Sorrento, Capri and Pompeii
We took the ferry from Amalfi to Sorrento. We could have taken the bus, which was cheaper, but we had had enough of narrow winding roads and going by sea seemed more civilized. which it was. Sorrento is much larger than Amalfi and very popular with the British, so there are a lot of pubs and restaurants geared towards English tourists. However, it's still quite a vibrant city and we would have stayed longer but we really didn't enjoy our B&B as much as we thought we would, so in the end we only stayed three nights instead of five.
Sorrento from the sea
Vibrant street scene in Sorrento and the rather disappointing Casa Correalle B&B
So our first full day in Sorrento was taken up with a day trip to the nearby island of Capri. Capri is about 45 minutes away by fast ferry and has been a popular place to vacation for over 2000 years. The romans were building holiday homes here "BC". It's a very pretty island but VERY busy and popular.
Capri town itself is high up on a cliff, but fortunately there's a (very crowdwd) funicular which saves a hard climb up to the top.
A pretty walk along a cliff edge and the view from the end of the walk.
The busy center of Capri town
After taking a quick walking tour of the town, we decided to check out Anacapri, another village in the center of the island, reached by a small crowded bus which runs along a narrow cliff road with precipitous drops. Anacapri was a little less chaotic and we stopped for a light lunch.
Capri town from the bus to Anacapri and the slightly quieter streets of Anacapri
We found Capri very beautiful and worth a visit, but the number of tourists made it rather overwhelming and after leaving Anacapri, we headed back to the port and so back to Sorrento.
Next day was one of the highlights of our Italy trip - a day in Pompeii. Everyone knows how Pompeii was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 and was essentially left undisturbed until 1748 when exploration began and has continued pretty much ever since. About 2/3rds of the city has now been excavated so there's still a lot of work to be done. What you don't understand until you go is just how BIG the place is. We were there for almost six hours (we had planned on four) and we didn't see a fraction of what is open to the public. These photos may give you some idea of how impressive the place is.
The large public spaces were dramatic :
The Basilica, a large public court. The magistrates sat on the raised platform and conducted cases much as in the US or the UK today.
The temple of Apollo, one of the major temples in the city, built around the 2nd century BC.
The Amphitheatre, which held over 20,000 spectators and was used for fights between teams of Gladiators as well as with wild animals
A fresco from the Archeological Museum in Naples showing the Ampitheatre in use
The fully restored Great Theater which seats 5,000 spectators and is in regular use to this day
An unusually deserted Roman street - almost 2,000 years after the original occupants walked there for the last time
But it was the smaller, more private spaces that really gave life to the dead city :
Interior courtyard of a private house built in the 3rd century BC, thought to be owned by relations of the Emperor Nero.
A shaded arbor hung with grapes. A private bathing area used by Romans before Christ was born
A shallow pool would have been a major feature of the main entrance to this private home and typical storage jars used in every home.
A famous wall decoration "Venus in the shell" from the wall of a private house
A snake decoration on an outside wall of a business, presumed to be for good luck
Wall decorations in private homes - the colors still vibrant after almsot 2,000 years
A mosaic and wall decoration from other private homes in Pompeii
Millstones inside a bakery and the Roman version of a fast food restaurant, the Thermopolium, one of 89 found so far
And all that remains of one of the occupants of Pompeii who didn't survive - a ghostly plaster cast of his body in the exact position he had taken just before he died - almost 2,000 years ago.
Altogether a remarkable and unique place worthy of many hours and days of study. After almost six hours in the heat, we had had enough for one day and headed back to our hotel.
(Next : Ischia and Naples)