Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Weekend By the Sea with Friends

A few weeks ago we went to Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri with some friends.  We have lived numerous places and in each one we have been blessed with fantastic friends.  We are very fortunate for this and it always makes leaving somewhere more challenging, as well as always feeling a pull to return to places where we have left friends behind.  Each time we have arrived somewhere new we have been very lucky to meet someone who then opens the doors to many other friendships. I like to think of these people as connectors, they bring people together.  Though we have made many friends along our travels, it is the connectors that can really make you feel at home quickly and can really shape the experience you have in a new place.

Here in Italy we have made friends with a wonderful couple who have introduced us to many people.  We feel really fortunate to have met Kirk and Charlotte, who run the Oklahoma University program in Arezzo.  I met Charlotte in the grocery store and she invited us to her house for dinner.  We have made a number of friends through them, two who connected me to a job and one who connected us to a puppy.  Once I went to Florence to listen to one of Kirk's art history lectures, which has helped to reignite my interest in Art history and architecture.  With this group of friends we have now shared many meals, had parties, helped pick up garbage in the community, seen magic shows and recently we took a trip to Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri.  

Mark and I and the children drove down to Pompeii where we met up with Kirk and Charlotte, their two boys and a group of people from OU.  It was so great to have a chance to tour Pompeii, a place I had studied about as a child.  And to go with friends makes it so much more enjoyable, and even more so when these friends have been here before and know a great deal about the site and the history.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we walked the length of the site both ways peaking into old ruins of house, churches and other buildings.  It was amazing to see how well developed a community there had been when Mount Vesuvius had covered it in ashes, rocks and deadly gas in 79AD.  

After the day in Pompeii we drove along the coast to Sorrento, a beautiful seaside town clinging to a cliff of the Mediterranean.  Sadly the drive from Naples is along garbage strewn roadways and garbage filled tunnels.  We stopped at a pull out to take a picture looking back across the bay to Vesuvius and as I glanced down to the beach it too was littered with bags of garbage.  Once on the peninsula the garbage gave way to brightly coloured towns stacked on the sides of the rocky coast.  It really refreshed the feeling of 'being' in Italy for us.  

Saturday morning we took a boat to the Island of Capri, a beautiful hilly island with white washed buildings climbing upwards.  We walked up a winding path from the port to the town of Capri, I stopped frequently to snap photos of Madonnas and gardens.  

After a cappuccino with a fantastic view of the sea, we took a bus down an impossibly winding and narrow road to a beach on the far side of the island.  

It was a bit cloudy but looked as though it might burn off.  Kirk knew of restaurant at the top of the island, above Anacapri so we decided to leave the beach and head towards the clouds and what a great decision that was, not only was the food amazing, but by the time we reached the top, over an even more impossibly windy and narrow road, the sun had burned away the clouds and we had the most fantastic view of the island and the sea.

On Sunday we headed along the Amalfi coast to the town of Positano.  We had a friend in Canada tell us it was one of his favourite spots in Italy and from the moment we arrived we could see why.  Pastel coloured building and vibrant vines of flowers climb up the side of the hill from the sea.  When we drove into the town, our search for parking coincided with a man from a restaurant telling us he had parking and Pippa desperately needing a bathroom.  Lucky for us, because the food was great and the service very friendly.  Mark had one of the best gnocchi he had ever tasted, and I had the best Limoncello.

We then wandered down through the streets towards the beach.  Stopped for a gelato and a quick wade in the sea.  It was a beautiful day and we wished we had more time, but we had spent the morning in Sorrento having sandals made for us, and now we needed to get back on the road to go and collect our dog from friends.  It was a lovely end to a lovely weekend.  Just like Venice we vowed to return one day and I hope that we get the opportunity as it is very beautiful and it would be nice to have more time to further explore this stunning coast.

I am not sure we would have made the trip to Pompeii and Sorrento had it not been that we had friends going, but we are certainly glad we did, it is one of the many great experiences we have had here that we will always remember.  And the whole weekend was that much better by having good friends to experience it with.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful weekend Mary! You guys are making the most of your life in Italy, seeing so many towns and out-of-the way haunts. It is truly cultural immersion, I am so impressed with your family outings. And custom-made sandals, way to fit unique footwear shopping into a family weekend, I'm proud of you sister. :) :)