"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Da Vitale Restaurant: A Family Tradition

Wonderful salad at Da Vitale Restaurant

Divine bread Da Vitale Restaurant at Civitavecchia

People often ask me what country I love the most in Europe. I always say Italy. Italy exudes charm, beautiful accents, lovely people and wonderful memories for me. Always. One story I love to tell is when my niece and I did the Roman Empire cruise from Rome to Rome on the Holland America Noordam in 2008. We stayed the night before the cruise at a hotel in Civitavecchia. We went to dinner at a restaurant a block away called Da Vitale. I don't remember what we ate, but it was good. The place was packed and so a guy with very blue eyes who spoke almost no English, came over and took our order. He had a parakeet in his pocket and we were amazed how he would gently take the bird out once in a while and stroke its head, speak to it and then put it back in his pocket. We pointed at what we wanted and he obliged. I never forgot that experience and my niece and I would reminisce about it once in a while.

Green parrot at Da Vitale 2013

So when I went back to take another cruise in 2013 from the same place, Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, I tried to find the guy who waited on us that night with the bird in his pocket. 

A gentleman waited on me this time, Lorenzo (see photo below) ... and he spoke very good English. He told me that the guy with the bird was the former owner, and he now ran a different restaurant and his brother ran this one in Civitavecchia. He still has birds, he said, but he told me he wasn't around. He seemed genuinely disappointed for me that I wasn't going to see him.

Da Vitale waiter Lorenzo .. great service and speaks English.

The next morning walking around town, a young woman who also worked there flagged me down to tell me that the bird guy was there in the restaurant, having breakfast with his brother. There he was. I would have recognized those blue eyes anywhere. I felt silly asking to take his photo, but I did get one of the lovely young woman who found me. It was the older waiter from the day before who must have told her the story. He was there as well. This and other wonderful memories are why I love Italy so much (and the food.) You can't forget the scrumptious food!

Great service with a smile at Da Vitale

If you are ever in Civitavecchia, I highly recommend you stop at Da Vitale. More information on this great family restaurant can be found here on TripAdvisor. Tell them Luh sent you!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

From Toulon to Aix-en-Provence

Aix Fountain courtesy of WikiTravel

If there is one gargoyle-inspired stop on the Celebrity Silhouette Transatlantic cruise, it is Toulon, France. It is the gateway to Aix-en-Provence, a stunningly beautiful town. Note the amazing fountain above. I can just imagine a gargoye jumping down from it to explore the town. 

Aix flower market courtesy of WikiTravel
Between the flower market and the wonderful courtyards with fountains, a day wandering around Aix would be extremely pleasing to me. What do you think? Do you love these towns as much as I do? One of my favorite excursions a few years back went to Monaco, Eze and Nice. I especially loved Eze and did lots of posts on it. Aix looks just as inviting.

With its fabulous Cathedral and lovely streets to stroll, I think a leisurely day in Aix would be a delight and a great start to a Transatlantic cruise.

Cathedral Saint Sauveur at Aix

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Celebrity Silhouette Transatlantic

This video has to be one of the most beautiful I have ever watched from YouTube. It is a sail away from Venice on the Celebrity Silhouette. I was convinced that the transatlantic cruise Moises and I should do is the Spanish Serenade on the Equinox, another Solstice class ship from Celebrity. But the more I investigate, I am drawn to the Italian Classic Transatlantic on the Silhouette. What a beautiful ship and what a fabulous itinerary. I am drawn to the itinerary for November 1st, 2014.

Silhouette Quasar night club courtesy of FloridaAgenda.com

It leaves from Rome and I would love to spend a few days in Tarquinia first. Tarquinia is the spot where there are 6,000 Etruscan graves at the Necropolis. More information on this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site can be found here.

Tarquinia mural courtesy of UNESCO World Heritage site

The cruise travels to Livorno, where you can go to either Florence or Pisa ... also Toulon, France in Provence, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife in the Canary Islands before crossing to Fort Lauderdale. It is an awesome itinerary on a beautiful almost new ship. What's not to love.

Cathedral Palma de Mallorca

More information can be found on the Silhouette (Solstice class ship) on Celebrity Cruise Lines website.