ship that we have thoroughly enjoyed. In a coming blog we will provide some photos of the ship, shows offered and the many eateries onboard.
We have made stops at Naples, Rome and Livorno. We will be stopping at all of these ports again and have elected to provide updates at this time on Sorrento and Florence. We visited Sorrento by ferry from Naples and went to Florence from Livorno by train. We have found on previous cruises there is just not much to do in either of the ports and prefer to explore some of the areas outside the port.
The 45 minute ferry ride to Sorrento was quite enjoyable. The view from the ferry and the port to Sorrento is really fascinating and picturesque. The city is built up above the cliffs and only a few buildings are down at the port level. You will see in one of the pictures a zigzag in the cliff that is
actually a ramped staircase and steps to the city center. In the city of Sorrento there are many nice shops, restaurants, cafes and bakeries. We stopped at Ristorante S Antonino for a great calzone and wine. We always enjoy our small meals of the local food wherever we go. The city itself is very small but it has many winding little “roads” that are not much more than alley ways with shops on each side of them. These “roads” and shops are kept up very nicely and have a lot of interesting items to look at. We especially enjoyed all the Limóncello tasting and the candy & cookies made from the Limóncello. We learned and saw in one of the shops two guys peeling the lemons in preparation to make the Limóncello, quite interesting and very tasty. Last time we came to Sorrento we did not spend much time shopping, so this trip we just took our time looking around all the tiny little roads and shops around the city. Next time we visit Naples we plan to
take a trip down the Amalfi Coast and Pastiano to see the beautiful views of the cliffs and shoreline.
Our visit to Florence was fun as always. We found a free 2-hour city walking tour that was offered from the Information Center across from the train station. It was very educational to learn so much about the city. We learned from our guide that in the old city people from Florence were
very heavy wine drinkers and even drank wine for breakfast. In one of the pictures you will see a “window” where the customer would get a bottle of wine through a small opening on the house’s outside wall (this was the original take out window!). The sign above the opening told the store hours. Most families in Florence had land where they had cultivated wine vineyards.
Our guide shared with us where the 1st original Gucci store opened by Gucci over 100 years ago. We also were shown one of the Palazzos (palace of a rich family) in Florence that housed one of the richer families – the Palazzo Stozzi. The Palazzo housed over 150 people who included the family members, the servants, the body guards and artists. In this Renaissance Era each Palazzo needed their own army of bodyguards as protection because it was common for street fighting outside of their Palazzo. We found it very interesting that artists such as Michangelo were housed in the Palazzos and considered part of the family. These rich families supported the Renaissance artists and actually showed off their works in their homes like a museums of today. Some Palazzos might house 5 or 6 different artists or sculptors to help them development their talents.
There are so many beautiful churches in this city including the Basilica di Santa Cruce (note the photo with the Star of David). Quite interesting as the architect who designed the church was Jewish and not until it was completed did the Catholics realize that the design on paper included the Star of David. This created frustration but within time it became a bridge with the Jewish and Catholic communities. Other sights we visited were the cathedral and Duomo. We saw Michangelo’s Statue of David in front of Palazzo Vechio (although the original is really in a Rome museum).
After our tour, our guide told us where the best pizza was in Florence. Of course we decided to go find the place and try it out. You will see one of the pictures with them making our pizza at il Pizzaiuolo. We managed to see some other sights like the Vecchio Bridge which always reminds us of the Rialto Bridge in Venice. You can never see everything in one day in Florence but fortunately we will be going back there again next week. We have so other things to see while we are there!
Greg & Sharon