Amalfi Coast – More Day 5

dsc00667

The drive to the Amalfi Coast took us into the region known as Sorrento. Refreshed from the bus nap, we were ready to begin our view along the Amalfi Coast. It was spectacular! Our pictures really couldn’t do justice to the sight we were seeing. The sky was clear now and we got our first good look at Mt. Vesuvius. The narrow two lane road hugged the seadsc00578side cliffs

dsc00631

with shear drop-offs. Scary when you consider we were doing it in a HUGE touring bus! Makes you wonder what those tiny Fiats thought as we came looming around the curves! Our late afternoon arrival gave us time to walk along the seashore, looking for sea glass and interesting rocks.

dsc00597

Sorrento is famous for its intricate use of wood inlay products. We visited one of the few factories still in existence in Italy and saw how the thinest  pieces of wood are cut in a pattern and then set into a larger piece of wood. Very few woodworkers still produce products today with such delicate designs. After seeing how the process worked, we went into the showroom to see pieces ranging from formal dining tables and chairs that a seated 12 to small music boxes and coasters. I noted the design of a particular music box and I was sure it matched one I inherited from my Aunt. Sure enough it was a piece she had picked up when she was there years ago! It has even more meaning now. As the day was ending we enjoyed strolling along the coastline of Sorrento, before walking back to the hotel for a late buffet dinner.

ROME – Day 5

Pompeii

pompeii-us
Plaster covered brick columns look like marble.

dsc00500
I use to teach my students about Pompeii, so this was a dream come true to actually visit this ancient site. It was an overcast, drizzly day and we couldn’t see the top of Mt. Vesuvius. Makes you wonder if that was what the sky was like as the mighty volcano awoke. As we began our tour, the air around us was heavy and a bit eerie. A perfect day for archaeological exploration! We were able to climb ancient stone stairs in the Large Theater and have a splendid view of the city of Pompeii. The Theater was built in the 3rd Century B.C. during the Augustan era. It held over 5000 guests and was a cultural center as opposed to a common sporting venue.

The landscape around us was lush and green, including what we could see of Mt. Vesuvius. It was a wealthy resort area for the Roman Neapolitan’s. The fertile land, and close location to the sea made it a perfect destination city. Well, until the top of the volcano blew opompeii-artifactsff!

Along with our guide and hundreds of other tourists, we walked along a 2,000- year old cobbled stone street, complete with ruts for ancient carts to move through. We could see remains of brick and stone structures, complete with still standing fireplaces, and multiple rooms. Based upon pottery remains, archaeologists have determined where homes were verses shops. pompeii-potsIt was easy to imagine this as a wealthy, advanced city complete with government buildings.

pompeii-walk
Temple of Fortuna Augusta off Via del Foro

Much of the ancient city was not available to us because we were there for such a short time. It would easily have taken a full day or more to do justice to this site. We did see some beautiful frescoes in a bath house.

The human cast seen below was made from impressions by archaeologists as they dug beneath layers of ash. This filling of the negative space allowed scientists to further study what happened when Vesuvius blew. There is a large museum in the city of Naples where most of the artifacts can be seen.

pompeii-man

Unfortunately,  we had to “rush” to get on the bus to make the long trek from Pompeii, which is near Naples, northward up to the Amalfi Coast. Before leaving we purchased a Pompeii  “coffee table” book, so we could read more at home. Our time there was just too short for this incredible site.

It was a LONG bus ride to reach the Amalfi coast, but it enabled many of us to catch up on sleep. By this point, Dan and I realized that the pace of the trip is nothing like the relaxing cruises of other adventures we’ve taken. Two nights in a hotel – pack up and repeat. Travel expert, Rick Steves is right – travel light! This was definitely shaping up to be a trip for hearty, active, and adventurous retired folks.