The ship docked in Naples, but we decided to spend the day on a tour of the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. Prior to departing, we had heard a lot about the craziness of Naples and the south of Italy and we can’t wait to return and experience this lawless, poorly functioning circus for ourselves. Northern Italy is a dream, but I think spending time in Southern Italy will better explain the energy of my own East Coast Italian-American upbringing shaped by its ancestors from Puglia and Campania. Southern Italy 2022!
We began the day with a death-defying drive along a portion of the Amalfi Coast. A narrow road hugging the rugged cliffs high above the sea, this drive is not for the height-averse. Our guide didn’t help matters by making repeated jokes about plummeting to our deaths. Yet, we braved this nightmare because the scenery is so captivating.
Our journey took us through about 30 minutes of the Amalfi Drive. We stopped at a spot to see the city of Positano from a scenic distance. Situated along a mountain switchback sat a tiny market and a hub for tourist busses. We oohed and aahed, took the requisite 7 billion pictures, bought lemon risotto and sundried tomato seasoning, and made our way back to the coach.
Driving through the Amalfi Coast, we saw olive trees preparing to be harvested, bright green nets laid out to catch the olives before they could bruise.
After the ride along the Amalfi Coast, we stopped in Sorrento to visit an inlaid woodworking shop (and use their toilet for free). Though Sorrento is small, the drivers there are aggressive—our guide warned us to use an outstretched hand at all times while crossing the street. Apparently, the hand serves as the only true indication that a car shouldn’t just plow down the pedestrian in its wake, a powerful barrier between life and death.
While we didn’t eat pizza in Naples proper, I find it difficult to believe it could improve upon the offering at Ristorante Tasso in Sorrento. Bright pockets of tart, fresh tomato sauce, molten patches of melty mozzarella, and a thin lightly charred crust made this pizza unforgettable.
After more scenic views of cliffs and sea, we arrived in Pompeii. Our guide, Vincenzo, was witty and charming throughout, but his storytelling really shone as he walked us around the ruins of Pompeii. He painted a vivid portrait of the people and their history.
With Mt. Vesuvius still hovering ominously in the background, it served as a powerful reminder of the destructive, indiscriminate forces of nature and the fragility of human life. Each statue was affecting, but the scared man, hunched over in fear, struck me particularly hard.
We wrapped up the day with dinner in the ship’s dining room and more music by Siglo. Though our cruise was coming to an end, we still had three fun-filled days in Italy ahead of us.