Here is a bit more from our Mediterranean cruise. From the Amalfi coast, our tour took us to Pompeii. I was surprised at how quickly we arrived at Pompeii by not going over the windy scenic coast road! Scenic coast road – approx. 4 ½ hours; return – 30 minutes! The ruins were HUGE; Pompeii was a large city when it was damaged by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. We arrived in mid afternoon; there were some big crowds in some areas, but other side streets were almost deserted.
This Pompeii oven looks ready for pizza! Hard to believe it is over 2000 years old
Forum (city center)
Body covered in ash; ancient fresco
We had a very welcome sea day for rest and relaxation as we sailed around the toe of the boot of Italy and between the strait between Italy and Sicily, and then up the Adriatic Sea to Venice. On our sea days, we visited the gym and walked the promenade.
Venice was amazing! (We toured Venice and our remaining destinations without guides). On our first day in Venice, we arrived at the port mid afternoon, and took a boat to St Marks Square. Spunky LB had been to Venice before; but she had only visited St Marks Square and rode in a gondola. (She had no desire for another gondola ride). St Marks Square was very crowded.
We toured the Doge’s palace, which is an amazing building. We weren’t able to take photographs inside beyond the entry. Here is one photo of the Golden Staircase (taken just before the “no photos” sign).
The Doges ruled Venice for many years, and his palace was the center of state. The building was filled with art and sculpture, and I really liked the rooms. It included halls of justice, meeting rooms for heads of state, and a private bridge called The Bridge of Sighs that connected to prison cells.
Bridge of Sighs
The following day, we took public transportation – we got on the people mover (monorail) to the first vaporetti stop. The Vaporetti are water buses that tour up and down the big canals. We bought a 12 hour ticket that allowed us to hop and off all stops on the grand canal. Our first stop was Rialto Bridge.
Grand Canal scene
Gondola rush hour
Grand Canal from Rialto
We stopped at San Toma, and visited a special exhibit of Leonardo Da Vinci, where they recreated many of his marvelous machines. We also visited the lovely Santa Maria Gloriosa del Frari church. We had pizza and hot chocolate at a little café. We LOVED Italian hot chocolate, which is like a thick hot pudding. (I have been trying to recreate it at home).
We also stopped at Academia, and visited the Academia (art gallery). In addition to their collection of great Venetian oil paintings and sculptures, they also had a special exhibit of Da Vinci, featuring some original drawings.
We finished by riding the Grand Canal to the end, and a final viewing of St Marks Square (Piazza San Marco)