Sunday, August 21, 2011

Basking in Serene Sorrento!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011:

The buffet breakfast at the hotel is wonderful because it takes all of the guesswork out of "what's for breakfast and where are we going to go to find food?" The cuisine does not make us feel lethargic and overstuffed. We eat just enough to provide fuel until lunchtime.

During our travels across Italy, we frequently noticed laundry hanging outdoors on clotheslines that could be accessed from the residents' windows. Sharon, who was the smart one in packing far more lightly than the rest of us, needed to do some laundry also. Since she had no clothesline, she improvised in a brilliantly resourceful manner!

In the late morning, we hopped onto the city bus to hang out in Sorrento for the day. The narrow side streets of the town are lined with shops and cafes, and the pace is unhurried but filled with anticipation as we attempt to explore each and every store. We didn't want to leave Sorrento thinking that we may have missed something exceptional. There are also stores specializing in gigantic produce, particularly lemons. This photo demonstrates the actual size of a lemon held in Marianne's hand. The store owner was not pleased that we were handling the produce merely for the sake of a photo shoot and didn't hesitate to let us know.

Sorrento offered shops with quality leather goods, and any leather item that Laura hadn't purchased in Florence, she made up for in Sorrento. Regarding the number of leather items she had already collected during the trip, she remarked, "I think I have bought the equivalent of an entire cow!" Before returning to the United States, we intend to count every scarf, handbag and pair of shoes that this group has acquired.

On occasion when we might be undecided about buying a particular item, Laura's answer was, "Are you going to be back here again?" As a matter of fact, I made a list of what I call "Laura's Logic" with regard to shopping in Europe:
  • Do not convert into American dollars. It might be discouraging.
  • Put a portion of the cost of the item on your credit card, and pay a portion in cash. That way it won't seem so staggering when the credit card bill arrives upon your return to the real world.
  • You only go this way once.
  • No regrets! Never experience buyer's remorse.
  • If it's an item you'd never find in the United States, go for it!
Don't you just love her rationale? I know I do!

We considered going to visit Pompeii today, but we would need to take a local train and there is a shipbuilding strike that is creating a negative impact on the local train system. We'll wait until tomorrow for that tour.

Lunch was delicious at L'Abate. We walked around Sorrento for the better part of the afternoon and encountered a store named "Gabriella." I definitely needed to stop and take a photo of this store to show my oldest granddaughter, Gabriella, that this store must have been named after her. Becoming slightly weary from the hours of walking, we decided to take a tour on the "City Train." It wasn't that we felt that we necessarily needed a tour, but we had walked all day and it felt wonderful to be sitting and seeing the sights at the same time.

Our hotel shuttle arrived at 7:00 p.m., and we were ready to bring the shopping day to an end. At the hotel, we prepared to go to dinner at a nearby restaurant that was within brief walking distance. This was our strangest almost-dining experience. When we arrived, the host seemed rather reluctant to seat us, but finally ushered us to an inside table. The dining room was filled with elderly folks from who knows where. It appeared that they might be having some type of family style dinner. The room was extremely noisy with chatter, so we asked if we could be seated outdoors where there was a balcony area with tables. Acquiescing to set us up outside with a table cloth, place settings, wine glasses and napkins, we sighed with relief as we took our respective seats.

We were immediately skeptical when Sharon's wine glass was grimy dirty, and as we reviewed the menu, it contained many weird items with unappetizing descriptions. Mutually agreeing not to stay here, we quietly stood up. I said, "I guess we should bring the menus inside with us." Marianne said, "Should we bring our dishes in, too?" Laura said, "No!"

I gathered and carried the menus, and we tried to discreetly slither through the crowded dining room. No one even looked at us or asked us where we were going. Sharon was walking behind me and said, "Just keep walking....drop the menus..." I deposited them on the last table we encountered as we made our speedy exit.

We walked back to our hotel and opted to have dinner there, where the dining area was filled with German tourists. Once we were back in our rooms and enjoying the fresh evening air from the spectacular vantage point of our balconies, we could hear the sounds of the German band with the "oom pah pah" music drifting up to us from the lounge below.

Sharon and I marched over to Laura and Marianne's balcony in order to participate in a scarf tying demonstration with Laura as the scarf stylist and Marianne as the model. I actually wrote the detailed steps so I would be able to recreate Laura's methods. I hope I can follow these directions once I am home and the atmosphere of breathtaking Italy is merely a faint memory. Following the scarf tying lessons, we all once again began the packing process. We needed to rearrange our personal effects, which was a challenge due to our new acquisitions.

We reviewed our thoughts about Sorrento, Sant' Agata, Capri and Positano:
  • It was interesting that open burning is permitted. Because we kept our balcony doors open when we were in our rooms, we could periodically smell the odor of burning. It wasn't disgusting or unbearable, but just odd.
  • "Cockadoodle do!" Roosters woke us up bright and early every morning.
  • Dogs and cats roamed everywhere completely unrestrained. No leash laws here! We often heard dogs barking in the distance at night, but it didn't keep us awake.
  • We loved the amazing view of Naples and Sorrento from the Grand Hotel Due Golfi, and particularly from our balconies.
  • This location was a welcome combination of tranquil, scenic, and peaceful after a busy and heavily populated Florence.
  • Piazza Tasso, Sorrento's main square, was a lovely location for dining, shopping and people watching.
  • This leg of our trip has been especially relaxing and pleasant.
  • We did find that some sales people in stores were not inclined to be overly helpful. For example, in one store I saw a pair of shoes on display, but couldn't locate them in the supply on hand that was available to sort though. As I sifted through the boxes to attempt to find them, a rather rude female clerk barged her way in and said, "I'm working here." A few minutes later after exhausting all possibilities from my own search, I asked her nicely, "Where would I find these shoes?" Her curt response was, "In the box." I looked all over that store and was unable to find those shoes in any boxes. This girl was not big on customer service.
  • It reminded me of the Internet store in Florence. I overheard someone complaining to the clerk about lack of information. He said, "Why didn't you tell me that when I was here before?" She replied, "You didn't ask." Several clerks were similarly chilly. They would not volunteer information, and if you didn't know the exact question to ask, you were out of luck and would not be the recipient of their words of wisdom. We found this to be a surprise because we assume that they welcome tourism and enjoy the benefits of our hard earned money. I suppose you run into grouchy people in any setting!
  • There were many exceptions to this, and one was Giuseppe, our tour guide in Capri. He was very explicit in his directions to us and also very organized. He knew he was dealing with disoriented tourists and made every effort to be as helpful as possible.
  • The desk clerks at our Grand Hotel Due Golfi were as informative as they could be in dealing with four American women who initially looked like lost puppies until we gained some working knowledge of the area and a vague concept of the lay of the land.
  • We were amazed at the beauty of the walled town of Sorrento with its gazillion steps that one has to walk in order to reach the harbor. This photo clearly shows the steps we traversed.
  • As we wandered the narrow streets and alleyways of Sorrento, we couldn't help being impressed with the tastefully landscaped terraces that hovered overhead. These residents perform magic with their flowers and foliage arrangements in spite of being restricted by limited space.
  • Our overall evaluation of this location is that it is truly an artist's or photographer's dream to visit here. Marianne and Laura suggested that this would be an ideal place to rent a villa and spend a month touring the spectacular nooks and crannies that this region offers.
Tomorrow will be the big day for our trip to Rome via Pompeii. Ciro, our driver, has been contacted and will be picking us up bright and early at 9:00 a.m. If we weren't so looking forward to exploring Rome, it would be difficult to say goodbye to Serene Sorrento!


  1. Isn't it though? I'm telling you, it was the size of a cantaloupe. No wonder they honor the lemon in Italy!!

    All the best,
    Mary Anne