Southern Italia

As I began to recover from my back and throat pain, (I’m too much of a grandma sometimes) I was ready for the school trip to Sorrento, Capri, Pompeii and Naples during the weekend. I was particularly excited for this trip because all my newer friends were going on this as well! Plus, I really wanted to go to some warmer, beachier destinations. After finishing my Art Gallery review paper, I was ready for my weekend of learning and relaxation with friends. I did feel a wee bit guilty about needing to get more artwork done prior to the school exhibition the upcoming Thursday. I wasn’t going to miss out on this trip though! Traveling with all these friends to such lovely places was something I was really looking forward to!

Having to get on board the bus by at least 7 in the morning is rather painful, but sleeping in the bus always helps. Of course in my typical fashion, I fell asleep and had to pack super quickly the next morning…. I still made it to the bus with everything I needed luckily! With my bus buddy Bridget, the two of us both passed out once we began driving, until of course they put on Mean Girls for the bus to watch on the road trip. The bus began heading up the treacherous trip up the side of Naples towards Mount Vesuvius. My poor friend Paige was hating the swerving roads; I could definitely see how terrible it would have been if I had been afraid of heights!

Heading up toward the base of Vesuvius
Heading up toward the base of Vesuvius

Hiking up the mountain was a little more challenging than all of us were expecting. I was very excited to have the picnic we all planned to eat next at the top near the smoking volcano. The paths up were steep and coated in gravel, making it hard and slippery to walk up. At this time it would have been nice to have some sneakers instead of my pathetic little Keds…. However, after this exhausting trek upwards, we got to look inside the mountain. Since it last exploded, there has been a lot of time for vegetation to regrow in its pit. Other than the pumice stones, steep sides around the “valley”, the still active volcano looks much more like a mountain. As we walked around the enclave, you see the smoke coming out of it, which isn’t actually smoke, but sulfuric gas being emitted. All of us were covered in dust and were a little tired, so we enjoyed our lunches, took pictures and gazed at the stunning view. Eventually, the entire exhausted school group descended those crazy trails and loaded back onto the bus.

Next, our group was to head to the hotel we were staying in Sorrento. After checking into the quaint place, we had free time until the scheduled dinner. Sorrento was much better than I had expected. Charming, with lovely stores, people and access to the Mediterranean Sea, made this town so wonderful. I loved the Mediterranean feel to everything here. We wandered around and saw just about everything lemon-themed, including the delicious sorbetto we snacked on. It was so enjoyable being here with these friends – the entire weekend was full of good conversation and laughter.

The next day we had to wake up early to meet the group downstairs to head to the isle of Capri that Saturday. Taking the humid ferry wasn’t too enjoyable, but immediately after unloading it I was able to notice how picturesque Capri truly is. My friends and I made the best decision EVER to spend the 17 euros on a boat tour around the island. Although I couldn’t the tour guide at all, the trip was extremely beautiful and enjoyable. I felt so lucky to experience this with people I adore. The cliffs and rocky arches along the sides of Capri were absolutely unreal.

Capri shore
Capri shore
Cliffs of Capri Isle
Cliffs of Capri Isle

The tour guide showed us the crazy chemical reactions that made certains parts of the water electrically blue. I don’t really know the science behind it, all I know is that it is super super cool. Finally we reached to the best part of the tour, the Blue Grotto. It’s a sea cave with a small hole that a tiny bit of sunlight shining through that creates an bright blue reflection that illuminates the entire thing. To get into it, you have to lay down in these tiny boats, while the man steering you pulls the boat by grabbing a chain that links the outside and inside the cavern. I felt as though I had been transplanted into a movie scene. The reflection and echoes were haunting, and very very surreal. I had become the little mermaid while being in the grotto. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to visit here at some point.

The crazy reflections of Capri water
The crazy reflections of Capri water
how is this real?
how is this real?
The Blue Grotto!!
The Blue Grotto!!

Walking around the rest of the day around Capri was fairly exhausting due to its unending steep steps. I could definitely see how this place had become such a luxury destination for the wealthy. The beauty here never ceases, along with the delicious sweets, food and fashion. The ferry ride in the evening back to Sorrento was much needed. We spent the rest of day talking, asking each other “sleepover questions” as Bridgette likes to say, and soaking up the Mediterranean sun laying on the beach.

The free dinners left something to be desired, but they were still free. The next day, or Sunday, the school group drove to Pompeii. It was insanely dusty and windy, lots of dust went into my eyeballs. Even the picture I took in front of Vesuvius was super painful. I still loved being taken back in time in this ancient city of ruins. Going inside the still standing bathes and homes made me really wish I could have seen it in its hayday. We then headed to Naples for the afternoon.

Naples’ center emulates the Vatican, which made me feel weirdly happy to live near the real deal. I had heard so many negative things about Naples, but all my experiences there were fairly positive. Before unloading the bus, our leader told us it was imperative that we watch our bags. I had heard things about how poor and ugly it is. Although not as visually stunning compared to other Italian cities I have been to, the town exceeded my expectations. It did this mainly through the cheap and delectable food we devoured. My friends and I found a literal hole-in-the-wall restaurant packed with Italians enjoying their Sunday afternoon. The pizza I ordered WAS THE BEST. Completely different than American pizza, this particular Neapolitan pizza was layered in grease with big crust, and chunks of scrumptious buffalo mozzarella (which actually comes from a water buffalo – this fact blew my mind). I fell in love with this pizza. I also learned how large my stomach can expand this day in Naples. After eating, we walked along the beach and indulged in granites (like an icee) that were everywhere in Southern Italy.

The trip back to Roma was tiring, especially lugging my bags home. I am so thankful I got to experience this trip with my friends in such beautiful surroundings. Mostly, I am thankful I had this trip and my next one before I had to endure my horrible finals.

PS. I can’t get the pics to upload. Sorry!

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