"My first ever holiday to Italy was when Sheila and I went to beautiful Sorrento in 2011; a coastal town in southwestern Italy which faces the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsular. We found Sorrento thoroughly enchanting, but given that we were in the first flush of love, we would have found things to do and even enjoyed ourselves in a Barnsley hotel overlooking a fish market, had we not gone abroad!
Just as one can taste the difference in Irish and English Guinness, the same distinction is true of Italian Pizzas, tomatoes, lemons and many other delicious foods which no other place can compete with. I loved taking a boat ride around the Isle of Capri where we saw the cliff-top residence of the late Gracy Fields. My most memorable experience of the boat trip was entering the mouth of the Blue Grotto; a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue through the sunlight of an underwater cave. Across the sea from Sorrento lies Mount Vesuvius, the infamous volcano that looms over the Bay of Naples. Vesuvius, which erupted in 1944, is the only volcano on mainland Europe to have erupted during the past hundred years.
While there are too many beautiful churches and other famous buildings for Sorrento to boast of, in 1873, Sorrento gave birth to the operatic tenor Enrico Caruso. The two things which intrigued me most about Sorrento's historic centre was an area known as the Drains and the nightly convention for men, women, boys, girls and entire families to walk up and down the main street, even way past midnight, for no other purpose than to strut their stuff. The Drains is a warren of narrow alleys and a maze of shops, blended with numerous eatings places. Once in this warren, unless one is a rodent, it is easy to lose one's bearings. It was from one of the mazed alley exits that we alighted upon the Chiesa di San Francesco; a beautiful 14th-century church with the most tranquil cloister I have ever seen. We finished our Italian holiday off with a night at The Royal Opera House; one of the world's greatest opera companies which weekly shows the amazing performances and superb skills of world-class dancers.
What has Italy got to do with my morning post you might ask. We had planned to take another Italian holiday over the coming year and during the months ahead we would have had much pleasure looking through the various Italian places we have yet to see. Given my increasing loss of mobility and the risk I take on air flights with my condition, however, we have decided to holiday within the British Isles. Given my condition, we can never be away from home on holiday for more than a week.
So, now knowing that the first time I ever saw beautiful Italy would be my last, I needed to exercise my own piece of literary indulgence and pen a brief travel guide of Sorrento and the Bay of Naples for my own future recall.
There are many places in the British Isles that I would like to see again with Cornwall, the Scottish Highlands, North Wales and South West Ireland being chief among them; so these are the places we will next be having a week's holiday away in the New Year.
With my mobility becoming more restricted daily due, to severe Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis in my hips and legs for most of my adult life, along with a terminal leukemia condition which leaves my blood short of oxygen and body devoid of sufficient energy, any sight seeing for me in the future will have to be done from the seat of a wheelchair, pushed by my beloved Sheila. I recently broke the psychological barrier that I'd been resisting for a year now and bought myself a wheelchair, light enough to carry and store and strong enough to hold my excess weight. I'm just so pleased that Sheila keeps so fit and in great shape.
They do say, 'See Naples and die,' don't they? Not yet mate! I've still got places to go, people to meet, books to write and things to do! And below is a lovely man who I had a cup of coffee with and a long chat during early morning hours during 1964 which can be read about from my website." William Forde: October 31st, 2016.