Archive for September, 2014

Napoli and Amalfi – Part 1

September 15th, 2014

If it is not obvious already from the amount of time that I spend there, I love Italy.  I have been there many times and every time I do, I come back more enchanted and convinced that I should come again.

In all my previous trips, I had spent a grand total of 3 or 4 days in the area around Naples, and all of that when I was 11 and 13 years old.  I had memories of Paestum, Monte Cassino, Heculaneum and Castel del’Ovo.  But these were very vague, and I was not sure what was what any more.

Bee and I decided to spend the time between Easter and May Day in and around Naples so that we could take advantage of two holidays.  We arrived in Naples on 19 April, rented a car and drove to our hotel right in the center of the city.  The hotel was situated on a pedestrian street and so had left good instructions of where to park.  We found the parking and walked to the Hotel Il Convento. We had booked a room with balcony, at the very top of the hotel and it was very nice.

We went for a walk in order to discover the neighborhood.  On Piazza Plebiscito (Suffrage Square), we saw this sight of a cruise ship leaving harbor.  Naples and, as we will see later, Sorrento are major stops on the cruising Italy scene.

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There was not much going on in the low town around the square, so we decided to go up with one of the old cable cars (Funicolare Centrale) up to the Vomero Hill.  The car runs underground all the way up to the top of the hill.

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We first went to visit the Castel Sant’Elmo, located right at the top of the hill and built by the Spanish in 1538, with spectacular views of the city and Mount Vesuvius just behind it.  At first, I was not sure that it was Mount Vesuvius, as I did not remember the second “hump” on the side of the mountain, and all the photos and paintings of the volcano showed it more with the typical conical shape.  However, comparing with the location of Vesuvius on the map, and when we went there, I can confirm that the big mountain just outside the city is indeed Mount Vesuvius.

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Here is a wider panorama of the Bay of Naples.  Vesuvius is on the left and then you can see the low hills of the Amalfi Peninsula.  The last two dark spots on the right of the photo are the two hills of Capri – we had excellent visibility that day as the sun started to come down.

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After the castle, we went to the Certosa di San Martino, located only 100 m from the castle.  It used to be a Monastery, build in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 17th.  A constructed view (180 degrees) of the cloisters inside the monastery – this is Chiostro Grande.

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There are ancient carriages used by the former occupants of the Certosa – I guess the chief abbot was used to travel in style!

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