When you take a day trip, usually the fare includes a lunch.
And it’s not a bad lunch.
Having been on the Appian Bus Line tour to Naples and Pompeii four years earlier, we had learned what to expect when it comes to lunch, or in the Italian language… “pranza”.
Located almost next to the Pompeii ruins, there is a very large hall that caters to all the Pompeii bus tours.
At any given time, I’m sure that there are at least two hundred people being served, with a major capacity for about five hundred.
Needless to say, it was a very busy place.
When it comes to shuffling patrons in and out of the dining areas, the people who run this hall have it all down to a fine science.
However, before your group is invited inside for their sit down meal, your tour guide obliges you to take a tour of a local merchants warehouse and shop.
On our first tour, it was all about the cameos.
The tour guide presented to you the artisans as they were plying their trade. Then you were encouraged to purchase similar items in their shop.
Frank and I quickly learned where the back door was, and that was the end of that.
On our second tour, the featured items were coral jewelry.
You would be hard pressed to find anything less than one hundred euros.
Again… We quickly located the back door.
Looking back, we found the offered lunch mediocre to what were use to from the restaurants we frequented in Rome. However, this is one of the free perks when you pay 160 euros per person for a 16 hour day trip.
Beverages however, you have to pay for with the exception of water.
And I never did get the Agua frizzante I had ordered. (fizzy water)
To me, this place had more the feel of a cafeteria rather than a fine dining experience.
Our meal began with cannelloni, which arrived at the table still reasonably warm.
And I am happy to report that my first experience with authentic Italian cannelloni was somewhat pleasant.
More so than the pasta that followed, which struck me as your run of the mill pasta in tomatoe sauce.
Then, we had a choice of seafood or roast beef.
I was the only one at the table who was brave enough to order the seafood.
What was I thinking?
The plate that was set before me displayed five pieces of calamari, and three prawns with little black beady eyes staring up at me from my dinner plate.
And very dead ones too I might add.
I was quite tempted to close my own eyes as I was eating.
One of my most favourite movie lines ever, comes from one of the HIGHLANDER movies. It’s the scene, where the character played by Sean Connery is being offered an inflight dinner tray by a stewardess.
His response is:
“I never eat anything that I cannot identify.”
I try to aspire to that same rule as well. However, I’ve added one more rule:
All of my life, I’ve tried to never eat anything from the neck up.
As far as the roast beef was concerned, I could not help but cast my eyes over to Frank and Jen’s plates as they were plated out before them.
And suddenly, I didn’t feel all that bad.
Their roast beef seemed to be sliced so thin that you could almost read a newspaper through it.
At least, when we got to dessert, at last I found myself smiling.
We were served a delicate portion of a very lovely sort of cream cake.
Most sins were forgiven… but not all.
Further, this time I opted not to indulge myself in a glass of wine like I did the first time around.
The wine I had then was very good, Lachryma Christi, made from the grapes grown on Mount Vesuvius. Expensive at 7 euros a glass, but worth every penny.
Further, it seemed a shame to indulge in such a nice wine when eating only mediocre food.
And so, as far as that day’s luncheon was concerned….
…the bottled water did just fine.