My first trip to Europe was to southern Italy in March of 1998.  After arriving in Rome on the 10th, we headed south to our hotel outside of Naples.  On the way we visited a cameo factory, of which I have no photos.  Our hotel was actually across the bay from Naples proper, giving us a view of Mt. Vesuvius.

We were originally supposed to go to the island of Capri on the 11th, but the weather was too rough for the ferry.  Instead we went to Pompeii.  Following a tour of the excavated parts of that ancient town, we went back to the hotel for a bit, then went to an inlaid wood factory in Sorrento.

We didn't do much on the 12th except sit on the bus.  We spent the whole day driving from Naples south to Villa San Giovanni, where we took a ferry across the strait to Messina, and then continued driving down to Giardini Naxos, where our next hotel was.  This hotel had the worst-designed bathrooms I have ever seen; there was no division between the shower and the rest of the bathroom, not even a shower curtain.

On the 13th we visited Taormina, a small town built in the hills just north of Giardini Naxos.  It's a beautiful town, my favorite among all the places I've visited abroad. Taormina's best attraction is the ancient theater built by the Greeks.  From the theater excellent views can be had of the coastline north and south of the town, as well as Mt. Etna towards the southwest (sadly, Mt. Etna was shrouded in clouds the day I was there).

We went to Syracuse on the 14th.  We spent much of the day in the area around the ancient Greek theater there, where a number of ancient buildings have been unearthed.  Of the theater itself not much remains except the auditorium, which was carved right into a hillside (standard procedure for the Greeks); the stone used for the stage and scena were recycled over the centuries for other buildings.  Nearby is a Roman ampitheater that's in poor condition, and the Quarry of Paradise.  The latter was once a major quarry.  For whatever reason, in the process of quarrying the rock the workers made a number of caves, rather than digging a pit in the ground.  Earthquakes in later centuries caused many of the caves to collapse.  One of the survivng ones is known as the Ear of Dionysius after its twisting shape which amplifies sound.  The shape of the top of this cave indicates it may have started life as an aqueduct.  We also visited the cathedral in Syracuse, which was actually converted from a temple to the goddess Athena.

The following day we drove across Sicily to Palermo, a city which was utterly forgetable; I didn't even bother taking any photos there.  After spending some time there, we got on the night ferry to head back up to Naples.

After arriving in Naples the next morning (the 16th) we went on a quick bus tour of the city before getting on a different ferry to go to Capri.  There we had a walking tour of the upper part of the island, which is quite a lovely place.  I had a most peculiar pizza for lunch there: it had no tomato sauce and only a few spots of cheese on it.  I've had worse, though.  That afternoon we took the ferry back to Naples and got on a bus to head back up to Rome.

On our last day in Italy (the 17th) we went on a tour of Rome, seeing the Forum, Colosseum, the Circus Maximus, St. Peter's Square, the Spanish Steps, and more.