Ruins of Pompeii…devastating volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD

I’ve written an earlier post on Sorrento & Pompeii if interested…it’s very short as I was learning WordPress features etc then. This time I’ve included different photos to these… (June 2020).

Summary of our 1/2 day trip from Rome to Sorrento via train (from Tony’s 2014 journal):

We had a week long stay in Rome in 2005 so on this occasion we just stayed overnight (after a flight from Beijing) at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Rome.

The staff at the Hilton hotel in Rome were very helpful and explained what we needed to do in order to catch the train from Rome to Napoli (Naples); followed by another local train from Napoli to Sorrento.

It all went so well…the hotel staff confirmed (what Tony had already researched), the bus in the morning from the hotel to the main railway station in Rome (“1/3 of price of Rome airport-main railway station train”) and the bus even takes a very scenic route (reminding us of our 2005) trip as it went past the Colosseum and other major historic sites. All incredible for the small price of the bus fare even though we were on the bus for about 45 min…a slow drive with morning traffic but the driver even gave some commentary.

Image from Net…History of Colosseum in 1 min…

There are a couple of links on Net to very short videos about the Colosseum that children (and young at heart!) might enjoy…mostly on u-tube (Colosseum for Kids)…the “Free School” link looks like one of the better videos (5 min).


From my teaching days I remember middle primary children being fascinated by Colosseum stories of gladiators, wild animals etc. There are many engaging picture/history books for children showing both the exterior and interior of the Colosseum as well as interior images on the Net of course. Resources that many adults find interesting too!…especially for a brief overview if ancient history wasn’t your area of study at school or Uni. Here’s an interior image…

Tony (looking a lot younger in 2005!) at the Colosseum – Rome
The interior of the Colosseum
Many historic buildings and statues to be seen around the inner city of Rome…these near a main round-a-bout…lots of those like in Canberra…the original round-about capital of Australia😉
2005 – Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain…”According to legend, tossing one coin into the Trevi Fountain means you’ll return to The Eternal City (Rome), tossing two coins means you’ll return and fall in love, and tossing three coins means you’ll return, find love, and marry. Luck or no luck, your money goes to a good cause.” ??? (Wikipedia)

Here’s a U-tube video (1+ min) for young children on Trevi Fountain There are quite a few short videos that look good/engaging…just a few minutes and wish these were available when our sons were young!


Back to more mundane information for those interested in travelling independently between ROME – Naples – SORRENTO by train (recommended!)...the half day trip involves 2 train trips…1 from Rome to Napoli (the shorter) and then changing trains for the Napoli to Sorrento leg (the longer trip) with details as follows (skip over to more general photos/recipes etc. if you prefer!):

1st rail leg (1 hr 10 min)…Rome to Napoli (Naples):

At Rome station there was the option of buying tickets from a machine or from a real person! Hope that’s still the case as he (and we heard others) are very helpful in Italy (they can speak some English). He recommended we save money; go 2nd class as the “train is almost empty and the Rome – Napoli trip takes only 1 hr 10 min”. We’re glad we sought help from the official ticket seller as BEWARE people around trying to “help” with suitcases etc…they’ll then demand payment of course even though they weren’t needed at all. 2ND CLASS on this train was very good – clean, modern etc. and on the day/time we went (mid morning/mid week), not crowded at all.

2nd leg on the same day – Napoli (Naples) – Sorrento…

According to RometoRio app, there are 7 different ways you can travel. Seeing we arrived in Naples on the train it was easier to continue on the rail line and it’s only a 1 hour trip (cost is $10-$12 atm I see). Unlike the train to Napoli, this regional train was crowded and we needed to stand (with suitcases beside us) along with many other tourists doing the same as us (or day tripping from Naples to Pompeii) – so it turned out to be a social trip (we chatted with some people from USA). So this 2nd leg wasn’t nearly as luxurious and comfortable as the 1st leg from Rome to Naples but it was fun! However in post Covid days perhaps another form of travel on this leg might be advisable?? We really hope to return in our lifetime🤞

From the Sorrento railway station we were able to walk to our hotel – Grand Hotel De La Ville (recommended!). Again there was a welcoming information counter at the station and they directed us to the hotel (days before goggle maps on phones). Sorrento isn’t a huge town and easy to walk around.

THINGS TO DO IN/AROUND SORRENTO…worth looking at Trip Advisor but things we did included:

Exploring/eating around Piazza Tasso…photos below (the food varied a bit but was generally good at less touristy places away from crowds); walking down to Marina Grande (see photo below) & taking the unique “Sorrento Lift” back up – it goes through the rock face!; half day trip to Pompeii (see this post & a previous 1); another half day trip to the Isle of Capri…recommended as it’s $$$$ to stay there. I’ll do a post on our wonderful half day trip to Capri in the future.

Part of the Marina Grande – Sorrento, Italy
A view as we departed Sorrento (by ferry) for Capri…note the sheer rock face. We walked down in the morning but after a long day in Capri (including a slow lunch) we decided to be lazy and take the lift back up. The main town of Sorrento is at the top of the cliffs!

Interesting to also visit some of the marinas around the region…some are traditional and quaint and others are modern with luxury yachts – particularly in Capri (photo below)…

Searched – Pompeii for kids…here is a 3 min video – “The Last Day of Pompeii”

Photo below shows the now roofless villa of the ancient city of Pompeii…had me asking what the original roofs were made of? Possibly ceramic tiles considering the mastery of mosaics by the Romans around that time?? Top photo shows the volcano looming in the background + note Roman numerals on Street sign

Photos above show 2 of our favourite photos from our walk around Pompeii (a few hours with self guided audio). More photos can be seen in one of my much earlier posts “Sorrento, a good place to visit Pompeii”

The artwork around Pompeii was also fascinating…here’s me hearing about the animals and livestock via audio/self guided tour. It was fairly easy to do a self-guided visit…I heard another tourist saying their small group tour with a guide showing them around was repetitive at times. Could be good for those studying this period of history or anyone wanting more information of course. We thought the audio gave us the background info we wanted. Any other info can now be looked up so easily on Net as well of course.
RHS OF PHOTO…an ancient street in Pompeii; LHS…a moment from the street parade we witnessed in Sorrento Old Town…Piazza Tasso

Above photos…I found it interesting to compare the 2 streets…Pompeii built in 79AD (almost 2000 years ago) and the historic Sorrento streets “just” a few hundred years ago I think? Another question to look up one day.

Main photo…Sorrento’s traditional street parade (note the traditional dress on the LHS); Also note the beautiful produce of the region…for kids…note the price tags in Euros (rather than our dollars). I’ll look for a link to explain European currency (money).


“Pan Fried Whiting with Tomato Salsa”…from Australian WW Mediterranean Diet Cookbook 2019 P44…not exactly Italian with “Salsa” but close!

Pan Fried Whiting with Tomato Salsa – P44 – WW Mediterranean Cookbook (mini book series)…delicious!

The 2 photos above show both the image from the cookbook at the top and our efforts below. The “Method” is straight forward for the average cook except perhaps the Salsa so I’ll type that up below and here’s the list of ingredients although the quantities seem large even for 6 people…we cut it right back for just the 2 of us of course.

Ingredients for 6:

1 kg kipfler potatoes, halved lengthways; 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar; 1/4 cup (60 ml) EVOO; 400 g green beans; 1/2 cup (75 g) plain flour; 12 x 80 g whiting fillets, skin on

Tomato Salsa: 1/3 cup (80 ml) EVOO; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; 500 g grape tomatoes, halved; 150 g pitted Kalimantan olives (halved); 1/2 small red onion (50 g), chopped finely; 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves; 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Salsa Method: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes and olives; cook until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in onion, parsley, remaining oil and the juice. Season to taste.

Do ahead: The salsa can be partially prepared up to a day ahead; refrigerate until required. Add parsley, remaining oil and the lemon juice just before you cook the fish.


I love reading both light fiction (like title below) at the same time as reading something more challenging (usually part of my Canberra book club reading). When I go to bed I set myself a 10 min (or 1 chapter goal) starting with 5 min on challenging read, followed by 5 min (usually more) on light read. If I’m super tired it’s even 2 min on challenging read/5 min on light read but more often than not I find myself reading for at least half an hour most nights. Tony only reads the same book and thinks I’m a bit nuts switching books but I’ve found that reading something light before lights out helps me to relax and sleep.

An example of a light read (with an Italian/Australian theme) is…

I often use the public library but try to also support our local bookshops (Paperchain in Canberra/Ulladulla bookstore on the South Coast); sometimes I also buy a book from Big W if I can pass it onto other family/friends. However, this book has some lovely/simple recipes + I love the cover so it will stay on our bookshelf.
The Right Place (photo above)…Blurb


ITALIAN FOOD…Tobie Puttock; DAILY ITALIAN…Tobie Puttock

Tobie Puttock owned an Italian restaurant in Melbourne which we enjoyed when we visited a few years ago…not sure if it’s still there? However, there’s another informal Italian bistro called The Waiters’ Club which is a Melbourne icon (established 1947) and a place we visited frequently when living in Melbourne in 1986-87 and again last year (pre Covid!). Here’s a review…

Another book we enjoy using is Cook with Confidence – Italian – a visual step-by-step cookbook

Here are the recipes we’ve either tried or would like to try:

Green and white bean salad; three-colour salad; roasted peppers & tomatoes; courgette frittata; rocket & parmesan salad with pine kernels; sardines with pine kernels & raisins; tagliatelle with a rich meat sauce (I leave livers out); macaroni with chickpeas, herbs and garlic; grilled polenta with fennel seeds; ravioli with crabmeat and ricotta (Tony makes his own pasta sometimes); linguine with anchovies, olives & capers; seafood risotto; veal with prosciutto & sage; monkfish skewers with basil mayonnaise; griddled steak with toms & garlic; grilled aubergines with mozzarella & parmesan (actually baked); sea bass with fennel, olives and thyme;