Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mediterraneran Cruise Day 5: Sorrento & Pompei, Italy

Welcome back to another day of my Mediterranean Cruise Blog. Yesterday we arrived in Naples, Italy, after being diverted from the port of Sorrento, where it was too windy to tender in to the shore. The Captain felt it was a better to dock in Naples where they have a port that can handle a ship our size. Its always easier to use a port to disembark versus taking the tender boats, so I didn’t mind at all. We had a tour that went from Naples to Sorrento and Pompei, following the dramatic cliffs of the Amalfi coast.

Our visit to Sorrento was excellent. We visited a local family owned farm, nestled in the hills of Sorrento. The farm has both Olive and Lemon groves, grape vineyards, cows, pigs and grows tomatoes and other herbs and vegetables. This family makes olive oil fresh tomato sauce, wine, and also the Italian liquor “Limoncello” .

Fist we saw the process of making Olive Oil. They were setting up large nets under the olive trees to harvest olives, a process that continues for several months. Then we saw how they grind the olives into a paste, then use the cold press to actually get the oil from the olive. The water that is removed from the pressing is recycled to water the plants and trees. By the way, the term “Virgin Olive Oil” is cold pressed and is determined by the level of acidity from the olive.

We also saw them make fresh mozzarella cheese right before our eyes. I was amazed at how simple it was to do. The woman did a demonstration for us with a nice large ceramic bowl, a pot of hot water, and some raw milk curd, fresh from the cows on the farm, The short version is she took part of the milk curd and put it in hot water and kept kneeding it for awhile, shaping it, twisting it until it was the right consistency. It rested in cold water and set for awhile. Then she made another cheese, also using milk curd, but used a slightly different shape, then tied it using string where she would hang it to dry for 30 days or so.

Immediately after the demonstration, she served us a delicious plate of fresh cheeses, salami, fresh Italian crusty bread, and a variety of grilled vegetables, spreads and olives. All this with some home made red wine, made from grapes on the farm. It was a fantastic way to start the day- fresh food from a family farm. I was ready to move in!

We explored more of Sorrento’s Tasso Piazza, where we first went to see a shop with incredible inlaid wood designs- remarkable details all in wood that is set on high quality wood such as rosewood. One piece we saw was made by an artist who is 68 years old, and it took him a year and a half to complete. It was truly a work of art.

Next we enjoyed a delicious lunch of fresh focaccia bread, fresh made cannolini pasta stuffed with home made cheese, then for the second course a wonderful chicken breast with melted fresh mozzarella cheese. For desert, we had a home made lemon cake which was out of this world. Of course, we had plenty of Vino Rosso (red wine) as usual with lunch.

We then visited a cameo factory, where a local artisan was carving the intricate designs into the sea shell to make these famous cameos.

Our next stop was to visit the ancient ruins of Pompei, a city buried in over 30 feet of volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted over 2,000 years ago. Amazingly a great deal of this ancient Roman city is still in tact- and each day more is discovered. Still, after 250 years of excavation work, more than 30% of the city is still buried and yet to be discovered. I took so many photos of Pompei that I can’t load them all today so I’ll save the coverage of Pompei for the sea day we have when there are no ports. Now for the photos. Enjoy!

above: The night before, we left Corsica and set sail for Naples and Sorrento. We had a beautiful sunset behind us...
The Amalfi Coast

above: This is what Sorrento and the Amalfi coast should look like on a sunny day (stock photo from the Internet above)

above: It was an overcast day so my photos of the Amalfi coast were not so good, but it was a spectacular sight all the same. I really like Sorrento and Naples.
Sights of Sorrento:

above: The entrance to the Opera Society in Sorrento

above: there were great shops along the streets like these. iconic sights of Italy
Visit to a farm in the hills of Sorrento

above: They were harvesting the ripe olives from the trees.

above left: this is the grinder which crushes the olives into a paste. above right: the best way i can describe these is that they are "rope disks" that act like filters for the olive paste. They they go on the cold press below.

above: these are the cold presses which squeeze the olives down to get the oil.
above: the farm also had cows and pigs (not pictured)...and grew garlic on site too

above: She started with the pot of hot water and cut up the fresh milk curd

above: after many minutes of kneading it in the hot water and twisting it, she shaped it into the cheese and tied it up to hang and dry.
above: The tomatoes they grew on the farm became fresh tomato sauce.

above left: They also grew grapes to make wine. above right: this is the "tasting menu" they let us try- all fresh from the farm: cheeses, salami, bread, olives and red wine too!

above left: Watching the artist carve into the seashell to make a cameo. It was very meticulous work. above right: an example of one of his other finished cameos.

above: Enjoying a martini back on board the ship. Believe it or not, this one is called a "Ricky Martin-i" I already forgot what went in it, but I'll ask again and let you know. The Ancient Ruins of Pompei
I took so many photos of the ruins of Pompei that I cannot post them all here today. I'll save those for another day's post.
above: just a teaser photo of the bunch I took while exploring the ancient city of Pompei. More to come...Thanks for stopping by!
-Signore Ricardo Rockhill


Anonymous said...

LOL @ the Ricky Martini!

WOW. I'd really get into that farm tour... Looked like tons of fun!

kenju said...

That carved shell is wonderful! Glad you had a better time on that leg of the trip. I can't wait for more photos!

snowelf said...

Oh my goodness! And now you're gallavanting across Europe...

You do look a little...unsatisfied with the tour at that one point, but at least the dogs were adorable! :)

Thanks again for showering us with pictures. I am in love with the decor on the ship. It's so rich and luxurious!


Odyssey Tours said...

I love all of the ancient history in Italy!I am just absolutely fascinated by Rome Italy tours. I cannot WAIT to go there one day!

VIP Vatican tours


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