2011 News

MNA hosts another wonderful trip to Sorrento, Italy

08.15.2011

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
August 2011 Edition

By Carol Mallia RN, MSN
Nurse and avid traveler

When MNA started offering travel tours a decade ago, Sorrento, Italy was one of the first destinations. This spring we returned to this beautiful region with two full groups of passengers for a spectacular tour of one of the beautiful most regions in Italy.

The groups flew to Naples via Rome on Alitalia Airlines, where we met our tour escort. After an hour bus ride, we enjoyed a Margherita pizza at a quaint restaurant in the heart of the Sorrento historic district. Following lunch, we checked into our hotel. The first group departed on May 13 and stayed at the Hotel Michelangelo while the second departed a day later and stayed at the Conca Park Hotel. Both are four-star hotels located a few blocks from the center of town. On our first day, many of us lounged by the pool, took naps or explored the shops. Later that evening, our tour escort held a welcome reception and orientation before dinner at the hotel.

On our first day of touring, we explored Sorrento. After breakfast at our hotel, our escorts and local guides took us on a walking tour through Sorrento’s historical center, including a visit to the Correale Museum which is in the 18th century palazzo at the east end of town. We then walked to the town center for a demonstration and tour at an inlaid wood factory and then off to a cameo studio before returning to the hotel for lunch. That afternoon, we visited La Sorgente, a picturesque farm belonging to the Marciano family which is nestled in the Sorrentine hills with a fabulous view of Naples. Rosa showed us around the farm and explained the process of olive oil and cheese making as Maria demonstrated how to make mozzarella the old fashioned way. We were then treated to a sampling of homemade wine, limóncello and Italian bread topped with fresh tomato, mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil. There is nothing better than sampling the local delicacies on a quaint family-owned farm.

The next day, we had a scheduled day of leisure for the first group. Many in the group headed across Sorrento Peninsula to Positano via bus while others took an all-day guided excursion to Rome. Some took the opportunity for a private boat ride to explore the coastal grottos and dine at local restaurants. Others just enjoyed the sights and shopping of Sorrento. There is no shortage of fun things to explore in this picturesque area. Several passengers took a red topless bus around the peninsula of Sorrento and enjoyed some beautiful sights of the hillside and coastline. We all shared our adventures and tales over dinner that evening.

On our fourth day we were off to the Isle of Capri, barely two miles wide and four miles long, carved from rugged limestone. The weather cooperated beautifully. We took a ferry to the island, where half of the group opted for an optional boat tour around the island to view the grottos and the rocks of Faraglioni. The natural beauties of this island are best seen by water. The color of the water is an indescribable blue. After the boat tour we boarded small shuttle busses to get to the town of Capri and joined the others for a delicious lunch. The group divided again and most took the optional tour to Anna Capri at the peak of the hill top. A chair lift ride to the top of the mountain provided an additional thrill to those looking for that adventure. Others stayed and explored the chic shops and restaurants of Capri. The main square, Piazza Umberto, had a pretty white church and several open-air cafes to relax in and enjoy the view. We all gathered at the port and took the ferry back to Sorrento.

The weather was perfect for our next day’s excursion along one of the most scenic roads in the world—the Amalfi Drive. Our first photo stop was above Positano, one of Italy’s most famous and elegant resorts. We then continued our drive through the ancient marine republic of Amalfi. Our guides took us on a brief walking tour of Amalfi and the beautiful Cathedral of St. Andrew. We then had free time to explore the town and shop. After Amalfi, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a cliff-side restaurant in Scala before heading to the beautiful mountain-side town of Ravello. We returned to Sorrento for dinner and some late-night shopping.

On day six we visited the “lost city” of Pompeii and its excavations where we marveled at the incredible sights and history which our guides brought to life. We had a great lunch (did you ever hear anyone who visited Italy who did not marvel at every meal?) and then enjoyed a panoramic tour of the city where we went up to the heights of Naples for a photo stop to view the city and bay of Naples with Mount Vesuvius in the back ground. We had a little free time for exploring and shopping in Naples before heading back to Sorrento.

On our last day of touring we headed to Monte Cassino and Caserta. We toured the famous hilltop Abbey of Monte Cassino, which was destroyed during one of the most brutal battles of World War II. It was re-built in the 1950s and the panoramic views from this mountain top are breathtaking. Lunch was at an elegant restaurant in Caserta. After lunch, we toured the Royal Palace, built by Charles IV to rival the Palace of Versailles, and the magnificent grounds and gardens. The artwork and architecture were incredible. We had a little time to relax and explore the gardens. Many of us took a horse-drawn carriage ride around the park. Both groups dined together that evening at a Sorrento restaurant with live Neapolitan music, giving us a chance to catch up and enjoy each other’s company.

On departure day the alarm went off early and we headed to Naples Airport for an early flight to Rome and then to Boston. As I watched the group disperse from Logan, I was pleased to see how we had blended well and appeared to have made many new friends. Over the course of the week it was wonderful to see a group relax and enjoy themselves so much knowing that all the small details were carefully planned so they could truly enjoy what Italy had to offer.

If you missed this trip, but would like to be part of future MNA/Durgan Travel tours, contact Carol Mallia at cmallia@mnarn.org with your mailing address to receive information on upcoming trips. Plans are underway for 2012 tours to Lake Como/ Switzerland in the spring and Prague/Vienna/Budapest in the fall. We will be mailing our 2012 travel brochure by September. Our tours have become quite popular and fill quickly so it is advisable to complete the registration as soon as you receive them and return them with a deposit to secure your space. Anyone interested in our tours is welcome to join the group. Travelers do not need to be MNA members, nor nurses. Arrivederci! n

FPO