[click here to read part one of the Amalfi Coast blog]
July 19 (Tuesday)
Today was our Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii exploration day.
We left our apartment around 8:30- our first stop was Mount Vesuvius. It was about an hour and a half drive from Sorrento to the parking lot at Vesuvius. We parked at a lot about 2km (1.2 miles) from the top crater. Cars are only allowed to drive so far up the volcano; only tour buses are allowed to drive to the trailhead to drop people off.
We had to walk the 2km to the trailhead because we stubbornly refused to overpay to take a taxi or shuttle bus.
Once we reached the trailhead, we bought our tickets and hiked the steep 30 minutes to the top.
We spent about an hour and a half hiking around the crater.
We had to leave Vesuvius around 12:45 to meet up with our tour guide at Pompeii at 14:00. It was a 45 minute drive from Vesuvius to Pompeii. When we got to the parking lot of Pompeii, we ate a quick picnic lunch before going inside.
Pompeii is one of my favorite places I’ve visited in Italy, so I was really excited to get to go back a second time. It was also really nice to have a guide to tell us about what we were seeing. When I went with my university group, we were just set loose to explore. We hit all the main highlights with our guide – we were with her from 14:00 to 16:30.
After our tour was over, we had a quick gelato, hydrate and re-sunscreen break. And after this little break, we explored and climbed around on our own until it closed at 7.
Once we had shut down Pompeii, we drove 45 minutes home back to Sorrento.
We ordered pizza for dinner and called it a day.
July 20 (Wednesday)
Today was our Naples Archeology Museum and Herculaneum exploration day.
Our journey started with a hike down the trail into town and then to the train station. We took the Circumvesuviana train (circus train) from Sorrento to Naples. This train ride was about an hour and a half.
Once we arrived at the train station in Naples, we took a metro to get to the museum. The archeology museum was right around the corner from the metro stop.
All of us were hungry and therefore grumpy, so we decided to eat before going into the museum. We found a little cafeteria right near the museum that Rick Steves recommends called Caffetteria Angela. We ate a big lunch there then headed back to the museum.
The Naples Archeology Museum is most famous for housing an extensive collection of artifacts and art from Pompeii and Herculaneum. The most impressive and beautiful things there, in my opinion, are the mosaics and frescos.
After a few hours of looking around, we headed to Herculaneum. We took the metro back to the train station and then got back on the circus train and rode about 30 minutes.
We arrived at the Herculaneum train station, then walked about 10 minutes to the entrance of the ruins.
Herculaneum is a smaller, less crowded, better preserved version of Pompeii. Like Pompeii, Herculaneum was destroyed in the 79AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. However, unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was covered in hot lava, which hardened and perfectly preserved the town. Some of the most striking things in Herculaneum are the perfectly intact, vibrant frescos and mosaics, as well as the charred but preserved wooden beams found in some of the houses and shops.
At the site that once was Herculaneum’s beach lie the skeletons of hundreds who were trying to escape the destruction of the eruption of Vesuvius. They were awaiting the arrival of ships to save them, but were not saved in time. The positioning of their bodies is especially powerful. You can really see their fear, anguish and suffering.
The ruins close around 18:45, so we made our way back to the train station and headed home.
It was an hour ride back to Sorrento, then we had to hike up the trail to our apartment.
We ate leftovers for dinner and went to bed early.
July 21 (Thursday)
Today was our Isle of Capri and boat day. (We only took our little waterproof point and shoot camera with us this day, so all these photos were taken on that.)
We started our morning early; our driver came to pick us up around 8:00. We drove down to the harbor, where we met up with the two other families that were sharing our boat. We did a Rick Steves shared boat day excursion.
Once we were all on board, we rode about 30 minutes to the Isle of Capri. We were given 4 hours on the island to do whatever we wanted.
Our family decided to go up to the small town of Anacapri and take the chairlift up to Monte Solaro.
To get to Anacapri, we took a 20 minute bus ride. From the Anacapri bus stop, we walked up to the entrance of the chairlift, got our tickets and hopped on to the single person chair lift. The views were amazing but I found it incredibly terrifying.
At the top, one side was so foggy that you couldn’t see anything below.
We got back in the chairlift to go back down to Anacapri.
I was rewarded for my “bravery” with a giant gelato.
After finishing our gelato, we got back on the bus to go back down to Capri and get back in the boat.
Once all of our group was on board, we took off. We rode about 20 minutes away, put our anchor down and got to swim for a little over an hour. While we were swimming, the captain of our boat filled up plastic cups with Prosecco, put them on a kick board and floated them out to us.
After freely swimming around, we got back on the boat and rode to some of the amazing natural rock formations around the island.
We rode about 45 minutes back to the harbor of Sorrento, then our driver took us back to our apartment.
We all showered and got dressed up to go to dinner. We went to Ristorante Il Borgo, which was very close to our apartment. For dinner we got lots of different types of pastas and seafood. It was a lovely last night in Sorrento.