The Best Damn Pizza in the World

Posted: Sep 19, 2003 4:22:17 PM

Those of you that have been reading the comments at the end of each report will be aware of the tangle that is (was) my plans for Tunisia. Had I discovered three days earlier, or in fact any time before now, that I needed to apply directly to the country and have a visa mailed back, I would now be on my way there. I tried my best to wrangle a way around it (even spent a morning hunting down the Tunisian Consulate in Naples) but there was nothing possible.

So the plans to see Carthage (I was going to buy a pottle of salt to spread around while invoking 'Carthago Delendum Est' in funereal tones) and to ride a camel into the Sahara are dust, at least for this trip, and I was left with a potentially useless ticket taking me from Tunis to Edinburgh.

To get around this second half, I had to deal with Lufthansa, which left me a little worried. Technically I'm not allowed to change routes on this ticket plan, and I was unsure whether the German proclivity to stick to the rules would be outweighed by the German friendliness and willingness to help travellers in distress. You may not have heard of the second type, but given that I have more offers of beds (or spaces on the floor) in Germany than in anywhere else in Europe, I think it's well warranted.

I phoned up a couple of days ago, told them my sob story, and they said they'd see what they could do. Today I phoned back, and they have blessedly agreed to change the flight from Tunis for one departing from ... Rome! So I will dash back up through the boot on the 30th of September, and fly out of Rome, then catch the same flight I was supposed to from Frankfurt to Edinburgh.

So, it's all sorted! I just have a lot of train travel ahead of me if I still want to see Sicily and Malta. But that I can (hopefully) handle.


I have managed to do quite a bit in Naples, mainly because I've been stuck here waiting to see what Lufthansa had to say, and still sitting out (literally) the Turkish Belly. I have explored Pompeii and Herculaneum (the second was better for me because it was much less crowded and much more compact and navigable, although both were impressive), I have wandered through the Museo Archelogico Nazionale (the gabinetto segreto - full of lewd and lascivious Roman art and artefacts - was a highlight), I have taken a tour through the world-famous Teatro San Carlo (although its perfect acoustics meant that the guide was frequently interrupted by the renovators).

I've also been reading Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' in the quiet times, and that in itself is an experience. It is really something to read about the Knight of the Doleful Countenance talk about Naples, and then in a flash realise that he's talking about the city that you're in right now. And then, while wandering through the Palazzo Reale, to discover a whole room dedicated to 18th century paintings dedicated to that same knight, including some that inspired the picture that graces your copy's cover. I'm in the thick of it here, really. And I love it.

Today is an important day in the Neapolitan calendar: the festival of the city's patron saint, Januarius (San Genaro). I visited the morning service at the Duomo, a church which is notable for containing his head and some containers of his blood. Apparently, in times of trouble, the congealed blood will return to a liquid-state and save the city (very helpful, especially if the omnipresent Mt. Vesuvius decides to go Pompeii on their asses again). The service was packed, and the Duomo amazingly beautiful. People say that I will be all churched-out by the end of the trip, there being so many amazing houses of worship in Europe to see, and I have to say that this one will be hard to top. But we'll see.

Today I am happy to say that San Genaro seems to have interceded with Turkey, and I am finally regaining some kind of appetite. If you could see me now you may be rather alarmed at how much weight I have lost in the past month - for the last week and a half I have eaten on average one sandwich a day, plus a lot of water and soft drink, and as I have been walking almost everywhere that has left me decidedly gaunt. And it is such torture, given that Turkey and Italy are perhaps two of the best places in the world to eat.

Today I resolved to have a proper meal, and so went to the best damn pizza place in the whole world. Or so I'm informed - Naples is the home of pizza and pasta, and this place (Da Michele) is supposed to be the best pizza in Naples, having won Italian restaurant of the year in 2001. It has been open for more years than New Zealand has existed as a country. Cool.

How was the pizza? Very good, but I learned something about not eating for a long time. It has a tendency to shrink your stomach quite dramatically. I did nothing quite so dramatic as throw up in the middle of the restaurant, but it was a close thing, and one I'd not like to repeat. I hope they weren't offended that I didn't finish my whole meal, and at least I have another good story to add to the travel repertoire.

Tomorrow I'm heading off the mainland to Sicily, where I will only be able to spend a precious few days before ferrying over to Malta. Much of Sicily has been lost because I had to wait here to hear back from Lufthansa, and now I'll need to make my way right back up to Rome at the end of the month, but I'm not complaining. Because my appetite is back (albeit diminished), I have my transportation sorted out (albeit long and arduous), I've got my mojo working (so to speak), and things are looking peachy again.


Rimmers   Sep 19, 2003 5:43:52 PM

any new ideas concerning what cities you will have time to visit in central europe?

and good that your appetite is back. you might need it when exploring it´s different regions ;)

what about that Quixote / Naples connection? in which way does he mention the city?

Peter   Sep 19, 2003 5:47:33 PM

Starting off with a Pizza after a long time of eating next to nothing, might not be the smartest thing to do ;)

Pizza's are very tasty, but most of them won't ever make it onto the list of healthy food... Pasta might have been a better choice, overall (well, depending on the sauce, that is).

On the bright side, being gaunt right now, means you won't have to watch your weight while eating your way through lots of national specialities...

AFAIK it should be possible to get decent food in all European countries, though you might have to be careful in GB and Germany (no offense meant, of course ;) ).

Glad to hear you could solve the flight issues and am still having lots of fun.

Keep up the good work ;)

footle   Sep 19, 2003 5:53:34 PM

well if you're about in Rome on the afternoon of the 29th Sept...

(I've a meeting on the 30th just outside, and decided to fly out with the others and spend the day wandering around...)

Damon   Sep 19, 2003 5:58:54 PM

Oh cool - I really don't know at this point, Footle; I may be there, but most likely not, as I'd have to shave a day off Malta and Sicily and it's running very tight as it is for everything I want to see. But if I have more time than I anticipate I'll certainly give you a yell. Cos meeting people is cool.

Rimmers   Sep 19, 2003 5:59:46 PM

nah, pizza rules! it is definitely healthier than any burger in any place!

(but pasta is even better still)

while there can always be problems with the food, you will find most europeans most pleasant in that respect...well, most ;)

the biggest cliché is about all the food in england, i think...

Damon   Sep 19, 2003 6:02:45 PM

Yeah, it wasn't the type of food, it was the quantity. Too much, too soon! And Quixote mentions it in passing. He mentioned Turkey while I was there, too. It's like he's following me around...

Rimmers   Sep 19, 2003 6:03:06 PM

oh, time for lunch ;)

can you say "Mehlspeisen"?


ok, i am off...

Peter   Sep 19, 2003 6:08:25 PM

Yeah, "Mehlspeisen" are always good... :)
Gaining weight in Austria shouldn't be a problem...

Lot's of unhealthy, but tasty (well IMHO) things on offer ;)

Damon   Sep 19, 2003 6:09:31 PM

I dread to ask...

It doesn't involve tripe, does it? Because that, Turkey is full of.

footle   Sep 19, 2003 6:09:48 PM

no problem.
There's always somewhere in Britain at some point :-)

Peter   Sep 19, 2003 6:22:16 PM

Unless I'm mixing something up... no, it doesn't ;)

"Mehlspeisen" are sweat meals, but they don't usually contain honey (another thing that seems to be prevalent in Turkey...) ;)

Of course there's not so sweat but even more unhealthy food as well. Just think of "Schweinsbraten".

Damon   Sep 19, 2003 6:26:23 PM

Sweat meals?

It's like there's a Turkish Bath in my mouth, and everyone's invited!

Peter   Sep 19, 2003 6:29:21 PM

I'm fairly sure that Vienna (and Austria in general) won't disappoint food wise, though - as mentioned before - you'll be too late to get any first rate ice cream. Most ice cream shops (term?) close on the first of October.

Damon   Sep 19, 2003 6:33:28 PM

No ice cream in winter? That's the best time for it!

Rimmers   Sep 19, 2003 6:51:19 PM

back (at uni now)

@Peter the IP adress seems to be from the computer i use at the publisher. so you will have to change that (author remembering stuff, you know i am a tech expert, but i hope you know what i mean;)) when uni starts again. i´ll let you know by mail then.

and i have to agree with Peter on the food topic. but you will find out by yourself, if your shedule agrees, that is ;)

Peter   Sep 19, 2003 7:04:22 PM

Rimmers, the Author name in "Post Comment" is not based on IP address, but uses a cookie. So if you switch to another computer, it won't remember the name.

Doesn't do anything but remember the author name, so it's not a security problem or anything. You'll just have to type in your name the first time you use a particular computer at Uni ;)

Rimmers   Sep 19, 2003 7:10:33 PM

Peter, i told ;)

we better don´t eat that cookies, do we ;)

but thanks for making that clear.

so it is simply a comfortable tool, and the advantage is limited for persons who switch computers often?

Peter   Sep 19, 2003 7:13:23 PM

Yeah, it's just a tiny convenience feature. It behaves pretty much the same as the Shadowmarch login. You'll have to login once on each computer you use.

If you're using this at home and at work, it'll still work pretty well, but if you're using a new computer every time at Uni, it's not going to help you much (unless you post several times in one session).

Unlike Smarch you've got no profile here and there's no way to clearly identify you anyway, so there's no reason to log out.

Sahi   Sep 19, 2003 7:19:59 PM

Hi there!

Good to hear you are having fun despite the stomach bug! I just got back myself, which is why there haven't been many comments from me. :) Just caught up reading.


Rimmers   Sep 19, 2003 7:23:42 PM

now everything is perfectly clear!

(maybe tech isn´t that complicated, anyway...)

Bosco   Sep 19, 2003 10:22:29 PM

Whoa, look at all the comments already! Sweet report, and glad to hear that you settled where to fly out of. I didn't connect the Tunisia/Carthage thing, and then when I did you'll be happy to know that I thought you were a nerd. Nerd! Sprinkling salt all over the remains of ppor carthage. Who'd do such a thing? I wish your hypothetical non-existant camel would spit on you. Lewd and lascivious roman art? I'm so there! In spirit. Also I had pizza for dinner last night too, except mine had canadian bacon and pinapple on it. "Hawaiian" is what we call it, and I bet Naples *so* doesn't even have that kind. That's cause they *suck*.

lian   Sep 20, 2003 12:48:35 AM

*joins the pizza crew* hey, I live above a small pizzeria. Had a margherita yesterday. And the world championship in pizza baking was just held at Naples -- a japanese guy won ;)

Damon, I can connect to the Quixote experience. I mean, no, I don't know the book -- but the moments where things connect and start to make some kind of touchable, three-dimansional sense are the most beautiful I hope you have many, many more such 'repercussions' in Europe! After all, that's what it means to be 'full of history', no?

PS: Yes. I second Ms. Bosco.NERD! Hehehe. Poor Carathage. You were probably highly biased anyway, having read 'Ash'; eh?

fraZ   Sep 20, 2003 2:15:50 AM

wow,i wish i could say half of these's places. kidding. i have to ask is there a pizza hutt in that town?

Charlotte   Sep 20, 2003 3:03:02 AM

*echoes Ban..., er, Bosco, er, what ever her real name is* *evil, evil grin* Whoa, posting frenzy! And all while I was tucked up in bed asleep *sulks*

A skinnier than skinny Damon. That's something scary. Eat, eat I say! *swings old fashioned fob watch in front of his eyes* *drones mysteriously* You are now going eat your way through the rest of Europe. Leave all thoughts of churches and museums and interesting archealogical sites behind. Eat. *snaps fingers and puts watch away*

Good the hear the trip was (re)sorted with minimal fuss. Be safe!

Damon   Sep 20, 2003 7:35:19 AM

Yep, I'll try to eat from now on. I still don't have breakfast, though. I had a proper Neapolitan ice cream yesterday.

I haven't read 'Ash' at all, I just know my history. Nerd! Neeerd! There are no Pizza Hutts here. What a surprise.

fraZ   Sep 20, 2003 1:10:37 PM

dang, it's ok there pizza's are'nt good anyhow.

lian   Sep 20, 2003 4:51:22 PM

yeah, so I know my history too, but my sympathies were more with the Carthaginians than with the Romans, back then at school, but Carthage isn't that lovable anymore in Ash ;)

*longs for napolitan icecream -- to soothe her cough*

Binky   Sep 22, 2003 12:27:00 AM

Well, if you can't get to Carthage, the least you can do is cross the Alps on a herd of elephants.

Hope your appetite returns in time to try the best steak in the universe (bistecca alla Fiorentina) - you'll need a man-sized hunger to get through one of those beauties.

Morgan   Sep 22, 2003 12:23:28 PM

Just a quick note to say I'm still reading these.

Nothing much else to say really...

Tamsyn   Sep 22, 2003 8:00:46 PM

Making plans for where to take you for lunch now... I think that some steak-and-ale pie, or toad-in-the-hole, or maybe even some roast beef and Yorkshire pud is definitely called for...

Hope that you keep getting better!

fraZ   Sep 23, 2003 2:25:55 AM

me to

Bosco   Sep 24, 2003 1:23:08 AM

Hey, do y'all eat much pizza down in NZ? And what kind? And please tell me there's no marmite involved.

Charlotte   Sep 24, 2003 3:21:59 AM

Pizza???!! What's that? *laughs* No, we don't have much pizza in New Zealand. In fact there is only one pizza place in the whole of New Zealand: Pizza Hutt, in Gore. It's the pizza mecca of New Zealand with many families making their once a year holiday pilgrimage to Gore, just to sample the divine pizza taste. In fact, just about all places in New Zealand have been decreed pizza-free zones by law. This law created at about the same time the alcohol prohibition law was brought in. The days of the 6 o'clock swill are long gone and there are very few 'dry' zones left in NZ (except for Mt Albert, Auckland, where I used to live. Grrr), but unfortunately the prohibition on pizza remains to this very day. Except for in Gore. And that of course explains why it was so exciting for Damon to eat the best Pizza in the world and why FraZ asked if there was a Pizza Hutt there. New Zealand knows know other name in pizza, than 'Pizza Hutt'. And that, of course, is the solemn truth.

Bosco   Sep 24, 2003 5:07:40 AM

Oh. My. God. That's *horrifying*! You poor poor dears! Shall I have the UN airmail several thousand combo deep dishes to your tragic and underpie'd land? No! Better yet, I'll send a brigade of underpaid teenage delivery boys and girls to colonize and repopulate the destitute antipodes. Never fear, lush american pizza restaurants and lush american pizza lads and lasses are bringing relief as speedily as possible. Til then God himself hold and keep you, you brave humble italian-cuisine-challenged upside down inhabitants you. I salute you!

Charlotte   Sep 24, 2003 5:24:10 AM

*bows in humble homage* All praise to her, who multiplies not fish and loaves, but pizza, to feed the starving populace. Marie Antoinette said 'let them eat cake' but today we all eat pizza. Give a man a fishing line and he shall have fish for a life time, but who the heck cares? Give a man a pizza shop and he shall eat, grow fat and be merry!

Damon   Sep 24, 2003 10:06:55 AM

Give a man a fire and you warm him for a day, set a man on fire and you warm him for the rest of his life.

I think I'm fully over the stomach bug now. So I shall round up some elephants to cross those Alps. And I want toad-in-the-hole, definitely. Have had roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding already.

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