A stop on the Grand Tour since the 18th century, the site of Pompeii still mesmerizes…even for the return visitor.

A favorite port stop on many Mediterranean itineraries is the Amalfi Coast. Flowers, vistas, lemons and limoncello lure travelers to long lunches and evening strolls. Pulling into Sorrento by ship is one of the most striking sites in the Mediterranean. My recent visit onboard the Azamara Journey did not disappoint, in fact, it amazed.

Sorrento as seen from my balcony aboard the Azamara Journey.

Sorrento is a town on the edge. The edge of a cliff,  the edge of the Gilded Age and on the edge of two of the world’s finest archaeological sites;  Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Our ship pulled into Sorrento at dawn and the October light highlighted the outline of the town.  From the seashore to the upper levels filled with hotels from the late 1890s, cafes, and shops.  Also a gateway to Capri, Sorrento offers so many options for shore excursions.  I chose to return, for my 10th visit to the site of Pompeii.

We all know the story of the town frozen in time when covered in volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD. The devastation of the town was well documented by an eyewitness, Pliny the Younger. But despite this history, the actual site was not rediscovered until the 18th century. It quickly became one of the first iconic stops on every well-bred traveler’s Grand Tour and remains so for travelers today.

I have visited many times and in many seasons and I must confess, hesitated to return on Azamara’s Land Discoveries group tour.  But I was as entranced as a first-time visitor and saw many new sites I had not seen before.  There are many active archaeological digs ongoing and in fact, one-third of the site has not yet been excavated. Yes, there were crowds during our visit, but our expert guide took us into quiet houses and spots to explore the less explored treasures.  We often felt we were alone in the site.  Some of my favorite new finds can be seen below, but you must come and explore for yourself.

An ancient street frozen in time since 79 AD.

A shop, with amphora standing ready to hold olive oil for sale.

Beautifully preserved frescoes are found throughout Pompeii.

On the morning before the eruption, the birds stopped singing but no one knew why.

Stunning bas-reliefs at the Roman baths.

The cast made from the remains of a crouching figure, awaiting his fate.

Mt. Vesuvius still looms over the site of ancient Pompeii.

Azamara Journey in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius in the Bay of Naples.

Walking the ancient streets is transporting and you can see and sense the day-to-day life of a town of the ancient Roman Empire. This why I travel, it is my luxury. The chance to experience history always leaves me in awe.

Thank you Azamara Club Cruises for taking me to explore the world, on land and at sea.  This article originally appeared on the Azamara Blog and can be found here.

Please note:  Though I was an invited guest on this cruise, I never accept a trip or payment in return for the promise of positive coverage.  The opinions, praise and awe….are entirely my own.


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