Thursday, September 16, 2010

Italy, Part 4 - Spoleto & Sorrento

After our time in Tuscany, it was time to head south. The drive from Montalcino to Sorrento was about 5 1/2 hours so I decided we would split it up with a stop in Spoleto to take a look at the massive aquaduct there.

As we drove into Spoleto I could see Jeremy getting nervous. I had him driving through the city, which really is more of a village town with tiny cobblestone streets. He kept wanting to turn around and go a different way, but I explained to him that the only way to the parking area nearest the aquaduct was up this way and he was just going to have to suck it up. He did and the drive through the town was an exciting adventure... at least for one of us. I will say, his driving got quite a bit more daring after that experience.

The massive aquaduct was impressive to view. Since it has a pedestrian bridge on one side, you can cross and reach a bunch of hiking trails on the other side. We didn't know about them before hand, so we weren't prepared to do a long hike, but we did take the main trail around the mountain side. The trail is clearly an exercise trail and they have exercise spots every 100 yards or so. Each spot has a chart of exercises and the necessary equipment. For example, one area is a slalom course (i think it's the trail warmup). So there are 5 or 6 large posts for you to run around and between. I think it's nice and a great way to keep people in shape. It was also really neat to see the aquaduct from the other side of the mountain.

Around 2pm we headed the rest of the way to Sorrento. Unfortunately this put us right into rush hour traffic and apparently high shopping time. As soon as the highway ended we were on more small roads with shops lining either side. Like everywhere else in Italy, people don't care much about the cars, and it's a long slow process to get through the area. Also we noticed a ridiculous amount of people on scooters. Apparently this is the most popular way of getting around. And I can understand why. Cause these little babies just zigzag through traffic, choosing whichever laws they decide apply to them (usually none). So between the people and the scooters, you are always on the defensive. It took about an hour to get through an area that the gps said would take 10 minutes. But we made it and arrived at our hotel (La Vue D' Or) way up on the hill side. The view from our balcony was amazing. I'm really glad we decided to stay off the town. Plus the hotel had a shuttle that ran on a pretty exact schedule, so it was easy to catch the shuttle into town in the morning for the boat to Capri and then grab the shuttle home again that night.

The next morning we decided to head to the Isle of Capri. I really wanted to take a small boat into the blue grotto, however, much to my dismay, it was raining that day and the seas were pretty rough. Even if it is sunny out, rough seas will stop the boats from entering this tiny little cave on the side of the cliff. The opening is so small that you have to lay down in the boat to get through. But since we were hear we figured we would at least take the big boat from Sorrento over to the Isle of Capri and walk around a while. Even though the small boats weren't running we could hike around the island and take the bus down to the entrance of the blue grotto.

I had decided before we arrived in Italy that I was going to try to swim into the blue grotto. I read that you could swim in anytime the boats weren't running (usually early morning or late afternoon). I also knew that while swimming into the grotto was "strictly forbidden," it was generally accepted and often done by the locals. I informed Jeremy of my plans, but he was none to thrilled with this idea. When we got to the grotto the waves were crashing pretty hard against the entrance. I knew at this point going in would be a bad idea, but I so desperately wanted to go. I also knew that it wouldn't be nearly that amazing on this particluar day becuase of the clouds and the light rain. The awe of the grotto comes from the sun hitting the water on the outside of the cave, and reflecting down into the water and up from below. From inside the grotto the water looks iridescent blue, the brightest blue you've ever seen. So I knew even if I entered the grotto I wouldn't see what I had come to see. As I was finally accepting my disappointment I saw what I considered to be the last straw... jellyfish. Yep, that was it. No way in hell was I getting in that water.

After seeing the grotto and walking along the water for a while, we headed up to the other side of the island to Villa Jovis. Emperor Tiberius spent a decade here, 26-37 A.D., because he was terrified of being assassinated in Rome. This ruined villa is pretty neat to explore and also makes for a lovely hike around the island.

Since the last boat back to Sorrento was at 5:20, we headed back down to the dock and returned to Sorrento for dinner. The next day we headed off to Pompeii and Rome.

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