Pulled into the port of Naples yesterday bright and early, with two exciting activities planned for the day. First up was the Amalfi Coast.

The Amalfi Coast is what I think of when I picture Greece or Italy in my head without worrying about reality. It’s a bunch of small towns and villages perched along the cliff faces south of
Naples. The drive is gorgeous as the road weaves up and down along the coast. In a car or on the mopeds that are found everywhere, the drive would be difficult, though beautiful. Now imagine doing it in a 45 foot long coach bus. Between the hairpin turns, blind corners, and narrow passes I’m not sure how the driver managed to get us to our destination without hitting someone or putting us over the edge. At times we would be passing trucks that were inches from the cliff face on one side, inches from us on the other, and we were so close to the edge of the road that we couldn’t see the guard rail (which at times was nothing more than a railing) from inside the bus and were simply looking out over the Mediterranean. not a drive for the faint of heart.

After some time, we arrived in the small port town of Amalfi. We took an hour or so to explore the area, where we picked up some fresh local limoncello and some local ceramic artwork. It was then back onto the bus, on which we continued the drive along the Amalfi Coast and back inland to Pompeii.

After a quick lunch we headed into the ruins of Pompeii, which was destroyed and buried by an eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius early 2000 years ago. First things first: we were both expecting the ruins of Pompeii to be something relatively small that you could get through in a day. Boy were we wrong. There is literally an entire town to explore, and there’s vast areas that haven’t even been excavated yet.

We came I to a local thoroughfare first, which had a few near features like a huge gutters section to allow things like waste water and horse droppings to run out of the city, with stepping stones allowing people to cross without getting their feet wet and acting as speed bumps for the horse drawn carriages. Along the road we saw little shops with built in terra-cotta cold- and/or hot-boxes and serving counters. We then ducked into an aristocrat’s home, which was in amazing shape. There were still visible paintings on the walls, with lots of intact tile work and a working rainwater collection system. Then we headed to the amphitheater, where our tour guide cajoled someone in the group into singing to show off the excellent acoustics. Then we hit up a bath house to see their ingenious double wall system for pumping heat through the building. Most titillating but of the tour? The visit to a brothel, complete with intact paintings advertising the particular…umm…specialty of each of the women working there. One last stop in a town square and it was time to leave to head back to the boat. We could have easily spent an entire week exploring those ruins. We may write another post after getting back to the states devoted to Pompeii. There was just so much to see.

Not much to share for today. We had a day at sea, so we used it to relax and unwind after a week of rigorous exploring. Massages in the morning, some time on deck and in the pool, lunch and wine tasting, formal dinner, and a musical on board to wrap up the day.

Tomorrow we’re back at it with a stop on Mykonos, one of the Greek Isles. It’s a tiny island, but is supposed to be beautiful. Can’t wait!