After our week under The Tuscan Clouds, we made our way down to the Campania Region. Sunny Sorrento – Where the key attraction isn’t history nor museums nor architecture but the lavish shops; the remarkable pebble beaches; the exquisite view of Mt. Vesuvius and the Limón cello that is waiting to be savored. Aside from that, Sorrento is a major transportation hub in the southern area for ferries, buses and trains which makes it an easy gateway to the places we wanted to visit: Isle of Capri, Pompeii Scavi, Positano and the Amalfi Coast which are right next door to each other. It was such a transition coming from the hushed countryside Tuscany to this resort-like town. Naturally, with all that, we stayed for 4 days in this astounding city.
This day was literally travel day! We took the fast train from Florence to Naples and changed to the Circumvesuviana line to Sorrento. It’s amusing how easily I can say that now when I can vividly remember we got very lost finding the stop to Sorrento due to trusting a Filipino nun with the directions instead of the paper where the instructions were written; we arrived at our hotel, Casa Sorrentina at 11:30pm. (www.casasorrentina.com) We were all dead tired from traveling and getting lost all day long!
The view from our hotel window
We introduced ourselves to the city by foot. Our hotel was right smack in the middle of the city; beside were different restaurants, cafes and gelateria and at the back, was a wide array of shops that kept calling our name, luring us to purchase something. We held our temptation and only window-shopped for the most part of the morning – saving it on the last day.
We decided to do a little sightseeing to this 5 star luxury, world-renowned hotel, Vittoria Excelsior, where the rich and famous stay when visiting Sorrento. It was a little slice of heaven when we walked passed their gates, through their gardens and to their balcony, Terraz Bosquet. I pretended I was in my own faraway island, gone from the demands of everyday life with only the breath-taking view of Mt. Vesuvius in front of me. That was definitely what I call “The Life.”
(1) Terraz Bosquet of Vittoria Excelsior, (2) My nephew, Matthew and I posing with Mt. Vesuvius at the back, (3) My brother-in-law, Anthony enjoying his wine,
Inside was a dining room with enormous glass windows that offers a stunning view of the bay of Naples; the interiors and decorations were from the nineteenth century. Let me tell you about the best part of my day…LUNCH. The “World Class” dining I see only in television came true to life this day at the Vittorio Breakfast Room when my brother-in-law said out of the blue, “I’m treating everyone for lunch. It’s not everyday you get to see a view like this.” An Italian waiter in a bowtie served our lunch in silver platters with a bottle of their finest white wine; this is still one of the best, memorable meals of my life – ofcourse, it was a good EUR200 lunch (PHP 12,000). Thanks a bunch, Anthony! You’ll always be my #1 brother-in-law.
For the most part of the afternoon, my brother-in-law, my nephew and me enjoyed a drink (thanks again!) at another hotel with a view as exceptional as the first one. Sorrento was mostly about unwinding and relaxation.
We were separated with mom and dad for the entire day and this is what they were up to – Touring the city with this cute train
Day 2: Isle of Capri
From Sorrento, we took a ferry to Isle of Capri for a day trip. (It was 14,00 Euro/ person). We arrived at Marina Grande and immediately took an hour boat tour around the island. We saw the many natural rock formations; the famous Blue Grotto where the sunlight illuminates the water making it bright blue against the very dark cavern; and the icon of Capri – the Faraglioni; these are very steep cliffs swept away from the mainland by the wind and tides through the centuries.
Marina Grande at the Isle of Capri
Inside the Blue Grotto was truly magnificent. (It was an extra 4,00 Euro to get in). Like riding a gondola in Venice, you ride a tiny boat while an Italian sings for you. It was quite exciting to ride a tiny, tiny boat through an even tinier opening into the cave; we had to bend as much as we can to fit in the hole. We were inside the cave for literally just 2 minutes. The boat turned once and if not for our constant nagging, “ONE MORE, ONE MORE!”, we wouldn’t have gotten another round. So much for our excitement! I felt like it was too quick. If not for the jellyfish swimming around, I would have jumped already. It felt as if this is where Edmund Dantes found the treasure in Count of Monte Cristo.
After the 360-degree tour of the island from the water, we took a chairlift and made our way up to a really high point of the island– Seggovia Monte Solaro- where you can see the Faraglioni and the entire island in a different point of view. – Still one of the best views! I had my first Magnum Ice Cream at a café here. (Thanks to my brother-in-law and my brother for the photos below)
From the waters to the sky! Our adverture-filled day in Capri was just wonderful, Here are some photos that are enriched with a thousand memories.
Day 3: Pompeii Scavi
You can’t stay in Sorrento and not do a day trip to Pompeii; the city destroyed by the legendary Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD. It is now part of UNESCO World Heritage. The city was buried in ashes for thousands and thousands of years until it was accidentally discovered a few hundred years ago. They started excavating and unearthed only ¼ of the city; it’s an amazing place to explore at any time of year. From Sorrento, take the train and stop at POMPEII SCAVI, the excavation site is just a few minutes walk from the train station. Don’t make the mistake of stopping in POMPEII, the modern city.
My dad met these pretty Colombian ladies while walking to the center and he told me to have a photo with them.
It was very interesting to learn and experience what this Roman city was like during its heyday in the 1st century. You learn all about their economy and livelihood; you get to see remnants of their once luxurious buildings; you even see stone casts of actual people and animals buried alive during the eruption. After spending the entire morning and half of the afternoon looking through skeletons, remnants and casts, I came to a point where all I saw were just stones and dirt; clearly a sign of being “ruined-out” so my sister and I left everyone and took the train back to Sorrento and shopped for scarves and kitchen paraphernalia instead.
Day 4: Amalfi Coast
This part of Italy is truly blessed with its beautiful coastlines one of which is The Amalfi Coast; also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. (If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know by now that Italy has thousands of these)
From Sorrento, we took the bus to the Amalfi Coast. My favorite part of this place is the Cathedral that welcomes you with open arms. The grand staircase that leads you up to the cathedral is just beautiful. I adored walking along the alleyways going in and out of the shops with my mother.
This is what this part of Italy is known for. Just look at these fist-size lemons!
We took the City Site-Seeing Tour up to Ravello where you could see the astounding view of the entire seaboard of the Amalfi. Ravello, for me, is the balcony of heaven where the Lord looks down on his people.
We had to rush back to Sorrento as to not miss our train to Rome. I regret missing out on seeing Positano but I took a pretty nice photo of it from the bus ride home.
(April 06-10, 2010)