Saturday, January 8, 2011

Southern Italy - here we come...

OK... so this one may be a long one.  I'm not quite sure what to tell and what to leave out!  We had such a wonderful journey South to Sorrento, Amalfi and Napoli... here are some of the highlights.

We took off for Southern Italy early Tuesday morning by train.  Amazingly we had absolutely no problems with weather or transportation so we made it to Sorrento by about noon.  The weather was a little bit overcast, but not raining so we decided to eat a quick lunch and hop on a bus down the Amalfi Coast road to take in the stunning views.

View from the bus of the Amalfi Coast
Stunning it was... however anybody who knows how I feel in a car on windy roads will not be surprised to learn that if I ever return to Amalfi again it will be by boat!!  The narrow roads and hairpin turns reminded me a little bit of Hwy 1, but this road narrows to one lane in many places so that cars and busses end up backing up to maneuver their way through tight places.  At some points the passing buses were quite literally only a few inches from each other.

Amalfi itself was very quaint.  We had a wonderful afternoon exploring and eating gelato.  When we hopped back onto the bus for the return trip to Sorrento I just closed my eyes and prayed!  Luckily it was dark so I didn't miss any of the spectacular views!

Wednesday was a bit rainy - so instead of heading to Pompeii as we had originally planned we took the train North to Naples. There we visited the National Archeological Museum where all of the important artifacts from Pompeii have been taken.  **A side note about Naples. We were warned in every book and by everyone we spoke to to beware of pickpockets.  We were trying very hard to be careful even though Doug was carrying the big tourist target on his back... commonly referred to as a backpack.  Suddenly, as I was walking behind Doug I noticed that two of the zippers on the pack were open!  Wow... no idea when that happened.  Luckily all that was available from those pockets were a Middle schoolers retainer case, some tissues and about four different types of chapstick!  Dodged a bullet, but let's just say I was even more watchful for the rest of the trip. Naples is a very big, dirty, city.  We walked around a lot trying to find the museum and now that we've been there I'm not sure I would ever feel the need to go back.

The museum itself was really amazing however, and quite worth the scary walk to get there. The items that have been recovered from Pompeii date back to at least a hundred years before Christ and they are stunning.  There are pots, lamps, sculpture, frescos and mosaics... unbelievably preserved by Vesuvius.
Sculpture from Pompeii that inspired Donetello
& Michelangelo

Mosaics from Pompeii

**As another aside as it relates to all of the amazing art we are seeing...  As most of you know Doug and I have been "home-schooling" Zoe during our trip.  It was just our luck that the 8th grade sex education unit came up during our trip.  Yippee.  Let's just say that if Zoe had any questions about the male anatomy before our trip, there will be no questions anymore!  Let me also say that viewing the "secret room" in the museum, which houses the frescoed menu of services for the local brothels of Pompeii, confirms (as if there was ever any doubt) that the human male has a bizarre obsession with their "part" that is thousands of years old!

Thursday we were going to go to see Pompeii itself - but never a dull moment for our family.  After our amazing breakfast at the B & B we headed up to our room to get ready for the day.  For some reason we couldn't make our key work, but these buildings and keys are really old!  So, we swallowed our pride and asked the owner for some help getting in.  Unfortunately there was an actual problem with the door and we were locked out.  Zoe and I didn't even have our shoes on so we couldn't go anywhere.  About an hour later they had broken into our room through a window and were working on the locks.  We were given a new room (one Zoe really liked because her bed was lofted at the top of a spiral staircase!) and decided to spend the day exploring Sorrento itself.  It was a wonderful day and a holiday (Epiphany) so there were lots of people out and about, a parade going down the main road.  We splurged on a Rick Steves recommended fancy ristorante that night.  It was a really fun day

Zoe's Loft

Epiphany Parade

   View of Sorrento Marina

Our last day was finally our trip to Pompeii.  The weather on Friday couldn't have been better... sunny and warm.  A perfect day to explore this really immense outdoor archeological site.  We spent about 4 hours wandering around the ruins with a clear view of Mt. Vesuvius in the distance.  We capped off the day with some fresh squeezed OJ... a regional specialty.  Back to our village we went.  We all noticed that on this trip that we heard more English than we have heard in a month.  Sorrento clearly caters to tourists whereas our little village certainly does not!  


1 comment:

  1. Pompei-gotta love it. Did you see how they used the male anatomical parts to point you in the direction of the brothel? Hilarious! They had a pretty good sense of humor back then, eh?