Ah, it's good to be home...not that we didn't have a blast in Italy and Greece! It was amazing and we really lucked out with the weather. It was sunny everyday and probably low 80's. Felt like the perfect summer weather. The first part of the trip we stopped in Pompei on the way to the Amalfi coast. It was amazing to walk over streets that were thousands of years old and to see the worn tracks from millions of horse carts passing over them. We had a great private guide, Marco, who not only did all the girls swoon over, but he actually was very good at bringing the ancient world to life in our minds as we explored the city.
Next we landed on the Amalfi coast. Our motor coach was just small enough to navigate the twists and turns of the cliffside drive and it made for a very exciting - yet scenic entry in to one of the most beautiful spots in Italy. We had a great hotel overlooking the sea and wandered in to the town for a wonderful meal of local specialties. The next day we took the boat to Capri Island, which is another of my favorite spots (how many favorites can you officially have?). Amazing views, people watching, shopping, food, architecture, gelato, gelato. Oh yah, we also hit our favorite restaurant that sits on a sea cliff and serves local sardines (amongst other things) in a variety of delicious ways. Even non-sardine lovers became converts after trying them.
Next day, Positano, another beautiful coastal town right on the beach. Sunset and cocktails from a rooftoop cafe and (oh, I have a new bloody mary to post!) then another fabulous dinner.
We continued on the next day to Matera, an amazing city unlike any other in Italy - or perhaps the world. The beginning of Matera is actually unknown and dates back at least to the neolithic age. The dwellings were originally caves and over time they added structures upon the caves - layering the habitats. Matera is relatively unknown to tourists and only a few hotels, shops, and cafes exist. It has a wonderful, peaceful feeling, that made many of us think of images we had in our minds of ancient Jerusalem. Our hotel was an amazing 4 star, yet un-assuming structure that had rooms built in to the actual caves! It was really cool and totally unique. The next morning, we woke up early to find a mysterious fog bank rolling over the town, some of the early birds scrambled outside and looked for high points to photograph the moody city. I climbed to the lookout point of the central church - built into the rocks - and got some great shots of the fog wisping through the stone village.
We took a day trip to the Puglia region on the Adriatic sea and saw a completely different type of architecture in the Alberobello area. The conical stone roof buildings are so unique that they are protected under UNESCO as a world heritage site - similarly to Matera. Matera, by the way, was used in Mel Gibson's film, Passion, because of it's unique and ancient backdrop.
Finally, we ended up at the coastal town of Polignano a Mare where we had the most amazing lunch at the areas most famous seafood restaurant and topped it off with a visit the the gallery/workspace of a famous Italian glass sculpture artisan. His work was truly amazing. We soaked up a little of the warm sea breeze - now on the opposite coast from where we started in Amalfi - before heading back to our "caves" for an Italian cooking class and dinner party.
Here's a shot of our group at one of my other favorite towns with an incredible view, Ravello. A couple people were MIA (off shooting somewhere). see the gallery of images here. Ciao!