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Travel - 4 great destinations in 3 days

Positano is one of several towns located on the Amalfi coast and offers gorgeous beaches, stunning ocean vistas, as well as great shopping and nightlife. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)

Positano is one of several towns located on the Amalfi coast and offers gorgeous beaches, stunning ocean vistas, as well as great shopping and nightlife. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)

St. Andrew’s Cathedral sits in the heart of Amalfi City and overlooks the Piazza Duomo. The ninth century cathedral has breathtaking architecture inspired by Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Byzantine elements. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)

St. Andrew’s Cathedral sits in the heart of Amalfi City and overlooks the Piazza Duomo. The ninth century cathedral has breathtaking architecture inspired by Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Byzantine elements. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)

The stretch of coastline known as the Amalfi coast is located on the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in southern Italy. The gorgeous coastline and the towns on its shores have inspired writers, film producers and photographers for years. The Amalfi coast is known for its Mediterranean climate, which features warm summers and mild winters. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)

The stretch of coastline known as the Amalfi coast is located on the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in southern Italy. The gorgeous coastline and the towns on its shores have inspired writers, film producers and photographers for years. The Amalfi coast is known for its Mediterranean climate, which features warm summers and mild winters. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)

Originally an ancient Roman city, Pompeii was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius during an eruption in A.D. 79 AD. Pompeii is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions in Italy with Chiostro del Paradiso. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)

Originally an ancient Roman city, Pompeii was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius during an eruption in A.D. 79 AD. Pompeii is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions in Italy with Chiostro del Paradiso. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- On a recent three-day weekend, I decided to change up my routine of exploring other European countries and focus my energy on seeing what Italy had to offer. During my 72-hour journey, I discovered crystal clear waters, picturesque views and the taste of fresh seafood in the cities of Pompeii, Amalfi, Positano and the Island of Capri.

First on my trip itinerary was Pompeii, a city that was destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. With approximately 2.5 million visitors each year, Pompeii is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy.

For a small fee we entered ancient Roman ruins which offered a glimpse into a world that was lost for nearly 1,500 years after the eruption. I walked along streets that were once filled with stores and homes and viewed cast models of people frozen in time by the ash of the eruption.

Outside the ancient ruins is a market full of vendors selling an assortment of souvenirs, like t-shirts, Roman swords, figurines and food. The area is also famous for its limoncello and we were able to visit a factory which offered a variety of flavors to taste and purchase. The orange cream limoncello was an added treat to the traditional Italian lunch served at the local trattoria next door.

Next on our list was the beautiful Island of Capri, which is located off the Sorrentine Peninsula. To reach my destination, I traveled to the tourist town of Sorrento and took a ferry from the town center that took me on a 20-minute adventure over crystal-clear waters and breathtaking scenery.

When Capri came into view, my eyes were drawn to the colorful homes grouped in the heart of the island and a small port filled with ferries, small fishing boats and yachts. The bustling island offered everything from shops selling designer clothing to local markets and street vendors selling football-sized lemons.

My friends and I hiked from the base of the island to its peak, which is also the city center and has a variety of fresh seafood restaurants, numerous gelato stands and a 360-degree view of the tropical paradise. The island radiates happiness and the streets are filled with the sounds of family vacations, church bells and the clinking of wine glasses.

Unfortunately, Capri's famous Blue Grotto was closed because of the weather but I heard numerous tourists talking about how remarkable it was. When it's open, tourists can visit the sea cave for only 25 euro and see the natural beauty of the deep blue water reflected off the cave walls.
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On the second day of my journey, our group traveled 90 minutes from Sorrento to the Amalfi coast, including Amalfi City and Positano. Amalfi is a small tourist town and has several striking sites like the city cathedral and "Chiostro del Paradiso" or the Cloister of Paradise. The city is sure to captivate any traveler's heart. Once again, the local cuisine was phenomenal and included flat bread pizza, prosecco, and fresh fish and mussels.

For a more relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle, the city offers rock beaches for people to lounge on. The beaches are lined with restaurants and snack bars so a person could spend all day on the beach, lying under the palm trees, basking in the sun and grabbing a quick bite to eat, all the while listening to the sounds of ships leaving the tropical port.

Nearing the end of my excursion, I traveled by public transit through the mountains lining the coast to reach the city of Positano. Traveling through the narrow streets, I worked my way down through stores, restaurants and museums.

Positano also offers pebble stone beaches and I recommend using one of the many lounge chairs available. Get there early - they fill up quickly during the summer months.

As the sun began to set and store owners began to lock up for the night, locals and tourists alike filled the streets for an unforgettable night. The many outdoor restaurants turn into local nightlife hot spots in the evening hours and partygoers can mingle and dance to the sound of waves crashing on the shore.

As the sun rose on the third and final day of our trip, I awoke anticipating my 10-hour drive home through the heart of Italy. For adventure goers looking for a tropical paradise that won't disappoint, southern Italy and the Amalfi coast offer a unique cultural experience you will never forget.