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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 40.6263, 14.3757
We started the day with an early breakfast buffet. They have a separate one set up just for the KOB folks. It has all the usual items, and I expect it to be the same every time. The breads are particularly good, but everything is okay. There is not much fruit, but I think they would serve only fresh, seasonal items.
Today, we hired a car and driver to take just the two of us around for the day. I booked them ahead based on recommendations I found on tripadvisor.com, and I definitely agree with others that the Iaccarino Sorrento Limousine service is wonderful. Enrico picked us up at the hotel right at 8 a.m. as planned although he started by apologizing for arriving that late. He said he likes to arrive fifteen minutes early always. We started with the drive in his Mercedes to Ercolano/Herculaneum to see the ruins. This village was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius at the same time Pompeii was destroyed on August 24, 79 AD. However, because of the way that it was covered with lava, it is better preserved than Pompeii. Some of the buildings still have their roofs on, and
timbers used in the construction are still in place after being carbonized when covered with the pyroclastic flow from the volcano. A number of frescoes and mosaics are in remarkably good shape and furniture and statues remain. The site is much smaller than Pompeii, and we walked all over most of it during the one hour and forty-five minutes allotted before we noticed that there was a way to get to the lower level. We did take a few minutes to walk through the tunnel to approach the lover levels, but did not go very far in. Just another reason to go back again sometime.
Next on the itinerary was a trip to Mt. Vesuvius. As we wound our way along the road to near the top, Enrico told us more about the current state of the volcano and the people living nearby. Many un-insurable homes stand on the side of the mountain right in the line of fire for the next eruption. Evacuation plans are in place, and he expects that as long as there is no mass panic, the mountain can be evacuated safely since scientists can now predict eruptions with a fair amount of certainty.
up to the highest point that the car could go, but decided not to make the climb the rest of the way on foot. The view of Naples and the bay was beautiful from there. Next, we got back in the car and drove just a short distance to a gift shop that was at what used to be an observatory and the base of the funicular that went to the top of the volcano. The song Funiculì, Funiculà was written to honor the 1880 opening of that funicular which was destroyed in the eruption of 1944. The owner of the gift shop was the daughter of the man who used to run the chair lift which operated from 1953 to 1984 when it was discontinued as it could not handle the numbers of tourists. She was quite proud of her father and explained to us at great length about the history of the area. Since she was so enthusiastic we wanted to be sure to buy something from her. I selected a necklace with black pumice beads for Erin, and Philip chose a book that she autographed.
After seeing the views from Vesuvius, we drove to Pompeii. Enrico dropped us
off in front of a self-serve restaurant near the entrance to the ruins. We filled up on pizza--capricciosa for me and Margherita for Philip and were then ready to tackle seeing more ruins. While at Herculaneum earlier today, we bought the combo ticket for both places so we could just walk in here and did not have to wait in the line, although it was a short one. Enrico gave us a map, but we didn't remember to get the audio guides until we were quite a ways from the entrance, so we did the tour without them. I found the items here quite interesting, and there are many more grand buildings than at Herculaneum. However, the ones in Pompeii are not as well preserved. It is amazing to think that people were just going about their normal business, walking the same streets we were walking, when the volcano erupted and ended the lives they knew.
On the drive back to the hotel, Enrico took the slower coast road from Pompeii to the tunnels leading to Sorrento. The views are beautiful.
The Farewell Dinner with the group tonight was lots of fun at the Circolo dei Forestieri (the Foreigners'
Club) . We rode on buses to get to the restaurant. Starting the evening with a vast array of appetizers on the buffet, we almost ate too much then. Drinks were plentiful too. A moderate rain started while we were enjoying the snacks, so we ended up having dinner inside although the outside seating looked very nice. Dinner was served banquet style, but the food was only so-so. It's hard to serve so many people at one time. After dinner, we enjoyed listening to two opera singers and heard the station general manager say a few words of thanks to everyone for participating in the trip.
Another huge buffet was set up in the same room where the appetizers had been. This time it featured lots of wonderful desserts, and we tried many of them, too. The evening ended with music and dancing. We took the bus back to the hotel before the final number. I don't know how long the partying lasted.
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