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Sailing Through History VI-Naples, Sorrento & Pompeii

Beautiful Southern Italy and Visions of a Volcano's Distructive Power

The third day of our 12 day Eastern Mediterranean Cruise found us in the port of Naples Italy. Naples, Napoli in Italian, is the third most-populated city in Italy and the biggest city in Southern Italy. Its close proximity to many interesting sites, such as Pompeii and Sorrento, made it a good base for exploring the area. Naples is a lively and vibrant city, full of wonderful historical and artistic treasures and narrow, winding streets with small shops. With so much to see in the area, I made the decision to select a tour that would take us to the most interesting sites nearby, the coastal resort town of Sorrento and the Pompei ruins near the famous Mount Vesuvius.

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Sorrento, just across the bay from Naples and Salerno, is a resort town, with fancy shops, exquisite views and rock-strewn beaches as its prime attractions. The drive from Naples to Sorrento along the Amalifi coast was beautiful and somewhat nerve wracking. The two lane road along the coast was very narrow and there was lots of traffic and no discernible traffic control system in place. We had a very experienced driver, so I occupied myself with looking out the window of our tour bus at the stunning scenery.

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Our first stop in Sorrento was a lovely little farm up in the hills above the town. Our tour guide Massimo promised us a unique and different tour that would include sampling locally grown olives, tomatoes, hand pressed olive oil and freshly made mozzarella cheese. What a wonderful experience it was! The owner of the farm gave us a tour and then provided a demonstration of how fresh mozzarella cheese is made by hand. After the demonstration we were lead to a covered patio where we were offered samples of cheese and fresh tomatoes drizzled with the olive oil pressed at the farm. Wow, it was so good! I bought some olive oil to take home and then made my way back to our bus with the rest of the tour group.

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After boarding the bus, I had to laugh out loud when our tour guide approached me and Yolonda to inquire as to the source of our “accents”. “Where are you from?” he asked in his heavy Italian “accent”. “I love your accent, I have never heard it before” he said. We told him we were from the American south, Alabama and Georgia. “Ah” he said, “very nice, I like it!” We found him extremely funny and very charming (my husband did not).

Leaving the farm we made our way back into Sorrento where we stopped to do some shopping. I walked around the shop for a little while, not buying much, and then found a nice bench in the sunshine to wait for our group to meet up to go to lunch. We had lunch in a very nice restaurant that opened just for our group. The fresh pasta dishes, salad and wine hit the spot before we headed out again for our last stop of the day, the ruins of Pompeii.

Pompeii, an exclusive resort town prior to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, is a wonder to behold. All that is left are visions of lives cut short by the eruption of this massive volcano, still active, just 3 miles away. Historians suggest that warnings of the eruption were evident just before lava and pumice cut through Pompeii's streets. The remains of this vivid and effusive city show a place of wealth and splendor. It is believed that a portion of the bodies buried here were citizens caught in nature's fury while collecting their fortunes before leaving. Elegant villas buried for centuries feature rich courtyards, damaged paintings and other artifacts. Massimo gathered us all together before we climbed a hill to enter the site, and described in chilling detail the day the volcano erupted. I could almost see the hot ash in the air and the fleeing people as they tried to escape certain death. With a good hour of walking before us, Mom and Yolonda decided to sit this one out at a nearby café on the grounds of the site, while Reginald and I followed Massimo and our group up the hill and on the grounds of the lost city.

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The view from Pompeii was amazing, the weather was perfect to see the mountains in the distance and I was surprised at how vast the excavation was. The city was huge. As we walked along the paths, I tried to imagine what Pompeii had been like in its heyday. Of course, the things I will never forget are the bodies. Bodies carefully uncovered and preserved, frozen in death from the heat, ash and gas from the volcano. It was truly fascinating to see. The historian in me wanted to remain at the ruins a lot longer that we had to stay. Reluctantly with lots of photos and some video to review later, I slowly followed our group back down the hill to our tour bus for the drive back to Naples.

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To say that we were all very tired from 3 long days of touring Italy is an understatement. But what I had seen and heard would stay with me forever. That night as we sailed out of port we would be headed to our first port in Greece after a day at sea to relax and regroup. I was excited about our next adventure in the next port of call, but I intended to do a great deal of sleeping before we arrived!

Coming next, Mykonos, Greece and a visit to Turkey.

To be continued......

Posted by Gerriv 17:39

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Comments

Wow Gerri...sounds like a great trip. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for posting it in LinkedIn. I did not know about Travellerspoint. Very cool tool. I'm setting up an account and will definitely use it when we go on our two week river cruise to China next Spring and hopefully well before then too. I really appreciate learning about this. You have a nice travel blog.
Dave

by

Thanks so much Dave! I'm glad you like it! It's a great way to preseve your memories of your trips. A river cruise is next on my agenda.

by Gerriv

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