Friday, January 16, 2009

"How's Italy"

Posted by Joe Casale:
15 January 2009

Hello everyone, this is Joe, and this is my first entry on all of our experiences so far. Melissa and I have been very busy the last couple of weeks, and have had a lot of great and some not so great experiences in Italy. We want to be able to share those experiences with our family and friends so this is a brief synopsis of what we have done so far.

We left NYC, from JFK, on Dec 29th 2008. We almost didn’t make it to the airport because of traffic on the Van Wyck Expressway. Fortunately, I was able to “ride the wake” of one of the emergency vehicles for about a mile and we just made it to the airport on time. Now, I’m not sure who is familiar with riding in the wake of an emergency vehicle, and I think that in the US it is probably against the law, but I assure you in Naples, it is something you will see when almost any emergency vehicle goes by. Unless they are the Carabinieri, who are half police force, half military Special Forces…. but more on them later.

So, we made it to the airport, flew over night into Milan, and then down to Naples. Our sponsor picked us up at the airport and we were set up in the Navy Lodge. I can’t remember much after that because I think we slept for about two days.

A quick note for those of you that are considering visiting Italy, this is not the time of year to do it. Of the 17 days we have been here so far it has probably rained 12. The temperature has been mild, in the mid-40’s to the 60’s, but the weather is definitely not good enough to fly to visit this time of year. We hear the spring and fall are the best times. Apparently August is also bad… because it is too hot, and everyone in Italy is on vacation in August.

The Navy has a fairly robust program to help get you settled in Naples; ours started on Friday Jan 2nd and lasted 4 working days. The indoctrination program gets you started in the housing process, checked-in to the command, talks about emergencies, safety, and driving, and even gives you a short course so that you can take your Italian drivers test. Melissa and I both passed, so we are safe for the very unsafe Italy roads.

Over that first weekend we visited both Sorrento and Pompeii. Italy has some pretty amazing places that you all should come and visit. Our sponsor, the fantastic Aimee Smith, drove us down to Sorrento, along the winding coast road. Sorrento is a beautiful city by the sea. I ate some of the best olives that I have ever had, and then we ate Gelato, which was fantastic.

Saturday we went to Pompeii, an amazing archeological site, and unfortunately walked around in the rain. The civilization that the Romans had in 79 AD when Vesuveus erupted was amazing. And the city was perfectly preserved by this eruption. You get a clear view into a day in the life of this Roman town.

We finished up our “Area Orientation” class last week, and really got into looking for a place to live in Italy. We spent all of last weekend driving around the Naples area with a bunch of different realtors and finally settled on a beautiful villa in the town of Pozzuoli. It’s right on the coast, fairly close to my work, near Carney Park (more on that later also), and just a short walk from a very cute down town area.

Now we are in the middle of the ICR course (Inter-Cultural Relations). This class is a way for the Navy to get us out in town, experiencing the culture, learning how to use public transportation, and learning the language. We’ll be able to give any of our visitors a great tour of Naples from this course.

More to follow soon, I also want to write about the following topics and experiences:
Being named “Casale” in Italy
Everyone’s cousin has a pizza place in New Jersey
The food doesn’t suck in Italy

I’ll write more on those topics soon, but I wanted to get this out so that you can get a feel for “How Italy is” so that I can stop answering the question, “How is Italy?”


  1. Sound like fun! Is this your 'fist' time over there?

    Ca u post pictures to your blog?

  2. Glad you got there safely! Sounds like you're off to a good start.