Flying Jayhawks: Diary of Sorrento

Posted on Jun 2, 2016 in Alumni News and News

Sorrento is in the south of Italy, and features a rich history of Roman and Greek mythology. The area is known for the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which destroyed the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. In modern times, the region is the lemon-growing capitol of the country, and is known for its artisan foods like buffalo mozzarella. Susan Younger hosted the trip and kept this diary.


Thursday, May 12, 2016: Sorrento
Arriving at Naples, our AHI host Valentina was a welcome sight waiting for a very tired group of travelers. The hotel was very nice, the food was good, and we were all ready for bed early that night!

Friday, May 13, 2016: Positano and Amalfi
There was energy in the air as we boarded the bus to Positano and Amalfi—we were ready for our first adventure, but I don’t think we were expecting the roller coaster ride. The roads, carved into the side of the mountain, were very steep! The scenic views along the coast were breathtaking. Positano was originally a fishing village, and Amalfi was once a major shipping port.


Saturday, May 14, 2016: Bay of Naples and Paestum
I looked forward to this day, starting with the visit to a “water buffalo mozzarella farm.” I’m not sure everyone was as crazy for the animals as I was! The owners of the farm believe that stress-free animals make the best cheese, and they were right—the samples were fabulous! The cows had customized milking machines that they enjoyed, and big, padded roller machines that massaged them. It was funny to see the cows lining up, and they got a little vocal when one cow was hogging a machine for too long.

The next stop on the itinerary was Paestum, where we strolled through the ancient temples of Hera, Neptune and Athena. The ruins are older than the Roman Colliseum, and were built by the conquering Romans.


Sunday, May 15, 2016: Naples and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale
We visited the National Archeological Museum and toured Naples. The ancient Legend of the Sirens (from Homer’s Odyssey) is said to originate from the Bay of Naples. (The sirens were beautiful but dangerous creatures that lured sailors to their doom). The area is rich with tributes to sirens and also the sea-going god, Neptune.

We had marguerite pizza for lunch—there is no comparing tomatoes and basil grown in the volcanic ashy soil that surrounds Naples! And we are really getting used to drinking wine at EVERY meal (including breakfast).

We discovered these giant lemons that were as big as our heads, and had fun taking photos with them until the grocer took them away. 


Monday, May 16, 2016: Herculaneum and Pompeii
This is the day most of us have been waiting for … Herculaneum and Pompeii are the two cities that were destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The opportunity to tour the ancient ruins was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things—the preservation of these two cities is unlike anything else in the world.

Herculaneum was amazing, and you can view the sobering sight of skeletons caught in the port by a pyroclastic flow—a poisonous, fast-moving cloud that was inescapable. (Pompeii was covered in a massive amount of ash).

I was so looking forward to this day, but I really messed up by getting lost in Pompeii!

I stopped to take a photo of some modern art, and got separated from the group in the large crowds. I could not find the group anywhere! This was pretty embarrassing, and I missed most of Pompeii while I was searching for my lost Jayhawks.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016: Isle of Capri
Taking the ferry to the Isle of Capri was fun, and the boat ride around the island showed us red coral growing abundantly in all the rock coves and tunnels. The gardens were amazing, since the climate is fairly mild all year long.

This evening, a group went to a “Tarentella Operata” at the Tasso Theatre. We could not understand a word they were saying, but the performance was energetic and entertaining. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to capture Ivan dancing in the aisle!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016: Sorrento
Our last day was one to relax and enjoy shopping and dining in Sorrento. We have such a great group of people, and it has been so great to get to know them all. The lasting memories and friendships from this trip will be cherished.


Our group of Jayhawks included (following rows directly after the group photo): Row 1, far right: Birgit Love and Steve Pennington; Row 2, left: Mary Jane and Mark Swanson; Row 3, right: Mary Jane and Susan Younger; Row 5, right: Sara and Ivan James; Row 6, left to right: Chuck Refshauge, John and Renee Zimmerman, and Ann and Gil Tisue.

View more pictures from the trip on Flickr.

Susan Younger hosted the Flying Jayhawks trip to Sorrento. Susan serves as the KU Alumni Association’s creative director and the mastermind behind many of our beautiful publications, such as Kansas Alumni magazine, decor for special events, and pretty much anything creative in the office.  For more information about the Flying Jayhawks program, including the newly announced 2017 schedule, visit

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