SANTA MARGHERITA TO NAPLES Tuesday, June 29 was our 35th anniversary. We spent the day relaxing and enjoying our last look at Santa Margherita and Portofino. It was brutally hot, but we still went for a long walk along the water to a little bar-restaurant on the road to Portofino. Michael and Lori joined us for frozen Lattes, a newly discovered treat. The view was wonderful and we enjoyed the time with them

We went for drinks to The Splendido, one of the truly most beautiful hotels in the world. The views and the setting were spectacular. It is difficult to describe the effect of the flowers, aromas from the honeysuckle, gardenia and rose plants that surround and the beauty of the Bougainvillea covering the walls.

Dinner that evening at Ristorante Puny in Portofino was delicious. We were treated by Lesley, Lori, Michael and Amy. This was a new experience for us and I must say, we enjoyed the role reversal. We learned once again to monitor cab drivers fares more closely on the ride back. It was 25 euro to get there and 50 euro back. In spite of this, it was a perfect day. One of the key reasons we took this trip in the first place was to celebrate this 35 year milestone. We couldnít be happier or more grateful to have had this time together.

Betsy was determined to return to Forte de Marme, the beach resort south of La Spezia. We rented a car for the day and drove with Lori and Michael to a friendly bath club on the shore. We were not disappointed with beautiful warm sun, warm ocean and great shopping. Lunch was terrific. We stayed until dinner and took these shots of sunset along the beach.

The next day, July 1, was our last in Santa Margherita. I got a haircut and for the first time was able to have a somewhat limited conversation with the barber. Storefronts in Italian towns and small cities are right on the sidewalk and the merchants tend to keep their doors open, often standing by the doorway. This makes for a very social environment with walkers stopping in at all times to say hello, chat about sporting events and family as well as more intense discussions about politics. The Italians seem to be universally disappointed in the performance of their soccer team in a manner highly reminiscent of Boston sport fans. That night we said goodbye to Lori and Michael. We had a great time with them and we were sad to see them go.

We arose at 4:30 am to make it to our plane in Genoa. After a brief change in Rome, we arrived in Naples at 10:45 am. We were stunned by the size and impact of Mt. Vesuvius. Iím not sure what we expected, but the enormity of the volcanic mountain that clearly totally changed the geography of the region is hard to describe. The picture, taken from our boat later the next day barely does justice to the impression.

I was also surprised by what I saw of Naples, driving from the airport to the Bed and Breakfast Parteno. Iím not sure what I expected, but what I found was an enormous sprawling city, very much alive with the rhythms of traffic, small commerce, waterfront activities and what seemed to be an unlimited supply of young people. The poverty of the area is obvious with blocks of rundown tenements and littered streets with graffiti on nearly every accessible surface. In the brutal heat, the intensity of the activity seemed odd.

Still, there are many beautiful areas, particularly along the waterfront. The view from our B & B was lovely, overlooking the Bay of Naples.

In spite of all the warnings about Naples at night, we had pleasant walk that evening with the Luconis, who were joining us for the first 6 days of our sailing adventure. Dinner at Ristorante Coco Loco was good, and we strolled through the busy streets of the waterfront area until quite late. Though we were ready to call it a night, the Neopolitans were just coming out as we were ending the day and the streets were crowded with people out for the evening.