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Monday, May 27, 2019

Italy - Exploring The Amalfi Coast, Town Of Amalfi and Pompeii

The fifth port of our Mediterranean cruise was printed, on our itinerary, as Amalfi Coast, Italy,  but the port was actually in Salerno.  Salerno is a city with museums, galleries beaches and parks to explore but with so many interesting choices just within reach of this city, we knew we would venture out.  We could have picked Capri where we would be treated to brilliant blue illuminations in the Blue Grotto or Sorrento, the land of lemon and olive groves.  But Pompeii, the city that was buried in 79 A.D. when Mt. Vesuvius erupted was too interesting and fascinating a place to pass up.  We didn't think a visit here would take an entire day, though, so we chose an excursion that included a cruise along the Amalfi Coast and a visit to the Town of Amalfi.

Our tour guide for the day, met us at our cruise ship at 7:45 and led us to the Motor Launch that would take us on our 45 minute Almalfi Coast cruise.

There was not an inch of this coast that was not absolutely gorgeous.  

Every time I thought we just saw the most perfect part of the coast, we would turn the bend and I would see a more perfect sight.

Our Motor Launch brought us to the little town of Amalfi.  We were in the heart of the town, Piazza Duomo, the central square, when we entered the town.  To our right we saw Amalfi Cathedral.   We walked up the steep steps to have a closer look.

Then we walked the very narrow streets and explored more of the town.

I kept saying, to Soko, how I felt like I was in Disney World or some other fairy tale village.  This town was way too cute to be real.

And it was so tiny that we were suddenly back where we started, in the main plaza, without even trying to get back.  

We saw more than a couple of shops, around the plaza, selling limoncello and other lemon goods.  The Amalfi lemon, sfusato amalfitano, is double the size of other lemons.  The people use every bit of the lemon, even the leaves, in the cuisine of the region.  

I would have loved more time in Amalfi but we definitely did not want to be stranded here so we had to leave this adorable village to meet our Motor Launch.

Once we got back on land, our tour guide hopped on the tour bus with us and we were off to Pompeii.  We knew we were getting close to the ancient city when our he pointed out Mt. Vesuvius just ahead of us.

On our walk to Pompeii, we passed a sight that we had never seen in our lives before.  A pomegranate tree!  I have only seen the fruit stacked up in a bin in my grocer's produce department.  It was so awesome to see them hanging on the branches.

Porta Marina is where the original town gate was and where we entered the city of Pompeii.

I had a copy of a walking tour that Rick Steves shared in his book, Mediterranean Cruise Ports, because I thought we would be left in Pompeii to tour on our own.  It turned out that our guide led us around which was really nice because he pointed out things I didn't remember reading about in Rick Steves book.  Here he was explaining how plaster was used to make a wall look like it was made out of marble.

We saw these stepping stones all over the streets of the city.  The steps were used by pedestrians so they wouldn't get their sandals wet after the streets were washed.  When we saw two rows of stones, we knew we were on a two way street.  Three rows told us we were on a major thoroughfare.

We passed a fast food joint.  The Romans had tiny kitchens so usually didn't cook for themselves.  The large holes, cut into the marble counter top, held pots of food.

One thing I was looking forward to seeing here was The House of the Tragic Poet.  At the entryway, was a "Beware of Dog" sign made out of ceramic tile.

We were very glad we picked this excursion.  We learned so much about how the people here lived many, many years ago.  It was amazing how the volcanic ash preserved the city so well.  

After a perfect day of beautiful and incredible sights, it was time to get back on the ship and say good-bye to Salerno.  

Off to our next stop, Venice!

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