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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014

Location: Italy

MapWe departed Florence, and took a three-hour train journey further south to Sorrento, via Rome and Naples. We travelled at 250 kph through farmland, mostly small plots with a small farmhouse of white walls and a red terracotta roof. The landscape was dotted with small hills poking out of flat fields, and it seemed that every hill was topped with a steeple of some kind, as if the most important building in the village must always have the most prominent position. We passed several industrial areas of factories, and then wineries and olive groves.

The Tuscan hills soon gave way to much higher mountains, dotted with stone buildings and medieval churches. Some were perched precariously on a cliff edge and were in ruins, having succumbed to the encroaching undergrowth. Several small villages were surrounded by a stone wall, with an entrance indicated by a gate with a tower on either side. The mountains were so high that it was easier for the train to go through them than over them, and we seemed to be underground for much of the journey. As soon as we arrived in Naples we transferred to a regional train bound for Sorrento. The confusion of where to find this connecting train was solved by following a young Queensland couple who were also heading to Sorrento for their honeymoon. Emerging from a tunnel, we had our first view of a scene that would stay with us for the next four days the sprawling Bay of Naples, with high-rise apartments along its shoreline, and the huge, dark, conical-shaped Mt Vesuvius rising out of this fantastic view.