The Kardashian’s earn six figures for every sponsored social media post they make - This friends is the world we live in. Insane? Perhaps. The power of a well placed social media image however, is undeniable. I know this, because a single image of the Amalfi coast had such an impact, I was willing to click through to find out where it was taken, research how accessible it was and the idea then stayed with me long enough that Italy became a bucket list location I wanted to visit.
Last year when Ashton’s 30th birthday approached and I was searching for gift ideas, I decided on tickets to Italy so that we could visit Amalfi. Just like that.
Travelling from South Africa has it’s challenges - The terrible exchange rate, the ticket prices, the duration of the flights, the visa’s. We can find a million reasons to just rather go someplace else, but when you do the research up front you can make the trip worth your while and I think, that’s what we did.
We flew from Cape Town to the UK and stayed a few days to visit family before we hopped on a flight from Heathrow to Rome (2 & 1/2 hours for about the same price as a flight from CT to Jhb).
In Rome we stayed about 5 minutes from the main train terminal because we’d planned to travel to Venice by high speed train the day after we arrived (at 5am). It’s a 4 hour trip either way and we realised we’d be heading back to our hotel at about 10pm, so we wanted to be close. The good news was we’d have 4 hours either way to catch up on sleep :)
We arrived in Venice just after 9am - We had no real plans for our time there, so hopped on a water taxi and made our way to San Marco. I chatted to a local while we sailed from stop to stop and she suggested we visit the Accademia area at some stage for the best view of Venice, which we did - The first image was photographed from the bridge joining the two banks. We spent most of the morning walking around San Marco - This area was the most populated Gondola rides (We gave that a miss. If I recall correctly, I think it was 80 Euros per ride).
It was a LONG day considering the early start and train rides, but well worth it for the experience.
We arrived in Rome and walked around our hotels immediate surroundings before making our way to a close by street side cafe for our first Italian meal. I wish I’d photographed some of our meals - They were delicious.
The next morning as mentioned was our day trip to Venice.
Our next full day in Rome we spent on the Hop-on and Hop-off bus tour, jumping off at the stops that weren't too crowded with queues that weren’t too full. We spent some time at the Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, The Pantheon, and then walking between all of them rather than just sitting on the bus. We also explored a neighbourhood called Trastevere since we knew we’d be staying there for a night on our way home. (On our return journey it was so hot, we got the names of hotels close to where we were staying with pools and spent the day laying poolside before showering and then flying home that evening.)
Things we discovered in Rome:
The general population of Italy isn’t very friendly. (I asked a priest to point us in the direction of the Vatican and he said he didn’t know where that was. Ok then.)
When we eventually found the Vatican, they were making a Hallmark movie outside - it was boiling and they were dressed in coats pretending to be cold.
The Jeep Renegade is a very popular car in Rome.
Tomato’s are Amazing. Best I’ve ever tasted.
Smoking in the streets is the norm. Tons of people walking and smoking.
It’s a beautiful city.
We left Rome and headed to Naples by train (2 hours). We then took a taxi to Sorrento which is on the coast. We booked 5 nights and had no idea what to expect. Our hotel was (Artis Domus) was very cool - It was about 500meters from the start of the centre of Sorrento. Alleyways filled with restaurants and shops which was great for our evening walkabouts.
Each day we’d walk through town and head to the cliffs looking over the beach. You could then choose to walk along the pathways to get down to the beach or take the elevator down (20 second ride costs 1 Euro).
This was the gateway to the beach clubs or to the ferry’s at the port which we used for Day Trips.
Most days we did Day trips to visit different parts of the Amalfi Coast but in-between we’d do a beach day at one of the beach clubs.
Things we discovered in Sorrento:
It was the perfect place to stay in terms of things to do in the evenings and access to the Ferry’s.
Lemons are their thing. Lemoncello. Lemon sweets. Lemon Soap. Lemon everything.
Tomato is still amazing.
Daily scoops of Gelato is fine. In fact, it’s compulsory.
After a long day of walking, spending money on the elevator ride up is essential.
We took the 30-minute ferry ride from Sorrento to Positano - There are 3 main operators, we always used the Alilauro.
Ferry tip, while the tourist run upstairs to find seats, just head to the open back - Facing the front, the luggage gets piled on the left and on the right there is a hard white engine type box. Sit on it and enjoy uninterrupted views. We did this on every trip.
Arriving in Positano, again, we had no plans for our day - We made our way up the first staircase we could find and we just kept going. Up, around, explore, investigate, up and around, keep going. It’s just so beautiful - Everything is built on the hills. We did feel quite sorry for a few tourists we saw taking breaks on the stairs with their luggage. So if you are staying in Positano, make sure you find out how to get your luggage to your hotel :o
By the early afternoon we made our way down to the beach and checked in - Two x Sun lounges, 1 x umbrella and 2 x drinks. I will never complain about Clifton’s beach chair prices again. True story.
Things we discovered in Positano:
The stone beaches are not quite what we’re used to…. White sandy beaches are beautiful, but the stones have charm- It does however feel as though you’re walking on Lego. Flip Flops are essential.
It is picture perfect from every angle. So beautiful - if you’re close by, you MUST visit.
Lemon slush is a winner.
Standard reasoning for queuing to catch the ferry seems not to exist. Feel free to just go to the front, everyone else must just be standing in a line because they don’t know this special rule.
Instead of the ferry, we booked a shared speed boat transfer which included a few stops on the way to visit various caves / to swim off the back of the boat / guided tour from the water. It was a good call and possibly the highlight of the day. We had big hopes for Capri but felt a little disappointed because of the beauty of Positano. I think if we’d gone there first we’d have been blown away.
Nevertheless, it was still a great day on the water. On the mainland we travelled to the top by Funicular and then spent some time walking around before stopping at a wine bar at the top for drinks. At the bottom of the hill, Ashton had a Lemon cocktail in a hollowed out Lemon - It was huge.
I’d love to visit Capri again, but I’d spend the full day swimming and then have dinner on the hill.
Things we discovered in Capri:
A simple cheese and tomato roll on a speedboat in Italy can taste as good as fine dining.
The rules for queueing for ferry’s and funiculars seem to be very similar.
The most expensive glass of wine you’ll ever have isn’t necessarily the best wine you’ll have.
Amalfi - The centre of The Amalfi Coast - The reason we found ourselves here.
Again, it was a sit on the engine box ferry ride to Amalfi - It first stops in Positano (30 mins) and then heads to Amalfi (another 30 mins). Obviously when you’re on holiday everything is better than spending the time commuting to work back home so we loved every second on the water.
Amalfi was fun, again though, it’s not as beautiful as Positano - Has just as many steps which lead to know where (We walked and walked and walked, lol)… The good news, the beach clubs were much more reasonably priced. Two chairs plus an umbrella ;)
Things we discovered in Amalfi:
Ashton wore sandals instead of flip flops. She must have temporarily forgotten what it feels like to walk on the stone beach. I had not. She showered more on this beach then she swam. Co-incidence? I don’t think so.
I would rather spend an hour on the beach than two hours touring. It makes me happier.
Cheese and tomato rolls on the bench can taste just as good as they do on Speedboats. It’s all about them tomato’s.
We love Italy.