from Venchi.

We made a quick visit to the Campo di Fiori Market and exhausted took a bus back to the hotel. After a short rest we ate at a local restaurant.

The next day was amusement park day. Doreen and the children caught a train to the Valmontone MagicLand . I opted out but Doreen and the kids had a great time.


The next morning we took a train to Naples to start stage 2 (and the main reason for our Italy visit).

We arrived in Naples, checked in to the hotel and immediately went for lunch to try out the fabled Neapolitan pizzas. Quite a disappointment, we've had better pizzas from Pizza Hut and Dominos. Perhaps we were just unlucky with the choice of restaurants.
That evening it was my turn to celebrate - my 84th birthday. Doreen looked up the "10 best fish restaurants in Naples" and chose one in a popular night spot. We risked life and limb going there in a Naples taxi. We wove through heavy traffic and pedestrians at an alarming speed. I didn't want to stop the taxi as it was probably just as dangerous to be a pedestrian.
We arrived at our "fish" restaurant to find out it was a Japanese Fusion restaurant. "But we have fish in our sushi" explained the waitress. We were disappointed as we had looked forward to fish but we were compensated by the excellent food and sushi that were delicious and beautifully presented. We joined the thronging crowds and, fortified with gelato, braved the taxi ride back to the hotel.


The next morning we took a guided tour of Pompeii. During
the walk Zoe wasn't feeling well with stomach cramps and a headache, but we all enjoyed the visit. From there we
went to Herculaneum.

By this time Zoe  was really unwell and throwing up so I
stayed with her while Doreen and Maayan visited. Maayan
 had also felt unwell and thrown up in Rome so we realized
that it was probably a stomach virusgoing around.

The four of us were due to visit Capri to end our tour but Zoe was still unwell and Maayan wanted to stay with her, so Doreen and I went and enjoyed the Blue Grotto and views of Capri.

On our last night Maayan chose a restaurant and we went and enjoyed an excellent meal with a view of Naples at the Rooftop Restaurant at the Una Hotel.

Our visit was nearly at its end but now it was my turn to welcome the virus and the train journey and airport wait and rush were not too pleasant. But all's well that ends well and we arrived safely back in Tel Aviv.

The end. Well, almost, all's well was not too well, for now Doreen had the virus and spent her first two days back home in Israel mostly in bed.

To sum up: A bit spoiled by the virus but an enjoyable and successful celebration of Zoe's batmitzvah.

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