Our large ship drifts into Naples and drops anchor. Italy. The land of Fiats, Pasta, and Romans. I can’t wait to get off our ship and lose myself in a country I’ve heard so many things about.
Our tour guide for today is Giovanni, an older white-haired man in his sixties who wears checkerboard rimmed glasses that are clear instead of white. This Southern Italian man literally bubbles with life, his voice overflowing with enthusiasm. After being with him for only a few minutes, Giovanni makes me feel like an Italian being welcomed back home.
As we travel south from Naples toward the town of Sorrento, Giovanni tells us a story about the time his taxi was stolen. He reported the crime to the local branch of the Carabinieri (the civilian police force). The officer told him to wait a few hours because the robbers will probably call him that night. If he didn’t hear anything, then call them back. Okay. So Giovanni waited and just like the officer told him, the robbers called Giovanni that very night. They offered to meet Giovanni and give him the taxi back for 5,000 lira. Giovanni was nervous but met the robbers face to face at the place of their choosing. Sure enough they had his taxi. So Giovanni gave them the money and drove the taxi home. Later that night, the Carabinieri called to ask if he got his taxi back. Giovanni told them he just found the taxi on the street and didn’t ask any questions.
We pass by imposing Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that wiped out the Roman city of Pompeii. Giovanni mentions that it’s still active and how much the Italians would be screwed if the volcano went off like that again. What a pleasant thought as the mountain looms above us like the Death Star.
Our van weaves along the curvy and beautiful Amalfi coast road. The green and silver cliffs are sharp and dive vertically towards the sea, causing some people in our mini bus some anxiety about sailing off the road like Thelma and Louise, but our driver is a local and probably knows the route better than any of us do. Our mini bus is better suited than the large tour busses which attempt to navigate around the tight curves so I put my faith in our local driver and stare at the gorgeous scenery stretching out below me. If I die on this road right now, so what? What a beautiful place to die in.
Down below us, tiny islands hug close to the shore as Giovanni tells us which ultra rich people own them, which of course reminds him of another story…
Giovanni is full of stories. Point at a neighborhood, a house, or even a stone and this guy has a great story about it. Maybe some people would say he has too many stories. I would say I got my money’s worth of the best entertainment I’ve had all year.
After weaving through countless trees full of ripe lemons and olives, we finally arrive in the town of Sorrento. A beautiful and clean city. We all get out and spend an hour or so just wandering the streets and browsing stores full of colorful and quite reasonably priced merchandise.
Next on the agenda…Lunch. We step inside a McDonald’s…
Giovanni takes us to his friend’s restaurant. Our outdoor table rests on a balcony overlooking all of Sorrento and the sea beyond. Fresh dishes of home-made Bruschetta wait to be eaten on a fully set table with bottles of red and white wine, made from the restaurant’s own vineyard. The first course is homemade mozzarella cheese on top of fresh sliced tomatoes served with homemade bread. The main course is a dish of three generous samples of pasta. Cheese ravioli, ziti, and an eggplant wrapped pasta that I’m not quite sure the name of. It all tasted…so good. The ravioli was the best I’ve ever had in my life. After we are done, tiny shot glass of strong but delicious lemon liquor was served to us, no doubt made from the local lemon crops.
So far, the morning was awesome. Next up we travel to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
Here is Giovanni’s tour company…Tour of Italy
Here are all the photos from this leg of our trip!