Eighteen Badger travelers arrived mid-afternoon at the beautiful Hotel Raito, located atop Vietri Sul Mare. The breathtaking views of the city below, the coastline and our five-star hotel captivated our travelers. Hotel Raito offered multiple open-air rooftop terraces, an outdoor infinity pool and bar, native marble flooring and a top-notch staff. It was spectacular.
Over the next few days, we took many excursions by land and by sea that allowed us to explore our pocket of Italy. The first excursion was along the Amalfi Coast. We took Amalfi Drive to Ravello, Amalfi and Positano: all coastline, cliffside towns that boasted locally owned shops, cafes, historical sites and plenty of stunning photo opportunities. Positano was very unusual in that it is a “vertical city”: it was built going up the mountainsides. Roads go up only so far, and then residents must use paths or stairs to reach their homes. It was quite the sight to see! (See the photo of Positano at the beginning of the scrapbook.)
Our visit to the buffalo mozzarella farm was delicious! We got to tour the stables, see the water buffalo and taste the farm-fresh mozzarella! The mozzarella was quite good and received high praise from a crowd that sure knows its cheese! From there we went on to Paestum, where we greeted our tour guide and went through the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Paestum (National Archaeological Museum of Paestum). The group learned about the origin of Paestum and the people who founded the area. After the museum, we moved across the street to explore the Greek temples and had lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, we got to sit down with the grandmother and grandson who own the restaurant to ask them about daily life in Paestum and Italy overall. It was quite the educational day!
The scenic tour of Naples brought more education and history of the area, including the world’s oldest theatre, Teatro di San Carlo, which is still in use today! The inaugural show was performed on November 4, 1737. For lunch we were treated to the famed Pizza Margherita, named after Queen Margherita. She had three different pizzas created in her honor, and she chose the one whose colors represented the Italian flag: red (tomatoes), green (basil) and white (mozzarella cheese).
The most educational and historical day was when we toured Herculaneum and Pompeii. Both cities were ruined by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Herculaneum was covered in 75 feet of liquid mud, while Pompeii was concealed in 25 feet of ash. I was astounded by the complexity of the cities and how well the homes, floors, streets, etc. had been built and how well thought out everything was. For being well over 2,000 years old, the excavated historical cities were really well preserved.
On our last day of excursions, we traveled to beautiful Sorrento and the Isle of Capri! Sorrento is a quaint, little community with lots of outdoor shops and cafes. We received a personal tour and description from a store owner whose family has been making beautiful wood inlaid furniture, games, coasters, poker tables and other pieces for multiple generations. Casa Di Sorrento is definitely worth a stop if you’re looking for an Italian splurge or relish excellent craftsmanship.
During our free day, many of the travelers chose to wander the vibrant streets of Vietri, make some purchases from the local ceramics shops and snack on the fresh gelato. A few went to Mount Vesuvius to take in all that that area had to offer.
Italians have such a love and appreciation for their country, culture and history. Overall, it was an incredible trip. Each of us learned so much about Italian history, culture and current events. Our campus director was absolutely wonderful, and our guides were incredibly educated and professional. This trip to the Amalfi Coast with AHI set the bar extremely high for my future travel adventures!