Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Naples, Italy

Good morning! We arrived in the port of Naples just a few minutes ago. I thought while I was waiting for the girls to get ready I'd upload some more photos from Cefalu. Look for them at the bottom of the Palermo blog. Myra, good suggestion on getting some more locals in the photos. I'll do that today on our tour. More later!

Update 6/20:

Hello, Jeff here again. We had a busy day yesterday in Naples, Italy. Here’s some info about the city:

  • Population is just over 1 million people
  • City covers 45 square miles
  • Naples (Napoli) was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC and named Neapolis, which means New City
  • Naples is considered the birthplace of pizza. It was first created in 1889 when it was served to Queen Margherita during a visit to Naples

As I’d mentioned before, today we’re taking a private tour with DriveAmalfi, which is run by Salvatore Lucibello. I’d researched private tour operators on the cruisecritic.com message boards and found nothing but glowing reviews of DriveAmalfi. Our driver twas Roberto and, as promised, he met our party just as we got off the ship holding a sign with “Spencer” on it. In addition to Susan, Katy and I, there were four other people in our group. Fellow DIS boarders Vicky (vtiffany), her husband Tom, Marie (Worktoplay) and her son Jeff (12) joined us on the tour. We were loaded into a very roomy 8 passenger van and began our trip to the Amalfi coast. Roberto told us about the city, about Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii as we drove. Roberto told us we were going to do the coast tour first and then do Pompeii in the afternoon when it was less crowded.

The drive was simply amazing. I’ve never seen landscape that was close to what we saw on this drive. We passed through the towns of Piano, Sorrento, Positano, Praiana before stopping in the town of Amalfi for about 30 minutes.

While here, Susan, Katy and I toured the Cathedral of Amalfi. The cost was just a couple of Euros each and it was well worth it. The Cathedral was built starting in the 12th century and contains four main areas: the Cloister of Paradise, the Basilica of the Crucifix, the Crypt of Saint Andrew and the Cathedral. The Cloister and Basilica were interesting and contained many historical pieces from the 12th, 13th and 14th century but it was the Crypt of Saint Andrew that interested me most. Here, the head and other bones of Saint Andrew, Jesus’ first disciple, are buried. The Apostle, who had evangelized Greece, was crucified in Patras. From there his body was taken to Constantinople and later to Amalfi in 1208. The final stop on our tour was the Cathedral. The interior is a Baroque style dating to the early 18th century. There are large inset paintings on canvas upon the ceiling.

Next, we stopped at a small village above Amalfi called Pontano – so small it doesn’t even show on the map – for lunch at a nice restaurant. We started off with a beautiful plate of appetizers, followed by a plate of pasta, followed by pizza and then topped off with an assortment of desserts. Oh, we also had bottled water, red and white wine and lemoncello. Cost for the meal was 20 Euro each and it was well worth it. There were also nice, clean restrooms for us to use. Soon we were off again in the van on our way to Pompeii. After the lunch and drinks, we loaded back up and Roberto drove us to Pompeii.

For those that may have forgotten, Pompeii was a city of about 20,000 people that was buried in ash and rock in 79 AD after a sudden eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Here, we had two hours to explore the ruins and chose to do a self guided tour using the online touring plan of Rick Steves. It was so HOT and the walls of the ruins tended to block what little breeze there was; nevertheless, with touring plan and map in hand we were able to see most of the major sites in our allotted time. The most interesting things to me were the bodies on display, the Temple of Apollo, the House of the Faun, the Bakery, the various murals and mosaic tile work. My knees hurt thinking about how long it would take someone to set those thousands of small, individual tiles in intricate patterns. Soon, our time was up and we exited the site to meet up with Roberto but he was no where to be found. Unfortunately, Pompeii had changed things up on Roberto as those exiting the ruins were directed to an area away from the entrance. After walking around about 15 minutes we were finally able to find our driver and we were on our way back to the ship. It was a long day but definitely a wonderful tour.

After grabbing a snack on Deck 9, during which Katy was almost pooped on by an evil seagull, we freshened up, then Susan and I went to Palo to celebrate her forty-somethingth birthday. Dinner, as usual at Palo, was fabulous. We started off with a goat cheese, red pepper and arugula flatbread. We had wonderful filet mignon topped with sautéed mushrooms on a bed of potatoes and asparagus as our entrée and a chocolate soufflé for dessert. Feeling bad that Katy couldn’t join us (one must be 18 to dine in Palo) Susan got her a chocolate soufflé to go. Katy loved it.


Anonymous said...

Jeff, you are doing an amazing job of keeping all of us, stateside, informed. The pictures are beautiful and it sounds like you area all having a wonderful time. Please tell Susan "Happy Birthday" from all of us at NASA.


Anonymous said...

Jeff, we are seeing this through your eyes! Wonderful pictures and description.....loved the one of Susan in bed!! Seriously, thank you for all the detail and wonderful pictures. We had some rain today but need days more. We probably got 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Happy Birthday, Susan! Hope you get a nap, Jeff! May God continue to bless and keep you all...the Kimbles!!

mdhutch said...

Hi Susan, Happy Birthday from Marilyn & Danny. It is still the 19th here:) It looks like you guys are having a great time. We can't wait for the next report, so hurry up:) We took Tiger(Keene dog) to Kathy's school today toshow her inmates:) Love Danny & Marilyn

April said...

Hey Susan just wanted to say "Happy Birthday". Hope it was a wonderful one. I am really enjoying the blog. I feel like I'm on vacation. Great job Jeff. Be safe you guys!


Myra Horn said...

Beautiful tour, Jeff, Enjoyed it ALL!! I can't imagine things that old still standing!
What did you do for Susan's Birthday?
Keep up the good work!
Love you all!! Myra

brian spencer said...

I need you to call me ASAP

Kay said...

I'm enjoying your blogs, thanks for sharing. Can you tell me? Is Drive Amalfi Tour the same as Benvenuto? When I type in Drrive Amalfi Benvenuto appears!

Anonymous said...

DriveAmalfi is run by Salvatore Lucubello along with Roberto and Adriano and the email addresses for DriveAmalfi are info@driveamalfi.com or driveamalfi@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Thw Website for DriveAmalfi is www.DriveAmalfi.Com and the e-mail address is info@DriveAmalfi.com

Mark Martin said...

Hello! Keep it up! This is a good read. You have such an interesting and informative page. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Naples Italy tours. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about Naples Italy tours.
Culinarily, the city is synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city. Neapolitan music has furthermore been highly influential, credited with the invention of the romantic guitar and the mandolin, as well as notable contributions to opera and folk standards. Popular characters and historical figures who have come to symbolise the city include Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, the comic figure Pulcinella, and the Sirens from the Greek epic poem the Odyssey.
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