WHEN IN ROME
Documenting my travels across the globe
As the blazing sun warmed my cheeks, I watched the clear, blue water crash on the shore. With my toes sifting through the black sand, I suddenly became irrationally upset that I would soon have to leave this beautiful place. This weekend, I had the privilege to tour the Amalfi coast, on the east coast just south of Naples, and cannot wait to tell you more about this incredible region. We spent the three days in Sorrento, Capri, Positano, and ended in Pompeii. Aside from Sicily and Cinque Terre, Amalfi boasts some of the most beautiful coastal towns in Italy.
For the duration of the weekend we stayed in Seven Hostel just outside of Sorrento. The first day we took a ferry from Sorrento to the famous island of Capri. Capri is known all over the world for its beauty. The island is home to Victoria's Secret's yachts and is even used for Dolce & Gabbana advertisements. Once the ferry landed, we boarded smaller ships that toured us around the island. The first stop on the tour was the Blue Grotto.
The Blue Grotto is a natural wonder of the world. There is a small opening in the side of a cliff that leads into a giant cave. The cave extends 50 meters inward and up to 150 meters downward. The sunlight travels through an underwater cavity and reflects a spectacular blue light that illuminates the entire cave. One tour guide described the clear water as a window you can see right through to the bottom. Thousands of years ago, the grotto was used as a pool by Emperor Tiberius, once he retired on the island of Capri. He commissioned his slaves to dig a tunnel through the surface of the island to the grotto, so he could access it from the mainland. Many Roman sculptures of Neptune and tritons were recovered from the grotto and several more are thought to still lie at the very bottom.
To enter the grotto today, a tour guide on a small rowboat pulls you through the tiny opening. We were instructed to lay down as we barely squeezed through the rocky entrance. The grotto itself was spectacular and much bigger than I had expected. For a small fee, the tour guide let's you jump in the water, so of course we did it. The water was so cold that the air was completely knocked out of my lungs. But my body quickly adjusted and I noticed that I could see my toes perfectly through the blue water. The grotto was pitch black, but the water's natural, blue light lit up the entire cave. The experience was truly surreal.
After the tour, we explored the island on foot, including the highest town named Anacapri. Anacapri is a small, beach town on the top of a mountain. The town overlooks cliff sides of lemon trees and brightly painted houses, all of which lead into the crystal blue sea water below. I have never seen a more beautiful coastal town. That was until the next town we visited!
The next day we lounged on the beach in the coastal town of Positano. Positano ended up being my favorite town that we visited. We took a walk down the steps leading into Positano, which were lined with beautiful linen shops, flower lined pergolas, and delicious smelling Neapolitan cuisine. The beach is made up of black sand and rocks. Even though it was absolutely stunning, I do prefer white sand because the rocks were extremely painful. Regardless, I am glad that I experienced a black sand beach and Positano is definitely the most beautiful coastal town I have had the pleasure of visiting.
Our last day in the Amalfi Coast, we traveled to the small town of Pompeii. For anyone that doesn't know, Pompeii is situated close to the volcano Mt. Vesuvius and was buried in its eruption almost 2000 years ago. The eruption lasted almost three months and the town was left buried under 13 to 20 feet of ash and pumice. The eruption was so vast that ash was found in cities as far as Greece and other Eastern European countries. Pompeii was not rediscovered until about 500 years ago, when people noticed the tops of buildings peaking out of the ground. Since then, only 2/5 of Pompeii has been excavated by hand to reveal the preserved city. Some of the most interesting attractions are the perfectly preserved body casts. Ancient Pompeiians were suffocated by the explosion and their bodies were preserved in the exact position at their time of death. Some of these body casts even reveal parts of their skeletons.
After learning about this ancient city in my high school Latin class, I was ecstatic to actually see it in person. The knowledge that has been obtained through excavating and studying the remains is both interesting and informative. Even though I already knew how intelligent the Romans were, it was shocking to see how similar their lifestyles were 2000 years ago to ours today. Pompeii had over 94 restaurants, brick oven pizzerias, lead pipes for running water, extensive market stalls, and even speed bumps. One if the most interesting things I learned was about the small white stones laid between the large stones in the roadways. These little white stones reflect the moon and lantern light so that people could see at night.
The Amalfi Coast was so beautiful that it feels like the entire trip was a dream. Aside from Interlaken, it is definitely the most beautiful place I have ever visited. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back!
When In Rome
Two of my most cherished hobbies go hand-in-hand. Writing is my favorite way to reflect after traveling to a new country. I have kept this blog ever since I studied in Rome to share my travels with families and friends. I hope you enjoy learning about my experiences and getting a sense for my writing skills. If you have any questions, please reach out!