Where do I even begin to share the wonderful and beautiful sights we saw on this bright, sunny day? Well, I suppose I should start from the beginning.
We docked this morning in the port of Naples, grabbed a quick breakfast and made our way down to the pier where we would meet our tour group. Today, we were off to visit the Isle of Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii.
Our tour started with a 50-minute ride through the blue waters of the Bay of Naples to the Isle of Capri. The water was calm making our ride very comfortable. After a short walk from Port of Marina Grande, we boarded a funicular that would take us high up to a terrace near the city center called La Piazetta. The views of the Gulf of Naples, the marina and island going up on the funicular were amazing.
From the city center we took a wonderful walking tour of this beautiful, hilly town of narrow, winding streets. As we made our way through the town we passed many quaint shops, restaurants, bars and villas. There were beautiful flowers everywhere. We made our way to the Gardens of Augustus offering magnificent and breathtaking views.
From the vantage point of the gardens we could see the terrifying narrow road that zigzags and hairpins turns down to the marina below, the Faraglioni rocks that jut out of the sparkling azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and, the bell tower of the St. James’ Certosa, a Carthusian Monastery. I must say, I could have stayed in the gardens for hours, but we needed to move on and do a little shopping before heading back to the marina for our ferry ride to Sorrento.
We docked at the Port of Marina Grande on the Almalfi Coast. The ferry dropped us off at the marina and we took a short walk to board the bus that took us up the mountain to the Piazza Torquato Tasso. The ride was a bit heart stopping on the narrow road with its hairpin turns but the views were amazing looking down at the Bay of Naples.
Our first stop in Sorrento was the wonderful shop of A. Gargiulo & Jannuzzi . The shop was filled with beautiful inlaid wood tables, boxes, trays, lace and pottery. I spent a great deal of time looking at all the inlaid jewelry and music boxes. Everything in the store was quite exquisite.
The bus picked us up again and took us to lunch at the Villa Rubinacci Ristorante & Pizzeria. The restaurant was nestled down a small driveway and covered in flowering vines. We were lucky to sit at a table with the Comedy Club’s master of ceremonies, Simeon and cast member from Hair Spray, Vince. While enjoying a great lunch of cannelloni, chicken parmesan, roasted potatoes a vegetable and cake for dessert, we had a great time talking about the ship, the upcoming end of Hair Spray on the ship and upcoming comedy acts. We had a little time before meeting the bus so Randy and I walked around the town a bit looking in the store windows and just enjoying being out on such a beautiful, sunny day.
Our next stop was the ancient ruins of Pompeii. What a thrill to finally get to Pompeii. From the moment I disembarked from the bus, I was eager to get started. But first, we stopped to see a craftsman making a piece of cameo jewelry. We all stood around him but he was so focused it did not seem to be a bother. We could not stay long and made our way to the entrance to Pompeii.
As we walked our tour guide, Vincenzo, (yes, our last guide was named Vincenzo too), shared a great deal of history of Pompeii before Vesuvius covered it over with ash and pumice when it erupted in 79 AD. He talked about the buildings, roads, mosaics, fountains, columns, pottery and the remains of Pompeiians who had been unearthed during excavation.
It was very hot the afternoon we toured the site and walking could be a little difficult over the stones in the streets but it was a wonderful tour that I will remember for a long time to come. Along the way we stopped for a while to look at many of the artifacts and residents that had been excavated. It was incredibly eerie to see the bodies of Pompeiians frozen in time in various positions buried by under nearly 82 feet of different layers of ash.
Tired but incredibly invigorated, we boarded the bus one more time for the ride back to the port. On our way back Randy and I got into a discussion of his time in Naples when he was a teenager.
“So, what are your thoughts about this area now,” I asked.
“I was amazed at how much the area looked the same as we woke to see the Posillipo and Vomero hills in the distance. I remember going to Capri on a slow boat and enjoying the island and visiting the Blue Grotto and Gracie Fields on the other side of the island. I also remember sailing our sailboat to Capri on several occasions. Our boat was basically a converted row boat. It was very fast with plenty of sail area and a bow sprit,” Randy recounted.
Sorrento was a new experience for Randy. “I enjoyed walking around the town today, however, it was quite crowded,” Randy remarked.
“On this trip to Pompeii we were in a standard tour bus that struggled to make the corners. I remember the car we had, a 1955 Ford, which was very large for the roads, and the trouble my dad had negotiating the turns,” Randy remembered.
Randy reflected that Pompeii was much more commercial than he remembered. He went there twice, once with his mom and dad and, once on a school trip.
“I noticed that a lot of the artifacts had been removed for safekeeping to the museums in Naples,” Randy said.
“As a kid, I also visited another Roman city called Herculaneum, a port city that was swallowed by volcanic mud and now,” Randy reflected, “a modern city is built on top of it”.
Once again, we arrived back at the ship just before dinner. We grabbed a bite to eat and spent a little time on the Promenade before retiring to our cabin.