When I sat down to write this post, I was outside typing away on my laptop. Something about the blue sky and gentle breeze reminded me of our trip to Italy.
We’ve been back for a few months now, yet my brain is still in vacation mode – or is it European-lifestyle mode?
One thing I noticed was how different life was overseas. Yes, people worked or went to school or handled the mundane daily chores. However, their attitude was so much more relaxed, for a lack of a better description.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with a fellow traveler the other day. She and her husband were in Rome, Florence and Tuscany this past November. My husband and I were in the Naples area in March. As we dined over frittatas and lattes, we reminisced about our travels.
“It was a spiritual experience,” she said. And I couldn’t agree more.Traveling through Italy is truly a spiritual experience. Click To Tweet
Whether it was dining or soaking in the beauty of the country, “spiritual experience” is such an apt description.
My husband and I took a four-day trip from Naples to spend time along the Amalfi Coast. On our way to that region, we stopped in Pompeii to see the ruins.
What a humbling experience. It felt like we were walking on hallowed ground.
Pompeii was an area that the ancient civilizations would visit for vacation and relaxation, located in the vicinity of Mt. Vesuvius. It is believed to have been built in the 7th or 8th century BC. It is a beautiful part of the country, a little under a two-hour car ride south of Naples, boasting scenic views of the mountains and the sea. Horrifically, it was also the area that was the scene of instant death and destruction for thousands in the way when Mt. Vesuvius – a volcano – erupted around 79 AD.
The architecture and engineering – especially given the time era it was built – was a sight to behold. At the ruins, we could clearly see homes, piazzas, brothels, roads, amphitheaters and more. This town was completely covered in ash, soot and earth, only to be razed to find it was decently intact.
Most of the sculptures and art have been removed and stored in museums in Naples. They were replaced by beautiful, replicated art, so visitors can see what life was like during Pompeii’s heyday.
The walled city was very large – much bigger than we expected. It’s funny how one would think that ancient cities would be smaller – but Pompeii definitely wasn’t small. Again, this is where a traveler would be in awe as to how something so magnificent could be built without all the power tools, machinery and technology that we have today. And, obviously, it was truly built to last.
We spent just a few hours in Pompeii, though we could have certainly stayed longer as there was so much to see. We enjoyed panini for lunch at a nearby eatery, and then made our way to the Amalfi Coast.
Traveling in Italy is not for the faint of heart. Remember the “spiritual experience” mention? Yes, I was praying as we drove the very sharp turns and twisty curves as we went up and down the mountains and into Positano. Locals zip along the coastal highway in cars, on scooters, bicycling and even jogging. And did I mention the tour buses?! Momma Mia! Those bus drivers take the turns and curves as if they are behind the wheel of a tiny sports car. There were a few times that we had to wait for cars and buses to back up, re-position and maneuver a pass so that traffic could start up again. But, as harrowing as it was at times – and a huge shout-out to my husband who drove like a local – the view was absolutely amazing. You are truly where the mountains and the sea come together, and there are no other words to describe the beauty, other than it being a “spiritual experience.”
We passed through Sorrento, which is famous for limoncello – a wonderful, lemon liqueur that is often served following dinner – and made it into Positano. Using our GPS was extremely helpful, because the road signs and hotel markers were – surprise! – in Italian. My husband and I had a new appreciation for the hotel staff, as they managed to park our car in the hotel’s garage – which wasn’t much bigger than our two-car garage at home. Did I mention there were probably eight other cars parked in there, too? I haven’t a clue how they did it, but it was an amazing feat. We decided that the car would stay put until we checked out, relying on our feet to make our way through town.
Positano was built into the side of a mountain, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Our hotel was built in the 1800s, and there were many structures built long before that. In fact, we happened upon old Roman ruins along the shoreline – once used as look-out towers and for the shipping trades.
I took hundreds of photos of our stay in Positano – which I believe has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. It was definitely a highlight of our trip to Italy. Stay tuned for my next post, where I will share more features of our stay, and more of my travel photos.
©Lynne Cobb – 2017
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