Tag Archives: Naples

13 November 2014
 Naples, Italy: Beneath the Mountain

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises 

We are back in Naples,  our last visit of the season to Campania. Silver Cloud is heading now for Sicily,  Malta,  Tunisia,  the south coas of Spain and on to Madeira before crossing the pond to the Caribbean and South America for the winter.

Many guests headed off to Pompeii or the on enchanting isle of Capri.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that,  but we’ve done that and more many many times.

See some recent blog posts: 11 November 2014 and 4-5 October 2014 for photos and stories.

Instead,  on today’s visit we choose to go underground: to two of the ancient catacombs below Naples.

Up on the hill of Capodimonte above Naples are the Catacombs of San Gennaro and nearby in the working class district of Sanita are the Catacomb of San Gaudioso.

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Photos by Corey Sandler 

Unlike the Catacombs of Rome,  these underground cities were not built as refuges for really Christians hiding from persecution.  Instead, here in Naples,  the catacombs are remnants of ancient burial cults.

Some date back several hundred years before the Christian era. The two we visited include some ancient chambers as well as Roman and Christian tombs.

The catacombs on Capodimonte have only been reopened to the public since 2009; they were cleaned and lit by a cooperative established by local students and parishioners. This year they expect to receive about 50,000 visitors. Today, there were eight of us–and the former tombs of perhaps three thousand former residents.

At San Gaudioso,  the 3rd century Christiana had elaborate routes that including doing of bodies,  separation of the head from the test of the body and the veneration and display of the skulls on a special chamber.

I almost joined the display myself: I clanged my head on a low hanging beam. I left the catacombs with an indelible memory and a temporary lump on my forehead.

All photos copyright Corey Sandler.  All rights reserved.  If you would like to purchase a high-resolution photo image, please contact me. 


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Here’s where to order a copy for immediate delivery:


Henry Hudson Dreams cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

11 November 2014
 Naples, Italy. Calm Before the Storm

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We arrived this morning in Naples,  Italy. That had not been the original plan,  but weather conditions at Sorrento–where we were supposed to lie at anchor for the day–were threatening and the captain made the decision to head for the surety of the cruise terminal at Naples.

The city is at the north end of the Bay of Naples. From here the wonders of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento,  and Capri are reachable by various means.

And just off our ship is the chaotic, frenetic, and always entertaining city of Naples.

To our guests leaving us tomorrow in Civitavecchia,  the Port of Rome, we wish safe travels. It had been a thrilling voyage,  from Piraeus, Greece to Rhodes,  Israel,  Cyprus, Turkey,  Crete,  and Italy. Let ‘s do it again,  somewhere in this wonderful world.

And for those staying on board and new friends boarding in Civitavecchia: we head out of the Med through the Pillars of Hercules to Madeira. The other side of the pillars–between Gibraltar and North Africa–was once considered the limits of the known world.

It is ours to rediscover.

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Cathedral of San Gennaro,  Naples

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The Naples Archeological Museum,  home to many of the recovered treasures of Pompeii and Herculaneum.




The Wonders of Pompeii.


Via Krupp on the enchanting isle of Capri.

All photos copyright Corey Sandler.  All rights reserved. 

17-18 April 2014: Naples, Sorrento, Capri, and Pompeii

The Caves, the Road, and the Elephant in the Room

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Sorrento is a gem of one of the most beautiful, dramatic, and dangerous regions in all of coastal Italy: Campania. On the mainland, it stretches from the Amalfi Coast and then Sorrento north to Naples. In between are Pompeii and Herculaneum.

And from almost everywhere you can see the hulking threat of Mount Vesuvius: one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.[whohit]-Naples 17Apr-[/whohit]

As we sailed toward our planned anchorage at Sorrento, the Master of our ship read the tea leaves (and the meteorological charts) and decided to change our itinerary so that we could avoid possibly rough seas at Sorrento. Instead, we docked at Naples.

The wide Gulf of Naples is framed by three major islands: the most famous is Capri just west of Sorrento. West of Naples is Procida and further out Ischia.

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The best real estate value in Amalfi: a miniature village at the top end of town. Photo by Corey Sandler

Capri has been a resort since Roman times. Actually the Greeks were there earlier, and are believed to have given the island the name Kapros, meaning wild boar.

Natural wonders include limestone masses called Sea Stacks (Faraglioni) and the famed Blue Grotto.

Now, let’s consider the mainland of Campania: Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Naples.

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Positano from above, midway through our drive of two thousand turns from Sorrento. (I counted them.) Photo by Corey Sandler

Positano was a relatively poor fishing village during the first half of the 20th century. It began to attract large numbers of tourists in the 1950s.

John Steinbeck may have helped.

In an essay in Harper’s Bazaar, Steinbeck wrote: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”

Positano was featured in the film, “Under the Tuscan Sun” in 2003. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones somehow used the solace of the cafés of Positano to write the song “Midnight Rambler.”

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Huge lemons of the Amalfi Coast. Granita (real Italian ice) for lunch, Limoncello after dinner. Photo by Corey Sandler

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Fruits for passion? Red peppers at a roadside stand along the Amalfi Coast. Photo by Corey Sandler

Naples was founded in the 8th century BC, as a Greek colony, first called Parthenope and later Neápolis (New City). Neápolis became Naples.

The city was at its peak as the capital of the Kingdom of Naples, from 1282 until Italian unification in 1816.

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Inside the spectacular Naples Cathedral (parts dating from the 13th century), and the shadow of the church on the street outside. Photos by Corey Sandler

By the 1st century, Pompeii was one of a number of towns located around the base of Vesuvius. The area had a substantial population which grew prosperous farming the rich volcanic soil.

The 79 eruption, which is thought to have lasted about 19 hours, released about 1 cubic mile (4 cubic kilometers) of ash and rock over a wide area to the south and south-east of the crater, with about 10 feet (3 meters) falling on Pompeii.

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More treasures of Herculaneum at the Archeological Museum. Photo by Corey Sandler

It is not known how many people were killed, but the remains of about 1,150 bodies–or casts made of their impressions in the ash deposits–have been recovered in and around Pompeii. The total number could be between 10,000 and 25,000.

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The greatest treasures of Pompeii and Herculaneum are on display not at the ancient cities, but instead safely and handsomely displayed at the Naples National Archeological Museum. Photos by Corey Sandler

Most of those killed at Pompeii died from a combination of blast and debris, and suffocation through ash inhalation. About a third were found inside buildings, probably killed by the collapse of roofs.

By contrast, Herculaneum, which was much closer to the crater, was saved from tephra falls by the wind direction, but was buried under 75 feet (23 meters) of hot material deposited by pyroclastic surges.

The last major eruption took place in March 1944, in one of the almost-forgotten moments of World War II.

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Scenes of the town of Amalfi. It’s not easy, but it is possible to find back alleys free of tourist throngs. Photos by Corey Sandler


All photos copyright 2014 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a copy, please contact me.