Friday, 15 October 2010

Arrivederci Sorrento

Yes, the holiday was superb. It seems ages since we arrived back. I've downloaded pictures, reviewed them and dumped many. Around the house all the little things which remind me of the holiday, also remind me that I have yet to write up my blog.......there has been a block, because I fear that I will never be able to do the holiday justice.

Today I have done two things which I have been meaning to do for some time, so now I shall at least put some jottings down. Once this is done I'll feel free to continue with my small updates, and when I am moved, I'll edit this entry.

We flew with Thompson, and enjoyment started on the flight.... with the delightful safety video. It really made you look. Mr S and I have talked about it quite a bit, and he even found it for me on You Tube. Unlike the plane we flew back in, which was fairly old with no screen on the chair in front, and excruciating lack of leg room for Mr S, the outward bound flight was very comfortable, and the time passed very quickly.

We arrived at our Hotel and found it to be very comfortable and with a good view towards Vesuvius from our balcony. On the hotel's website, the location is described as quiet, well it was a way out from the Town, but quiet it was not, as the road outside the hotel was busy all the time.
With good shutters and doors, you could shut out the noise. In the end we went with the flow, and traffic watched whenever we sat on the balcony, marvelling at the Italian driving and the many very fit cyclists who used the road for speed trials.

Each morning I would wake up and look out to check on the crater.......

We have been to Sorrento before, 17 years ago, our 'rest stop' for four days, whilst we were on the 'Grand Tour'.

This year we had two weeks in this lovely spot. Except for one, all our outings we planned and went on using local transport: buses, trains, ferries and short 'cruises'.

The only official Thompson trip we booked ourselves onto was the day out to Paestum.

On the way we had a stop of Salerno. The day we arrived was the Feast of St Matthew, and there was a huge congregation at a special service, as the Cathedral is dedicated to St Matthew. Mr S and I found it embarrassing and rude of the guide to still continue through the main body of the church, and were relieved to find ourselves down in the wonderful crypt, where it is said are the remains of St Matthew. There was only a scattering of locals there.

The whole area was exuberantly decorated. What touched me most was that there were some parishioners there, and as I waited by the exit a lady asked me where we were from in very good English, and also welcomed me to the Church, and said that she hoped we had enjoyed this wonderful place. She was no guide, or official person, only a lady come to the Church for the special day.

Before catching the coach again, Mr S and I stopped off for a coffee and cake, and I spied a very small green grocer, and I just could not resist getting some of my favourite fruit. They were sun warm, ripe from the tree, and just ready to eat. I cradled them on my lap, and by the end of the day there were all eaten up.

Surrounded by its 5th Century BC walls, Paestum, where Greek Temples tower above other remains, together with the adjoining National Archoaeological Museum, was the highlight of our holiday.

My eyes were opened to the superb craftmanship of the Greeks, as demonstrated in the displays of sculpture, pottery and glass.

What astounded me most however, was the collection of Gaudo Pottery found at a Paleolithic site a kilometre away from Paestum, during the building of a second World War airfield. The lighting was very low in the area, but I tried to take a picture of one of the large display cabinets.


According to the description in the museum this Gaudo pottery dates from the IV to III millenium BC, and were created using the coil technique. The vessels were superbly shaped and decorated by textures which were crisp. I had never seen anything like this.

In comparison to Herculaneum, and Pompeii, this site with the museum, was far more enjoyable, without the very large number of tourists.

Just a short walk away from our hotel, a cobbled road and path tumbled down the Capo di Sorrento to a rocky outcrop, where the ruin of Villa Polli stands. There is a small cove almost completely cut off from the sea. Mr S and I sat there looking at the Roman brickwork which looks like honeycomb and wondered whether at some time there was a large bridge across this area.

As the fortnight progressed, we knew we were getting more adept at the steep hills and therefore fitter, as the walk down to the promontory became our short leg stretch from the hotel. When we returned we got into the habit of going straight into the bar and having a couple of cool glasses of pear juice.

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