Yesterday a.m. J and I got back from our four day trip to Sorrento, Italy, which is along the scenic Amalfi Coast.
I'd been to the area before--a high school trip in 2000. But it was such a whirlwind mad rush of hotels and sightseeing and coach tours that I barely remembered it. All that was imprinted in my memory from Sorrento was a small piazza, a quick dip in the Tyrrhenian Sea and our rondevoux with the Swiss guys we met and hung out with on the rooftop terrace of our yellow hotel. From Capri I only remembered a pathway surrounded by trellis and flowers. And what I remembered from our visit to Pompeii was the fact that the prostitute's clients had to draw pictures of what they wanted on the walls of the brothel since it was an international port city and people spoke many languages. Today you can still see the pictures, too (I suppose they would have been the ancient equivalent of Playboy?) Anyway, funny what information manages to stick itself in our memories.
But this time J and I had time to absorb the sunny citrus flavors of Sorrento and it was delicious! First off, we were told that our three star hotel room at the top of the cliff wasn't ready yet and so we were to spend the holiday in the four star Sea Club hotel. Not too shabby. It was at the bottom of the most windy, steep, vine covered hill I'd ever seen, but was closer to the beach and the pool and had extremely nice bathrooms. And there was free shuttle service to Sorrento, so we didn't have to walk the treacherous hill. We decided that it made up for the fact that their broken phone line so it took us some time to get there. That night I enjoyed an apertif of limoncello and Jonathan whiskey, a lovely dinner of salad, duck in orange sauce, Neopolitan meatballs, and a slice of Italian cheesecake for dessert.
The next morning was bright and sunny. We had breakfast at our hotel (the Italians like their coffee thick!) and took a train to Pompeii. Like I said, I didn't remember much, but especially how expansive the city is. We walked around almost all day, peeping into what used to be bedrooms and theatres and gardens and forums and drainage pipes. It was odd to walk into the ampitheatre and imagine gladiator fights and wonder if Christians had been fed to lions in the arena. And it was amazing to see how well preserved the wall paintings were. We concluded that if Pompeii was located in the States or the UK tourists would definitely not have the allowance to roam as freely through the ruins as the Italians let us. Some of the areas are gated off, but for the most part you can walk in and around everything and touch everything, and no one would mind. At the end we saw the preserved bodies as well, which was eerie but fascinating.
We left on the train for Naples after Pompeii and spent a couple of hours wandering around the shops and trying to survive the crazy scooter and cable car and trucks and car traffic. I have no idea how people survive in that city. I saw one boy about ten run into the road, parallel to traffic, and race the cars behind him to get across to the other side. Pure craziness.
That night we returned to Sorrento and walked around the stores a bit before having dinner at a cafe and meeting our shuttle.
We woke up the next morning to sun and made our way through the early a.m. streets to the marina, where we picked up the hydrofoil to the island of Capri. Capri is fantastically gorgeous. The lush cliffs and azure sea contrast with the white-washed and pastel bungalows, magenta flowers hang over stone walls and shop fronts, and bright green, exotic plants meander through loose gardens. It's hard to imagine that people really live in such a relaxing, beautiful place. Since everything was so close together, the stone pathways surrounded by walls of wooden doorways that led into gardens and homes, we imagined it was probably the closest we could come to imagining Pompeii and any Roman town as it had been.
That day we had the BEST tiramisu gelato ice cream that we've ever had. Indescribably good. We took pictures and stopped at a cafe for bruschetta and bianca vino and then sunned on the pebbly beach. That afternoon we returned to Sorrento and wandered through the quaint, cobblestoned streets and colorful shops. That's when I tasted the most incredible liquor I've ever had--creme lemoncello. I'd had the regular lemoncello before, but the creme version is so sweet and smooth that I could drink it dangerously fast without even realizing it. No wonder it's so good--the lemons in Sorrento are positively massive.
The next day we spent the morning sunning next to the pool and the sea at our hotel, and then, sigh, it was time to leave. I wish I could have bottled the rays up with us and brought it back to London because we've had rain for the past two days. Va bene. Someday we'll see sun again, and maybe it'll be on a Sorrento beach with a glass of lemoncello.