Okay. Where did I leave off? Of course, Matera. It was amazing! We had a very special dinner our last night there at Dedalus which was such a beautiful restaurant. Before leaving we had a last look at Matera from the other side of the ravine, then a long drive south to see the Greek ruins in Pasteum. One of the three temples is considered the best preserved Greek temple anywhere. When the Romans came along they built around the temples instead of destroying them as they admired the Greeks.
Then we drove on to Il Nido, a sweet little hotel and ristorante overlooking the Bay of Naples and the town of Sorrento. After such a long day it was nice to enjoy a great meal (lemon risotto!) at the hotel, followed by a free day on Sunday. While others did a tour to Capri, I chose to relax at the hotel and plan my itinerary for after the tour ends.
Monday the 14th just happened to be my birthday. Spending it in a place as old as the ruins of Pompeii made me a little less ancient. Suzan had train tickets and a tour guide all arranged and it was hreat, but hot. After a bit of downtime back at the hotel, we hopped on the 19:40 shuttle into Sorrento to Ristorante Tasso. Suzan was greeted warmly like one of the family. No wonder because she brings each of her three groups per year there and spares no expense. She introduced me to a nice young waiter and told him it was my birthday. He was so sweet and friendly that I asked Suzan, “Is he my present?” We all had a good laugh but he and I both got a little embarrassed; let’s blame the vino. It was a great ending to our tour.
We didn’t get home until almost midnight so I said my goodbyes to everyone since I had booked a tour for early the next morning. A minibus picked me up at the hotel, and after a couple more pick-ups and a 20-minute drive we arrived in Nerano to board a boat to see the Amalfi coast.
It was a lovely sunny day and our tour guide pointed out all the most important things, first in Italian and then in limited English. In fact we saw no less than three hotels that were the “most important ‘otel in Positano” and two “most important ‘otel on Amalfi Coast”. By “ important” he meant “expensive”. LeBron James stayed at one that was 72,000 Euro per week. At today’s rate that is $79,200. Yep, pretty damn important!
Our tour included two stops, the first in the town of Amalfi where I did an interesting (but not expensive) tour of an old paper mill. They used to use worn out cloth to make the paper. After a gelato I got back on the boat and we headed to Positano. There were a lot of tourists there, probably staying at the “most interesting ‘otels” by the looks of things. I chose to find a shady restaurant and enjoy an “interesting” snack of bruschetta and rosè.
The next day was spent exploring Sorrento. There was an art exhibit of Matisse drawings in town and a good movie about his life. I enjoyed an exhibit of carillons, old-time music players enthusiastically demonstrated by an elderly gentleman whose only English was a smiling “you like?” We had a ball. “Beethoven. You Like??” “Si, si! Molto
Bello!” “Aida. You like?” “Si, si! Molto molto bello!” I tried to ask in my bad Italian how much they cost new, but he thought I wanted to buy one. “No, no madame. E museo!” We shared one of those right-then-left Italian cheek kisses when I left.
The next day I did another tour, this time to Herculaneum. It included a reserved seat on the train (unlike the squished train trip on our Pompeii tour). You would think since both towns were destroyed by the same Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD they would be about the same, but not really. Herculaneum was much closer so got buried deeper and is more well-preserved with actual skeletons, charred wooden beams, melted iron bars and much taller walls. I am glad I saw them both.
Friday morning was spent shopping in Sorrento, then packing in the afternoon. I enjoyed my final dinner at Il Nido where the food and service was great. On Saturday I splurged on a private transfer service and thoroughly enjoyed a spirited two-hour conversation with Guiseppe who somehow managed to get that nice black Mercedes and me safely to Grottaminarda. I am here exploring the place some of my Italian relatives were born. But that is a story for next time. Ciao a tutti!