October 2, 2013

ITALY'S PARADISE


  

  The area of Italy called Campania is in Southern Italy on the Western coast and includes Naples, the enormous bay that spreads out from Naples at its northern tip, and the Amalfi Coast with its winding roads, royal blue water, and towns stuffed into breathtaking cliffs. The sun shone throughout our visit and our days were filled with delight. 

SORRENTO (This section on Sorrento was written while we were there.)

Michele's Shot of Sunset from our Room
     Our hotel room in the Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven) hovers over a cliff and we feel like angels hovering over paradise. Sorrento lies at our feet, Vesuvius looms in the distance, and Naples sparkles at the other end of the bay. 
Gary's Shot of Sunrise from our Room



     You enter the hotel at the top on the first floor and then go down to reach the second, third and fourth floors. The back walls are part of the mountain, the halls cool as a wine cellar, the rooms spartan, like a monk’s cell, but larger. At the end of the hall is a Buddha whose belly we pat for luck each time we pass.

Cathedral at Sorrento's Square
     We are in the home of limoncello, and have sampled as many variations as possible. The town is charming. After a day of sightseeing, you stop by a bar on the square, order a prosecco (actually three proseccos since they bring a small bottle) with multiple “free” snacks and watch the cars rush down the street while pedestrians drift obliviously across the square, stopping to talk to neighbors and friends.

     Traffic is barred from the main street at night and everyone meanders among the shops and restaurants, conversation replacing the sound of the motors that whiz by during the day. The old town has narrow streets filled with pricey shops but, even here, the pace is relaxed. We were in town for the Sagra del Pesce Azzurro, the festival (of the blue fish) that ends summer. There were bells, fireworks, and a band whose melodies were unique, but whose rhythms could have been those of any band in the world. The city’s lights stayed on late, people milled in the streets and, even after we had retired to our room, the music floated up the hillside while fireworks exploded across our window.   

POMPEII



Villa dei Misteri - Pompeii
     
When we went to Ephesus three years ago I thought I would never be as enchanted by the ruins of another civilization, and perhaps that is still true, for what could be more impressive than a town whose streets all end at the library? Pompeii, however, is stunning just in its enormity. We spent a full day exploring the streets and sights. 



AMALFI COAST

     Our driver kept saying that the Amalfi Coast is “one of the seven best coasts in the world.” Best at what I never asked, but if there are any places on earth that are magical, this would be one of them. It is easy to understand why past civilizations built fortifications here, but how they built houses straight up the cliffs and why the people remain is more questionable. 





















POSITANO

     
     Enchanted? That words sounds like Disney’s Fantasyland, and Positano is a place where they work to entertain the demanding tourists, so perhaps it is a bit like Fantasyland. But it is more.
     It is a rugged land with hard-working people. It is a place where they grow olives, lemons and vegetables up the sheer faces of the cliffs. 


     



     But it is also a land where hopes fly down fiords, where songs burst from doorways, and where magic seems possible.

     No wonder it is a place where so much music has been composed, literature has been written, and movies have been filmed.












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