Spring Break in Italy


I just had a wonderful week off from my studies to go on spring break! So I embarked on an adventure by myself to Campania, a southern region of Italy. I stayed in Naples and the Amalfi Coast. It was an action packed week and so here is a brief summary and pictures of it all!

The whole time I stayed at hostels. A hostel is not like a hotel- it is more like an apartment with large bedrooms with multiple beds in each room. Each hostel is very different however I really liked the one I stayed at in Naples because I made a lot of friends and the hostel owner was so friendly and helpful!

Day 1: Herculaneum, Vesuvius, and Sorrento

Herculaneum from the outside

The first day I went with some friends from my hostel to Herculaneum. When Vesuvius erupted in the year 79 C.E. it covered this village with volcanic ash, preserving it. It remained that way until workers were digging a well in 1709 and they found a whole village perfectly intact underground! How crazy is that!! Just imagine digging in your backyard to find houses buried! It was really neat to see what their homes looked like and how well-preserved it all was. You could see tile mosaics on the floors and walls including some frescos still on the walls! Frescos are paintings done in wet plaster on the walls. A lot of ancient Romans would do that instead of having wallpaper like we have today.

Herculaneum Fresco

After Herculaneum we embarked on an adventure to hike Vesuvius, the volcano that erupted to preserve Herculaneum and Pompeii! Luckily, it’s inactive now so it’s safe to walk around on the top.

Mt. Vesuvius from a distance

We rode a shuttle bus up to the top of the volcano then we were able to hike around the very top of this HUGE crater and look inside the volcano! I have never been on a volcano before and it was such an amazing experience to see how big it was and what it looked like from inside.

Vesuvius’ crater

Lastly, we ended up in Sorrento at sunset- a small beautiful beach village. The houses are built into the side of the cliff that goes into the ocean below. I was able to see the whole coast of Naples and the islands off of Campania. The ocean surprised me by how blue it was! I’ve never seen turquoise water like this before!!

Sorrento at Sunset

Day 2: Capri

Island of Capri

The next day we took the ferry over to Capri! Have you ever been on a ferry before? It’s a large boat that can hold cars and people. It was a really neat ride across the ocean to the Island because we were able to see Mount Vesuvius, the city of Naples and other islands on the coast.

Warf of Capri- the water is so blue!

Capri is a gorgeous island with houses built into the side of the island facing the water. There is a funicolare or -cable car- that takes you to the top of the island. If not it’s a steep walk up.

We took a motorboat to the Blue Grotto.  The motorboat took us to where a bunch of Italian men in row boats waiting for us. We had to climb out of the motorboat into the small rowboat. From there the rower took us into a small cave where the water glowed fluorescent blue. The water glows blue because of how the light reflects the water in the cave. It was a surreal experience!

Blue Grotto

Day 3: Pompeii

Forum in Pompeii

The next day we made it to Pompeii, a huge town that is preserved from Vesuvius’ eruption. I spent hours walking around an ancient town that was very advanced for it’s time period. It had paved streets, a bath house, restaurants, an amphitheater, a gym, a theater, basilica, bars and bakeries.

Mosaic on the floor in Pompeii

A brief history on Pompeii: The Romans were not expecting Mt. Vesuvius to erupt, so there are bodies of people and dogs preserved in the volcanic ash as well as fruit, clothes and cookware.  They were all preserved in the volcanic ash the exact way they were last left by the Romans.

Day 4: Positano and Amalfi Coast

Positano Hike

I arrived at my hostel in Amalfi and went on a 3-hour hike to Positano, a small beach community. The hike was spectacular; it’s called the “Walk of the Gods” because of the great views of the coast. I hiked with an Italian couple for an hour that helped me hike through a giant herd of goats! I have never hiked through goats on a mountainside before so it was quite an authentic experience.

The hike went through 3 different small towns and ended with 1,500 stairs down to Positano. When I arrived in Positano I didn’t want to ever see stairs again! I asked how to get to the beach and I was told, “You go down stairs.” By the time I got to the beach I collapsed on the sand and let the sun keep me warm. The water was freezing all I could do was put my foot in and that was enough.

Amalfi’s Duomo

I then took the bus to Amalfi where I lounged around and was able to see the famous Duomo. The beach in Amalfi is very small and the sand at both Positano and Amalfi is dark and has a lot of pebbles. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go swimming, but it was beautiful to lounge around and lay on the beach!

Day 5: Naples

Street in Naples

Naples is the capital of Campania and the 3rd largest city in Italy. It was also bombed in WWII and you can still see the damage on the buildings today. In Naples I did a big walking tour where I was able to see the Duomo, Piazza del Plebiscito, Castel Nuovo, Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castel-shaped like an egg), many many cathedrals, an underground reservoir and Teatro San Carlo.  Overall it was a very busy city filled with mopeds, hills and the occasional soccer game.


Lauren Wederich
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Florence, Italy
Spring 2012

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