The Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Naples

We needed a break from all the hustle and bustle of Rome and Florence, so we decided to head to the famous Amalfi Coast for some fun in the sun.  The Amalfi Coast is renowned for being one of the most romantic destinations in Italy and with it’s turquoise coloured waters, rocky beaches and incredible sunsets it’s not hard to see why. We took a train from Rome to Salerno and then a ferry from the port of Salerno to the amazing Positano.  We initially thought Positano was our final destination, but having realised that we are hopeless at planning – weren’t surprised to learn that our B&B was actually in a town called Nocelle.  A 20-minute bus trip from the centre of Positano, took us directly to the top of a mountain and it’s last stop Nocelle. This small town is approximately 200 steps from the bus stop and 1700 steps to the beach.

  

We got down the 200 steps, (thanking our lucky stars we left our massive suitcases in Rome) and were greeted by a lady who we would come to know as Maria. Maria told us there was Pizza and Pasta at her restaurant from 7pm every night and that the B&B was still another 500 meters away. We continued sluggishly down the path. The walk to the B&B was charmingly long, cobble stone churches, kids playing soccer and did I mention steps? Oh yeah, there were lots of those too.

There’s a saying I like to use at the gym sometimes: ”Beauty is Pain, Beauty is Pain” – in lieu of the gym, I’ve learnt to use it in difficult situations – such as walking! :) The walk to the B&B was painful – but the views were exceptionally beautiful. Surpassing anything we expected and it made us forget the whole trip in. This would be our home for the next seven days and we couldn’t be happier. On arrival Salvatore told us the best beach (apart from the beach in Positano) was directly below us. 1700 steps to the beach or 30 minutes he said. 1700 steps? Too easy we thought! By the time we hit step 500 my legs were shaking, Gus was doing a bit better but he was “sweating like a mof0” – his words, not mine. It took us 45 minutes to get down to the beach, so we weren’t in any hurry to get back up to the top. We spent the rest of the day there, had a lovely lunch and then took a little boat back to Positano.

 

Ischia: We were pretty wrecked the next day. Our legs were stiff and we could barely walk. Salvatore our host commented “Ahhh…you have been down the stairs to the beach?”. Gus held back from punching him. We had heard of the thermal spas out at Ischia and decided that some healing may come of good use. The trip from Positano to Ischia is fairly long, it takes three hours to get to the port of Ischia and then a bus trip to the Poseidon Spas is another hour away. We finally made it to the spas at midday and they were amazing. Over ten glorious thermal spas, with temperatures ranging from 26 to 40 degrees. It would have been good idea to read the time recommendations before we hopped into the spas – as we spent about half an hour in each bath.  With the exception of the 15 degree-40 degree pool in which you sat in the 40 degree pool for three minutes and then sat in the 15 degree pool for 30 seconds. You are only allowed to do this a maximum of three times – I managed to go in twice, Gus did it 16 times! The thermal spas were an awesome day out and highly recommend you visit these baths if you are in the Amalfi, it’s great for relaxation.

Capri: We organised a day trip to sail to the island of Capri and Anacapri. Famous for the many celebrities that come to hide out whilst on holiday here and more impressively it’s Blue Grotto. They were on our bucket list as a must-see. We arrived at the port of Capri and decided to head to the highest peak on the island in Anacapri. Lovely boutiques and cafes in Anacapri and a lot less crowded that Capri. We took the chair life to the top of the mountain, from which you can see the whole island and on a clear day you can even see Mount Vesuvius. The vibe was a bit different back in Capri. Overcrowded, hot and extremely overpriced. Our favourite drink while on the Amalfi, was a glass of lemon-ice – which back in Positano would set you back one euro. In Capri, each lemon ice was over six euros. Restaurants were overflowing with tourists, so we decided to head back to the beach and wait for our boat.

Our boat took us to the Blue Grotto. Unfortunately for us, the weather conditions were a bit off that day and due to metre swells in the ocean they had closed down the Grotto for the day. As disappointed as we were, we got to see the green grotto and more importantly swim in it. We were told the Green Grotto was much more impressive. The tour also stopped by the White Grotto before taking us back up to Positano. It was an awesome day out and even though we didn’t get to the Blue Grotto – we loved that we were able to swim in the Green Grotto.

Pompeii & Naples: We organised another day trip to take us into Pompeii. There is no easy way of getting to Pompeii from Positano. The quickest way for us was to catch a bus from Positano to Sorrento and then the train from Sorrento to Pompeii. The trip in total took four hours. We could feel the heat as soon as we arrived in Pompeii. Again, not knowing where we were going – we followed the masses of people pouring into this heritage listed site. There we could see the town of Pompeii.  We decided to get a guided tour for 10 euro each and worked out to be a good idea. There was no way we were going to be able to work out what the buildings once were or what they were used for. Highlights here included the preserved bones of people who had “ducked and covered” before the ash finally hit them – a pregnant lady, an old man kneeling and a dog – it was incredible to see. The final building we saw was the famous brothel – with the ‘positions’ carved into the stone and beds made from concrete. Gus said they were comfortable! :)

Naples was a different story. Everyone that goes to Naples says that once they go, they realise that Rome is a sanctuary – quiet and peaceful.  We found this hard to believe, but as soon as we arrived we knew that we were in over our head. Rubbish everywhere, horrible smells, loud traffic and just crazy heat.  Gus was trying to find the best pizza, while I was trying to find the biggest piazza (square). Both rumoured to be in Naples. In the brief haze that was Naples, I remember three things:

  1. I told Gus off for wearing his “Lebowksi T-shirt” and making us look like easy targets – he immediately retaliated and told me off for wearing a silk dress.
  2. I lost my beautiful silver ring, owned for over five years – only because I was desperately trying to take it off to hide.
  3. The only pizza we did find was on a street cart. It was cold and relatively plain, but probably the best pizza on pic my plate so far and Gus loved it!

We left Naples after a quick three-hour walk through the streets and some cold pizza. It was enough for us to experience the ‘real’ Italy. And while we wouldn’t stay in Naples, Pompeii was an amazing experience and worth the trip out.

Positano: Our last few days were spent exploring Positano. Not so much exploring as perhaps lying on a beach. The beach we were told to go to on Positano was a smaller beach behind the main port called Da Ferdinando. The beach was awesome, warm water and well the sand was pretty hot…but what made this beach awesome was that the owner LOVED Australia and had decked out his beach hut in green and gold. Our deck chairs and umbrella’s were green and gold. He had the Australian flag flying high from his roof. Could be a smart business man? But to a couple of home-sick Aussies, it was awesome. So for 14 euro we hired a couple of sun beds, an umbrella and spent the day on the beach.

Most our nights were spent at Maria’s restaurant in Nocelle called Il Ristoro de Gli Dei.  Not much to look at from the outside  – but had the most spectacular views of Positano and not to mention the most divine eggplant parmagiana. We had dinner here on four of the seven nights and only held back on eating there every night because we were playing hard to get – but really there was no point. We loved the food here and the entertainment was hard to beat. Arch Angelo, the owner of the restaurant played the accordion and tried to get everyone involved. On our second night there, one of the guests bought his Ukulele in and joined in with Arch Angelo’s songs. On our last night the Ukulele was absent, so Arch Angleo got Gus a tambourine and mid one of the songs, some guy from another table started getting into the opera singing. Our last night was spent singing Italian opera songs, whilst playing the tambourine.

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The Amalfi coast was by far our favourite place on the trip and the only place that we were actually sad to leave. We could have stayed another two weeks here and it would have not been enough. We left our Italian family, who cooked us awesome meals and our beaches – lovely warm and clear blue beaches. There isn’t a lot more to say about Amalfi, except for that you must go. You will fall in love with the people, the food and it’s culture – the ultimate Italian dream.

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  • http://www.chasingtheunexpected.com Angela

    I am SO jealous. I went to the region of Campania a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. The views were stunning, I was enchanted by Pompeii, Ercolano, Naples and all the small towns around, I would love to go back.