Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SAILING ON THE SEVEN SEAS - Part II

"Night in Sorrento" by R. Engelbrecht
After leaving Naxos, our ship traveled Northwest to the Bay of Naples to the small town of Sorrento where there are plenty of panoramic views and tourist destinations. The people of Sorrento are very resourceful and industrious. They have utilized the steep hillsides to terrace farm between houses and apartments. Vegetables are grown on the ground level and shaded by lemon and orange trees which in turn are shaded by grapevines growing in a canopy over the trees. It's a very clever triple use of hillside land that would be considered basically useless by most. When you are in Sorrento you can easily pass time in several of the relaxed cafes, the Piazzo Tasso (central square), the fourteenth century Chiesa di San Francesco (a picturesque cloister), or in a medieval cathedral.

"Arches in Pompeii" photo by Trey Ratcliff, www.stuckincustoms.com

Our excursion to Pompeii was especially interesting considering it was completely covered in ash in 79AD after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The preservation of Pompeii gives you a time travel experience. Currently there is an archeological vineyard project attempting to grow vines just as they were on the day Mt. Vesuvius wiped out the city. They have a variety of old Greek and Roman grapes planted in 7 different ways. Wines from these vines can be purchased at www.mastroberadino.com. One interesting fact about Pompeii is, that in its heyday, the city had over 80 wine bars and only 30 bakeries. The bakeries used the same brick oven design that are used today.

"Flowers Out for a Walk" by Kristen Gooday
From Sorrento we sailed to Civita-
vecchia, the port of call for Rome.

Once the ship ports, passengers take a one hour ride into the city (typically by "Civitavecchia d'Arpino"
by Francesco Urbano


bus).
Your selection of choices to tour Rome are limited. Ancient Rome, the Vatican, St. Peter's Basillica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Trevi Fountain all vie for your attention. As far as the cuisine in Rome is concerned, you do not have to travel far to find street vendors and small local restaurants. Some of the best fish restaurants in the city literally take fish straight out of the tank into the fryer. Quinzi and Gabrieli is one of those fish restaurants; it was also voted best fish restaurants in 2008 by the locals.

"Monte Carlo" by Mike Cohn at Flickr.com

The final destination of the cruise ship was the vibrant Principality of Monaco. We sailed out of the port of Civitavecchia and headed Northwest to the foot of the Southern Alps. Monaco is a highly cultured place that touts the Rainer III Academy of Music, the Academy of Classical Dance and the Princess Grace Municipal Plastic Art School. The city is a great place for art lovers, museum-goers, sports enthusiasts, night owls and foodies. Alain Ducasse is one of several chefs in Monte Carlo who will give you an extraordinary dining experience.