An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Friday, June 22, 2018

2015 Girls' Trip to Italy: The Last Day (recap, Days 7 & 8)

We are just a couple of weeks away from announcing our next trip to Italy, so this week I have been blogging about our 2015 trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast in the hopes that memories will surface and excitement will build for our next trip … announcement coming soon.

Day 7:  The Last Day

Put a compass to paper and trace a circle. Then tell me which other country has such a concentration of places like Amalfi, Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Pompeii, and Capri.
~Diego Della Valle

Today was all about the island of Capri, but before we proceed allow me give the same lesson on pronunciation I gave my group before leaving home …
It's all about stressing the correct syllable ;-)

Also allow me to share some interesting facts about the island:

-The island saw an influx of visitors when a Polish poet named August Kopisch re-discovered la Grotta Azzurra, or the Blue Grotto.

- The Caprese salad gets its name from "salad of Capri" which is tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil with seasoning of salt and olive oil.

- Capri is the name of the island but it is actually divided into two sections: the eastern section takes the name of the island, and the western part is called Anacapri.

-Via Krupp is a famous road that descends to the sea in a series of dizzying, hairpin bends.

Via Krupp

But knowing all the above doesn’t quite prepare you for the majestic beauty of the place. Really, there are no words. The sea is the bluest blue, the buildings are the whitest white, the flowers are the most vibrant, the rocks are the most majestic, and the views are unparalleled.
la isola di Capri

We left Sorrento in the morning, traveling by ferry. When we got to Capri, some of the group explored the shops along the Marina Grande, while others signed up for a boating excursion around the island to see the Faraglioni – three towering rock formations that soar 360 ft. out of the sea. Our captain actually sailed under one.
boarding the ferry for Capri

the Italian flag

enjoying the sights

view of Sorrento from the sea

arriving at marina grande on Capri

our captain for the boat tour around the island

beautiful sailboats everywhere

the faraglioni

even more impressive up close

preparing to sail under the faraglioni

The entire group then reconvened for a funicular ride up the mountain to the Piazzetta, the main square of Capri. From there we walked to the Giardini Augusto (Augustus Gardens) where we took photos of the flowers and the yellowest lemons I’ve ever seen. From the gardens we could also see Via Krupp, the historic paved footpath winding down the mountain to the sea.
funicular this way

riding the funicular up to the piazzetta

walking around the gardens

yellowest lemons

Via Krupp

The afternoon was ours to explore. Some opted for lunch in one of the many fine dining restaurants, while others walked around window shopping at places like Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, and Ferragamo. Then there was a group of us who decided to go MORE UP by taking a chairlift to Anacapri, the highest point on the island. The 360 degree view was out of this world.
look how the shirts are displayed

riding the chairlift to anacapri

360 degree views

By late afternoon it was time to head back to Sorrento. In case you didn’t keep track, here are all the modes of transportation we used to get to Capri and then back again to Sorrento:

Tour Bus
Private motorboat
Capri bus
Tour bus

these two almost missed the ferry back ;-)

Back in Sorrento we had our final, farewell dinner at Ristorante Francischiello. After the meal, our tour guide took us to the roof of the restaurant to watch the stunning sunset, and as the sun dropped lower and lower over the horizon, we said our last goodbyes to la bella Italia. 
Ristorante Antico Francischiello

farewell dinner with friends

sharing memories of our vacation

one last glass of vino!

watching the sunset from the roof

holding the Sorrento sun in the palm of my hand

sinking over the horizon

farewell sunset, Sorrento, the amalfi coast

Day 8: Depart for home


Thursday, June 21, 2018

2015 Girls' Trip to Italy: An Active Volcano, a High Seas Adventure, Lunch with a View (recap, days 5 and 6)

We are just a couple of weeks away from announcing our next trip to Italy, and in the midst of planning itineraries, researching hotels, and deciding on dates, I realized that I never blogged about our first trip (2015 Girls’ Trip to Italy).

Until now. So, for these next few days I will blog about our wonderful trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast (the sights, the food, the adventures) in the hopes that memories will surface and excitement will build for our next trip …

Day 5 ... An Active Volcano and a Hotel in Sorrento

This morning we boarded a bus and said Arrivederci! to Rome. When my sister and I planned this trip we knew that Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast would offer a nice change of pace from our hectic schedule in Rome. So we left behind history, architecture, and art of Rome, and headed for picturesque towns, citrus orchards, and breathtaking coastlines of southern Italy. 

the coastline along the Amalfi Coast

On the way, we stopped at an Autogrill, the Italian version of a rest stop where, evidently, one can buy a pig. (Am I right, or am I right Wendy and Rose Ann?) We also made a brief stop in the town of Torre del Greco to visit Giovanni Apa, a jewelry store specializing in the ancient handcraft of coral and cameos.

The bus took us through Naples where we got our first glimpse of Mt. Vesuvius, the Bay of Naples, the cliffs of Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast. Everything was breathtaking.
Driving by Naples

Our tour guide, Jane

on the bus

By mid-day we stopped for a guided tour of Pompeii. Now, you can't travel with us without learning a thing or two, and I had prepared my group for Pompeii. They knew things like:  1/ before Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, local people didn't even know it was a volcano because it had not erupted for 300 years  2/ the day before Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79 AD, the citizens celebrated a huge feast to Vulcan, the God of the Forge (#ironic)  3/ I also provided them with this graphic so they could get an idea of the scope of Vesuvius' plume when it erupted ...

And in case you're wondering ...YES, the volcano is still considered active. The last time it erupted was in 1944. To this day, Vesuvius remains one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. Some 3.5 million Italians live in its shadow, and about 2 million tourists visit the ruins each year.
the ruins of Pompeii

that "mountain" in the background? Mt. Vesuvius

plaster casts

archaeological finds

After the tour we drove to Sorrento where we checked into our hotel, Grand Hotel La Pace. Once we were assigned our rooms, some took naps while others lounged by the pool, but that evening everyone convened in the upstairs lobby for a welcome cocktail. Dinner that night was at the hotel.
Grand Hotel La Pace, Sorrento

taking in the view

social time before dinner

Day 6 ... Breathtaking Views, a High Seas Adventure, Lunch with a View
Today was all about exploring the quaint towns clinging to the side of the cliffs along the Amalfi Coast. We started out with a bus ride to Positano. For most of the group, this was the formal introduction to the narrow, serpentine road along the Amalfi Coast. People were forewarned: if you are prone to carsickness, sit in the front of the bus; if it makes you queasy to look out the window and see nothing but a steep drop to the ocean, sit on the left side of the bus.
Still, 23 women collectively gasped at the first treacherous, cliff-hanging curve. The Amalfi Coast has 1200 curves ... you do the math. Jane, our tour guide, told us not to worry. "Do what Roberto does and close your eyes," she announced.
FYI, Roberto was our bus driver.
driving along the amalfi coast

afraid of heights? don't sit on the right side of the bus

stopping for photos on a scenic overlook

We arrived in Positano just when a ferocious thunderstorm hit. Undaunted, we donned ponchos and clutched umbrellas and wandered the streets and alleyways. Some explored, some shopped, and some took shelter from the storm in a beautiful café and ordered a cappuccino while watching the storm. (One guess as to what I did.)

ceramic heaven

modeling the latest fashions in poncho-wear

an outdoor café in the rain

cappuccino time

Afterwards, we met at the marina where we boarded a boat in choppy seas for a tour and seaside view of the coastline. Despite the High Seas Adventure, everything was gorgeous. We arrived to the town of Amalfi where we explored, set out a search party for Laura B., and then boarded the bus for Ravello where, amazingly, the weather was now all blue skies and golden sun. In Ravello we had a gorgeous lunch in a restaurant overlooking the sea. We all loved Ravello.
our high seas adventure


ravello, one of our favorite towns

lunch at ristorante garden


best lunch ever

lunch with a view

walking around


We returned to our hotel by late afternoon, changed, and spent the evening exploring Sorrento which is the most perfect town for exploring. It's also great for shopping -- leather handbags, wallets, belts, ceramics, jewelry, table linens, and for SOMEONE ... a HUGE rolling suitcase.
It truly was a marvelous, adventurous day. Best of all, despite a bus ride on the winding Amalfi Coast and a motor launch on choppy seas ... no one got car sick, no one was seasick.
hanging out in ravello

Quote of the day: "It's like driving a bus on a sidewalk," said Julie M., commenting on the tiny road on the Amalfi Coast ... a seemingly one lane road that can somehow (amazingly and miraculously) accommodate two buses coming in opposite directions. Just barely. Without an inch to spare.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's last recap -- Day 7 (in which we use every mode of transportation known to man to get to the island of Capri) and Day 8 (in which we say arrivederci).