The ship provided a bus up from the port into Piazza Tasso. We had Brit friends meet up with us here and we used local train to visit Pompeii, which was fantastic. We used the map and booklet provided with entry and did a self-guided tour. We ate a quick lunch in the onsite cafeteria which was fine and reasonably priced. We spent about 5 hours there. Upon return to Sorrento we visited Giardini di Cataldo, a lemon grove right in the town, where you can have free limoncello samples. Yum! In the evening we ate dinner at an outdoor cafe then walked through the shops trying more limoncello (yes we bought some) and then had gelato before saying "Buonanotte" to our friends and heading back to the ship. The next day we met up again and went to Capri. We didn't have too much time as they had to take a boat back to Naples for their flight home. We walked around the town and up some of the alley ways. We ate at a delightful restaurant, La Cisterna. After our friends left we sat at a cafe for a bit then went back to Sorrento for a little more shopping. We missed the duo, "Yalba" because we were out with our friends. We did see them perform later in the cruise, they play many different instruments.
We were tendered in and the ship provided a shuttle into town area. We went to the Greco-Roman Theater, walked the streets & checked out the shops. We ate lunch at an outdoor cafe, Gambero Rosso, and were serenaded by musicians who came around afterward with a jug for tips.
Venice-Sailed in at 7 a.m. to the accompaniment of the church bells of St. Mark's. We got off the ship and purchased a vaporetti pass at a little shop next to where we exited the port area. Used Rick Steves' advice to check a bag and get a ticket which enabled us to bypass the line at St. Mark's. They herd you through the church. It's free but you can pay a few Euros to see other areas, we sprung for the Treasury which was not very interesting to me. We then went to the Correr museum to buy a pass for it and the Doges Palace. Many people do not realize that you cannot buy a ticket for just the Doges Palace. We spent quite a bit of time in the Correr and when we came out, St. Mark's Square was starting to flood. We went out the back and wandered through side streets, to Rialto Bridge area where we came upon a flea market, which we browsed through. We then got the vaporetto to Murano, which we thought was a bust. If you've seen glassblowing back home I would recommend skipping the trip over. The shops in Venice have the same items for about the same price. Beware of some items made in China such as the wine stoppers. You will pay more for real Murano glass. We took express vaporetto to St. Mark's and then went to Doge's Palace. It was just overwhelming with the amount and size of the artwork and gilt. The next day we went back in town, had a pastry and espresso in a little cafe, and bought a few more glass items to take home. We sailed at noon and Azamara put on a beautiful narrated sailaway with complimentary champagne. First class! Well done, Azamara!
The ship provided a bus into town area. We toured the city walls, lots of steps and up and down! It is a charming town. It was overcast and after we came down and went to lunch it began to rain, fine but steady. We had planned to hang out at one of the cafes overlooking the sea but decided to go back to the ship. We went into the pavilion near the ship and bought some herbal brandy in an interesting decanter for a friend at home.
Florence (Livorno)-The ship provided a bus into town, then we used local bus to get to train station and get passage into Florence. We had reserved tickets for the Accademia and the Uffizi-I strongly recommend that you do the same if you take this trip. It was phenomonal to see the David statue "in person", Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" etc. We had a rushed lunch in between. The procedure for getting into the museums could be more efficient-you have to take the printout and exchange it for a ticket, then get in line (a shorter line than the non-reserved people). The second day we went back to stroll around more, viewed the Duomo, the leather market, and the Ponte Vecchio. The train on the way back stopped in Pisa so we did the world's fastest trip to see the Leaning Tower. (Had to make the train so as not to miss the ship). The Tower and Field of Miracles buildings are very pretty.
You are able to get off the ship very early in the morning,we had breakfast and left around 8:30. There was a rather long wait for a shuttle bus to take us to the port entrance. We took the train to Termini station and dropped our bags at our hotel nearby. We had reserved an English speaking tour at the Vatican, letting us bypass the very long line waiting to get in. I thought the tour was too long, it was about 3 and one half hours-the guide spent 45 minutes outside giving us background on the Sistene Chapel. The museums were extremely crowded, I could not imagine being here in the summer time. We had 10 minutes on our own to wander in the Chapel. They keep it rather dim inside to protect the art and pictures are not allowed. I recommend having a pair of binoculars in order to get a closer look at the artwork. The guide took us through the special door that takes you directly into St. Peter's. We saw the Pieta and then she was spending more time but at that point we were tired and made our way out. The Vatican museums were now closed but we were able to find a gift shop still open to purchase some items requested by folks back home. At this point it was too late to get into some of the other sites we wanted to see. We took the Metro to the Colosseum and saw it lit up at night, also walked around the ruins. We ran into a Communist rally going on, lots of people there. We went to the Trevi fountain. Bella! Lots of tourists and we were all taking pics of each other and tossed our coins in, hoping to come back again. We had a late dinner at a cafe and later had some gelato. It was a long day.