NAPLES, Italy – April 8
PART ONE (written by Helen) - received
– POMPEII – SORRENTO
– POSITANO - AMALFI
“In Napoli, when love is real,
When boy meets girl,
Here’s what they say…
When the moon hits your eyes,
Like a big pizza pie,
hear that song we are now going to think of our wonderful trip to Naples. We lucked out and found this amazing taxi
driver that showed us around this beautiful place. His name is Salvatore Salomone
and he is a very special man. From the
moment we got into his car he made us feel welcome and comfortable. His English was excellent, actually he
sounded like he was from New York; he had a New York accent. He actually lived in Montreal for a few years in the early 1960’s
so he also speaks French, Spanish, German and he even spoke a little
Yugoslavian to me.
stop was Pompeii. The fee to enter was quite reasonable at 20
Euro for the four of us. This
archeological site was more spectacular than we ever imagined. It was huge!! You stroll by the forum, temples, homes,
shops and other structures that were buried by ash and pumice stone during the Mt. Vesuvius
eruption of 79 AD. The city of Pompeii was built from
stone and brick and so much of it is still standing, it actually looks as if
the top of the city was cut and destroyed.
The base of it is in remarkable shape considering that it is 2,000 years
old. You walk along the cobblestone
streets and you can still see the grooves in the stone made by the wagons of
long ago. It is such a complete city and
what is most amazing is how advanced they were so long ago. We were in there for about an hour and a half
and we hardly saw a quarter of it. You
could spend days touring this site and having a tour guide is a must. Here is a
brief excerpt from the encyclopedia about this ancient city:
“Pompeii, ancient city of Italy, in
the Campania Region, built at the mouth of the Sarnus River (now Sarno), a few
miles south of Mount Vesuvius, between Herculaneum
and Stabiae. The city was founded
about 600 BC by the Oscans, who were later conquered
by the Samnites. Under the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla it became a Roman colony in 80 BC
and later a favorite resort for wealthy Romans, reaching a population of about
20,000 at the beginning of the Christian era. It was also a place of
considerable trade and was the port town of Nola and other inland cities of the fertile
valley of the Sarnus. The city was much damaged by an
earthquake in 63AD and was completely demolished in79AD by an eruption of Mount
Vesuvius that overwhelmed the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae. The eruption also changed the course of the Sarnus and raised the sea beach, placing the river and the
sea at a considerable distance from the ruined city and obscuring the original
From Pompeii we headed to Sorrento
with our wonderful taxi driver, Sal. It
was a beautiful sunny day and Sal drove with great care and attention along the
coast and we stopped at various locations to take some great pictures. The views were breathtaking as we looked down
and saw the houses perched along these magnificent cliffs. The beaches looked great with turquoise water
that looked very clean and clear. The
busy season starts in May so the beaches were pretty empty. Sal says that in
the summer these beaches are just packed as well as all the cafés and restaurants
whose verandas are built into the side of a mountain. I could just picture
people sitting there having cappuccino as they gazed at the Mediterranean.
As we drove
along we came upon one of many roadside stands that sell fruits and
vegetables. Sal parked the car and we
all got out and he talked to the cute little Italian lady and then they invited
us behind the stall for some homemade wine and liqueur. It was so “European” to be standing in a
lemon grove with cherry tomatoes hanging everywhere while we sipped this very
friendly lady’s wine and toasted with “Salute”.
We ended up buying some oranges, walnuts and a bottle of this delicious
homemade lemon liqueur called Limonina
(spelling?). My sister went to Italy last year
and brought some of this stuff back and it is absolutely delicious. We were starving, so the alcohol went
straight to our heads and we were very happy as we piled back in the car (me
and Steve, that is, the kids did not get drunk)!
continued our drive Sal serenaded us with some Dean Martin songs and boy, can
this guy sing.
He was fantastic and then he put on a Dean Martin cassette and we drove
along the coast of Italy
while listening and singing along to “That’s Amore” and “Volare”,
it was so much fun. We drove to a city
called Positano and apparently this is where Diane Lane filmed
part of the movie “Under the Tuscan Sky”.
Again, it was so beautiful as we gazed upon the
headed back and stopped in Sorrento
for lunch. Sal took us to this great
pizzeria and we all had pizza, even Steve.
Steve and Sal ordered a pizza with no cheese and it was fantastic! The adults all shared a bottle of wine and
because Sal brought them customers the restaurant gave us some of that lemon
liqueur on the house. We were going to order coffee but Sal said that this was
a pizzeria not a coffeehouse and instead he took us to a roadside coffee
bar. We ordered cappuccino and espressos
and Sal took Nik back to the car to get a sweater
because he was cold. When they got back
and he saw me and Steve sitting down he got angry. He said that as soon as you sit down with
your coffee the bill will triple. Well,
we didn’t know this and sure enough when we got the bill our 3 coffees cost 15
Euros instead of 4. Sal just shook his
head and kept saying, “Why you sit down?” over and over. It was quite humorous! He then took us to a deli that had some
amazing gelato and the kid’s were in heaven.
This guy knows his way around! We
then walked through Sorrento and enjoyed this
quaint little town and then headed back to Napoli.
our tour Sal drove very carefully and slowly.
He actually got quite a few honks from impatient drivers behind
him. I was thrilled with this of course
because the roads are quite narrow and very curvy and there is always a cliff
on one side. Well! That changed as soon as we hit Naples. This guy drove like a maniac. Nikolas just loved
it!!! I truly felt like I was in a video
game as he was driving VERY fast and he took these turns at full speed. I was hanging on for dear life and on more
than one occasion I closed my eyes because I thought he was going to plow into
someone for sure! He would take the
turns at full speed and turn into these tiny alleyways that were hardly as wide
as the car. The funniest thing was that
these alleyways had people strolling in them and they would just step into a
doorway to let us go by, as if this was all perfectly normal. It was unreal!
got back to the ship in one piece and Sal took us for coffee as a final
good-bye. He bought the kids a treat and
I must say he will be someone we will never forget. If and when we ever come back to Naples we will call him
and he told us he would show us so much more!
been to Italy
before but this was my first time. I can
honestly say it was everything I ever imagined it to be and I am so glad we had
Sal to make it such a perfect experience.
It makes me really eager to come back here during our second leg of our
journey and see more of this amazing country.
Naples (Napoli if you live there) is raucous,
polluted, anarchic, deafening, crumbling and grubby. It's also a lot of fun.
Superbly positioned on a bay, Naples
has a little - and often a lot - of everything. It pulsates with noisy street
markets and their colourful characters.
'Naples is an ill-built,
ill-paved, ill-lighted, ill-drained, ill-watched, ill-governed and
ill-ventilated city', whinged Cook's Tourist's
Handbook in 1884. Italy's
third-largest city has made big strides forward since then but Cook's
observations retain more than a grain of truth.
centre bristles with ancient churches, a medieval university and countless
eateries and cafes. It also has a reputation for organised
crime and swarms of people buzzing around on Vespas
with no regard for traffic rules. But the city forges on, powered by the sheer
zest and vitality of its inhabitants. Even Cook's begrudgingly admitted that,
despite its faults, Naples might be 'the
loveliest spot in Europe'.
Area: 117 sq km (45 sq mi)