Last time on our European adventure, we left off on a day at sea. The following day, Baba, Julianna, and I were up early to watch as our ship docked into the port of Naples, Italy. The sky was still dark, and we enjoyed our breakfast as we watched the ship enter the bay from the large windows next to our table.
Our tour group left the ship at 7:30am, hopping on a tour bus after disembarking. The local guide told us about the new city of Napoli, and about the port that surrounded it. He told us jokingly how the people in Northern Italy don’t like the people in the south because the people in the south need a 10 minute coffee and cigarette break for every five minutes of work, and how they would be good to take up this habit themselves.
His accent was the most stereotypical Italian accent I had ever heard and his jokes, just like his words, rolled off his tongue. He joked about limoncello, the Italian lemon-based after-dinner liqueur, and how it was famous in the region (mostly for being better than Viagra). He told us about Pompeii and how it was the industrial city of the time, and the other two cities that were affected by the volcano erupting were more residential and weren’t as well preserved as Pompeii because they got the heat from the eruption, not the ash and lava.
The drive through the valley near Mt. Vesuvius was beautiful; it was very lush with green shrubbery. The land was fertile from the volcanic nutrient-rich soil. Very little rock is seen in this mountainous area, unlike the Rockies back home. There was the occasional house (and even castle) built into the cliffs.
When we had reached the coast, the bus weaved for ten minutes down the slope towards the sea. Our boat was waiting for us, docked. We sat on the top deck as the boat took off in the rocking waves. The Amalfi Coast was picturesque. Spanish and French influences were prominent and everything had an older, standstill way about it. There were castles protruding from the rocks, and caves hidden underneath where the cliff face dropped into the sea below.
Soon our boat landed in Amalfi, the capital of the coastline. Our group crossed a busy street and were given free time once we reached the main square. On our right was a beautiful Spanish style church and behind us a fountain symbolizing the life that mother earth brings. In the past, there had been a shortage of water here, so the people felt blessed, and honoured the water. We passed the fountain of lovers on the way in as well.
We wandered down what we thought was a one-way street, which actually turned out to be a two way street, made for both cars and pedestrians going in either direction. This was somewhat hectic, and caused vehicle in a collision course with each other to reverse long distances to get out of the way.
Laundry was hung on lines above us, and the Italian town had just started to waken, opening their shop doors for us one by one. Lemon stands lined the streets with the largest lemons I had ever seen. There were limoncello shops, and shops selling other local paraphernalia. There were a few handmade parchment stores with stationary supplies. I purchased a post card from one just because the people were friendliest there and the paper was magnificent. Around the shops were tiny villages with figurines, creating cute little scenes that acted out life in the area.
The weather was perfect. We were told this was the best time of year to go with the best visibility of Mt. Vesuvius because when it’s too hot, the haze is too strong to get a good view. Back on the boat, we saw the Amalfi Coast once more in all of its beauty as we headed towards the bus that would take us to Pompeii.