Prior to visiting Sorrento, I knew very little about this coastal town in southwestern Italy. All I knew was that it was near the town of Naples, which I had only heard about because of its association with the world’s best pizza.
It was a long trek from Florence to Sorrento — roughly seven hours — but the naps, bathroom and lunch breaks at the many rest stops along the way made the ride feel a lot shorter.
As soon as we made our approach to Sorrento, I knew we were in a completely different part of the country.
My stomach churned as our giant bus squeezed its way through the narrow and winding streets surrounded by tall and aged buildings. You could hear squeals and gasps from the bus as our driver made sharp turns every few seconds in hopes that we wouldn’t hit any other cars, pedestrians or even buildings.
And then a collective sigh as we exited this part of town, away from all the narrow streets. Climbing our way up a hill, our tour guide, Giuseppe, told everyone to look out the window to the right.
More gasps sounded from the bus as we looked out at the vast, sparkling blue ocean and the plentiful structures lining the steep coastline. Coming from Oahu, I’m used to seeing ocean views on a regular basis. But this was unlike anything I’d ever seen.
Alas, we finally reached the Johanna Park Hotel, where we dropped off our belongings and rested for a short while before our next stop, a wood factory.
At the wood factory, we listened to a woodworker explain the many different types of wood used to produce various household items, which got me thinking about how we often take the furniture in our own homes for granted, not realizing the work that goes into making it.
The woodworker then led us to the factory’s showroom, where he showed us a multipurpose table that opened to become a roulette table — a Las Vegas lover’s dream.
We were given some time to browse and do a little bit of shopping. Although I didn’t make any purchases, I had fun inspecting all the different wood products — everything from chess tables to jewelry boxes to picture frames.
Our next stop was dinner at a restaurant called La Tavola di Lucullo.
A young Italian lad entertained us with classic songs like “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin (which seemed to be our theme song during the entire tour) and “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra. He also took requests from the group.
My personal favorite? “Sweet Caroline.” Add the wine, tambourines and dancing, and the party really got started!
For me, this was another night where the dinner — several courses that included an assortment of appetizers, pasta, veal and vegetables — was overshadowed by the music and camaraderie.
Yes, I’ll always remember the landmarks and beautiful scenery of this country, but it’s moments like these that really completed the experience and made the trip so much more special.