This last weekend the Viterbo USAC students (including myself) went to southern Italy. It was a whirlwind tour. We started at 6:30am sharp from Porta Roma (one of the main ports into the walled portion of Viterbo). Fortunately for me, it is only a 60 second walk from my apartment. Our first stop – Napoli! A nice man – whose name escapes me – took us around the city to view the amazing architecture. What an unbelievable history. The tour guide called it a “lasagna city” meaning the city we see now is built on layers of past cities. I wanted to tour the underground Roman city, but no time. At least no time after my pizza stop.
From there we jumped on the bus and headed to the resort town of Sorrento. Nestled along the Italian coast, Sorrento has the small-town charm to go with the beautiful beaches. Luisa and Francesca – the Viterbo USAC gurus – were nice enough to take this Bronco to dinner on the beach. All I can say, best swordfish ever. I would show a picture, but somehow the dinner disappeared into my stomach too fast. No regrets.
The next morning we drove to the town of Amalfi – which is shoe-horned into the Amalfi coast. Not sure what name came first – Amalfi or Amalfi Coast. Guess some mysteries will never be solved. The road to Amalfi is curvy, narrow and on the ledge. Fairly certain if I had to drive we would have stopped within the first half mile while I cried out of fear. Fortunately Stephano was our driver – and he’s good. Really good. Stephano managed to defeat the laws of physics by driving a bus down a road that’s barely big enough for a Radio Flyer Wagon. Oh, and there were cars parked along the side, bicyclists, and oncoming traffic. Not only did we get there safely, but not a single person got car sick.
I heard tales of Amalfi, but wasn’t ready for this level of beauty. After a tour of the Duomo di Amalfi six of us went to the paper mill museum, both of which are worth a trip. From there we hiked up a trail to see some ruins, an aqueduct from the early 1930s, a small hydroelectric facility, and a waterfall. From what I can tell, most tourists don’t make it up there. If you are in Amalfi and want to get away from the crowds, see some lemon groves, have a view of the city and ocean, and splash in a waterfall – this is the place to go. On the way back we treated ourselves to fresh squeezed lemonade at an organic café. It really was the best lemonade I ever had. After some lunch we jumped on a ferry back to Sorrento. I didn’t get sea sick, which makes me wonder if Stephano was driving the boat too. My advice – if you are in Sorrento and want to see Amalfi – take the ferry. The view of the coast can’t be beat.
After some sleep we went back in time to the city of Pompei. It really is a time capsule of awesomess. Adding to the greatness of the day, our tour guide was named Monica; so you know she must be smart. Monica (our tour guide, not me) gave us the highlight reel (this included the “red-light district) of Pompei and told us a bit about the city, history, destruction, and its resurrection. Come to find out, the day-to-day life in Pompei, and its infrastructure wasn’t much different than we are used to today.
After three exciting and exhausting days, we got on the bus where we all promptly fell asleep. I would show a picture, but doubt most people would appreciate this.
Southern Italy Tour final grade: 30 con Lode (aka: A+)