Naples & Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi from the water

Our trip to Italy in 2017 started in Naples which is a great starting point for the Amalfi coast. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years since we visited Italy but life has been an absolute whirlwind since our trip. Perhaps it’s because because Kevin and I got engaged in Positano and we’ve been on a roller coaster ever since!

April 30, 2017 – Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii

Our first day in Italy began at Cantina del Vesuvio with wine tasting and an authentic, delicious home cooked Italian lunch consisting of bread, cheese, meats, spaghetti and ricotta cake (28 EUR/person). This small, family owned vineyard, located in the red zone of Mount Vesuvius, produces a small batch of organic wine each year that is only available for purchase directly from the winery. From the warm hospitality to the tasty wines, I cannot recommend this vineyard enough!

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{Terrace and tasting room at Cantina del Vesuvio}
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{Cantina del Vesuvio Russo Family Winery}
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{Home cooked lunch at Cantina del Vesuvio Russo Family Winery}

Full on pasta and wine, we set out for Pompeii – the ancient Roman town that was buried under volcanic ash after a Mount Vesuvius eruption in AD 79 and then rediscovered more than 1,500 years later almost completely intact. We had no problem purchasing tickets when we arrived and were quickly through the line and into the massive archeological site (13 EUR/person).

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{Pompeii artifacts}

Given the size of the city, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate. No doubt due in part to the pamphlet guide that is well organized, extremely informative and complimentary with admission. There’s a ton to see so be prepared to spend a few hours getting lost in this ancient city. We saw the theatre, stadium, many old houses and even a brothel!  Note, wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water. Though this ancient city was sophisticated enough to have paved roads, they are still cobblestone and difficult to navigate in sandals, which we learned the hard way.

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{Cobblestone streets of Pompeii}
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{Pompeii Amphitheatre}
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{Pompeii home ruins}

After a well spent afternoon exploring Pompeii, we were off to the Amalfi Coast via pre-arranged car service through Positano Shuttle Bus (35 EUR/person + 2 EUR fee). Overall, the service was great – reliable and easy. We met our driver, Luigi, at the Naples Train Station who drove us in a comfortable sedan along a picturesque coastline to our hotel in Positano (Note, the drive took approximately one hour and 15 minutes).

For dinner that night, we walked across the street to Ristorante Bruno. It was a convenient, impromptu discovery with homemade pastas, fresh seafood, good wine and a charming ambiance.  The staff was accommodating too, we didn’t have a reservation but they squeezed us in and gave us a complimentary glass of wine while we waited for our table.

May 1, 2017 – Ravello

We took the morning easy and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast on our hotel terrace before catching the 12PM ferry to Amalfi (8 EUR each way/person). Once there we stopped for lunch at Marina Grande on the waterfront and shared the Octopus and the Shrimp & Clam ravioli, all very finely prepared.

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{Amalfi from the water}

From Amalfi, we caught the local Sita Bus to Ravello (1.60 EUR each/person). As it happens, May 1st is an Italian Holiday so the buses, ferries and roads were all packed with tourists – foreign and local – which slowed transit times significantly. Note, the road to Ravello is quite narrow as it climbs steeply above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Our bus ride there took approximately one hour and the return trip even longer – we almost missed our return ferry!

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{Ravello}

As soon as we stepped off the bus in Ravello, I immediately fell in love with this cute, hillside town located in the clouds above the Tyrrhenian Sea. The town is small and very walkable so we set out on foot to explore before eventually making our way to Villa Cimbrone, a charming historic estate with lush gardens perched on the cliffs of Ravello (7 EUR garden entry/person).

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{Exploring Ravello}
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{Amalfi coast views from Villa Cimbrone in Ravello}
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{Villa Cimbrone in Ravello}
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{Villa Cimbrone in Ravello}

 

After a full loop of the garden grounds, we made our way back to the bus stop in order to catch our 6PM ferry to Positano. Note, we purchased our outbound and return ferry tickets together that morning and we bought our bus tickets from the local tobacco shop in town. There are coin kiosks where you can purchase Bus Tickets but the one at the Ravello stop was broken when we were there.

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{Piazza Duomo in Ravello}

From the ferry port in Positano, we walked up through town towards our hotel, stopping to explore the small shops and admire all of the lemon paraphernalia. Once back at the hotel, we quickly freshened up, added a layer then set back out in search of dinner. We decided on Cafe Positano and sat on the sidewalk across the street from the restaurant. Since there’s only one road through town, there is quite a bit of traffic which detracts from the ambiance but we did learn, after the fact, that there’s a downstairs terrace which is more peaceful and has great views of the town and water.

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{Exploring Positano}

On our walk back to the hotel post dinner, we stopped for gelato from Collina Positano Bakery then ended the night with another glass of wine on our hotel terrace overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

And then Kevin PROPOSED!!!!!!!!!!!

May 2, 2017 – Sorrento

The next morning brought clouds and a light drizzle but that couldn’t bring us down. We enjoyed breakfast at our hotel and rehashed the night before over cappuccinos and chocolate croissants.

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{Positano}

We then set out to explore a bit more of Positano. We stopped to admire the beautiful Church of Santa Maria Assunta where I sent up a quick prayer for me and Kevin’s future before catching the ferry to Sorrento (19.50 EUR each way/person). By the time we made it to Sorrento an hour later, I couldn’t be more grateful to be off the ferry. Although the sun had finally come out, the earlier weather had made the water pretty choppy.

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{Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Positano}

From the ferry port, we took the steep stairs up towards Piazza Tasso. From there we wandered around town until we stumbled upon Gelateria David. A recommendation we originally received from my parents but its popularity clearly evident by the long line out the door. I was extra excited because they had my favorite, hard-to-find gelato flavor – kiwi!

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{Exploring Sorrento}

After gelato, we continued to explore Sorrento on foot in search of lemon trees – their specialty! After awhile we started to get hungry and did a quick Google search for good pizza which brought us to Pizzeria da Franco, Kevin’s favorite pizza of the entire trip! The vibe is super casual with plastic cups, silverware and picnic tables and seemingly local; it was packed but we were some of the only tourists there.

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{Pizzeria da Franco in Sorrento}

Refueled after lunch, we set out again but didn’t have to go far. Directly across the street from Pizzeria da Franco is L’Agriminato a lemon tree grove offering free Lemonchello tasting. Fun fact, “real” Lemonchello is half green, half yellow and made by taking the lemon zest (no white) and soaking it in pure alcohol for a few days then adding sugar.

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{Lemon groves in Sorrento}

As we made our way back into the central part of town, we stopped to explore a pop-up art gallery in an old church, an abandoned old mill located in a historic valley below town and the many market stalls selling colorful pastas and Italian souvenirs that line the streets. We eventually made it to the SITA Bus station at the railroad station for tickets back to Positano (1.60 EUR/person). The return ride took about 45 minutes and provided great views of the Amalfi coast.

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{Pop-up Art Gallery in Sorrento}
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{Abandoned old mill in Sorrento}

Back in Positano, we stopped at the hotel to FaceTime our families and regale them with the story of our engagement! Then we enjoyed some wine at Li Galli Bar Bistrò with great views of the Positano coastline and the beautiful terrace at Hotel Palazzo Murat before heading to dinner on the waterfront at Chez Black, a Positano gem that’s been around for almost 70 years. The food is good but the ambiance is cheerful and filled with sounds of laughter and live music.

 

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{Li Galli Bar Bistrò in Positano}
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{Hotel Palazzo Murat in Positano}

We ended the night with an evening stroll under the stars along the beach back to our hotel. The next day we had ferry tickets to Capri!


Accommodations & Country Specific Details

Stay: Hotel Marincanto

Hotel Marincanto will always have a special place in our hearts because it’s where we got engaged! Beyond that, it is a beautiful hotel located in a prime spot along the Positano coast with postcard views from the rooms, pool and dining terrace.

The hotel is centrally located along Amalfi Drive and a quick walk down to the famous Positano Spiaggia (i.e. beach) and the center of town where the ferry port is located. The breakfast spread is delicious and the dining terrace, Terrazza Celè, is comfortable and romantic. Overall, the property, rooms and service are all superior but I think the views are my favorite aspect of this hotel.

Transportation:

To Positano: By car service from Naples.

Around Positano: We walked everywhere and took ferries or the bus to neighboring towns along the Amalfi coast.

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Language: Italian but had no problem finding English speakers. Our favorite Italian phrase was ‘molto buono’ or very good food!

Outlet Adapter: The standard voltage is 230 V. The standard frequency is 50 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type L.

Passport/Visa Requirements: U.S. Passport valid for at least six months from date of departure. No visa for visits under 90 days required.

Vaccinations/Medicines: N/A

Weather: We were in Italy the first two weeks of May. While still technically spring season, it is one of the best months to visit before the towns become overrun with tourists for the high season. Our first few days on the Amalfi Coast were a little cool but sunny for the most part making for comfortable days and chilly evenings.

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