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Sleepless In Sorrento, Or The Other Side Of Travel - Travel Notes

Italian roosters are loud, over-the-top stylish and quick to compliment. Wait. That’s Italian men. Italian roosters actually sound the same way in Italy, as they do back home. The latter turn of phrase refers to two different countries now – both Russia and Canada.

When I was little, we had a clock that my father brought from his first travels to Europe. It had a large button and said the time out loud, when you hit it. Quite annoying after a while, but it was a hit with my great grandma, who could not see the small numbers on the clock any more. The default alarm setting on that clock was a rooster – loud and obnoxious. To this day, I associate that sound with having to wake up, while it was still dark and cold outside, and drag my feet to the kitchen, where grandma made us breakfast, before sending us to school.

There is actually nothing obnoxious about the sound of Italian roosters. It’s far away and muted, yet always exotic to the (somewhat) urban dweller.

I know little about Sorrento, Italy. Just whatever I was able to pull up on my phone, while we were stuck in traffic from hell yesterday, trying to get to Bed and Breakfast Casale Antonietta.

It’s a small touristy town (heavy on the “touristy”) in Campania, Southern Italy. Apparently, the soviet poet Maxim Gorky lived here in the 1920s.

Sorrento’s location (close to both Naples and Amalfi coast) makes it a perfect tourist destination – read lots of hotels, shopping, and… people. The population of 16,500 nestles on nine square kilometres. The population of Toronto is still three times that, so I’m not complaining. Yet.

The initial plan was to check out Capri’s Blue Grotto, but after watching the video and reading the blurb from the marketing brochure, we settled on simply visiting the island instead.

“Hop aboard a wooden rowboat, lay back, and let yourself be carried through a tiny stone portal to another world by your able skipper, who navigates seamlessly under the meter-high cave mouth. Inside, pass from complete darkness into a sparkling cavern, lit by azure blue light, while the sounds of ancient Neapolitan song echo along the stone walls.”

We both decided we could do without the grotto. I think it was “the sounds of ancient Neapolitan song” that killed it for me. There is only so much “touristy” I can handle.

You see, people rarely talk about the bad side of travel. A truly awful story of being mugged in Rome or getting hopelessly lost in Milan may make its way to the dinner table, once you are home. However, nobody wants to hear (or to tell!) about the tourist traps, the cheesy tours, the traffic, or the rude waiter, or that day you woke up with the food poisoning, or the mediocre pizza and bad coffee.

Yet, the best trips include the good and the bad, as well as the stuff in the middle. That’s how you know you are truly travelling – you are experiencing life as it usually is – with ups and downs. Otherwise, it’s not called travel. It’s called an all-inclusive resort, where restaurants are always open, and cheap alcohol is never-ending.

Give me my mediocre pizza. This is how I will be able to appreciate the truly amazing one next time.

Off to explore Sorrento, Solo


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