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Monday, February 19, 2018

Must See In Amalfi Coast, Italy - Preparing For Our Mediterranean Cruise

The fifth port of our Mediterranean cruise is Amalfi Coast, Italy.   In parenthesis is Salerno as it the where the port is.  There are a so many interesting excursions to choose from at this destination that it makes it very hard to decide what we want to do.  How are we going to decide whether to explore Capri, Sorrento or Pompei or do we want to choose to enjoy the sights of the gorgeous Amalfi Coast?  How should we do that, by land or sea?  I will research every possibility and then decide.  Our choices range from seeing three destinations in 9 1/2 hours to getting transportation to one destination and exploring it at a leisurely pace.

Port 5 - Almalfi Coast

If we have time we would love to look around the port city.  There are museums, galleries, beaches and parks to explore here.  A highlight of a visit here would be going to Arechi Castle.  From this castle we can enjoy spectacular views of Amalfi Coast, Salerno and Gulf of Salerno.

Capri - The thing to see here is the Blue Grotto.  It is a sea cave where when the sunlight reflects on the water it creates brilliant blue illuminations.  It takes 5 minutes to get through the cave but half the adventure is getting to the grotto.  Another must see in Capri which is actually in Capri's second town, Anacapri is the chairlift ride up to Monte Solaro.  Once we are at the top we can enjoy views of the whole island of Capri, Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast and the mountains of Calabria.  We can choose to take the 40 minute hike down but will have to consider if we want to navigate uneven steps, loose rocks and few signs.

Sorrento - is a land of lemon and olive groves.  90 percent of their economy depends on tourism so almost everyone speaks English.  We will take Rick Steve's suggested leisurely walk around Sorrento if this is where we choose to go.  On this walk, we will pass Piazza Tasso, a lively town square where we can find transportation, expensive apartments and top cafes; Statue of Torquato Tasso, was a Renaissance poet and the square's namesake; Via Santa Maria della Pieta, is an old street that dates back centuries before Christ; Cathedral, where we will want to check out the interior doors on which scenes of the town are depicted;  Corso Italia & Old Town, is where we will want to find the bell tower with the ancient Roman columns at its base; Sorrento Men's Club, where we will look for the historical marker that describes this beautiful building; Via San Cesareo, is a pedestrian-only shopping street that leads back to Piazza Tasso, lots of lemon products are sold here; Statue of St. Anthony, is located back in the square and is Sorrento's town saint; Cliffside Square is a square that overlooks the harbor with views of Marina Piccola and the Bay of Naples and the Ancient Greek Gate (marks the boundary between Sorrento and Marina Grande) & Marina Grande, is where we can relax with a drink on the sundeck of Ristorante Delfino before boarding a bus back to the center of Piazza Tasso.

Pompeii - I think it would be so interesting  and fascinating to visit this city that was buried in 79 A.D. when Mt. Vesuvius erupted.  2,000 people died here and the city was abandoned until explorers rediscovered the site in 1748.  They found Pompeii preserved under the thick layers of dust and debris.  The buildings, artifacts and skeletons have revealed what life was like in the ancient world.    I think that it would be so cool to walk on the old streets of Pompeii and so much fun to learn about the people and how they lived many, many years ago.  We will take Rick Steve's self-guided tour here if we choose Pompeii as our destination to explore.
1.   Porta Marina - is where the original town gate was.  We will enter the city here.
2.   Pompeii's Streets - On these streets we will find stepping stones.  The Pompeiians would wash their streets every day by flooding them with water.  The steps were used by pedestrians so they wouldn't get their sandals wet.  When we see two rows of stones, we know we are on a two way street.  Three rows tells us we are on a major thoroughfare.
3.   Forum - stands at the intersection of the city's two main streets.  This plaza was where people would gather and business took place in the many two story buildings that surrounded the square.  There are pedestals here that held statues that are now in the museum in Naples that holds many of the treasures found in Pompeii.
4.   Basilica - was a law court.  We can see the original marble on the side walls of this building.  There are unfinished columns that show the method of construction used here many centuries ago.
5.   Via Abbondanza - is Pompeii's main street.  This was a pedestrian-only street lined with shops, bars and restaurants.  We will see large stones that were placed in the street to keep chariots from entering.
6.   Fish & Produce Market:  Plaster Casts of Victims -  We will be looking for frescoes on the wall here showing what the Pompeiians came to buy at the market.  Also here are plaster molds that were made by the archaeologists who found hollow spaces that were created by decomposed bodies.  By filling these spaces with plaster it recreated the final moments of the person caught in the disaster.
7.   Baths of the Forum -  The first room we enter here is the dressing room.  We will see pegs in the walls which were used to hang clothes.  In the next room, we will find a large tub that the Romans soaked in and on the side of the tub, a fountain that spouted water onto the hot floor creating steam.
8.   Fast-Food Joint - The Romans had tiny apartments so usually didn't cook for themselves so there were a lot of take out shops.  We can see marble counters here with large holes that held pots of food.
9.   House of the Tragic Poet - This is a typical style of Roman home.  At the entryway, I will be looking for the "Beware of Dog" sign which is a picture of a dog made of mosaic tiles.  I also want to see the dining room off the garden decorated with frescoes.
10. Aqueduct Arch - is where Pompeii's water supply was delivered.  The water tanks are hidden in the top.
11. House of the Faun - This is Pompeii's largest home.  We will be looking for the Dancing Faun bronze statue.  This statue is a replica of the original that is in the museum in Naples.
12. Original Lead Pipes - These 2,000 year old pipes supplied water to the town.  One pipe ran water to the baths, one to private homes and one to the public water fountains.  If there was a water shortage, the water was shut off to the baths, then to the homes.  The last to be shut down was to the public water fountains which the residents would use for drinking and cooking.
13. House of the Vettii - is the best preserved home but it has been blocked off for years.  There is a small chance that it could be open and we will be able to see large money boxes anchored to the floor, bronze cooking pots in the kitchen and many other well preserved household goods and decor.
14. Bakery and Mill - Every town had a bakery like this.  Here we will see a brick oven that looks just like a pizza oven and flour grinders.   The flour grinders were stone towers that grain was poured into.  Donkeys or slaves would push the wooded bars that turned the stones and ground the grain into flour.
15. Brothel - We will find beds and pillows made of stone here.
16. Temple of Isis - This small but almost intact temple was one of the first buildings discovered during the excavation in 1764.
17. Theater - This theater sat 5,000 people.  We can see part of the cheap seat section, the box seats reserved for guests of honor and the gladiator barracks.
18. Amphitheater - From the top of this amphitheater we can see Vesuvius in the background.

Amalfi Coast and Town of Amalfi - If we choose this excursion we have a couple of options of transportation to board to enjoy the coastline.  After our coastline tour, we will have a chance to wander the narrow streets of the quaint town of Amalfi before heading back to our cruise ship.

I am beginning to think that our once in a lifetime Mediterranean cruise might be the first of two trips!  There is too much we want to see and do to do it all in one trip and it is really hard to choose between all these amazing adventures.  Any suggestions?  We can really use some help!


  1. We have traveled in this area and enjoyed it immensely! I don't know how much time you have as Pompeii easily takes most of a day. We stayed in Sorrento as a base camp and traveled by train to Pompeii and bus to Amalfi. I would not suggest anything but public transportation to Amalfi - the highway is quite treacherous. All three locations are fabulous!! Enjoy.

    1. Thank you! I thought it might be a little stressful to travel on the streets of Amalfi. You confirmed it! And also, it's good to know I can't make a bad choice visiting any of these places!

  2. I am so so so ready for a trip to Italy. I'd love to see the Amalfi Coast.

  3. The Amalfi coast is so beautiful! You will love it! This is a great list of things to see and do. I was blown away by Pompeii, it is so moving. Thank you so much for sharing this post at the Hearth and Soul Link Party.

    1. Do you have a post on Pompeii? I would love to read it.

  4. What amazing tips for places to see! This is on our list of places to visit! Thanks for sharing. Feel free to share this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Here is the link to this week's party: http://www.thededicatedhouse.com/make-pretty-monday-week-245/ Hope to see you at the bash! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

    1. I have made a note about your party. Thanks so much for the invite!