The Amalfi Coast. One of those places that you always see on TV and think, “I really want to go, someday” without really giving it much more thought. For me, I am a sucker for a location on the Mediterranean around June/July with lush greenery, amazing food and perfect weather. The Amalfi Coast ticked all of those boxes. I was acutely aware of the inflated costs for things in this part of the world so I booked myself onto Busabout’s “Italian Adventure” – a 3 day/2 night tour that started and finished in Rome at the wonderful Plus Camping Village Roma.
The idea of a short tour filled with as much of the Amalfi Coast as you can handle is a good one, and because of the short duration it is possible to do this region relatively cheap as opposed to doing it yourself. After an early start on the Friday morning the tour set off from Rome for Sorrento, via Pompeii for a guided tour of the Archeological Ruins which was included in the tour. I had visited Pompeii before but was more than happy to see it again, as most people might only see it once in their lives. Sorrento was reached around 4pm and what a drive it was, most of the time the bus being perched on the side of a cliff with these amazing stretches of road that any Tour de France rider would have salivated at – switchbacks and long drops below down to the Bay of Naples awaiting any over-zealousness from our driver. Luckily he was a local and knew the roads immaculately.
Accommodation in Sorrento was the basic but comfortable Camping Santa Fortunate village, situated around a 30 minute walk from the town centre. A great place to visit for gorgeous views of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius is the City Park Terrace, called the Belvedere. The Amalfi region makes a lot of it’s living from Lemons. They make anything you can imagine from them, but the main product is Limoncello. It is a very strong liqueur and I would say an acquired taste but you really should try it at least once when you are here.
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants in Sorrento but I would advise to look for restauraunts with no english menu, as you will most likely get better quality food at a more reasonable price. The buffalo mozzarella here is to die for, so cheese lovers will be in heaven here! If you can still manage to walk after dinner there are lots of little streets you can get lost in and see where the evening takes you.
From Sorrento it is very easy to head south to check out Positano which is a village and a commune but worth a look with the Church of Santa Maria Assunta here. Positano was a port of the Amalfi Republic in medieval times, and it’s heyday was during the 16-1700s. By the mid-19th century though, the town had hit hard times and around half the population left. Amalfi is a must see too, where you can take a boat trip around the bay in front of the town. I also had the most delicious Arancini balls in Amalfi and there is the lovely Amalfi Cathedral which is beautiful, despite the long staircase you have to climb to reach it!
From Amalfi it is around 8km up the hill to Ravello, which is again a gorgeous place. Around 2500 people live here and I think it is necessary to visit these smaller places to get a more authentic idea of life here on the Amalfi Coast. Some attractions in Ravello are the Duomo/Cathedral as well as Villa Rufolo, built by Nicola Rufolo – one of the richest Patricians of Ravello. The villa is a famous attraction for many visitors. Ravello and Amalfi are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Naturally a visit to this region would not be complete without a trip to the Isle of Capri. On the boat trip in you can see the world famous Blue Grotto, which is a sea cave with a small opening which, when the sunlight passes through, shines through the sea water and makes a blue reflection that lights up the cave. It costs €13 to enter, and for an extra €5, you can “fall in” to enjoy a quick dip in the Grotto!
Capri has been a haven for the rich and famous for years, the likes of George Clooney and Mariah Carey love to hang out here and it is no wonder. The island is gorgeous, if not a little touristy but there are loads of places to sun yourself or take a dip in the lovely blue waters of the Gulf of Naples. Start in Marina Piccolo and take a luxury taxi (basically vans or SUVs with the roof chopped off replaced with a fabric cloth) up the hill to Anacapri for some spectacular views on the way.
When you get to Anacapri you can take a really nice chair lift up to Monte Solaro, the highest point of the island at 589m. The return chair lift will cost €10 but the views are what you pay for up here. Be careful not to lose your shoes!
It is possible to take the tiny, purpose built island buses to get back down from Anacapri, they take a little longer than a private taxi but are a lot cheaper. Finish the afternoon with some gelato or shopping before you head back to the mainland. Capri will leave a lasting impression in the memory, some of the views from the hills are simply stunning.
Sunday came around way too quickly and with that, it was time to head back to Rome to finish the tour. All in all it was a great way to see the Amalfi Coast, with some fantastic people I met along the way. Big thanks to Busabout and everyone who made the weekend a raging success. For more information head to their website, http://www.busabout.com/
Thank you once again for reading, until next blog, safe travels!