Another beautiful morning in Sorrento lead to another incredible day of many adventures. First on our list? Climb Mount Vesuvius. This is an active volcano that is part of a ring of multiple volcanoes on the Bay of Naples, called the Campianian volcanic arc. I have never been to a volcano before, let alone an active one, so this was stupendously exciting to me.
The first hike to the main resting/shopping area was probably the most strenuous part of it. I am not quite sure why, considering it was lower than the rest of the climb and not as steep. We were lucky because we hired a private guide that took us to a part of the volcano not open to the public. This may have been the most incredible hike on which I have ever went. Climbing up the unstable and ashy slope was really quite fun, although for many people, it could easily be a huge struggle.
I did not expect there to be so many beautiful plants and flowers that grew from the ashes of the last eruption (1944), yet there I was, staring at the Amalfi Coast on top of an active volcano with splashes of purples, pinks and yellows around me. It was equally as interesting learning about the history of the mountain and what scientists do every day to watch for any adjustments in the activity of it. Something else I did not expect was to see smoke rising from natural vents in the volcano. It is currently years overdue for an eruption, but many scientists concluded that it is in its sleeping period. Let’s hope it stays in this phase so three million people don’t have to evacuate all at once.
The hike down was easy, and I stayed behind the group so I could enjoy the volcano with the peace and quiet (or loudness) of my own thoughts.
Volcano: Done. Next stop? Ercolano.
You may have heard of the ruins of Pompeii, the famous Roman town that was destroyed in the 79 C.E. eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Ercolano is a smaller, but better preserved Roman city on the outskirts of Vesuvius. Our tour guide, who was just as excited to have us there as we were to be there, lead us around the ruins for 90 minutes, showing us old homes and stores.
Some of the countertops of the corner stores were still intact with marble covering the surface. Another cool find was a completely original mosaic discovered in the back of one of the buildings. We finished the tour with viewing some petrified skeletons that have been there since disaster struck the city 2,000 years ago.
After Ercolano, most of us were completely and understandably exhausted, and voted to go back to the hostel. Once we dropped them off, only four of us, plus Shields and Professor Hillebrand, made it to a new destination: a swimming hole hidden along the Amalfi Coast that once was used by Roman nobles. Buried along the foothills of the coast, this swimming area is a secret paradise. The water was clear, warm and inviting. The rocks that enveloped the area were perfect for jumping, and I am so glad I got to experience that one more time.
After our incredible swimming adventure, we quickly showered and took the metro to downtown Sorrento. We ate at Giardini di Tasso while watching the final Euro Cup game. While my mushroom ravioli, ice cream sundae and shot of chocolate liquor (which was on the house) were absolutely scrumptious, the outcome of the game was not to my liking.
I could not believe it was our last night in beautiful Sorrento. Feeling extra sentimental, a small group of us walked down to the overlook of the marina, from where we departed the first day. We then strolled back to the roof of our hostel, where we had one of the best heart-to-heart conversations I have ever experienced. I am not only thankful to be in this beautiful place, but I am so fortunate to be among incredible people.