14 cities 10 days 2 backpacks: Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi Coast, Assisi, Sienna, Florence, Pisa, Bologna, Padua, Venice, Montepulciano, Rome
After reading this list of cities, you must be thinking that we were crazy. You’d probably be right, but we still had a blast. Check out our pics below:
Our first day started bright and early in Rome. We joined our first 3-day Carrani coach tour. First stop: Naples. This is the Castel Nuovo.
Here you can clearly see a bomb that hit the castle during WWII.
the triumphal arch on the castle
The main square: Piazza del Plebiscito. The tour guide told us that there is a 40% unemployment rate in Naples and it is infamous for having a lot of pick pocketers. Matt and I didn’t mind that we only stopped here for a 45 minute walking tour.
We stopped at a cameo factory and got to watch the local artist as he sculpted another piece by hand.
Pompeii: the ancient Roman city destroyed und buried under layers of ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD
You can see the different types of materials they used to construct their cities.
a room at a brothel
our guide compared these paintings above the doorways to a “menu”
Our tour guide often pointed out the many brothels in the city. Some were clearly marked with this symbol so there wasn’t any confusion on what you were walking into.
preserved clay pots
You can see this man was trying to cover his mouth to prevent suffocation.
a typical home of a wealthy family. The basin in the middle collected rain water from a skylight above.
the courtyard inside the home
frescos on the wall
You could only ride your chariots in the direction the horse was facing so it was an ancient “one way street” sign.
You can see Mount Vesuvius in the background here. Naples and Pompeii are on opposite sides of the volcano.
From Pompeii to Sorrento! We couldn’t get enough of the view. Sorrento and Venice were our two favorite cities.
We were staying in Sorrento on Easter weekend. This Black Processional takes place every year on Good Friday in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. Hundreds of men wear these black robes with pointed hoods and parade around the historic center. Some carried lanterns or symbols of the cruxifixction, others spread incense, some sang Italian prayers. At some points, we marched with the crowd behind the procession and sometimes stopped to watch them go by. Even though we were only there as tourists, we could tell that this ceremony was held in high reverence by the people of Sorrento.
carrying Christ’s body
Mount Vesuvius again
We took the ferry across the island of Capri giving us a good view of Sorrento from the water.
harbor in Capri
As soon as we stepped off the ferry in Capri, we took a small boat to the blue grotto.
There we stepped off the boat into a small row boat. The opening to the grotto was only a square meter. We had to lie on the bottom of the boat or else we would hit our heads on the rocky entrance above.
Using the steel chain, our rower pulls us through into the grotto.
so beautiful and such an amazing experience! Because the walls of the grotto never reach the bottom, then natural sunlight shines through the water illuminating the grotto. The rowers would break out into verses of “Volare,” their Italian voices booming around the cave. We could even see jellyfish bobbing in the water around our boat.
overlooking Capri’s hillside
The Bell Tower of Capri Church in La Piazzetta
Back in Sorrento
One last sunrise view over the city
On Easter Sunday, we decided to take a drive along the windy Amalfi coast. Since none of the public transit was running on the holiday, we rented a Bambino with our New Zealander friend from the tour.
the town of Amalfi
We drove all the way to Ravello and stopped for a quick pizza.
The views along the coast were amazing and thankfully the rain held out until the drive back. We met up with our tour again and took the coach back to Rome for the night.
We took a late night stroll around Rome. Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
one of the fountains on the four corners
Piazza del Repubblica
Fontana delle Naiadi
The next morning we woke up early to leave for our next 5-day “Fantastica Fantasia” tour through Carrani tours. We shared a coach bus with 52 other tourists and our bubbly Dutch guide Mirjam. First stop: Assisi, home to Saint Francis of Assisi.
St. Francis founded Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208. This is the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi.
In addition to having a rich religious history, Assisi also was a very quaint and and charming city with cobblestones, narrow passages, and flowers blooming in every windowsill.
Next Stop: Sienna
Matt is walking on an ancient foot therapy path. You would walk on the rocks to massage your feet and then step in the basin beside it to soothe them.
proof of how quickly Matt eats his ice cream
a replica of Michelangelo’s David
Matt accidentally stole a spoon from the restaurant we ate at…
We climbed to the top of the bell tower next to the cathedral for a fantastic view of Florence’s skyline.
We also climbed to the top of the cupola right after (another 450 steps).
(that is the bell tower we went up)
leather and gold are trademark goods of Florence
on the Ponte Vecchio
Basilica of Santa Croce
Day trip to Pisa! This is the field of miracles with the the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Duomo, and the Leaning Tower.
Inside the baptistry, we heard a beautiful echo demonstration showing off the acoustics. When you get baptized here, you would enter on the left side (the side of death) and leave on the right after your baptism.
You can see the red column on the far right of the second level. If you look at that column, you will stay happy in love or if you are not yet in love, you will find someone the next day!
Inside the Duomo
The next day we stopped in Bologna for some gelato and pizza. The tower on the left is leaning towards the other on the right so it is called the kissing tower.
Prato della Valle: Padua has the largest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.
Basilica of Saint Anthony: Here you could see his teeth, jaw, and tongue.
Venice by night
the sighing bridge
St. Mark’s Square
glass blowing demonstration
The Gondola ride!! so wonderful! We had an accordion player and singer serenading us in our gondola with classic Italian songs like “Volare” and “Ciao Venezia.” We glided through the smaller canals, under the bridges, and out to the Grand Canal.
We had a glass of Nobile Montepulciano, the wine made in the local vineyards.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Piazza del Popolo
ceiling on the hallway from the Papal apartments
School of Athens by Raphael
St. Peter’s square
inside St. Peter’s
preparing for the ceremony to bring in the new holy year
the pope’s office is in the building behind the columns
St. Peter’s square
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
The Trevi fountain is unfortunately under construction now so there wasn’t any water in it and we couldn’t make a wish. A walkway was constructed though where you could get a little closer to the fountain than usual.