Today’s post is the second installment of our honeymoon – this time takes us to the Amalfi Coast, Italy. While my heart always belongs to Paris, I was the most excited for the Amalfi Coast because I was pumped to see the famous views I’ve only ever seen on Instagram and never dreamt I would see in real life. My husband had never heard of the Amalfi Coast before I brought it up as a potential honeymoon locale. I was incredulous – had he never seen photos of the hill with all of the houses on it?! As soon as I showed him photos, he said, “Oh, I’ve seen those before. I didn’t know that was the Amalfi Coast!”
In my head, I thought that the Amalfi Coast would be the most relaxing part of our trip, but in reality it was probably the most chaotic of the four places we visited due to the massive crowds. A coworker had told me that a lot of Italians go down to the coast during the summer, which made perfect sense when we got there because it seemed like the majority of the tourists were either Italian or British.
We only had two and a half days on the Amalfi Coast, and we chose to stay in Sorrento. Although not the most scenic of the coastal towns, we chose Sorrento because it is the transportation hub on the coast. Our flight left Paris at 7am and arrived into Naples around noon. Based on our research, we decided to skip Naples and go straight to the coast. There are no flights that go right into the Amalfi Coast; the most common way to get there is by car or ferry from Naples. In terms of road transportation, you can rent a car or take a taxi from Naples to Sorrento, but there are also two main modes of public transportation from Naples to Sorrento: the Circumvesuviana train, or a coach bus called the Curreri Viaggi. We decided to take the bus because we heard the train is a bit of a hotspot for pickpockets, and the bus also has A/C.
Our plan for our first day in Italy was to visit Pompeii, but we had to drop off our bags at our hotel in Sorrento first, because we had read that we weren’t allowed to take bags to Pompeii. We didn’t find out until we had booked our Curreri Viaggi tickets that there actually is bag storage at Pompeii. If we were to do it over again, we would’ve gone straight to Pompeii with our bags in tow instead of going to Sorrento, then Pompeii, then back to Sorrento for the night. Regardless, we boarded the Curreri Viaggi bus at the Naples airport, which took us straight to the bus station in Sorrento. After dropping our luggage off at the hotel, we headed to the ruins of Pompeii via the Circumvesuviana train. It was 30 degrees out that day, with nowhere to hide from the heat. Even so, Pompeii was a wonder to see and my husband particularly loved it.
It’s amazing how much of the ruins are left, but you still have to use quite a bit of your imagination to envision what the bustling city looked like before it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius! We spent the entire afternoon exploring the ruins, and by the time we got back to Sorrento, it was 5pm. We spent the evening having dinner in the town centre, which is where all the shops and restaurants are located. It’s a very touristy area, but it was fun to be out and about with all of the other people amidst the hustle and bustle. I loved people-watching from our dinner table on the side of the street.
Our second day in Sorrento was a ridiculously packed schedule. We decided on a day trip to some of the main towns on the coast, namely Positano, Amalfi town, and Ravello. There is a bus line that takes you to all of these places without stopping in between, and it’s only about a half an hour to forty-five minute drive between each town. This is the route we chose to take, although there are also the more expensive options of taking a taxi or hiring a private driver, both of which are quite costly. With only one day to do the coast (which is quite a common way to explore the Amalfi Coast), we knew we wouldn’t have much time to check out churches or museums or do any shopping – our main goal was just to enjoy the views that each town had to offer.
Our first stop of the day was Positano, which also happened to be my favourite stop because it was the most scenic. Out of all the towns, Positano also has the best beaches, although we didn’t take advantage of them due to the crazy amount of people. There were many stores selling lemon flavoured or scented items – the Amalfi Coast is well-known for their lemons, which grow in abundance there. Apparently, every family has their own secret recipe for limoncello, a lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy. We couldn’t resist bringing back small bottles for our family and friends!
Ravello was also picturesque, albeit in a different way than Positano. We paid 7 euros each to visit Villa Cimbrone, a historic building with luscious gardens and an amazing view of the water from the Terrazzo dell’lnfinito, or the Terrace of Infinity (unfortunately, I didn’t realize until I started writing this post that we only have pictures of the Terrace with us in it, but not the views from the terrace alone. Darn!)
In comparison, we both felt like Amalfi had the least to offer out of all of the towns. Our research told us that they have a Paper Museum, which sounds boring but actually has quite high reviews, but like I mentioned, we didn’t have time to go into any buildings for browsing. We did see the Amalfi Cathedral from the outside, which was a lovely building.
Honestly, the day would have gone a bit smoother if we weren’t in the midst of the busiest tourist season in Italy. Every street was packed full of people, so it was difficult to get around quickly, particularly on the narrow side streets. We also had difficulties getting onto the buses because people didn’t line up properly; there were a few times we couldn’t get on a bus even though we arrived early, because people who arrived last pushed in front of us. It was so frustrating!
What was interesting to me was the drive between towns. The roads are made on the sides of the cliffs and are extremely narrow with sharp hairpin curves. Every time our bus squeezed past another bus going in the opposite direction, people on our bus would clap when we made it through. Yet with all the buses and cars on the road, locals on motorcycles would just continue to weave in and out of traffic on these curvy trails like a boss.
The next day was also our last full day on the coast, and we were meant to visit Capri. Our plan was to go first thing in the morning to beat the crowd at the Blue Grotto…but it just didn’t pan out. That day marked the halfway point in our trip, and having been on our feet for 12+ hours every day for the last seven days, we were exhausted. We ended up using that day as a lazy day to sit on our hotel balcony to enjoy the view of the coast, exploring the Marina Grande in Sorrento, which is a cute little port with many seafood restaurants and shops, and then doing more walking around in the town center during the evening.
Speaking of our hotel, we stayed at the Hilton Palace in Sorrento. Most of the hotels are located closer to the town center, which is very convenient, but are older and more dated inside. They are also expensive, especially as they get closer to the water. On the other hand, the Hilton was new and very modern looking, but it’s at the top of the hill overlooking Sorrento. We thought the distance would be worth it, and I think in general it was. It was quiet, and the rooms were big. However, it was a 15 minute uphill walk to get to the town center and to the bus/train station. It was absolutely brutal when we arrived in Sorrento during the midday heat carrying our backpacks, but for the rest of our stay, we went out early in the morning and came home late at night when it was cool out, so in general it wasn’t too tough walking to and from the hotel.
My diet in Italy consisted mainly of pasta and gelato. I had gelato at least twice a day on the Amalfi Coast – I felt it was necessary for me to try every gelateria we came across…and we came across many. My favourite in Sorrento was a store that sold wine-flavoured gelato, and I don’t even like wine (or drinking in general)! One of my other favourites was the fig and passionfruit gelato I had from David Gelateria. You could tell they used real fruit because both flavours had plenty of seeds in them!
The Amalfi Coast also introduced us to our greatest food discovery of 2017: granite. Granita is a slushie/sorbet type dessert that originated in Sicily, but somehow tastes a hundred times better than a regular North American slushie. Our absolute favourite was the lemon granita, which took me by surprise as I’ve never liked lemon – maybe it’s because of the particularly fragrant lemons they have on the coast. The first time we tried granita was in Positano, when we were roasting in the heat and saw a guy walk by with a cup of it. We didn’t know what it was, but found a gelateria a few doors down selling it. Boy, we were in for a treat when we discovered how unbelievably refreshing it was. We’re going to look up a recipe online and try recreating it at home!
Source for granita photo: Lemon Citrus Granita on the Amalfi Coast, Italy
After taking in all of the beautiful views of the coast and eating all of the gelato that was available to us, we headed off to our next stop, Venice. Stay tuned for the next post!