Adventures With Dino And Family – Part 6 – Christmas in Italy!

As a long term traveler, I was admittedly anxious about how spending the holidays away from my family would affect me. When constantly moving from place to place and people to people, feelings like loneliness and isolation find sneaky ways to creep their slippery tendrils into life’s quiet moments. On top of that, holidays have a history of being a playgrounds for ‘downer’ feelings, but for this holiday I couldn’t have found myself in a more lovely home, surrounded by more lovely people.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Last you heard I chopped my foot with an axe and was on the road to recovery. They say time heals all wounds, and while I can’t attest to it healing all wounds, I at least can confirm it healed my foot. Well, it healed enough anyway. Once I regained my ability to walk comfortably (more or less), Dino took us to my favorite lookout spot in Castel San Giorgio.

From atop a large hill housing the S. Maria Del Castello (and an abandoned insane asylum), you’ll find a breathtaking view of Mt. Vesuvius and the local towns winding around the hill speckled landscape.

Aubre snapping me snapping Vesuvio.
Vesuvio adorned in fog.
S. Maria del Castello.
Dino and local towns winding among hills.

That evening, Dino and Grazia took us to the small town of Cava de’ Tirreni for a bite and a beer. We grabbed some local street food and visited a craft beer house called Birrotecca. It felt so good to get out of the house and walk around!

Christmas time in Cava de’ Tirreni.
Strolling along the arcade at night.
Craft beers at Birrotheca!

Aubre and I later had our own little excursion back to Cava de’ Tirreni. We spent a lovely day strolling up and down the arcade, grabbing snacks and drinks along the way.

The shopping arcade is virtually abandoned during the day, but thrives at night!
Aubre found a christmas tree made from plates. They spun!.
We grabbed some hazelnut gelato while we were waiting for the place to liven up. Yes, we ate half of it before thinking to snap a pic.
The Piazza del Duomo at dusk!
As dusk sets in, people emerge to take take part in the local nightlife.
We grabbed some snacks here! Nothing like Italian street food when you’re on the move!
Mmmmmm! Don’t know what it was, but it was scrumptious AND easy on the wallet!
The sky continued to darken, but the streets light up with life!
We ended the evening with a crepe and a drink!

Our last holiday outing was a trip was to Salerno, and it couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. Every holiday season the city decorates its streets (and parks) with a spectacular array of festive lights!

While we were very excited to see the city all lit up at night for the holidays, we had a whole day ahead of us to explore everything that Salerno had to offer, beginning with an a impressive view from the harbor!

Salerno from harbor.
A calming view of the Mediterranean.
If it wasn’t for Aubre, I probably wouldn’t have any pictures of myself visiting all these cool place!
Beside the sea and surrounded by mountains, there were beautiful scapes abound!
Of course, you can’t start a day in Italy without coffee and sfogliattella!
Here’s the main street of Salerno (pedestrian only) that we strolled down toward the historical center. Later it would be alight and alive
Off the main street, there were plenty of cute little alleyways, this one with messages seemingly written by a cat?
As a bit of foreshadowing, here’s some graffiti of a very famous depiction we’ll visit in the next episode!
There was gorgeous graffiti all over the place! Or commissioned art? I guess I don’t know.
I know these aren’t the most exciting things for me to share with you, but they were pretty impressive close up.
We paused to play a quick game of football with the local seahorses.
When you just can’t fit a fountain into the budget?
Speaking of fountains, the Fontana del Campo is said to have crystal clear water fit for drinking. We saw plenty of people sip from the fountain, or fill up their water bottles. Check out Aubre’s video on Salerno to see her take a sip!
Of course we had to stop and get some gelato!
At Dino’s recommendation we stopped at a place called Netuno where they serve gelato on a brioche!
Eating any ice cream or gelato can be very tricky with my beard/mustache…
There were some pretty impressive aqueducts running through Salerno.
I really can’t imagine having some medieval aqueducts as the view from my balcony…
On the topic of medieval, we visited the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Salerno to see the famous Head of Apollo that was found inthe gulf of Salerno.
Of course, they had other fascinating ancient relics.
Of course I stopped by the local pipe shop. While I didn’t walk away with a new pipe, I did buy a tamper, and 3 tins of Da Vinci (which will be featured in an upcoming post).
The Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata, one of many historical churches that speckle Salerno, caught our attention.
It was absolutely gorgeous inside,
and from above.
Speaking of historical churches, we couldn’t skip the Duomo of Salerno! It was massive!
Inside the courtyard of the Duomo.
I don’t remember if I mentioned how huge this place was.
On our way up to the Garden of Minerva, we stumbled upon this gorgeous view of Salerno!
The Garden of Minerva was a beautiful botanical garden.
It also boasted a cafe with a great view of the city and sea!
Naturally the cafe wasn’t the main point of interest.
Honestly pictures don’t do it justice.
The garden had 4 tiers and gorgeous from start to finish!
Speaking of gorgeous!
We also found a cozy place to watch the sun set behind the mountains.

With the sun down, we were eager to see the city light up! We decided to wait for this beautiful moment in the Municipal Garen. It was very festive with christmas music and decorations!

The first lights turned on and the trees were alight with stars!
The place lit up and the park was filled with aquatic themed christmas lights!
Sharkbait OOHAHA!
Even the tunnels leading out of the park were shimmering!
Every street and walkway was festively lit up!
We finally decided to grab a bite to eat at a highly recommended place called Sant’ Andrea.
Aubre got this delicious looking Gyro thing.
I accidentally ordered a milza panini. I thought it was steak or something. Turns out it wasn’t meat, it was milza, which is a Salerno specialty. Milza, by the way, is cow spleen. I didn’t think it was so special. I struggled to eat even half of it.
The walk back toward the train station was equally as vibrant and colorful!
Along the way we found this incredible christmas tree that you can walk through!
Inside the christmas tree!
Finally, after a long and eventful day, we walked down this magical street to the station, and hopped a train back to Dino’s.

Christmas with Dino was a crazy big family celebration. I say celebration, but it was more like a 2 week long series of feasts and merry times. We had the pleasure of dining time and again with his immediate and extended family. The food was unbelievably scrumptious and unending, no exaggeration. One lunch at a family member’s lasted 7 hours and had more courses than I have fingers! They were still bringing out food when we finally left!

Dino, being Dino (as defined in the Traveler’s Dictionary),

did not let us escape his hospitality without gifts. For Aubre he made a leather notebook cover complete with a pencil holder. For me he crafted a leather pipe stand (that clips to your belt loop) AND he gifted me his grandfather’s pipe!

This guy is unbelievable. I love him and his family dearly, and I count myself one of the luckiest humans alive just to have met them, let alone forged the friendship that we have. He also gave me the one ring to rule them all, but I think the ring knew its true master for once we parted ways it was discovered again in his workshop.

Together we all rang in the new year, and I couldn’t have been happier to be surrounded by the people I love.

Happy new year!

Tune in next time to see which archeological sites we explored before heading off to Rome!

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