Day 16 – Naples, Italy

The day started much like every other since we began this journey. Fairly warm, not very cloudy and full of promise. My how things change in a hurry. By the time we actually stepped outside to go to our tour bus, the heavens opened with a deluge to remind us not to take things for granted. Fortunately the forecast had ‘suggested’ rain so we did think to bring the umbrellas. A bit of a plus is that it is not cold.

Our port today is Napoli! Home of So many differing things including having some 500 churches, Europe’s largest Old Town, one of the largest seaports in Italy and, of course, pizza! (BTW…there’s only about 8,000 pizzerias in Naples.) But today will not be spent here (fortunately pizza anywhere in Italy is not hard to come by). It is off to Sorrento for us, homestead of many goods and notably, inlaid woodwork, limoncello liqueur and wine from beneath Vesuvius’s gaze.

Sorrento lies near the base of that famous spewer of lava and destroyer of lives. It has remained an active volcano for the past 17,000 years, but much to our relief, nothing is scheduled for today. Or for the immediate future. The most recent occurrence was in 1944 (maybe still upset with Mussolini?). Technology has improved mightily since that life-ending event in 79 AD (Pompeii and Herculaneum). However, the best the more than 900,000 people living in and around the base can hope for now is a 4 day warning with 2 roads and 1 main highway as exit venues. And they live here anyway because…?

As we drive to Sorrento the rain is somewhat intermittent. It is certainly needed in the area so it’s hard to be upset. In addition, it’s really the only inconvenience we have had so far.

Getting to Sorrento is a bit of a drive even though the distance is roughly just 50 kilometers. The roads are not straight, traffic exists and there are a number of rather long tunnels to pass through as well. The sights along way provide a great diversion. Orchards of lemon, lime and other citrus, grapes (DUH!), bracketed by mountain ranges…rain or no rain still beautiful.

The day in Sorrento started with a trip to an inlaid woodworking shop/store. This seems kind of a go-to thing with Princess tours…make sure the tourists are foisted into a local store. Not what we would have picked on our own and not always enjoyable. This one was at least interesting and certainly has some stunning items. After listening to the somewhat detailed explanation (which I won’t bore you with, but Google it as it is intricate to say the least), we walked around the shop and marveled at a number of items.

This table, for instance, has a price of € 9,700. Now don’t be overly concerned, it does include shipping to your home (not including applicable taxes). And just so you know what you get for your money, the top comes off to reveal a multitude of layers. They include (but not all shown cuz I messed up), a felt card table that flips over to accommodate chess/checkers, a Backgammon board that flips over to handle craps, and finally the sides push out as an extension to expose the Roulette wheel and betting layout.

As there are others at least as remarkable in their own way I have included a few examples. And because inquiring minds want to know, the last table (without the ornament on top, but including shipping!) is a mere € 40,000 (that’s about $55,000…ish CDN).

Now we are left to explore the city for about 2 hours. This is both easy (no rain, reasonably warm and easy walking) and difficult (WAYYYYY to much to see and do).

European cities have both a similarity and a uniqueness to each. Similar in that the vast majority have been around long, long before North America was even discovered. Many have physical, historical remains dating back to BC and some of those are still in use (think…churches, bridges…). Streets are narrow with multitudes of off-streets leading to secrets of their own. Unique in their culture, their language, their food and drink, their livelihood. This resemblance and distinctiveness lend nuances to them all that require more time than we have to honestly due them justice. I give you…just a small taste of Sorrento.

I know someone is going to ask about picture number 5 (next to the ice cream cones). Maybe this will help. 😉

Can you say…Chocolate?

Now, having gathered at our prescribed meeting place, we pile back into our mini-van and off we go to a local Limoncello distributor. The process itself is relatively simple. Using only the skins of lemons, they let those steep in alcohol for about 7 – 10 days. After this they strain that result to remove the residue, add some sugar and water, put it into clean bottles, add the labels and Ecco! You have Limoncello. 🙂 From this they also produce a Limoncello Crema and a Grappa. Their production is about 2,000 bottles per day.

From the residue leftovers plus other non-used parts of the lemon they make marmalade, infused-chocolate and many other goodies that hit the palate with that unmistakable flavor.

On to our last stop. What is Italy without someone feeding you food aplenty and copious amounts of wine?

Vesuvius has done major destruction in its lifespan and will undoubtably do much more. But those explosions have also laid the groundwork (quite literally) for the cultivation of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. And that most certainly includes grapes.

The soil is rich in minerals and other nutrients due to the lava flows and is an excellent host for grapevines. Dating back some 2,000 years, those wines from Vesuvius were originally mixed with spices and honey to please the Caesar of the day (and other nobles that could afford it). Today it has become a blend of many different grapes dependent on the grower’s and the winemaker’s tastes and weather temperaments. (Again there are olive trees mixed with grapevines, some 700 in this vineyard.)

This late in the year, the harvest is done and rest comes to the vines. Next year (hopefully) they will produce more of what is now just a forgotten leftover.

Our host is Cantina Del Vesuvio, owned and operated by the Russo family since 1930. The rain has returned which made more outside pictures challenging. On the upside, lunch was indoors. 🙂

I will apologize right now for the upcoming lack of information. I blame it entirely on the wine, food, company we keep and the wine. (Yes I said wine twice…why do you think there is a lack of information??)

It all started with bread that Had to be dipped in the Pink Balsamic vinegar and olive oil, water (in the rooster), a delicious Antipasti plate and a sparkling Rose’.

There was more complemented with a delightful white wine and then it ended with spaghetti and their best red. The spaghetti was simple with tomatoes and olive oil and cooked absolutely al dente. Their Lacryma Christi Superiore would be a fabulous addition to Canada’s wine import list. Not going to happen as they will ship to you directly, but they don’t ‘export’ outside of Napoli.

Well and truly full we waddle back to our mini-van and sit, very quietly, in an alcohol and carbohydrate daze marginally aware of our return trip. The ship floats patiently, waiting for its guests. Later, all are aboard with no-one late or left behind and we sail off once again to another terminal.

The port of Civitavecchia (Chi-Vita-Vekia) is our upcoming destination and yet one more early day is in store. Isn’t a vacation, by law, required to have sleep-in days???

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