Saturday morning (May 28), we made our way to the city of Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast. We rode 3-4 hours on the bullet train from Florence to Naples. Then rode about another hour on the circumvesuviana train, from Naples to Sorrento. The circumvesuviana is a local train that is often chaotic and packed full of interesting characters, so our professors and locals lovingly refer to it as the circus train.
The circus train got us into Sorrento late afternoon- around 4. We got a cab for our luggage and walked to the convent that we were staying. We had free time until group dinner at 7. We all passed out and napped for that whole time.
(my little nook room at the convent we stayed at)
The city of Sorrento itself is nothing speculator. Everyone in our group was talking about how it was very similar to Myrtle Beach. Despite this, it really is a great city to be based in when traveling to Pompeii, Capri, Paestum, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast in general. It’s central, relatively inexpensive, has great transportation connections and restaurants and great views of the coast.
Day 1: (first full day)
We drove on the twisted, scenic coastal highway along the Amalfi Coast to get to the ancient Greek ruins at Paestum. This route is the longest way to get from point A to B along the Amalfi coast, but it’s certainly the most beautiful and worth taking the extra time. This route can also be a bit treacherous at times because a lot of it is only one lane wide. Driving in a big bus around the curves and cliffs is not for the faint of heart. We stopped at several overlooks along to way to take pictures and explore some of the little towns we passed through.
Once we arrived in Paestum, we spent a couple hours walking about the ruins. Paestum is one of the oldest Greek settlements in Italy, dating back to around 450-600BCE.
Day 2: BOAT DAYYYYYY!!
We all got up and ate breakfast together, then walked down to the marina to get on our yachts. Our group had two small yachts between us. We left the marina in Sorrento and headed towards the Isle of Capri. The water was a deep, crystal clear blue- it really did sparkle when the sun hit it the right way. We rode past several grotto rock formations. Around these grottos, the water is extra blue and clear because of the way the light from the sky reflects off the white rock bottom and the water. We put our anchor down near a little cove and swam for a couple hours. The water was sooooo cold. It took my breath away the first time I jumped in. We got used to it of course. We had jumping and diving competitions, listened to Drake, and drank Prosecco. It was great. We had lunch on the Isle of Capri, where they’re obviously known for the deliciously fresh seafood. After lunch, we lounged for a bit to let our food settle and then we went back out into the sea, dropped anchor and swam again. None of us took our SLR cameras on the boat, so all my pictures from this day were taken on my phone.
Day 3: Pompeii & Vesuvius
We took the local circus train to get from Sorrento to Pompeii-about a 45 minute ride. As a group, we got our tickets to get into Pompeii and then we dispersed to explore Pompeii. It is such an overwhelmingly huge place. There is so much to see, it seemed impossible to see it all (which we didn’t). My two favorite things were seeing the people preserved in ash from the 79AD eruption of Vesuvius, and looking at all the incredibly vibrant frescos in some of the houses. I love observing the small details of things, so going to Pompeii was an incredible, fascinating experience for me for that reason. It seemed like every single object, paint fleck, piece of stone, was just heavy with beauty and historical significance. I’m really excited and thankful that I’ll be coming back to Pompeii with my family! Our group left with so much still left to see!
After exploring Pompeii for a few hours, we got on a military grade bus to get to the top of Mount Vesuvius- yes, MOUNT VESUVIUS, the active volcano! The bus ride up was so much fun. It was like off roading; it reminded me a lot of being on safari in Kenya. Once we got to the farthest point you can get to by car, we got out and hiked with a guide to the rim of the crater of Vesuvius. We got to walk about halfway around the rim.
Later that night, we had our fancy group dinner. We went to this restaurant that also serves as a wedding venue. I kid you not, we had to walk through the reception to get to our table. It was great! We got some great food, great wine, they were playing awesome music, dancing and having the best time. We totally crashed a wedding. In Italy. It was unforgettable. We had the best time.
Day 4: (free day)
Everyone was fried from exploring, walking a lot and being in the sun, so we all spent the day lounging and napping and editing pictures.
Yesterday, we made our way from Sorrento to Rome, the last stop on the App State trip. We took the circus train from Sorrento to Naples and the bullet train from Naples to Rome. That day on the circus train, there were several musicians walking through the train playing and panhandling. We’ll be in Rome for about four days, then I’ll begin my three week solo journey through Northern Italy!