I had a great time in Sorrento! My trip was full of family, Italian hospitality, food, sights, etc. I took my information on the family around with me so I could understand where I fit in with the different members of the family. It was necessary given the distant relationships I have with most of them (my great grandmother was the sister of the grandmother of two of the ladies I met, for example).
Here's some of the family I met [file names of the photos give the full names of the people from left to right]:
Cousin Giuliana, center. Emedia (left) is a 20 year old student who took me on a tour of Pompeii on her day off work. She knew quite a bit about the ruins and Italian history in general
The Apreda cheese factory ("Caseficio Apreda") with two generations, mother and daughter directly next to me, plus Giuliana again on the left. The daughter, Rosanna, is very focused on the business which her father started. Mom also works all day long for the family. Giuliana (pictured on the left here and in the center above) works as a child psychologist in Sorrento and Naples. She and Rosanna took me to a great seafood lunch at a restaurant on the water in Marina Grande.
The ones who were the hardest to find on the family tree (in terms of how we were related) were the Aiellos. Pictured here are Elena and Antonino Aiello and their granddaughter Maria Russo. I went to their place for New Year's - lots of food, culture, people, etc. The fireworks set off at midnight all around Sorrento were amazing. There wasn't one central show like we would see in wildfire prone California. The entire city was lit up by its people. Along with the Apreda family, the Aiellos did a lot to help me when I got sick for a few days in Sorrento. They didn't speak much English, but it was still great to spend time with them. The chorus was always 'have some more' when it came to lunch and dinner in Sorrento.
Day trips: I took short side trips to Capri, Amalfi, and Pompeii
bad weather, not really a winter destination
New Year's Day parade - not quite the production value of the Rose Parade in Pasadena. They played and sang folk music. An accordion was hooked up through the loudspeaker you see behind the banner.
Narrow roads and wide bus to Amalfi and Poisitano, glad I wasn't driving
The town perched on its hillside
Coastline - somewhere around Poisitano
The ampitheater where Pink Floyd filmed their live show in 1972
I think Pompeii was much more 'graspable' than the ruins in Rome. You saw where people lived their day-to-day rather than just the huge political, religious, and cultural centers of the city. The main market street and the once-opulent apartments of the richer residents were interesting sights.
I was not impressed by Naples - it was dirty and had little to offer for tourists. In fact, most of Naples' tourist attractions were outside of Naples: Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Vesuvius, etc. Here are a couple photos from the nice part of Naples - the road along the shore: