120512 Florence – Pisa 12 May Sunday

Everyone is thankful that today we get to sleep in an hour.  Our walking tour to the Duomo starts at 9:00am.  The Duomo is the city’s religious hub for tourists.  Officially called Santa Maria del Fiore (St Mary of the Flower), the green, cream and pink marble-clad confection was intended by proud Florentines as a cathedral to end all cathedrals – to hold 20,000.  The dome is 42 m in diameter, surpassing both the Pantheon and St Peter’s in Rome.

Florence has 64 museums but we are to visit but one, the Galleria dell’ Accademia.  This is just a short walk from the Duomo and is the ‘home’ of David.

David is one of the most well known sculptures of Michelangelo.  He sculptured this when he was only 25.  The sculpture depicts the “David”, of David & Goliath fame, with sling across his shoulder ready to let fly to kill Goliath.  Interestingly, it is carved from a slab of marble, which had been set aside as weak and insecure.  Michelangelo found it and ‘boarded’ it up for 2 and half years while he went to work to create a lifelike image of David.

After a rushed sandwich for lunch, we walk to our bus and drive to Pisa 90 minutes away.  Allow me to quote the history of Pisa.  “Fame came to Pisa because of an engineering error.  For centuries, visitors have flocked to Pisa to see its architectural oddity, the Leaning Tower. When Bonnano and Tedischo designed the cylindrical campanile in 1172, they planned a ground floor, six storys of open loggia and the bell chamber.  But by the time they got to the third cornice, it became obvious that the foundations would be inadequate, and the work was abandoned.  A century later, Goovanni di Simone, who lightened the weight on the leaning side and modified the inclination, resumed the project.  By 1350 the bell chamber and seven bells had been added, though they are never tolled.  About 250 years later, Galileo is supposed to have used the tower to demonstrate the principle of gravity.  Approximately 60 m high, the white marble tower is now leaning nearly 5m from the perpendicular.”

Around the Pisa perimeter are many traders selling souvenirs of Italy and Pisa.  Of course, there are also the ‘mobile’ traders who seem to know when the authorities are around, collect there wares in quick time and rush off.  We saw this happen outside the museum where we saw David. I set the video camera for this episode.

After our 90 minutes return to Florence, we shower and get ready to have dinner at a famous restaurant run by the Giovanni family.  The food was again delicious even though we had ravioli.  The chocolate cake and ice cream made up for it.

120518 Perugia – Civitavecchia 18 May Friday

Today is the last early start for the Tour of Italy.  We take a short trip to the town of Assisi of St Clare and St Francis of Assisi fame.  Another quaint village with narrow cobbled streets; where the Giro d’Italia (Cycling) had a stage finish just a few days ago.

Because the sun is shining brightly, today is a very good day for photography.  There are some interesting angles on some of the buildings that give some great pictures looking upwards.  The white and pinkish stone of the buildings against the blue sky look terrific.  By ‘looking back’, you can often see a scene that just stops you and you have to take a photo from that angle too.  This can either extend your photography experience or cause you to have to speed up when you are doing a walking tour through a village.  This happened to me; speeding up can be frustrating when you have some great shots that need including in your portfolio, so I missed hearing the commentary from the walking tour guide.

The village is just ‘opening for business’ and delivery vehicles hamper our progress through the 3 km of cobbled streets.  Even though I didn’t hear all the guide had to say, she was an excellent commentator and as we went through St Clare’s Cathedral and St Francis’s Cathedral.  It was interesting to me that the crowds at St Peter’s in Rome had trouble keeping quiet in the Sistine Chapel and yet at Assisi the crowds were ‘obeying’ the call of the “silence” requests very effectively.  And so the reverence feeling was here.

The St Francis’s Cathedral seemed to have 3 cathedrals on top of each other:  the lowest one where St Francis’s body lies, the middle one is a larger meeting place, and the main cathedral on the top.  All cathedrals seem to include a nave.  It makes it even more amazing that these buildings were built in the 12th century and before.

We board the coach for our last leg of the tour of Italy and so there are procedures that need to be attended to:  making sure everyone is ready to board the Noordam, the collection of walking tour hearing devices, the announcement of the ‘most photos taken’ (would you believe 4500 is the winner).  I worked out that I took 367,000 frames in 1140 shots (a ‘shot’ is the period from the start to stop of a video clip) over 3 hours 40 minutes of video.  Earlier, our tour guide had run a quiz on aspects of the tour of Italy and we decide to have an Australian Quiz that she should answer the questions to.  However, Rosemary became too busy so we just ‘played the game’ amongst ourselves.  Each person had to write out a question about Australia and that became the quiz.  One group of four, who had become known as the ‘Mafia up the back’, attained 100% – very well done!

We arrive at Civitavecchia, which is the port for Rome.  Without extra cost, we manage to take a free tour of the docks – the gatekeeper gave our driver incorrect instructions how to get to shipside of the ‘Noordam’.  So for 15 minutes we are on a ‘goose chase’ to find the way to the ship which we could all see clearly.  There is two other larger ships docked close by.

Quickly ‘goodbyes’ are said to the coach driver and tour guide and we are through security and into our rooms for the restful part of our 4-week tour.

We may not have internet connection on the ship so don’t’ expect a ‘daily post’ from now.  The price for WiFi on the ship is $100 for 250 minutes so just may not sign up with them and try on shore each day.

120517 Venice – Perugia 17 May Thursday

Today has started with brilliant sunshine.  Why didn’t it happen yesterday when we had so much more time?  Those interested in photography become busy taking photos in the sunshine before breakfast and our departure from Venice at 7:30am.  The quality of breakfast in Venice has been exceptional.

A water taxi transfers us to our coach and after all our baggage is loaded, we are off heading south towards where we are to have a demonstration of Balsamic vinegar and Lambrusco wine.  We learn how these specialties are made and some of us enjoy a sample of each product before moving to a restaurant for lunch.  Balsamic vinegar on cheese is interesting.  Balsamic vinegar is interesting.  And Balsamic vinegar on ice cream is even more interesting.  We are all vinegared out. By the time we need to board the coach, many of us are ready for pa-naps and nana naps – again!

We head towards Perugia.  There must be another 70 tunnels, which we travel through on our way.  Perugia is in the Umbrio Region and many of the building date back to days prior to Roman rule.  Our accommodation is near the main town square and is set on the top of a hill that gives us nearly 360-degree views.  Some of us find the swimming pool – well done it is too.  There are relics kept at the bottom of the pool that can be viewed while swimming – goggles required.

We had taken a group photo back at the Balsamic vinegar place and so I get some prints done to hand out at our final Italian dinner that is held tonight.  We have some great food for this dinner and some speeches are made and souvenirs are handed out.

One of our group has made up a verse of her impressions of our Tour of Italy.  Here goes.

To San Gimignano we all would love to go.

After racing around Sienna’s Campo, it’s a peaceful place to know.

No need to stress in Stresa, with peacocks on the grass.

The lovers in Verona are sure to make us laugh.

We will float along canals in Venice and hope the tides not high,

So we can stand in St Mark’s Square, and keep our both fee dry.

In Assisi we can say a prayer that Enzo (the driver) knows the way,

So we can reach the Roman Port to sail away.

It’s tough to be in Tuscany and now we all know why,

The time just flies and before we know it, we must say goodbye.

Other comments made about the trip around Italy:

”Capri”.  What a little treasure in the Isle of Capri is my number one site?

Sorrento, Sorrento on the sea, where mama made fresh pasta for me.  The bay of Naples kept calling “come back, come back to the Mediterranean Sea.  On the Isle of Capri Make love to me.”

Stresa – the lake is so beautiful and relaxing.  Stresa takes the stress out of life.

My Favorite – Tuscany.  Very Beautiful.  I could live there.

No particular favorite – Have enjoyed them all.

We are having a ball and will remember it all for evermore.

San Gimignano to me was terrific.  I liked the visual sights of farmlands and the tranquility of the town square and the medieval historic nature of the area.

120516 Venice 16 May Wednesday

Today is not such an early start, as we are not moving out of Venice.  Today’s breakfast has been the best so, although we expect to be treated like royalty while on the cruise which starts in two days time.

Our walking tour around St Mark’s Square is somewhat adjusted due to the constant rain this morning.  However, we are shown around the castle and into the church.  You could say that ABC is a common thing each day:  Another B Castle, Another B Church (ooops!).  We have free time during lunch so we walk ‘the other direction’ to see other parts of Venice.  One must be careful which lane you take because there just could be no bridge at the end of it and you have to U back and into another lane to cross the canal that just baulked you.  We find a nice little café that looks like it is serving sandwiches.  Would you believe, two other couples from our group have found the same café ahead of us?

At 2:30pm, we catch a boat across to two of the islands and also do a ‘Cook’s Tour’ of the outer parts of Venice.

The first island we visit is Muramo.  We are shown into a room where they make glass ornaments.  A demonstration is presented and everything turns out just fine; the little bird looks great.  Then we are ushered into the shop where is displayed many of these ‘glass blobs’ that resemble animals or people or whatever.  The price?  Well beyond us.  A clarinet was going for 28,000 Euro – it is still there.   Some of the group purchase and have the goods sent direct from Venice.

In the distance, we see snow capped mountains and are told that just over the peaks is Austria.  There is a very cold wind blowing and the snow is the reason.

The second island we visit is Burano.  This is an island know for the production of good quality lace.  We watch a young lady, doing some work on a butterfly and then, yes you guessed it, into the shop we go.  Although the prices are much lower than the glass factory, not a lot of purchases are made here.  The village has many canals through it and the houses are painted brilliant colors as you can see from the photos.  Lyn purchases some small pieces of ‘glass’ while I ‘stick’ with some almond toffee.

We arrive back at the hotel around 6:30pm, drop off the purchases and find a Hard Rock Café, (they have plenty of non-pasta meals), as we wander the streets some more. Our table looks out over a ‘parking lot’ for gondolas.  The boatmen are preparing the gondolas for the night.

Venice is made up of 36 islands and there are over 27 million visitors each year.  There are people from all parts of the world experiencing the city where ‘everyone should go to at least once in their lifetime’.

I must say that I have rarely seen many ‘senior moments’ from among the group.  However, today it is on me.  While browsing shops, I was venturing in to a photographic shop and walked straight into the glass door.  The shop assistants thought it was funny as did Val and Lyn.  Then on the boat, I had two:  one while the ship’s captain was hitching up the boat to the wharf, the end of the rope got me right on my front tooth.  If I wasn’t doing my usual ‘smile’ I would have ended up with a cut lip.  The second on the boat was I bumped my head on the roof of the boat while going for a seat; would you believe that all the group went ‘ooooooo’?

We plan for an early night as Thursday we start off the day before 6:00am bound for Perugia.

120515 Stresa – Venice 15 May Tuesday

We have another early start as we need to travel from the west at the top of Italy to the east on the coast.  However, the highway is very good with 3 lanes all the way.  There are more trucks and lorries than cars on the highway transporting Italian produce around the country.

We are arrive at Verona around 11:30 am and our guide meets us at the bus parking area.  The main destination where all tourists go to in Verona is Juliet’s House of Romeo and Juliet fame.  The streets are crowded with tourists, so deep, it is hard to find a spot to set up the tripod to do the videoing.  The ‘balcony’ is in a small piece of street in a busy arcade.  We are given a short amount of time to take pictures standing beside Juliet, the statue.  Her breast is smooth from all the tourists, both male and female, fondling her.  Oh well, Romeo is not around any more so someone has to do it.

We visit Romeos house, very plain.  This town thrives because Shakespeare wrote a play about an ‘in love’ couple years and years ago, from England.  The souvenir shop is teaming with tourists buying trinkets, padlocks, key rings, magnets, pins, aprons and whatever you can imagine.  Just up the street, a young girl has a sewing machine on the sidewalk, sewing your name on a heart or piece of cloth so you can attach it to something of your own – 5 Euros.

We visit the city square.  This is non-other than a place to sell souvenirs to tourists.  Along the small narrow roads leading to the Roman arena, there are expensive looking clothes shops with well-decorated windows.  The colors are not drab dark shades but vibrant clean looking, and exciting blends.  Our favorite is the ‘Colors of Beneton’ shops.  They are the most colorful in Italy.  However, the shops are not for those who are happy with Target and even Myer prices, for they are for the rich.  Fortunately, Lyn is not feeling rich today.

At the Roman Arena, we find a well-kept relic.  The locals compare it to the Colosseum of Roma as being in tact and useable.  There is to be a concert and the stage is being set for the 20,000 who will be entertained here.  Seat prices are around 2-300 Euros each.  The best seats are up the back but not high up.  From here you can look at all the big-ticket people straining their necks past the person in front of them just so the people in the higher seats can ‘see they are in the expensive seats’.  Often, there are Rock Concerts with Madonna performing in September and Lady Gaga currently being negotiated with for a concert in 2013.

We have lunch at the Piazza Bra before boarding our bus for a 2-3 hour trip to Venice.  Each popular city has a checkpoint for buses to be approved to enter the region.  They want from the driver to provide details of all his passengers: where they have come from, what is their nationality, how long they will be in the area, all to be approved by fax.  All this holds us up around Italy a number of times during our tour.

Eventually, we have reached Venice proper, and we start out like the locals; on our feet and in boats.  From our bus, we gather our ‘cabin luggage’ and walk to the water taxi for transporting to our hotel, 30 minutes away.  Our main luggage goes in another water taxi.

Our accommodation is Hotel Danieli, overlooking the main area where gondolas leave from, just along from St Marks Square.  Quickly, we check-in and board a gondola for a 30 minute experience around the canals.  One of the gondolas has our entertainment and his voice sounds great with the walls of buildings being the acoustic device.  We expect that our suitcases would be at our rooms on our return but some of us have to help the porter to distribute them to the rooms before going out to a delightful meal in a ‘restoranti’ down the narrow alleyway from St Marks Square.  We retire around 10:00pm.

This blog has had around 700 hits per day for the last week and yesterday it got to 904, so I assume you are enjoying the daily posts.  I get up at 4:30am each day to put them together and fix the photos up before publishing the work.  Lyn has taken 1200 stills and I have over 800 shots of video – I don’t know how long the total video is but it is probably up around 4 hours by now – much editing to do on our return.

120514 Stresa 14 May Monday

It is a later start for most today, but Lyn and I get up at 5:15 to take photos around Lake Maggiore.  This is a beautiful lake that brings celebrities from around the world for their holidays.  It zigzags for 63 km into the mountains, its northern end jutting well into Switzerland.  The lake is dotted with charming villages and resorts; terraced gardens blooming with azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons drop down to the blue waters.  Stresa is set amid luxuriant vegetation, with a fine lakeside promenade overlooking the Borromean Islands.

After breakfast and hearing complaints about the powdered scrambled egg that was dished up for breakfast, we catch a boat from outside of our hotel to transfer to the island of Isola Bella.  We tour through the castle that has so many interesting paintings and tapestries.  There are about 5 ‘grotto’ rooms that are lined with both white and black coral.  There is a room of marionettes that would have been used to entertain children BTV (Before TV).  We are not allowed to take photographs in this building.

After the tour, we are free to roam the island where there is a botanical garden with fine displays of camellias and azaleas, and is patrolled by white peacocks.  Some manage to see a peacock display their tail feathers.  There are a few magnificent blooms to photograph.  Of course, there are traders to sell you souvenirs.

At 12:00pm, we transfer to the island of Isola Pescatori to lunch at a great little waterside café.  The vegetarian dish we had was delicious.  Lyn enjoyed her favorite, lemon cake, for dessert.  We have been very good until today, we haven’t purchased any souvenirs, but we relent and purchase two little magnets and a cap today.

After our transfer back to the mainland, we are free to wander through the many shops in Stresa.  I get a few games of Sudoku completed while Lyn tries on clothes and shoes – yes she ended up making a purchase.  Many of the larger group we are travelling with are doing the same as us, looking around and ending up with cones of sumptuous Italian ice cream.

120513 Florence – Stresa 13 May Sunday

Today is an early start as there is much to see and do, and about 250km of freeway travel to our next 2 day stay at Stresa.

Our direction is east of Florence to the coast where we find a totally different landscape.  The Italian Riviera sweeps along the Mediterranean from France to Tuscany.  On the southern end of the Riviera, the coast fans out with a dramatic flourish into one of the most astonishing regions in Italy, the almost inaccessible heights of Cinque Terre, which stretches along the western coast from Riomaggiore to Monterosso. You can reach them by sea, or by train on a line that cuts through the mountains, emerging briefly into the open air at the stations.  The steep cliffs are draped with vineyards that go right down to the sea.  Almost all of the houses and accommodation is ‘hanging’ onto the side of the cliffs.  The region has been declared National Heritage under UNESCO.

Arriving at the town of Manarola, we walk down a steep pathway and along the 1km Lover’s Path.  It’s interesting that lovers have attached padlocks to the wire protection screens signifying that their love will last forever – the key has been thrown into the ocean.  We make our way down to the wharf at Riomaggiore to board a boat that takes us to Monterosso.  The view of the villages along the rugged, but spectacular, coastline is awesome.  Our lunch is at a little café in Monterosso; I choose a simple meal of fries and grilled vegetables, keeping away from the traditional ‘flour and water’ bake, while others have mussels and other seafood in pasta.

After a short walk, we board a train to Levanto, just the one stop, and a distance of 5 minutes.  The train is noticeably quiet and smooth.  36 get on and 36 get off.

Our coach meets us here and we have a long transfer section through the Italian Riviera and on to Stresa.  We must have gone through 60 tunnels in 2 hours, anything from 200 meters to 2000 meters.

Arriving at Stresa, there are lots of ‘Ooohhhs, and Aaahhhs’ as Lake Maggiore comes into view.  The hotel is just a block from the little quaint village.  The meal has been booked for 7:40pm and some of us don’t have our suitcases, so we make our way to this ‘upmarket’ dining room in ‘travel’ clothes, some a little embarrassed as we feel misfits in such a ‘toffee’ hotel.

One of the single has had a few things go wrong for her: she had to find her own way from Rome Airport to the hotel, and her suitcase has been delivered to the wrong room on two different occasions, and she is not one of those sorts of people who ‘just let it flow’ and patiently waits.  Oh well, things don’t always go right for some people.

Thank you, to all those who have sent us comments along the way.  We are enjoying what you too could have been a part of.

120511 San Gimignamo – Florence 11 May Friday

Today, we find ourselves in the delightful region of Tuscany.  As we have stayed overnight at a Winery, the scenery is just what you always dreamt that Italy is; blue skies, neat farmland that is green as far as the eye can see.  The bus takes us to the small walled village of San Gimignano nearby.  You can only walk into the village, as the streets are so narrow, there is no way the coach could maneuver around the corners.

Brick-paved in a herringbone pattern, Piazza della Cisterna is the first of two adjoining squares forming the city’s central region.  13th century towers border the squares.  Just a dozen remain of the original 70.  The town’s tallest surviving tower is 54 m high.

We climb the tallest tower up many stairs to view Tuscany in full view.  The green farmland goes on forever to the rolling hills in the distance.  This morning is a great morning to do this as the air is clear and the sun is warming.  There are many quaint shops here too.  The region, including Florence, is known for good Italian leather ware.  Lyn buys a brilliant blue handbag and an orange hand purse and a purple coin purse.  I pick up a wallet that has 21 spots for cards.  All for very good prices – we believe.  It is not good, looking for something you have recently purchased, as it just could be cheaper.  While in the leather shop, a girl started hugging Lyn.  It turns out that she is from Silvan and goes to Curves gym at Wandin where Lyn went for a while – and she and her husband, didn’t book at the world’s greatest travel agency.

There has been an interesting sculptor in town, an Englishman.  His statutes are of himself in the nude, and Lyn goes to welcome him into the village.  There are quite a number of these statues around and it takes her quite a while – lol.

We move on to a farm to have lunch.  It is famous for wine making and olive oil.  Everything is grown organically and the family of owners are very proud of their products – good wine and olive oil.

After lunch, we make our way to Florence, just 40 km up the highway.  Before we can enter the city center, we need to buy a permit for the bus to take us there; a ritual it seems.  The authorities will not issue permits until the foreigners have actually arrived in the area – no internet pre-bookings allowed.  It costs 150 Euros just to take us in and pick us up in two days time.

We arrive at The Helvetia & Bristol Hotel just two blocks from the main city square.  The rest of the afternoon and evening is free time so Lyn and I take a walk around the ‘up-market’ shops to look for a smart leather coat.  If we don’t like anything in the shop, I say to the shopkeeper, “We are looking for a bright pink coat”, and they understand why we are leaving.

The city square looks like a good place to have a bite to eat and we find a café looking out onto the square and we are ‘front’ row’ table.  There is a jazz trio playing just across from us and we purchase a CD to use in the DVD we make on our return home.  This is so relaxing – why isn’t every day on tour like this?

It looks like tonight is an early night and we are in bed by 9:30pm after doing the laundry.

120510 Sorrento – San Gimignamo 10 May Thursday

Today we leave ‘the best ocean view’ one could ever have.  Although the rooms are tiny, the experience of living ‘on the edge of a cliff’ gives us a new meaning.  After breakfast, we head back towards Rome via Naples.  The scenery is absolutely stunning.  There is no sign of  a drought; every thing is green.  We travel through olive groves, lemon orchards, and into wineries, all is lush and at full speed of growth.

Although we travel around 250km, time is well spent viewing the rolling hills and attractive landscape on our way to Tuscany.  Often, a village is noticed on top of a hill, and has to be included in the camera.  The highway is not overloaded, but constant with many lorries and coaches.  We stop for comfort along the way, and have lunch at a highway eating-house; short staffed but very efficient.

We divert to Siena, a very quaint village on a hill.  The parking point for the coach is teaming with other coaches from around Europe.  We have taxis waiting to transfer us through the narrow cobble stoned streets, into the cathedral square.  Here is a marvellous cathedral, Duome.  The mosaics on the floor and walls are just ‘different’.  There is a library of old sheet music, which has been preserved and is not allowed to be breathed on in case the music is affected.  The painting and mosaics on the walls of the library are in very fine detail.

We then take a stroll through the cobbled streets, past exquisite shops of great color and style.  The leather shops have some magnificent colored bags and cases in them.  We make it to a large ‘square’.

This is the point where the city’s three hills meet.  The curved and sloping Piazza del Campo takes the form of a scallop shell.  This was where the Romans built their forum.  It is the stage of the world-famous Palio, the major event in Tuscany’s calendar. The Palio di Siena (known locally simply as Il Palio) is a horse race that is held twice each year, on July 2 and August 16.  Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen city wards. The Palio held on July 2 is named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of the Madonna of Provenzano, who has a church in Siena. The Palio held on August 16 is named Palio dell’Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary.

A magnificent pageant, the Corteo Storico, precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world.

The race itself, in which the jockeys ride bareback, circles the Piazza del Campo, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid, three times and usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. It is not uncommon for a few of the jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza, and indeed, it is not unusual to see unmounted horses finishing the race without their jockeys.

We are given 50 minutes free time and Lyn makes the most of the clothing shops – 4 pieces in one shop.  The shopkeeper is very happy.  I notice a cake shop next door and for 1 Euro, I am able to enjoy a chocolate éclair filled with liquid chocolate, mmmmmmmm.  Lyn only saw the last mouth full going in.

We arrive at San Gimignano and find our delightful accommodation at a Tuscany winery.  The bus has three shots at reversing up the hill to the entrance to the accommodation. The evening meal entree is spaghetti  – how do so many people enjoy this ‘stuff’?  We are here just the one night before venturing on to Florence tomorrow.

120509 Sorrento 9 May Wednesday

After a quick early breakfast, we board a smaller bus for an exciting transfer to a wharf for a Jetfoil ride to the Isle of Capri.  The streets around Sorrento are so narrow with sharp turns that give the passengers a thrill or two.  Lots of wooows and aaaaahs.

No visitor to Capri should miss the boat trip to the famous Blue Grotto – and judging from the crowds, none of them do.  The inexorable battering of the waves hollowed out this cave in pre-historic times, and since it was rediscovered by August Kopisch, in 1826. it has brought fame to the island.  The sea rises well above the half-way mark inside the cave, and the entrance is so low that only small boats can pass through, and then only in summer, provided that the sea is calm.  When the sun shines outside, the cave is filled with an extraordinary flickering cobalt-blue light.  Emperor Tiberius had a nuptial chamber carved out of the rock.  This is some experience indeed.  All who came to the cave, enjoyed the experience.  We take the boat back to the port and after a 30-minute wait in a line, we take a 10-minute cable car ride up the mountain to the town square at the top, then a 10-minute walk down the other side to our restaurant for lunch.  We have three courses: salad, ravioli, and chocolate cake.  The water is included.  I have since found out that many of the others in the group enjoyed taking photos of me – asleep at the table (someone had placed an empty wine bottle near me).

Pasta is a common food here – like French fries.  You don’t see a lot of burger shops at all.  A Burger King or a McDonalds here and there, just the one Subway and no KFCs .  Why do I mention all the take-aways, you ask?  There are so many pizza and pasta shops around, you start to feel like having a non-Italian meal.

Each street café has someone on the street enticing you in for a cappuccino or pasta or even free cover charge to sit in the dinning area.

After a walk back up the hill, we are given a 1-hour walking tour around the Capri Township on the top of the hill.  It seems most Italians live in multi-story apartments.  We walk into an area of villas that have fantastic gardens with views to kill.   Many of the villas have been turned into hotels.  A villa is a freestanding house like we know it in Australia.  There are so many spots to take postcard photos of this delightful island.

The shop windows are ‘out of the box’ with great clothing colors.  I ‘test’ out one shop that has a very smart light blue jacket in the window – 1200 Euro.  “I don’t think I will be buying it”, I said.  But it did look great.

We board the cable car at 3:15 and catch the 3:55pm Jetfoil back to Sorrento.  Tonight is a free night where some walk/bus to the township of Sorrento and others enjoy the ocean view from the restaurant at the hotel.

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