Amalfi Coast & Pompeii
Last weekend I went on the Amalfi Coast trip offered with Bus2Alps. They took us to Capri, Positano, and Pompeii. Each place was beautiful, but unfortunately it rained the first two days.
The island of Capri is off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples. On the island, we went to the town of the same name, as well as Anacapri and the Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzura).
The first thing we did in Capri was a boat tour around the Blue Grotto. The tour guide pointed out various landmarks, such as the second oldest lighthouse in Europe and houses of the rich and famous on the hills surrounding the cave. We learned that Michael Jackson tried buying a house for 20 million dollars, got rejected by Capri, then returned with 30 million, and got rejected again (poor MJ).
The Blue Grotto was absolutely stunning though. The water is a deep, rich blue, and even in the terrible weather, it glistened. According to Capri.com, “the blue coloring of the Grotta Azzurra is created by the daylight which enters via an underwater opening located immediately below the entrance to the cave. The light is filtered by the water which absorbs the red tones, leaving only the blue ones to pass into the cave.” You can see purple and pink from the coral where the water’s surface meets the cave walls.
After the boat tour, we walked around on land. Anacapri is raised at a higher elevation than Capri (we did a lot of hiking this weekend). It was a small village with shops and restaurants, just like Capri. Coral is very popular in Capri because of the Grotto, all the stores we went to had objects made from coral.
The tour guide brought us to Carlos’ Sandal Shop, where we were offered limoncello and chocolate tastings. Capri is known for their handmade sandals, so we were able to watch them make it while they customized it to the customer’s feet and taste.
And yes, there was an old man sitting in the doorway making the sandals.
The next day we went to Positano with even more rain. Positano is known for its black sand beaches, linens, and its charming village. We hopped on another boat ride which took us cliff jumping and cave swimming. As an adrenaline junkie, I loved climbing up the cliff, reaching the highest point possible, and jumping into the water below. I feel like I need to take advantage of what nature offers us. The cave swimming was just as exhilarating, partially because of the stormy waves that we were fighting. We entered on one end of the cave and came out the other. It was amazing being in the cave, floating around, and just observing everything around me.
As I left the cave and swam back to the boat, I laid on my back and looked up. Even though it was raining on my face, I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty around me. We’re so lucky to have things like this, and I’m so fortunate to be able to utilize it and experience all these things first hand. Sono fortunata.
The next day, Sunday, we went to Pompeii. Pompeii, as many know, is a town that was preserved by ash and pumice after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. It is a popular site for excavations and for people everywhere. The amount of remnants within Pompeii is astounding; there are original lead pipes, fountains, bath houses, temples, pottery, and even brothels.
I remember doing a project on Pompeii in my Italian class, maybe in middle school or the beginning of high school, and from that point on, I wanted to go to Pompeii. I love being able to see things that I’ve studied throughout the years, especially ancient ruins, surrounding me. I also feel a sense of accomplishment, it’s been my goal for so many years to see these sites and I finally am. It’s a reinforcement to keep on dreaming and working towards my goals.
Outside of the excavations was a market with vendors selling postcards, jewelry, and Pompeii paraphernalia. I approached one man and asked him, “Quanta costa?” (or how much?) for a postcard. He looks at me and asks “are you Italian?” Now Italians usually know who is a tourist and who isn’t, plus I know when I speak Italian I don’t have the right accent, so I was a little surprised. I explained to him (in Italian) that I’m studying in Firenze and I’m American. His response back was, “oh, but you have the Italian face.” Excited, I tell him that my grandmother’s family is from Napoli. “OH, a fellow Napolitano, we’re friends now, take the postcard for free.”
I walked away and, about five minutes later, I had a similar conversation with another vendor that insisted I was Italian. And I got another free postcard. I need to thank my Italian ancestry for this.
I hope to return to these areas one day (hopefully with nicer weather). The Amalfi Coast trip allowed me to connect with the beauties in nature and of our history.