SORRENTO & THE AMALFI COAST
A first – from Rome to Naples we took the fast train which took just one hour! It was great, I just couldn’t take pictures out the window as everything was whooshing by too fast! We changed at the Naples station to the ‘subway’ or local train to Sorrento.
First, there is no lift or escalator down to the subway and we have bags! We then learned this local subway/train makes 32 stops (yes, that is a 3 and a 2) on the way to its last stop – Sorrento!
The temperature was 90º and we were at a loss as where to buy our tickets when ‘out of the mist’ appeared the amazing Eleanora – a beautiful, young Italian college student who was studying English and became our savior!
Not only did she carry Joyce’s suitcase down flights of stairs, she took us and waited for us at the ticket line and then guided us down more stairs to where the subway would arrive – 30 minutes late .
We managed to push our way on with all the luggage and for the next hour and a half stood literally jammed up next to a center pole, which we hung onto for dear life until we finally arrived at our stop. If we thought the Vatican was jammed – the subway from Naples to Sorrento is a close rival! Without Eleanora we never would have survived.
The mother of our Airbnb hostess, Marika, agreed to meet us at our subway stop. She grabbed our bags, carried them down 2 flights of stairs and tossed them into the back of her car with ease! (We later learned she was 44 – Markia is 23.)
Our Airbnb was in the little village of Sant’ Agnello. This flat had two very nice but sparsely furnished bedrooms, an extremely well-stocked kitchen with a bottle of Prosecco waiting for us, no sofa but a very nice garden sitting area outside the door.
A surprise was seeing the photos of the garden outside the door on Marika’s Airbnb ad and presuming (why do we do that?) that the flat was on the ground floor. Not! It was up a very steep flight of marble stairs. We are making a long list to send to Airbnb at the end of this trip of what they need to tell their homeowners about how to advertise their places. If there are stairs to climb, they really should mention that! The flat was a bit further from Sorrento than we had thought but, once we walked down a long alleyway to the main street, we could easily catch a bus that took us to the central plaza.
Now to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Dean Martin (remember him?) crooned romantically about this part of Italy in so many of his songs! They brought to mind a picture of blue skies, bluer seas, palms trees swaying and handsome Italian men roaming the streets. And, he was right!!!
We got off the bus in the middle of the main square (and in the middle of a huge tour group!). Across the street we spotted a deserted, flower-covered archway that seemed to head to the sea. We decided to see where it would lead.
At the end of this pretty bower we found the Excelsior-Vittoria, a 5-star hotel whose sea-view rooms begin at €1,700 a night – that’s $1936.46 in USD!
Though we couldn’t quite afford a room, we could afford a drink on the patio and their magnificent views were free!
We met a most delightful couple from Devon, England, Lionel and Edwina, and enjoyed the best Aperol Spritzers ever – along with yummy munchies. What a perfect place to relax and sip by the sea!
From there we decided to walk to the Marina Grande for lunch at our buddy Rick Steves‘ choice of a great seafood restaurant on the waterfront.
Along the way, we met and actually had pose for my camera, another bride and groom. They must have been suffering so much as the temperatures were now in the mid-90’s – but they were still smiling!
We saw some interesting people and paid to take an elevator down to what we thought was the marina and instead was one of the ‘paid’ beaches where the locals go for a day of sun and sand.
Another 15-minutes later we emerged at the Marina Grande and claimed the last seat on the water at Trattoria Da Emilia.
The food ! Fresh mussels steamed in lemon, a seasonal salad and a huge selection of seafood goodness! Our waitress was so wonderful and, when I asked if I could take her photo because she was beautiful, she just beamed!
The next day we had booked an all-day tour of the Amalfi Coast once again with GetYourGuide.com. We’ve found them to have a good selection of tours and reasonable prices.
Our guide for the day, Tony, was your typical Italian male! Gold chain, hairy chest, with Dean Martin playing on the radio. 🎵 When the moon meets your eye like a big pizza pie – that’s Amore! 🎵 We loved him. Tony is in his 40s, lives at home with his Mama but dreams of moving to the US where he had been many times. He wants to live in Jersey City!
We were joined for the day with a couple from Brazil and another from Australia. We left early, trying to beat the traffic on the winding, very narrow coast road. The views were jaw-dropping gorgeous and the roads were jaw-dropping scary! Tony handled the road with ease, sometimes one-handed while geastering or talking on his phone. He even managed to pull over and let us take some great photos on our way to the three villages we were scheduled to visit – Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.
Now I really want you to take a good look at the photo above. (And, don’t forget if you click on any photo you get the full-size picture.) I am taking this photo from the front seat of an 10-passenger van. We are about to pass that red bus on what the Italians call a 2-way street. I held my breath, Tony pulled in his mirrors, each vehicle went very slowly and pulled as far to the side the road as it possibly could and inched by! Phew! This was a typical tiny street found in all the little towns. I could never drive here. I would have taken the side off my car and the bus!
Our first stop was the charming village of Positano. Tiny winding streets, houses hanging off the side of cliffs, pricey art, bright blue seas with tiny beaches and huge private yachts anchored off shore. Oh, and streets packed with tourists.
Flower-covered archways, gift shops everywhere and spectaculars views!
The next stop was the famous, star-filled village of Amalfi. Similar to Positano with winding streets and cliff-hanging houses. A beautiful church, big hotels and lots and lots of bumpy local lemons! Why? Because Limoncello, the delicious liqueur, is made in this part of Italy. And of course, more beautiful views!
We stopped for lunch on one of those cliffs overlooking the town of the Ravello. We were all tempted to just hop in the pool with our clothes on as it was so very hot – but, we refrained and drank cold beer instead!
We all liked Ravello best. Because it sat atop a hill there was no beach or boat access – and therefore fewer tourists! It was a calm, quiet town with a lovely square, some Roman ruins, and great views. Each year the town hosts a world-famous music festival. We also found our favorite shop ‘sign’ so far!
On the return to Sorrento we took a different road which gave us a hazy view of the very large city of Naples sprawled below us with Mt. Vesuvius hovering the background – and one last beautiful coastline view.
Tony says the best time to visit this area is the last two weeks in October. Most of the tourists have departed and the majority of hotels, restaurants and stores haven’t yet closed for the winter months. Something to remember when you plan your trip to Italy.
Tomorrow we head back into Naples (this time we hired a car – no more subway!) There we will catch our bus to take us to Bari on the opposite coast where we board our overnight ferry to Croatia.
Until next time…..