Friday, October 20, 2006

Week 2 - Massa Lubrense

Capri at sunrise, from the little balcony at the front of our house. Marina Del Lobra, the little port is below us, still in the dark.

Here we are in Massa Lubrense, which is about 6 miles south of Sorrento. What a great day. It rained a bit last night and was cloudy when we got up, but sunny and warm by 10 am. We’ve had great weather all week, actually all of this trip.

Where to start. Italy, where the street are narrow so everyone parks on the sidewalk & you have to walk in the street. Italy, where much of the economy is dependent on the tourists, but no one wants to bother to explain bus schedules, or opening & closing times. It really is an interesting country.

This is our 2nd full week. We left Tuscany on Saturday morning, on a train to Naples. As we pulled into the Termini station in Rome, everyone else was waiting for us. It was great that we all arrive in Naples at the same time. We caught the Cirucumvesuviana Train, which is actually a very uncomfortable and crowded metro train to Sorrento. Lots of stops in between, about a 70 minute trip. We had a lot of luggage and had to stand most of the way. We got into Sorrento about 3:30 pm and were expected at the house at 5:30 pm so Linda, Penny & Kristen stayed with the luggage and the rest of us went grocery shopping. Of course most of the stores close between 1 pm and 5 pm, so it was a while before we had much luck. Finally loaded down with lots of grocery bags we walked backed to the train station and got 2 cabs to take us the 6 miles to Massa Lubrense. Of course the drivers couldn’t find our rental house, they were both pretty excitable but spoke OK English. We ended up in the parking lot of a church about ½ way between Massa Lubrense and Marina Del Lobra. Massa is on the top of the hill and Marina Del Lobra is at the bottom. We called the lady who was to check us in, but she didn’t speak English. She thought we were at the church at the top of the hill and kept telling us to go down. So we walked all the way down to the port, no house. Then Virginia flagged down a passer-by who talked to the owner on the phone and explained we needed to walk back up the hill, past the church, about ¾ of the way up to the top. So we did, hauling all that damn luggage. At least we all got our exercise for the day, and no one fell over, but it was close. We got checked in and Vic & Tito started dinner. The owner came back with a few bottles of local wine so we drank lots of wine and ate and talked and relaxed. The house is great, perched on the hill overlooking the sea, with Capri out in front. The view at night with all the lights is amazing. The view during the day is really wonderful too.
Dinner at 'home' :-)

Sunday we had rather hazy day, not really cloudy but the sun didn’t shine through very well. We pretty much hung out at home, though we did walk up the hill into town to check the bus schedule and find out almost everything was closed. We did pick up 5 or 6 bottles of wine, that were supposed to last all week, but only lasted the one evening J. Monday we all went to Pompeii. We took the bus to Sorrento and then the Metro/Train to Pompeii with hoards of other tourists. It was pretty crowded but was really a great day. At one point we thought we’d only spend a couple of hours but ended up there all day. There is so much to see and Pompeii was a big city. Though at least 40% of it is still under the ash and still needed to be excavated. I took a lot of pictures, so those will all get downloaded and titled and put on my Yahoo photo album site sometime next week. I’ll add a link to them so check back if you want to see them. If you ever get the chance to see Pompeii, it’s definitely worth the trip. Tito acted as our tour guide, reading to all of us from the tour book, we had a good time.

Tuesday was a shopping day. We took the bus into Sorrento and shopped and shopped. I spent a bit of time reading, but had a good time. Downtown Sorrento, the old part of the town is built on high cliffs over looking the bay. Lots of narrow ally ways winding around and all full of shops. Sorrento is very definitely a tourist town these days.
These pillers are covered with glass tiles, all in a mosaic pattern and match the panels behind them. They were found in the house of the faun in Pompeii.

Wednesday we decided we needed to see the Archaeological Museum in Naples. People have been digging stuff out of Pompeii since the 1700’s. A lot has been destroyed or ended up in private collections, but a lot has been put on display in Naples. The Museum is great, we had a good time and I’m glad we saw it all. Some of the mosaics are amazing. Great color and perspective. There were some really wonderful artists decorating Pompeii and some people with plenty of money to keep them employed. Some of the frescos were recovered too. These are painted directly on to the wet plaster. Pompeii was destroyed in 79 AD, so most of this artwork is close to 2000 years old. That it still is so colourful is pretty amazing.

Unfortunately we decided to take the bus up to the museum instead of walking and I got pick pocketed. Lost my wallet but only lost some cash. I’m very glad I had most of my money, my passport & credit cards in my money belt.

Then we decided we needed to see Herulaneum too. It was a much smaller town, right on the ocean that was destroyed in the same eruption as Pompeii. It was first hit by a title wave, then covered in 60 feet of boiling mud. What an effort it has been to excavate. When you walk into the site you walk over a bridge that’s on the same level as the current city. In fact to the left is a big commercial flower growing operation. To the right is this huge hole, with a city at the bottom. I don’t think any of my pictures really show how deep it is, but you walk down into the excavation and look up and it really is apparent then. Again, like Pompeii a lot is very well preserved. It was a very interesting afternoon.

A chaple preserved by the volcanic mud at Herculaneum. The stone walls around it would have been plastered with 3 or 4 inches of plaster and then painted, but that had a tendancy to crumble off when the town was excavated.
Penny & Virginia with Positano in the back ground. It's a steep climb up and down.

Thursday we decided to see the Amalfi Coast. It’s just around the corner, but the bus schedule sucks, so we had to go back into Sorrento, hang out at the bus station and literally fight a big crowd of tourists to eventually get on a standing room only bus. At first we were going to go all the way to Amalfi but the coast was winding and very high up. The bus really swayed around the corners, I couldn’t look out the windows most of the time. So we got off in Positano, and had a very wonderful lunch. Then we walked around the town a bit and tried to take a boat back to Sorrento. Too bad for us they were only going to Capri so we had to hike back up to the top of the town and try the bus again. It was fight to get on it. I’m pretty sick of the buses, that’s for sure. In fact we hired a taxi to come get us tomorrow and deliver us to the train station in Naples. We don’t want to schlep our luggage on the bus and metro, through 3 stations in order to get to our train in Naples.

Week 2 is over, we’re headed back north. Tomorrow we go to Assisi and then Monday afternoon back to Milan.

Lunch in Positano, about 1/2 way down the hill. It's a bit over exposed but I can't get this computer to open Microsoft Picture Editor:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Week One - Part 1, Milan & Florence

Here is a picture of the Dumo in Milan.

The weather has been great and we are having a good time. We stayed the first day in Milan because Penny's luggage was lost. It showed up about 4 pm. But this let us walk around Milan for most of a day. The Dumo there is pretty amazing. There
is a lot of work going on, but we still really enjoyed it. We also walked through the fortress, it has a great park & garden around it.

Then we went on to Florence, got in about 8:30 pm, walked to the hotel which had closed at 8. The assistant thought we were coming in at 10:30 pm so he did come back to check us in. It's a good thing I had the local phone. It saved us a bunch of worry. Anyway we left the luggage at the desk and went to dinner. Florence is great to walk around. We spent the next day seeing the major sights. We had a 2.5 hour guided tour which got us started. The Uffizi Gallery was spectacular.

I'm going to have to write more late. This internet shop just closed. But here is a lion from the Scuplture Museum which is my favorite in Florence. More to follow about it when I get home.

Week One - Part 2, Tuscany & Pompeii

Hi everyone,
Well I'm having a bit of trouble with blogger, getting these photo's to load. So this is going to be a bit out of order. Here are the pictures for Siena, Tuscany & Pompeii. Once I get this posted I'm going to go back and add Milan and Florence, even though that's where we started!

I know promised to post pictures, but I've had a hard time finding internet spots that are open. In Siena the local spot was closed until noon and we needed to depart at 1pm. Anyway, here we are in Massa Lubrensse, just south of Sorrento. I'm going to post a few pictures but I've taken about 180 so those I'll down load when I get home...
Here is an illuminated book, there is a whole room of them on display in the Dumo in Siena.
This one is of the Camp in Siena. Also a beautiful morning there. Lots and lots of tourist and students. It's really a beautiful site. The old buildings are very tall, most old cities stop at 4 stories, but in Siena many were 6 stories.

The Crete Sensi Hill headed toward southern Tuscany. The wheat has been harvested and the fields turned over. It's dusty clay as far as you can see.

Here we are having lunch at the house we rented. It was a bit overcast or hazy on Sunday so we didn't do much but laundy and drink a lot of wine :-)

These are some fresco picturs I took in Pompeii today. We spent 6 hours there looking around. It really is pretty amazing.
And this is a shot of Vesuvius over a restored rooftop in Pompeii. It was beautiful today, warm & sunny with just a bit of breeze in the afternoon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Well, we arrived just fine and on time at 6pm on Sunday night. The flight was long but OK. Clearing security a second time in London was a pain, but we all got through in time to catch our next flight. Penny's bag didn't show up, so we stayed all day Monday in Milan. Her bag was delivered to our hotel about 4pm, so we caught the 5pm train to Florence. It's a 2 hour 45 min trip by train and is much more comfortable then flying. Though getting our tickets was interesting. The ticket lady was having a bad day. First she thought we wanted tickets for later in the evening, then she gave us tickets for the 11th. We finally got it straightened out, but actually got the last few seats on the train.

Milan was nice, the weather was sunny and in the low 70's. We had a great breakfast at our hotel, then walked through the whole old town, about 3 km or so up to the Cathedral. It's pretty amazing, especially on the outside. Part of the outside has been cleaned & restored, and part is under reconstruction. I have some nice pictures to share, but can't download them from this particular internet connection. I hope to get them down loaded on Friday morning, so check back on Saturday your time. We also walked up to the old main fortress/castle. It has a great park/garden around it which was very nice to walk through. The Chestnut trees were dripping huge chestnuts all over the trails.

Today we had a quick breakfast and then our guide met us a little before 10 am. We walked around the main points of Florence, and then ended up at the Uffizi Gallery. That took a couple of hours. I wish I could have taken some pictures of the the corridor ceilings. I know, I was supposed to be looking at the paintings (which were great) but it's always some other detail that catches my interest.

Tomorrow we're going to stop at another sculpture museum, then off to breakfast and THEN we plan to climb the 480+ steps to the top of the Dumo's dome and get pictures from up there. It should be sunny and warm again tomorrow, mid 70's. The sky has been totally clear, so the view should be great. I'll post those pictures on Friday too!

Anyway, I just wanted to leave a note saying all was well, we're having a great time. Plenty of wine to drink :-)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Weather Web Cams

Looking for local weather reports, I found a couple of web cams that seem to be working. I really like the first one that shows the Bay of Naples. 8am Alaska Daylight Time is 6pm in Naples, so remember the 10 hour time difference if you're checking the web cams. You might only get a night shot. Give them a try when you get a chance.



Here is a picture I took off the Naples Web Cam at 6:05 pm local time. According to the description one of those peaks in the distance is Mt Vesuvius. It looks like the moon is up too.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The weather in Italy

I'm starting to watch the weather reports to see what kind of weather we'll have next week. Yes, I've packed a rain jacket, but I'm really hoping for some nice sunny & warm weather. So far, it doesn't look too bad.

We get into Milan on Sunday night. Monday is supposed to be partly cloudy and 70. We'll take the train to Florence on Monday, we should get great scenery views along the way. Here's the long range forecast for Florence. :-)

It's cloudy & wet up here on the slope. It was about 30 this morning, but has warmed up a bit, maybe 34 by now. I'm really looking forward to some summer weather and getting away from this this wet, foggy weather we've been having.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Count Down to Italy...

We've been planning this trip to Italy for months, but today we're finally close enough to departure day to start a count down! 1 week to go and we'll be landing in Milan.

Here is our itinerary. Virginia, Linda and I are flying the same flights, Penny is about 2 hours behind us. Kristen is going to get into Milan a few hours earlier.

Our route is Alaska Airlines Anchorage/Seattle and then British Airways Seattle/London-Heathrow/Milan. We leave Anchorage on Saturday morning, 10/7 at 10:15 AM and arrive in Milan at 6:00 PM Sunday night, local time. It's a long flight, we have a 3 hour layover in Heathrow, but that's where Penny should join us.

Our return is the same route, just reversed. We leave Milan on Tuesday, 10/2 at noon, and arrive back in Anchorage on Tuesday night around 11:30 pm local time.

This is a list of the places we're going and the hotels or houses that we've rented.

Actually Linda & Kristen are going to deave us on 10/11 in Florence and go to Rome for a few days. We'll meet back up on 10/14 in Naples, then catch a train south to Sorrento and on to the house we've rented in Massa Lubrense. Tito & Vic are going to meet us in Naples too. Though maybe we'll all be on the same train out of Rome to Naples.

Anway, the long range weather forecast says Milan on Monday is supposed to be 80 and sunny. Partly cloudy in Florence and 77 when we get there on Monday afternoon. I'm really looking forward to some nice weather and lots of wine :-).

I'll try to add updates from our trip every few days from internet cafe's. Stay tuned!