Description and photos of a trip by Janice and Larry Hatt to Rome, Italy; a cruice on the MS Braemar to eastern Mediterranean ports followed by a motor trip to Pompeii and the Amalfi coast of southern Italy.
Thursday, October 16 - Civitavecchia to Pompeii & Amalfi Coast, Italy
It was certainly an organized departure this morning. Everyone had colour-coded luggage tags and a time to leave that coincided with their flights/tours etc. Being "Independent", we were free to go any time from 8am, so we aimed for 8:30 to make our car pickup reservation of about 9. We picked up our luggage in a shore-side depot and took a shuttle to the port exit. Then we walked several blocks to the car rental agency dragging our 4 suitcase in a "train". The agent there gave us a good map and excellent directions and we were on our way! Navigation was simple as far as Pompeii and we found good parking in a campground opposite the Pompeii excavation/archaelogical site.
We spent a few hours wandering through the ruins Amazing how much survived being buried in volcanic ash for nearly 2 millenia. The murals, mosaics and monuments are astounding, and the ordinary homes interesting.
Leaving Pompeii, the challenge was one of navigation. There are not a lot of signs on the smaller roads, and when there are, they are in clusters right at the intersections, so snap decisions are necessary - oh and did I mention that Italian driving is to North American driving as Snoop Dawg is to Mozart?? Lane markings are purly decorative, "STOP" means "YIELD" and "YIELD" mean "WHO-ME?". Motorcycles and scooters zoop in and out everywhere and generally consider the line between lanes an extra lane for them ( which makes it real interesting as cars ignore lanes anyway). Plus of course it's narrow, hilly and bendy. I tried to navigate while Larry drove ( standard transmission, just to add a level of complication).
Eventually we found Vico Equense, where our hotel is situated, but had no idea how to find it. We asked a cop in the middle of the street and he waved a hand and said "toward Sorento". That seemed vague, but about 10 minutes later - voila! Of course getting into the Hotel involved a 180 deg left turn and then a steep uphill, followed by several more steep turns ( requiring use of the emergercy brake/clutch combo ) before we reached the parking lot. But Larry managed it, and the hotel is great. We have a balcony ( the size of our deck at home ) over hanging the road ( great thrills watching the traffic ), and overlooking the Gulf of Naples. We are drinking from the mini bar and planning on room service tonight. There's no way we want to go out on that road any more today. Also the view is too spectacular to leave...especially at sunset.
Note: Photos have been uploaded right up to today's photo from our balcony. ( The internet connection here is fabulous - just like our home connection. Selected Photos of Pompeii