Southern Italy at its finest
17.03.2013 - 17.03.2013
Sorry for being behind on these updates - not only is wifi hard to come by and I take forever to write one entry, but I've finally been having a life at night after the daily excursions! Anyways....
The day began early with a bus ride from Rome to Naples, roughly a 3-hour drive. The trip was interesting as we drove along the Apinine Mountain Range, which extends down the middle of Italy from north to south. The Alps are taller mountains go from the east to west coast. It was funny to see a hand glider out the window during the talk of this information. Italy seems to be on top of their energy efficiency- aside from the numerous houses I’ve seen with solar panels on top of them, we came across a few huge fields covered in countless solar panels, and maybe 8 consecutive windmills on the tops of mountains. I also saw Mt. Vesuvius along the way, which was surprisingly topped with snow but that only made it easier to spot. The mountain actually has a slightly shorter twin summit, and the area between the two mts is called The Valley of Inferno. The volcano is still active and could erupt at any time, but now scientists will be able to notify the people of Pompei about a week before an eruption in order to evacuate.
We arrived in Napoli, a less glamorous city than Venice or Rome or Florence. It did not have much history or ancient charm because the Greeks originally built Naples and then the Romans fought them for the city. It was a big battleground for territory back in the day so the city had to be rebuilt in a more modern, concrete style when the two countries joined forces. The port in Naples is one of the largest in Italy, and from there we boarded a large ferry to take us about 45 min. out to the island of Capri.
Capri by the port
Once on Capri, we took a smaller boat tour around the island to get better views. The waters and wind were unusually choppy and strong but the little boat still made it around, feeling like a personal rollercoaster; I even sacrificed potential sickness and crazy hair to sit on the upper deck for better pictures. Capri deserves to be seen by boat. It is a very mountainous island, covered in cliffs in which 2 separate grottos are naturally carved out. One was famous because coral-colored flowers grew there, and the other for its special white stone that usually shines like a hologram in the sun. At the top of the second grotto, there is a small cave that has a stone naturally carved (not manmade) which looks like the Virgin Mary. From there we continued on to the infamous “Lover’s Arch” – two stone structures detached from the island, but people may specifically hire a boat just to go to these structures.
Although Capri is not the biggest island off the coast of Naples, it is certainly the most famous. Celebrities and those living the jet-set life vacation in Capri, such as Eddie Murphy, Eva Mendes, and Jennifer Lopez – as seen by their pictures in town. But because it is such a hot spot, it is quite expensive to stay or dine here. Capri is famous for creating the Fiora de Capri perfume, caprese salads, and growing lemon trees.
The coast of Capri, featuring the Lover's Arch and beautiful blue water
When we got back to the mainland, we had to take a cable car that would bring us up the steep mountain to the actual village of Capri. We went on a short walking tour and ended in a garden that had amazing views right on a coast – of the mountains, the port area, etc. After a nice lunch, the group took the cable car back down in order to catch a ferry to Sorrento.
When we got there, we climbed a steep hill single file and proceeded to climb at least 200 stairs because again, Sorrento is at the top of a hill. We were free to go shopping on the main street, which was quite long for Italian standards. The most exciting part for me was that I found a leather shop and bought myself an Italian leather jacket!!!
Finally met up as a group to take a bus to the hotel, which we had to walk a little ways down a tunnel because the hotel was on the oceanfront and the bus couldn’t make it that far. This hotel was quite nice and modern – all white cement walls, and some parts had holey grotto walls built in. We had an arranged dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. The first course was gnocchi with a marinara sauce; secondi was eggplant parmesan; and tiramisu for dessert. All of it was fantastic and taste homemade! After dinner, the students and some of the adults hung out in the hotel’s lobby and played drinking games with wine and limoncello. It turned out to be really funny and we even learned a lot as I introduced the games of Harm and Kill A Brew, and 2 truths and a lie (a good ice breaker game to get to know everyone).
Morning view from our balcony at the hotel