"Enjoy the calm waters of the Mediterranean as you cruise toward the heel of Italy and the port of Bari. Drive through the olive groves across Southern Italy to Sorrento." That was the description on the trip itinerary. Doesn't it sound inviting?
It was actually very relaxing after the three busy days spent touring Greece. The night on the ferry gave me some of the most restful sleep that I had had the entire trip. As we were leaving Greece, we enjoyed some very picturesque views of this beautiful country from the sea. Although there was some sadness from leaving it behind, there was also an air of anticipation waiting for that first glimpse of Italy's shoreline. After breakfast aboard the ferry, we ventured on deck anxious to see land.
Finally, the wait was over. As Italy's coastline came into view, our excitement grew. We came into port and unloaded to take our first steps on this new land. (We were somewhat disappointed because, although we had to show our passports often, since Europe has open borders we did not get them stamped anywhere except in the airport in Germany.)
We traveled by charter bus from Bari to Sorrento. The drive through the countryside of southern Italy was amazing. There were olive groves and vineyards everywhere. It seems as if every home has its own olives and grapes. (I wish I could have an olive grove. It would save me a lot of money at the grocery store!)
The sights that took my breath away were the steep cliffs of the Almafi Coast. I think I am just partial to the sea. (I wonder if that is why I have a pond in my front yard?) The drive to Sorrento was full of views like this.
As Sorrento came into view, I knew instantly that I would love this area of Italy. The town overlooks the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius in the distance. I was very fortunate to have a beautiful room with gorgeous views of both. (More on Vesuvius tomorrow)
This is a tourist town, so there are a lot of shops and places to eat. Two things that I noticed as I explored the streets were lemon trees and huge lemons. I mean really big ones. I have never seen such big lemons. I guess that is why Sorrento is famous for its production of lemoncello. It is a very sweet digestif made of lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar. It is best served cold. I brought some back and kept mine in the freezer. If you watch Food Network you may have seen Giada use it in some of her recipes.
Of course you can't go to Italy without eating gelato. We fell in love with this precious lady who ran the Old Taverna Sorrentina. She had many different flavors of gelato and let us try every one. After spending some time with her in conversation, I continued on. Later she passed me on the street and gave me a big hug and kiss. In our country most people are much slower to open up to others. Wouldn't the world be a better place with more people like her. To me, meeting wonderful people is the most interesting part of travel. People really are the same everywhere. I wish everyone could open their hearts and minds to that simple fact.
Food, food, food! Italy is all about the food. (So was Greece. In fact every vacation I have ever taken is about the food!)
Catie has always loved gnocchi and couldn't wait to have some in Italy. She was in food heaven.
I just had to try the pizza and to my surprise, my homemade pizza is very similar to the one I had that day. I was very excited about that. Now, every time I make it I remember my trip to Italy.
There is so much more that I could share about Sorrento but my post is getting rather long. We only spent one night there and it wasn't enough. As I am writing this post, I find myself longing to return. Maybe one day......
We had to move on the next morning to Pompeii and then to Rome. More on that later!