Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Italy. The country is drenched in sunlight, boasts skiing AND beaches, and has what's arguably the best food in the world. There are big cities, postage-stamp sized villages, and everything in between. Even if it didn't have all those plusses, the history of the region alone would put it atop my favorite places list. (Then again, I'm a total history geek.) Part of why I chose this cruise was that it made three stops in Italy, one outside Naples, one an hour from Rome, and a third stop just south of the Cinque Terre.
Again, I popped out of bed at dawn to go on my balcony and watch the sun rise. This is just off the coast of Capri. I wanted to bottle it. The sky and water were some of the most beautiful shades I've ever seen.
Once we pulled into the port in Naples, we went through the large port building (all brand-spanking new!) to find our driver. Since I've been to the Amalfi Coast before, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to see and thought having a driver for the day would be the way to go. First, we went to Pompeii. I wanted to explore before it got too hot. Even though we arrived before 9 AM, guess what? Still too hot. We were out of there by eleven. The place was jam-packed, so I'm glad this wasn't my first visit there. Still, I enjoy it immensely. There's something new to see in Pompeii on every visit--the place is huge. It's sad to envision such a large city being devastated as Pompeii was.
After Pompeii, we took a leisurely drive along the Amalfi Coast. Though there are other places I'd go if I had more than a day, for our short stop we decided to hit Positano and Sorrento. The views along the Amalfi Coast road are breathtaking--even when there's fog, as there was the day we were there. (Thanks to our driver, who took this photo!)
He also stopped at a roadside stand so I could ogle the food. I love checking out what's for sale in foreign countries (as was probably apparent from my Barcelona blog.)
Most tourists seem to take photos of buildings, landmarks, or (gasp!) their families. Me, I'm all about the markets and food stands. (Though I can't remember ever taking a photo of my plated food in a restaurant, something I saw others doing on my cruise ship the entire week. It's never struck me as a Thing To Do.)
After grabbing some gelati--happy, happy, joy, joy--we made our way to Sorrento. The last time I was on the Amalfi Coast, we stayed in a small hotel here for three days, so I know my way around. We had a fabulous pizza lunch, then walked to the gardens near the main town square. Sorrento is known for its lemons and limoncello liquor. No wonder, when there are spectacular lemon trees absolutely everywhere.
Between the fresh food and the citrus trees, I think Sorrento must be one of the best-smelling towns anywhere.
Instead of having the driver face the crowded road back to Naples, we opted to take the ferry. I'm glad we did--and I'd do it again if I ever need to get from Sorrento to Naples--since the views were amazing. This was from high in Sorrento, walking down to the ferry:
And this was the view from the ferry itself, as we left Sorrento:
You know this setting will end up in a book, right? It's too beautiful not to spend my working hours revisiting in my mind. This is a big reason I love to travel. It's all fodder for the imagination.
Next up, Italy, Day Two: Rome