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24th October, 2012

Castellammare di Stabia


We cruised past the towering cliffs of Capri in the morning and continued on to Castellammare di Stabia. This small port has a pier where we could put the ship alongside which was connected to a busy shipyard, so the passengers were ferried across the harbour in our tenders to join their tours to Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Amalfi coast.

We hopped on one of the shuttle busses going to Sorrento which, as the crow flies, was only about five miles away, but the journey time was almost an hour. Narrow, busy roads with sharp corners and a steep drop down to the water hundreds of feet below, are not conducive to hasty coach transport. It was a fascinating journey made more interesting by the diversion which turned out to be impossible for a coach to follow and still remain intact. I was educated to the fact that road direction signs are apparently not compulsory and that the most important technical part of an Italian coach appears to be the horn.


Sorrento was of course very busy and very touristy, but its unique charm still remains. The hundreds of shops sell everything from the delightful beverage Limónchello to Italian (I think) leather, gilt picture frames and very large paintings of the ‘expected’ Amalfi Coast scenes. I would suggest that it would be an absolute impossibility for a lady to visit and not find what she cannot live without. I class myself as fortunate as I have now, according to my wife, bought her Christmas presents. There are other little gems though, and one was a wonderful large, but tired looking fresco adorning the entrance to what I presumed to be an old opera house. And by walking through one of the many hotel gardens it was possible to get the marvellous view along the coast and across the Bay of Naples.


We managed to arrive back at the port unscathed and only just ten minutes late, which I thought was good going, and my estimation of Italian coach drivers has risen considerably, there was not a scratch on our vehicle. This berth and tender method of getting passengers ashore might seem a little unusual, but it worked remarkably well as there was no ‘sea’ conditions to worry about. It was comparatively fast and for those who went to Pompeii and Herculaneum it cut over an hour off their journey.

We sailed back out to the west and across the Bay, Vesuvius just a vague shape in the encroaching darkness astern, and the lights of Ischia ahead.

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