We only saw about a third of the Pompeii ruins, but 1/2 a day was plenty to transport us back to the first century. The entire town is still pretty much there: homes, theaters, stores, baths and my favorite--the brothel. You don't even have to have an imagination to get a good idea of life back then. There was the wealthy part of town and then the common section, we saw the infamous people frozen in time. Truly an amazing experience. 

Ephesus, Turkey


The ancient ruins of Ephesus are amazing to behold. Many are still in tact, if not partially restored. It's easy to imagine what life might have been like in the once Greek, then Roman (second in size to Rome) city in the 1st century BC. It is believed that it is one of the seven churches of Asia referenced in Revelations and that the Gospel of John may have been written here. Additionally, it is also the site of a major gladiator graveyard! All very fascinating. 

Cappadoccia, Turkey


Cappadoccia is a magical region filled with cities built into the mountains and otherworldly fairy chimney formations. "...as a result of the vulcanic eruptions that occurred in  the region,  a large tableland formed from the vulcanic tufas and together with the erosion of the Kizilirmak river and wind over ten thousands of years there appeared the chimney rocks which are a wonder of the nature."

We toured these ancient cities built into the side of the mountains and underground. Initially they were built to protect inhabitants from wild animals and later to protect the first Christians fleeing persecution from the Romans in the 2nd century BC. These cities were made in form of rooms connected to each other.  Some of the rooms were connected to each other only with the tunnels tight and permitting passing of just one person. At the access gates of these tunnels there were huge stone rollers used for closing the tunnels for security reasons. 

We stayed in a beautiful renovated "cave hotel", far from roughing it or fleeing some persecution (other that the screeching children) we had a spectacular room with a "cave" for the kids to sleep in and a bed or our own (a rarity these days:). The Museum Hotel is filled with gorgeous antiques and tapestries (Turkey is known for) and is a truly special place. www.museum-hotel.com. 



I think I can safely say Turkey is top on our list of favorite countries. The people were wonderful and so gracious and kind with Adele and Vince. All the men needed to touch Vinny's head and tweak his cheek. For his part he was alway game. A huge contributing factor to our success and wonder in the city of Istanbul was our knowledgeable and patient guide Yavuz. We saw more sites in 3 days than we did perhaps in a month in Italy (this may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much). 

This city is so old and so famous throughout history that one could not possibly see all the landmarks in one trip. Just hitting the "who's who" list took 3 days and I'm proud to say the kids held up through most of it. It helped that Yavuz could talk at there level and there were so many beautiful and fascinating things to see: the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, the Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace (where all the Sultans lived), Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, the Basilica Cistern, the Grand and Spice Bazarres. 

The textiles are to die for: rugs and tapestries. This is the first place that I wished I could shop! But alas, we only walked away with a couple of scarves and a gold (fake) c
We had been looking forward to our week in Ravello for some time. It would be the first time we were to have a visitor from home--Denise. It was a magical week filled with beautiful scenery, making new friends and spending quality time with an old one and visiting one of the most incredible ancients sites in the world--Pompeii. 

Villa Scarpiello, Ravello
We stayed at the Villa Scarpiello in Ravello. It's not technically in the town of Ravello which was 1700 steps above us, but perched literally on the edge of the earth above the pristine and achingly blue waters of the Golf of Salerno.  We met two groups of people early in our stay and ended up having a wonderful time with them--we even had a party the second to last night. Rob and Gayle Macchi, Sheila and Angelo all from Boston and Rob, Tina and Madeline from Toronto. Adele and Madeline are very close in age and had so much fun together. 

Isle of Capri
We actually spent the whole day in Capri with Tina, Rob and Madeline. We're so glad we did as without their encouragement we probably wouldn't have made the long journey down to the sea from the top of the Isle of Capri. But what we found at the bottom was worth every step back up. We found a delightful "beach club" complete with a restaurant with fresh seafood and pasta. It was the perfect place to while away a couple of hours with our new friends away from the maddening crowds of Capri. Despite it being overrun with tourists, we all found Capri captivating and this is the only place on the Amalfi coast we would return to. 




Napoleon Slept Here


We had tired of Tuscany (oh i know, poor us) and we decided to pop over to the Adriatic. With very little help from our beleagured gps (she sent us 200 km out of the way) we landed well after dark at a former Napoleon fort that has been converted to a hotel--Hotel Fortino. It doesn't get much cooler than sleeping where Napoleon did. Vince loved it, it was too old (ancient) for Adele. 
There wasn't a tourist in site, nor a town for that matter. We spent 2 blissful days hanging out with the Italians (see pic below) and having a grand old time. Truly some of the best food in all of Italy--restaurants on the ocean serving that days catch and promoting what is known as the "slow food movement", which by the way was started in this region! 



Florence is a special city--the sights, the food, the art--all one of a kind. 
The pics say the rest.....