A dear friend of mine just returned from what seemed like a round-the-world cruise. She was gone for 17 days. Favoloso, right? As I sat home green with envy, she was having the time of her life! The night before her big adventure, I couldn't resist a little friendly warning: you will fall in love with Italy, and you WILL want to go back! Here's what she had to say about the trip:
We decided on a Mediterranean cruise this year to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and were not disappointed! We left out of Barcelona, Spain and had stops in France, two ports in Greece, three in Italy, and one in Turkey. We made the most of every stop by booking our shore excursions ahead of time and choosing the ones that would interest us the most.
While every port in every country was astounding, we fell in love with Italy from the moment we came to port in Livorno. Here, we chose the Wine Tasting In Tuscany excursion. A lovely mountainside ride with breathtaking views took us to a private villa in Lucca where they made and bottled their own wine and olive oil. Nothing could have prepared us for the simple beauty of this place...the vistas, the lush gardens. After touring the grounds and the wine cellar, we began the tasting. We tasted two reds and one white while the family served us pancetta, bread with olive oil, and an assortment of olives. Then a dessert wine was poured and served with an Italian pastry. A relaxing day, friendly atmosphere...we were hooked!
Perhaps, our favorite was Messina, Sicily, and our tour of Taormina. The bus ride to this village was filled with panoramic views of resorts and beaches along the Mediterranean Sea. For lunch, we chose Grandlucca that is built into the cliff and overlooks the blue water. It left us with a peace and tranquility that stayed with us the remainder of the day.
In Civitavecchia, we boarded the tour bus for Rome. We spent an amazing day on a walking tour of this ancient/modern city. From the Colosseum to the Forum, and Trevi Fountain to the Vatican, it was the tour of a lifetime! Lunch at the Metropolitan Hotel did not disappoint with its traditional pasta, bread, fresh vegetables and meat.
Side note: Desserts in Italy are sinful! And, there is ALWAYS plenty of wine to accompany a meal!
Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we arrived in Salerno. From here, we took a boat tour of the Amalfi Coast. Our pictures cannot begin to capture the stunning beauty of this place. Stopping in Amalfi, we sat in a small cafe to enjoy yet another Italian pastry. Every shop owner in Amalfi was very friendly, and generally happy to help and share their love for the town.
Our visit to Pompeii was a highlight for me--I've always been interested in what happened that day so long ago. We had seen the traveling exhibit in Chicago, but to set foot in the actual city was another unforgettable experience.
It was the trip of a lifetime. We brought back hundreds of photos, a slew of stories to tell, and a burning desire to return to Italy in the very near future!
TO MY FRIEND: I told you so!