8 DAYS ON THE AMALFI COAST
When my sister in law told me that she wanted my brother to take her to Italy for their 15th anniversary, I was thrilled for them. Even more thrilling (after a few bottles of wine) – they asked my boyfriend at the time and I to join them! Our chef that night was from Italy and after hearing our discussion, he suggested that we visit the Sorrento area. He told us it was a central location and we could use it as a base to see lots of different sights in the area. We sat out on our quest to plan this trip and plan it ourselves and thanks to Pinterest we had lots of material to go on.. We started our plan to see the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Rome and Sorrento. Later we invited my youngest brother as well, so it would be 5 of us total.
As I’ve mentioned, I don’t claim to be a world traveler. But I do aspire to be. Other than cruises, at the time this was all of our first trip abroad. We did quite a bit of planning ourselves and with the time we had to visit, this is how we did it and some of our highlights.
Friday – Arrival in ITALY!
On Friday We arrived in Naples, Italy. I had read so much about this city being known for thefts, so we were all a bit concerned. We booked a driver for part of our trip and Guiseppe met us at the airport and drove us from Naples into Sorrento. As we drove through Naples, I was honestly pretty unimpressed. It appeared to be a city in poverty. I think at one time it must have been great and beautiful as it overlooks the Mediterranean.
As we made the journey into Sorrento, we were all very impressed with the landscape. Guissepe stopped to let us take a few pictures. It was gorgeous! We made it to our hotel and took a minute to clean up from the flight and then ran out to grab something to eat and explore a bit through Sorrento.
Guiseppe recommended this little restaurant for lunch that was just delicious called Il Leone Rosso (The Red Lion). We had Bruschetta, salads and the special which was the Lobster Salad. The food was so incredibly delicious and we were shocked that our bill was only $75 for all 5 of us! In Sorrento, at every meal you follow up with a shot of limoncello! After a late lunch we walked around town. We were all so excited to finally be there. Everything was magnificent!
The boys found a little bar called The Whiskey Bar to hang out at while Tiff and I shopped. There was so much to buy and look at!
We all decided to each have a night to pick the restaurant and it went by age, so unfortunately I was first. I picked a place where they had good pizza. Sorry, I can’t recall the name of the restaurant, but you can’t go wrong. Also, you can’t possibly hit Naples or even Italy without having the pizza. The meal was fantastic and we went from there to a bar called Tiffany‘s where they had karaoke. It looked like something out of the movie The Hobbit. It was in the side of a mountain so it looked a lot like a cave. I sang Hotel California (badly) to my youngest brother (apparently when he was little I told him that song reminded me of him??) and we all danced a little bit. Then we went on to a bar called Americana. Here there were a bunch of Spaniards singing. They were so much fun all singing and dancing in a big circle. We wanted to try out a few other places so we went to the “Discoteque”. It ended up my brothers and I on the dance floor, all separate and all of us in our own little worlds.
Saturday – Amalfi Coast
We got up very early and took off with Gian Piero to the Amalfi Coast. We were out so late the night before that we overslept slightly and we were all a tad bit hung over. First we started at an olive farm called Gargiulo where they produce their own olives. We met Raphaela, one of the wonderful workers there and she taught us how Olive Oil is made.
We bought tons of oil in various flavors and set it all up to ship back home. This was such a pleasant surprise. None of us knew we were visiting an Olive Farm and we had lots of olive oil to enjoy for months after.
We then headed to the Amalfi Coast. It was so beautiful! The Amalfi Coast is actually made up of several different little towns along the coast, Amalfi being one of them. We made Gian Piero stop in several spots to take pictures and then we headed on to Positano. We all fell in love with this city. It was our favorite and we all thought it was the prettiest of the towns.
We got to shop for about 30 minutes and then took off again to the next stop. We stopped along the way at the Emerald Grotto. We had read about this and wanted to see it, but we weren’t thrilled with the experience. The worker there was a bit creepy and weird. We got into a small boat with him and floated around the small pond like area called the Grotto. You could see the green glow but I didn’t really think it was worth the stop.
We went from here to stop and eat at al Pesce d’Oro. We told the waiter to bring us whatever he thought we should try. He asked us if we liked shellfish, fish, vegetables, pasta, etc. All of which we said yes to. Then he brought out this amazing pasta dish with huge shrimp and a bit of tomato on it.
We thought that was the meal. He then brought out a platter with 3 large fish on it. That was the most delicious fish I’ve ever tasted. They all were cooked with the skin on and it looked like they were baked. After eating that, he brought out calamari and then a veggie platter. It was so much food, we were stuffed but everything tasted so good we couldn’t pass up anything! We had no idea we were getting this much food. The bill was $250 for 5. It was a bit of a shock but for 5 of us and as much food as we had plus wine, $50 per person wasn’t too bad.
We then headed off again to a town called Ravello. It was gorgeous as well. It’s up on a hilltop and through mountains with homes and sights like I’ve never seen. I can’t get over the farming there. They terrace out complete mountains and rocks and farm where ever there is a piece of land or some sort of dirt. It’s amazing.
This town was quite different than the beach towns we had seen earlier. On top of a mountain, we walked through town to the Wine and Drug shop for a tasting. We sat down and they started pouring us wines. This was more than just a tasting – these glasses were huge and the sommelier wasn’t pouring a little.
These glasses were half full. He went through each wine with great detail. This cat really knew his stuff. We went through 10 wines and although we boast about being big drinkers, we really had a hard time getting through them all. We were all behind about 5 glasses and finally when we finished I asked how much each bottle was. HOLY SMOKES! I like a good wine, but I will be honest, I could never afford to pay $100 for a bottle, much less the pricing on some of these bottles. We all went together and got a couple of good bottles and left. I don’t think the sommelier was happy – all that time, all that wine, and we walk out with 2 measly bottles. But we left in good spirits!
Our driver, Gian Piero was such a funny guy and he kept us entertained most of the day. Once we got back into Sorrento, we went to a spot in the square for some more pizza.
Sunday – Herculaneum and Pompeii
Up bright and early again the next day we took the train to Herculaneum. Everything I had read indicated this was a smaller ruin, but much better in that the remains were more in tact and colorful and basically Pompeii was overrated.
In order to get there we caught the 9am train after breakfast at the hotel a block from our hotel called the Circumvesuviana. We had no idea what to do or how to get the tickets but this train only went from Sorrento to Naples with some stops along the way. We got the tickets figured and caught the train. It amazed me how many people rode this train. It reminded me of some of the trains you take from Jersey into New York City. Jam packed and a smaller train. Pretty easy to navigate. We found our exit for Ercolano and walked down the hill to the bottom. The walk down was pretty sketchy to say the least. My sister in law was worried the whole way. It wasn’t in the best part of town. Firecrackers kept going off in the streets and of course we thought they were gunshots. But we finally made it to Herculaneum. That day it happened to be free to go, so it was very busy and very chaotic and they had run out of tickets.
We booked a tour and finally got in. Our guide’s name was Massimo. He ended up giving us to Hector, who was an older man that was very sweet. Hector was passionate about the ruins. It was truly unbelievable that so much of this place had been preserved. In Pompeii the city was destroyed by the lava from the volcano, Vesuvius. But in Herculaneum, the ash and smoke was what really killed the people of the city but much of the city remained in tact. You could see skeletons of the people that were waiting for boats to take them away from the destruction. The people in Naples built apartment buildings and roads on top of the ruins and every year they excavate a little more and find more and more to the story. There is no telling what they may find as they keep going.
We left Herculaneum and decided to try and go to Pompeii. We stopped at a little restaurant in Ercolano to have lunch. My brother was asking which train we should get on and I told him the trains only go from Sorrento to Naples and back and there was no possible way we could fuck this up. I was wrong. Turns out there’s another train going from Naples toward Sorrento that doesn’t make the same stops. So we had to turn around and come back to Pompeii. We could fuck it up and we did.
At first glance, Pompeii looked similar to Herculaneum. But once we got over the first hill, it went on and on and on! It was amazing how much of it there was. I would have to disagree with the things I read about the differences in Herculaneum and Pompeii. I would still highly recommend Pompeii. There is so much to see and it is simply amazing to see how much has been preserved.
We left later in the morning on Monday and caught a ferry for the island of Capri. After arriving, we rented some scooters. HOLY SHIT!!!! That was crazy. We road up this mountain with roads that were so insanely curvy with cars and trucks coming at us. It was so dangerous but so thrilling. Every turn was even more beautiful than the last. We rode up to Anacapri and took a lift to the top of the mountain. The views were beautiful on the way up but once we got to the top!!! Breathtaking!!!
We all got some wine and then went back down the mountain on the lift and then rode our scooters to a little beach area. This was gorgeous too. We were there on a Monday, which is the day most Italians take off so it was full of a lot of locals.
Once we went back into town, we took the funicular up to the town to shop. While looking for a bar to grab some drinks, we got completely lost in the little allyways and sidewalks that led to the residences. I found myself wondering how these people moved in furniture to these places!
We caught the ferry and headed back to Sorrento – and slept the entire way.
Capri was a place I want to come back to some day. It was simply magnificent and I couldn’t get enough of it. A day there didn’t do it justice for me.
All I can say is the high speed trains are definitely the way to go! We left very early Tuesday morning taking the Circumvesuviana into Naples and then a high speed train to go to Rome for a couple of days and arrived around 10am. We found our hotel and checked in. It was super small but it had everything that met our needs. We then headed out and started at The Forum and then went to the Colosseum. Both were so much bigger than I had imagined. We got on a hop on/hop off bus and rode around town until we were close to the Pantheon. We loved seeing all the sights along the way. We got off and stopped in a big church wehre the ceiling was all painted in 3D. It was amazing.
We went back to the hotel to change and go to dinner and on the way stopped to see Trevi Fountain. Unfortunately, it was under construction but I was happy to say I had seen it. We went to dinner at a place recommended by our hotel. It was delicious. I had the fettucini with Wild Boar.
The next day we went to the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. I had read a few articles that said to get there early in the morning and NOT to go on a Tuesday. We were there fairly early and as we walked by we could see thousands of people waiting to see the Pope. I would have loved to have seen the Pope, even though I’m not Catholic, but we just didn’t have the time. We went on to the Vatican Museum. I hate to say this, and I’m sorry to my Catholic followers, but I wasn’t extremely impressed. However, I’m more of a scenery kind of girl than a museum kind of girl. I did like the Sistine Chapel. No camera’s are allowed and you have to keep your voice down. We then went to St. Peter’s Basilica. It was so opulent. I am happy I was able to see it, but I wouldn’t go back again.
We spent the rest of the day shopping and then had hamburgers and beer at the train station while waiting to meet up with my brother and his wife.
Once we got back into Sorrento, my other brother had explored there a bit and found a few hidden gems. He suggested dinner at Inn Bufalito. It was delicious!!
Thursday – Boat Day and back to Positano
Our family rarely takes a vacation to somewhere near the ocean or lake without getting out on it in a boat of some sort. So Thursday my brother suggested renting a boat and taking it back to Positano.
This was my favorite day. We took the boat to some coves and saw some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. We took lots of wine for the trip. My brothers swam. Once we arrived at Positano everyone split up. My boyfriend and I veered left while everyone else veered straight. We ran into the most massive number of stairs I’ve ever climbed. I mean we climbed and climbed and climbed. Everything winds around so much and it almost looks like you’ll never find the exit. We finally reached the top of part of the residential area. It was so exhausting but also very cool.
We all grabbed a sandwich to go and started the journey back to Sorrento. As we were departing we saw a man that had drown. They were trying to revive him but didn’t have any luck. I felt and still feel so horrible for his family and what a terrible vacation this would be for them. It really was sobering for us and made us all think about how quickly things can happen and it made us appreciate everything a little bit more.
On the way back we stopped and ate lunch and had some wine and reflected on the day. My youngest brother talked about a girl he had just started dating. As we asked him some questions about her, he shared with us that this was the girl he was going to marry one day. We were so excited for him. It was such a special moment and such a special time. We were all feeling very grateful for life in general and that was just the best way to top it off.
Later when we got back we all dressed up, drank some wine on the terrace for a little while then went to KeBabs for dinner. This is a little fast food place, but it’s spectacular. The owner and his mom are so much fun. After dinner we stopped in to the Shot Bar and took some shots and played Shot Roulette. We met a couple from the UK, there for a wedding and we really enjoyed hanging out with them.
Truly a great day and one that we all will remember for so many reasons.
Friday – Sorrento
This was our last day. We roamed around Sorrento, shopped and spent the day just taking in the sights everywhere in Sorrento. We then had drinks again and headed to KeBab’s once again for dinner and then to another restaurant for another part of the meal. We then stopped at the Whiskey Bar and saw the same couple from the UK. They were there with most of the wedding party and we enjoyed partying with the whole gang. We then, believe it or not, got MORE Kebab’s and took them back to the hotel to eat (I’m not sure if we were just wanting something different than pasta or pizza or what!).
Capri – Unbelievable scenery. Loved the scooters.
Boat day – Loved spending that time with everyone.
Pompeii – Flabbergasted at the enormity of it all!
Rome – Amazing – Would love to go back and not do so many touristy things.
Positano – Definitely my favorite of the Amalfi Coast!!
Needed more time!
Highly recommend getting a driver if you’re going to the Amalfi Coast. Although it would be a fun drive, the driver was able to give us so much background about the culture and knew the right places to go.
Highly recommend the high speed trains. Fantastic!