Excerpts from Malta to Nice

(6/30/05) This is the day we’ve been waiting for – docking in Salerno and a full day tour of the Amalfi Coast.  We had two large tour buses (with drivers specially licensed to drive this challenging route!) where we enjoyed countless spectacular views – and many heart-stopping hairpin turns(!) – with unbelievably narrow and traffic-filled roads.   Our first stop was in the town of Amalfi, after passing the resorts of Maiori and Minori.  Once a powerful maritime republic, Amalfi has a beautiful cathedral with a fantastic façade of Byzantine and Moorish design.  The oldest part is the Basilica (833 AD), then the Cathedral in 987 and the Cloister was completed in 1268.  However, the cathedral is most famous for the Crypt of St. Andrew where the remains of the first apostle were laid under the central altar after being brought to Amalfi from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1206 AD.   The tour was both interesting and beautiful.

We had a little free time to window-shop and walk along the water before the bus trip continued to the lovely hilltop town of Ravello.  Here we toured the beautiful gardens of Villa Rufolo, where famous outdoor concerts are held - with a spectacular view of the coast.  After a delicious Italian buffet in the Garden Restaurant (overlooking another panoramic view!), we headed back to the ship.  It was a wonderful day!  Cocktails were served on the top deck, then dinner in the main dining room.  Meals have been a little disappointing – especially some of the dinners – but tonight we were treated to two delicious desserts – caramelized apples in a flaky pastry pouch and a special cake – in celebration of Glenn and Jodi – the honeymooners from Australia.  Entertainment by Michel in the lounge was wonderful.  He has a fabulous versatile voice (4 ½ octaves), and at the end of the evening we found out that at age 47 he’s been singing professionally for only 5 years – amazing.    Sleep came easily.