Letter from a Reader
Hello, Rick -
My wife and I were very pleased to meet you, if only (twice) momentarily, in Sorrento last month. Since you told us you depend much on readers'/tour members' feedback, I thought I'd pass on to you my account of our dinner at L'Antica Trattoria:
"Thursday night was dinner at L'Antica Trattoria. As we were shown to our table who should be at the next table but, again, Rick Steves. The Trattoria was one of his recommendations, and he was having at least one course there before moving on to another restaurant in town. We chatted briefly before he left, and he was pleased that we thought highly of the restaurant, saying that he depends as much on his readers' feedback as on actually revisiting restaurants, hotels, etc., himself.
"Our own meal started with a complimentary grapefruit juice & Campari cocktail (neither Patricia nor I is supposed to have grapefruit in any form because of the statins we take, but what the heck), then once again the complimentary fried zucchini blossom. My "primi" course was risotto verdura (parsley risotto, with the emphasis on parsley), followed by a fillet of sea bass baked in salt (wonderfully succulent with only a hint of brine). We both passed on dessert, but with the check came a generous helping of the same cream-stuffed profiteroles had for lunch on Tuesday. The wine for the evening was a superb red from Salerno (which up till then I thought could produce no great wine, being too far south and too warm), called Montevetrano (I found a bottle the next day in a local shop and brought it back to MN).
"Highlight of the meal, however, was not culinary at all. The restaurant had a wandering mandolin player entertaining the diners, mostly with Neapolitan favorites. When he came to our table, however, I suggested Rossini, and he obliged with a sprightly dance tune. He moved to the adjoining table and began playing something else, which I recognized immediately. When he finished, I said to him, 'Puccini,' 'Turandot,' and ' Nessun Dorma,', whereupon he went nuts, applauding me and shaking my hand. So that set the stage. He said, 'tell me this one,' and began to play once again. I first thought 'Il Trovatore,' and said as much, but he shook his head and played on. Then I got it, except that I couldn't remember the opera! The Italians in the house were all rooting for me, however, because it is the closest thing to an unofficial song of independence they have: I knew the story: Verdi composed this chorus, and it leaked to the public before the premiere, in 1842. It was immediately popular, and upon the opera's premiere the chorus received such a long, standing ovation that they performed an encore on the spot. I explained all this in an increasing fervor of frustration, exclaiming I knew it, I knew it, but couldn't name the opera! When he finished, he said to me, 'Na..., Na..., Naboo..., Naboo,' whereupon I exclaimed ' Nabucco!', he went nuts, shaking my hand over and over, and the entire room applauded. Patricia, who was observing the entire scene, allowed as how it was quite exciting for everyone."
Finally, if interested you can see my "professional" photos of our Italy trip (no snapshots of you!) at http://www.shaynes.com/Italy_Sp_04.htm
The photos "Impressions of Naples" were taken during the walking tour detailed in your book. Those photos will remain online for years, in case you find a reason to link to them somewhere.
We are looking forward to our September Rick Steves' tour through Northern Italy.