First stop Naples

A quick comfortable overnighter to wake up in Naples.

Many people don’t like Naples (or Napoli as it’s called locally), and there certainly is a seedy side to it – but you have to spend a little time here to really enjoy it.

We were here in about 2003 when Rob played for the Australian under 20’s – and for nearly two weeks. We shared a flat with Peter and Elizabeth McGregor, who at that time were very new waterpolo friends, and who have become great friends over the years. Our apartment was on Corso Vittorio Emmanuel up 96 stairs and it was hot ☀️🌞🔥. We had great fun exploring the city and the areas surrounding it. So my advice is if you want to get to know Naples,  stay away from the tourist areas, certainly away from the railway station, and stay for a week in an apartment. It’s real Italy.

So today when the ship berthed right in the centre of the city, Steve and I headed for an island we hadn’t been to before. Ischia is about 40 mins by fast ferry and is the summer escape for people from Naples and Rome. If you’ve read the book by Elena Ferrante called My Brilliant Friend, you’ll remember her talking about her summers on Ischia.

It’s quieter than usual on the island  now that summer is over. We walked along the port and around to the beach. It’s lined with deck chairs all roped off into private areas belonging to various cafes. I don’t really get this private beach thing that happens over here.

We decided to get a bus around the island to the Giardini la Mortella. This beautiful paradise of a garden was created  by Susana and William Walton. He was one of Britain’s  most important composers of the 20th century (Facade Suite etc.) and Susana his Argentinian wife was a talented gardener.

It’s the most beautiful place with the paths wandering around a large site looking towards the sea with hidden gardens and stone stairs and hideaway areas to sit. There’s a museum and a small concert area where his music is performed in concert from time to time.

Back on the very crowded bus where the ‘ Italian princes’ (rather spotty teenagers) occupied all available seats and left the old and cranky standing.

Our ship stood towering over the harbour and we walked back on to join the family who’d spent the day at Pompei. The kids were tired and hot and spent the next two hours splashing in the pool.

Fabio organised our table for dinner at Concerto restaurant and had someone go ashore to buy fresh mozzarella for the chef prepare an antipasti plate – just for us! We had a lovely night before collecting the children from the evening kids club and heading off for the live musical production starting at 10.15pm! It was great fun.

Some were setting their alarms for 4am when we were due to pass Mt Stromboli in the Aeolian Isalnds. It’s still active and apparently can glow during the night. Not sure I’ll be up!

Next stop Messina. We’ll pass through the Straits of Messina where Steve swam last year so that will bring back some memories.

Messina: Day 3

Another super smooth arrival into Messina on the northeast part of Sicily.

We were here last year when Steve swam (twice!) across the straight between Messina and Calabria.

We didn’t take any of the tours on offer – we’re lucky enough to have stayes in Taormina and Mt Etna nearby. So after a walk around the ship we got off and wandered the streets of Messina.

There are a few very impressive churches here so we did the trifecta and visited each.

The first one the Duomo has an amazing bell tower and at midday it puts on quite a show.

We walked up the hill and stairs and had a wonderful view back over the town towards the ship

We’re on the Lido deck 16. Our cabin is just along from the Blue glass windows. It’s very convenient especially with the kids.

There’s so much to do on board – we have a little planner on the ship’s app on our phone. Very handy.

We met up with Anne and Tim – the lovely couple from Tulsa we met on the first day. We’re planning a dinner together if we manage to stay in touch. This ship is sooooo big!

Tonight after dinner we tried a few of the entertainment things. Into the studio for Name that tune! Country and Western! Jeremy was a whizz but we didn’t win! Then I did the Yes/No game. When on board !!!! You join in.

Then off to the nightclub. We’re trying to help Kenrick,  our gorgeous nephew find some people his age. No such luck (yet!).

Tomorrow is all day at sea. So a tour of the bridge organised by Fabio, and then a massage for me. It’s formal night as well – so bring out the dressy gear.