Up at 6, on the bus by 7. We stopped in the middle to refuel with a cornetto and a coffee, and finally arrived to Pompeii at about 11:30.
It was so much more than we expected it to be. Despite the overwhelming amount of tourists, I was still able to imagine how life was back then, pre-eruption. Our tour guide pointed out markets, villas, and the ingenious methods of construction (raised stepping stones in the street to use to cross when periodic cleaning flooded the streets with water, gaps between the walls that allowed for heat circulation, and many more). From the 1,800 square meter private villa adorned with extravagant frescos and mosaics to an extensive city center (basilica and all), Pompeii brought us all back to 79 A.D.
After our tour, we hopped back on the bus and drove to Cantina del Vesuvio, a vineyard that takes full advantage of the surrounding volcanic soil and yields a variety of wines and produce. We spent the afternoon learning about their wines, meats and cheeses and enjoyed a delicious lunch (with grapes for dessert, of course!).
After our tour of the vineyard and lunch we drove to Piano di Sorrento, checked into the hotel and had some free time to explore the area. Later, we got dinner as a group and had a taste of local seafood by the dock. After an early breakfast the following morning, we got back on the bus and settled in for a long and sleepy ride to Positano.
The winding coastal roads soon became too small for our large bus. About ¾ of the way there, we stopped and divided up into two smaller groups on two separate buses and continued our journey. We explored Positano with its many lemon and linen shops, then enjoyed a scenic boat ride to Amalfi. Many of us picked up on the stark difference in dialect; the words and phrases were far from what we are used to hearing in Rome. I have spoken to a few of the ISC’s (Italian Student Companions) about differences in dialects around the country, and after picking up snippets of conversations between locals I finally understood what they mean when they say each dialect sounds almost like a different language. After a tour of the city center which included a stunning cathedral dedicated to St. Andrew, we were free to get lunch and explore the beach.
The water was the type of cold that makes you wade in slowly with your hands above your waist and the shore was more an extension of the rocky surroundings than a beach. The salty water resulted in small waves of dried crystals on our shoulders and arms after some time in the sun. We enjoyed our mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula sandwiches by the shore, a spot we called our own for that afternoon.
Pasticceria Pansa was our final stop before regrouping and heading back on to the bus. There we tried Sfogliatella Santa Rosa, a typical pastry of the area, as well as local ice cream flavors like lemon cream and pistachio. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend full of new experiences, new cities and new friends.
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<p style="margin-bottom:12.0pt">Argentinian-American, Rome-in’ around. Born in Italy, sad she doesn’t have an Italian passport (yet). -- Check out my posts and follow me on my quest for citizenship and the perfect cappuccino.<span style="text-autospace:none"><span style="font-size:16.0pt"><span style="font-family:"Times",serif"> </span></span></span></p>