First thing this morning we visited the Crypt of the Cappucin Friars. It was a short visit (and no photos were allowed) , but was pretty neat. The site is the burial ground of 4,000 Cappucins, whose bones have been displayed in decorative fashion (best way to describe it). After returning from the crypt we purchased our bus tickets for the trip to Siena, and visited an Italian gun store – couldn’t help myself they had a big Beretta sign out front. After a quick bite to eat and stop back at the room, the day really began.
We left the room a little after twelve and headed for the Castel San’t Angelo. It sits right on the Tiber River and was originally the mausoleum for the emperor Hadrian, but later served as a fortress for the Popes. We tried to see as much as we could in an hour or so, but had to hurry because we had scheduled our entry to the Vatican Museum, The Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica for 15:00.
If I had to use one word I would say “Overwhelming”. While there were definitely many interesting artifacts in the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s were amazing. The pictures we had seen of the ceiling really didn’t do it justice, and St. Peter’s is just too much. The place is huge, and every inch of it is ornately decorated. Michelangelo’s Pieta is also on display there, and it was very cool to see in person.
Neither of these posts really do a good job of describing the days – there’s just not enough time right now. We managed to cram an incredible amount into 2 very full days. Rome was a little interesting to navigate (no map is good, and no street is straight) so we saw a little more of the city than we had anticipated. It’s now 22:30 Thursday night, and we will be on a bus to Siena at 10:40 tomorrow morning. We have to clean up and pack…
Day 5 – Rome. We are kind of short on time for posting because we have been running around like crazy for the majority of the past 40 hours or so. Day 5 was a blur that began with arrival at the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine at around 8:30 AM. This day ended up including (in no particular order): Arch of Constantine, Colosseum (with tour of the basement and upper level), Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza(s) Navona, di Spagna, Fonatana di Trevi, Venezia, Campo di Fiori, Campodiglio, Colonna, di Pietra, del Quirinale, and others I am not remembering right this second – this post will need amending at a later time. For now, we are going to post pictures of some of the above.
Day 4 – another travel day. We packed up last night, got up early and headed to the train station. Sadly, Bar Tavernusa was not open this morning for the awesome pastries we had gotten the previous 2 days – so we tried another place and they were still pretty good. We managed to catch the 8:26 Circumvesuviana train toward Naples. It was a much different experience this morning with the school and work travel than it was mid afternoon over the weekend.
Instead of taking the train straight through to Naples, we decided to stop and tour Pompeii en route. We arrived at Pompeii a few minutes after nine and ended up following a self-guided tour, with some modifications, from one of our guidebooks. Melissa was interested in the ruins, but also very much enjoyed her own personal stray dog safari. Seriously though, Pompeii was very cool. It’s amazing how well preserved things are, and some of the technology that they utilized almost 2000 years ago is amazing. It was a good thing we got there early, because by the time we headed out around noon the place was crawling with huge tour groups.
After leaving Pompeii it was back on the train to Naples. We made a small error in train stops and ended up having to walk through Naples a bit, but it only amounted to a ten minute detour that ultimately had no effect on our catching our train to Rome. We did encounter some gypsies in the Naples train station who were all too willing to assist us in getting our tickets. Apparently my Italian is crappy, but my facial expressions cross language barriers and I managed to shoe them away pretty quickly. We ended up taking the 14:31 train out of Naples to Termini station in Rome. I have had enough of trains for the time being, so we’re working on maybe doing a bus for our next travel day. Our train arrived at Termini station pretty much right on time, around 17:10.
A short walk and a little frustration with a poor map, and we were at the Hotel Aberdeen before 6pm. We walked around a bit trying to find a Roma Pass, but apparently all of Rome is out of them. We were told this at the airport, but thought we would check a few of the small vendors anyway (As I post this from the little Wi-FI area, Melissa is on the phone in the room trying to work some things out).
Tomorrow it’s up early again and off to the Colosseum in the morning. We will probably also try to hit the Spanish Steps and the Trevi fountain.
Day 3 started much like Day 2, only earlier. We caught the 8am ferry to Capri, which was fortunately only a 20 min trip. Upon arrival at Capri, we immediately shelled out some serious Euros for the opportunity to ride to, and in, the Grotto Azzurra (Blue Grotto). The Grotto is a cave in the side of the rock wall, with a very small opening. Through the opening the light enters, and illuminates the water/limestone base resulting a beautiful blue color. It really was a cool experience to get to see it – you have to ride in on a row boat, lying down pretty much flat in the boat to clear your head. While inside the boatmen sing Italian Opera – sounds really corny, but was an awesome experience and totally worth the amount of Euros which I will not reveal in this post.
After the Grotto we rode the funicular (think train car that goes up a really steep hill) up to the main town of Capri. The actual town was a little high end for us. It was basically Beverly Hills as far as shops go (Gucci, D+G, Valentino, etc.). Instead of blowing our life savings on a stupid Italian handbag, we decided to do a little site seeing.
We stumbled upon the path to the Arco Naturale, a natural rock formation in the shape of a giant arch. It was pure luck/bad maps that got us to the Arco, but it was very cool to see. Unfortunately we ended up so close to it, that pictures don’t really do it justice. After the Arco, we traversed across the island in a very roundabout way, to take a look at the Faraglioni (giant rock outcropping in the water).
Just for the record, Italian maps are worthless. We bought a map at the Capri tourist information booth for a Euro, which I should have just thrown into the Mediterranean. It did not include most of the streets, so we just kind of wandered. Fortunately Capri is only like 2miles/4miles – we saw most of it. Eventually we did end up on Via Krupp. Via Krupp is a really cool pedestrian road which was originally built around 1902. It snakes back and forth down the cliffs on the south side of the island, and gives a great view of the Faraglioni. It was awesome, but I was sweating like a beast by the time we made it back up (Melissa said that I should clarify that this is posted by Jason). After we made it back up Via Krupp, we rested for a bit in the shade of the Giardini di Augusto – a botanical garden at the top of the pedestrian road.
Back to the town for a quick bite, a funicular ride back down to the Marina, and a return ferry to Sorrento. We then finished the day off with a dinner of Antipasti, another round of Gelato from Bar Tavernusa, and a sampling of Limoncello from this local shop that was ridiculous. Tomorrow we have to be up early to catch the Circumvesuviana (local southern Italy train line) to Pompeii – tour Pompeii, then to Naples, then to Rome.
So, Sunday was a day of mixed emotions. We decided to take a ferry down the coast to the town of Amalfi. We got up early, grabbed some breakfast and walked through Piazza Tasso (the town square), down 100 steps and a huge hill to the main port, Marina Piccola. We bought or ferry tickets and took the 1 hour-ish ride past Positano (which looked beautiful from what we saw of it) and into Amalfi.
We spent the day wandering the streets and taking a small hike to ruins of an old paper mill. Past the mill the trail looked sketchy, so we decided to turn back and head back into town. The main attraction of the town is their Cathedral (I will have to look up the name of it in our other guide book, which I don’t have with me in our hostel lounge…)
We stayed in town for a while, grabbed some lunch and sat at their marina for a little while and waited for our return ferry.
Unfortunately the day will be forever tainted with one of the most tragic events of my life. My camera died. The DSLR. It really died. Like, needs to be sent in to Nikon and resuscitated. It bit it about 10 minutes in to our ferry trip to Amalfi. I think I had only taken about 15 photos with it when it decided to stop working. So, while I am very disappointed that I can’t use it, I am not going to let it ruin the trip. There is too much we want to see. However, I catch myself having major camera envy whenever I see someone with a Nikon around their neck. And I will also be slightly bitter about dragging 10 pounds of worthless camera gear around the country for the next 10 days.
So, Friday and Saturday are one big blur. Friday we left Philly around 6:15, and it was actually a much easier flight than either of us expected. Somehow we both fell asleep, and stayed asleep for the majority of the flight. And it’s a good thing. Once we landed in Rome on Saturday, we were in for a lot of traveling. First, it took a bit longer to get out of the airport than we had expected.
Next we took a bus to the Termini train station in Rome, where we just missed the 11:40ish train to Naples. Bummer. So, we grabbed some lunch, (and Jason discovered his love for prosciutto) and we took at next train to Naples at 12:45. The guidebooks and everything we had seen preparing for the trip made it seem like all train stations are crawling with helpful and friendly employees. We couldn’t find ONE employee to ask if we were on the right train. But, we were. And it’s a good thing – it was a long trip to Naples (like, over 3 hours long). Once in Naples, we changed trains, and got on the local commuter train to Sorrento. That too was a longer than expected trip. I don’t know if we made up these times in our heads when we were planning or what.
Anyway, we finally arrived around 6ish Italy time on saturday. So, it was pretty much a full 24 hours from when we left our house.
After we got checked in, we cleaned up a little and walked around town a bit. We will put up some photos from that tomorrow. The internet connection is slow, and there are some Italians watching the wrong kind of football for a Sunday. (Go Ravens!)
We have arrived… in Philly. We are currently on a 3 hour layover, waiting to take off for Rome, and I have already abandoned part of my plan for this blog. I didn’t get a header made in time, and I also didn’t take a picture of our luggage – which I had meant to do. The amount of stuff we are not taking is impressive. We managed to cram all of our junk into one large checked backpack, one carry-on backpack, and my purse/camera bag. I think all of our bags are at maximum capacity, but we figured that traveling with less baggage would be a lot less stressful when we are on the move.
We made all of our last minute arrangements this morning, which included calling the credit card company, downloading skype and then reserving a tour of the underground levels of the Colosseum. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come, but Jason already had to call the credit card company back, after they sent an email saying there was some suspicious activity because we tried to book that earlier mentioned tour. Boo.
On another note, as the terminal for our flight fills, it appears as though the average age of our fellow passengers is about 68.
Anyways, that’s it for right now. Hopefully we will have an uneventful flight and be able to get a little sleep before we land and start our journey south to Sorrento.