I will break this Blog into 2 parts, the Amalfi Coast followed by Rome & Vatican to give you more details and doing justice to these 2 mesmerizing holiday destinations.
Looking at a holiday for just over a week we narrowed down to Italy and then between the Amalfi coast and Rome. We did not want to spend more than 6 days in the coast due to the costs involved (yes the Amalfi coast is expensive compared to any other Italian destinations mainly hotels) and secondly my son who is learning about the Roman Empire at school would certainly benefit out of this trip.
We booked our tickets well in advance (Rule No 1: try and book as early as possible especially if you looking to travel during the busy school holiday period). Our dates were looking at the last week of July just as the summer holidays start in the U.K. As we were going to break this journey into 2 parts we started looking at various combinations and out found it was cheaper to get 2 one way tickets from 2 different airlines. This was my first go at using two separate airlines and must say being apprehensive did not face any issues. The most popular and commercial airport to begin your travels to the Amalfi coast is Naples which is well connected from all major airports in the UK and Europe. We booked our tickets flying out from London to Naples and the return from Rome to London. (Cost for 4 of us on direct flights £740 not yes not on budget airlines). Next we looked up trains and got some great deals on the Trenitalia. (http://www.trenitalia.com). We booked in advance and paid just under €100 for 4 business class ticket for 2 adults and 2 children. Make sure to book your tickets early and direct from the train company to get best deals.
Day 1. Naples & Pompeii
An early flight out of London and we landed in Naples just in time for our early check in agreed well in advance with the hotel.(Please request early check in’s when you are booking hotels in busy holiday period and not leave it last minute). As we get out of the airport we have a few options (bus/taxi) to get to the hotel. Taxi ride from the airport to city center is €25 and around 20 to 30 minutes. Our hotel was in the heart of the city and within a short walking distance of the main shopping area and many restaurants in the narrow lanes. A quick lunch at one of the authentic Napoleon restaurants tucked away in one of the narrow lanes and yes it was delicious. They are rusty and nothing fancy with a few seats on the street but give you a local feel and the food is yummmm. The city center is quite busy with both locals and tourists and you can spend some time here looking through the shops and eateries.
Our first stop Pompeii and after doing much research online we decided to go with the taxi which cost us just under €100 for a round trip. You can negotiate with any of the local taxi drivers who will show you a chart of costs and destinations. Negotiated a round trip from the city center including a 3 hours waiting period for sightseeing in Pompeii. It’s a 30 minute drive from the city center traffic permitting. There are other options like the train and bus but as I was travelling with kids and it was HOT so decided to use the taxi. Tickets can be bought at the entrance and if you do have any form of a European ID there is a discount available so make sure you carry one. With EU discounts the 4 of us paid roughly €25. You can easily spend a whole day here if you want to see Pompeii in detail but a 3 hour trip with kids is more than enough to get a good feel of this historic site. You can opt to take a trip to Mount Vesuvius which we didn’t as it was 36 degree C and a lot of walking. Out visit to Pompeii included a small break in the center of the ruins. There are cafes in the center serving snacks/hot and cold and ice creams.
We returned to the hotel and freshened up and were ready to look around the city in the evening . We did not spend too much time here as there is not to much to do in Naples city itself. Walked around the city center. Had a lovely Napoleon pizza at one of the local pizza restaurants
Day 2. Off to Sorrento
There are many ways to get to Sorrento from Naples (Ferry /Train /Bus or Taxi). If you are travelling on a budget then surely the train or bus is more pocket friendly. I had read a few blogs and articles on the train journey and decided to avoid this with the children for various reasons. I went with the more relaxed option of the taxi which was just short of €100 and the door to door trip for just over an hour. For help with the train timetables and rates please refer to link below. http://www.sorrentoinsider.com/en/naples-to-sorrento-train-schedule.
We left Naples after breakfast and reached Sorrento in the afternoon afternoon just in time for check in. After checking into our lovely boutique hotel just a short walk away from the main square we went for a quick lunch on the square. It’s a beautiful walk along the main street which runs through the heart of the city with shops/cafes/restaurants/ice cream parlors and even a cinema. A relaxed lunch followed with some chilled Limoncello at the famous Fauno Bar and Restaurant right in the heart of the square and yes comes highly recommended. http://www.faunobar.it
We walked around the city and returned to the hotel for the kids to have a quick swim in the pool and some time for us to relax and enjoy the Sorrento sun.
Evening in Positano.
We decided to spend the rest of the day and evening in the picturesque town of Positano. Headed for the bus station which in the center and few steps away from the Sorrento train station. Buses are the cheapest way to get around the Amalfi coast with fares as low as €4 all the way to Positano. The CITA buses go all the way to Amalfi town and Ravello. Just be mindful that the buses can get very crowded as used by locals and hot even though they are air conditioned with people standing for most part of the long journey.
The journey was an hour due to some traffic but once you reach this beautiful town you simply forget about the journey. We spent the evening walking round the narrow lanes and market stalls and walked down all the way to the beach. It is a steep walk down the hill but one you will enjoy and it does mesmerize you. There are some unbelievable views from the beach as you look at the beautiful town literally carved into the mountain. The different coloured houses add to the beauty of this gorgeous town. We had a lovely dinner in one of the many restaurants nestled at the foot of the hill along the beach. A bit of local shopping and finished off with a Gelato,yes again and this will feature every day. .
Some great souvenir shops and local perfumes and cosmetics. Ahh and not to miss the locally made Limóncello.
I could spend days in Positano and strongly suggest that if you can spend a day or two here. Some people do use this as a base and travel around. It’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I have visited in my life.
Day 3. Capri & Anna Capri
After having a good night sleep today we head to the beautiful and picturesque island of Capri. There are plenty of ferries and private boats that you can use to get to this island from Sorrento. We headed to the port which is situated at the bottom of the hill in Sorrento and you can walk down or take a passenger lift if needed. We did not buy tickets in advance as there are plenty of companies at the marina offering last minute deals with regular ferries that leave every 30 minutes. We got on to a fast ferry which took us to the island in around 45 minutes. Return fares for 4 of us €120.
As you approach the Island you get a feel of the beauty and the popularity of this island. With expensive yachts of all sizes dotted around the island is a view of its own. Once you land you on the island you have plenty of shops and restaurants lined across the harbour where you can have a quick bite/drink before you head up to the main town. The options are Bus /Taxi and a funicular which we opted for this time after reading several blogs. The taxis are rather expensive on the island but they are straight out of a movie and none you have seen before. Round trip cost on the funicular is around €25 for 4 of us.
You get beautiful views of the sea and the island on the way up so keep your camera ready. After you reach the top there are plenty of shops and restaurants and places to buy souvenirs. There are some high end designer labels if you fancy. Just in the middle of the town is a bus station where you can take a bus or get a taxi to go further up to Anna Capri (a must). This time we decided to take the taxi with the open top this was a ride of a lifetime. It’s a 20 minute ride at a cost of €25 and one of the most scenic drives I have ever taken. On reaching the town centre it looks like a set out of the movies with beautiful houses flowers in full bloom everywhere you look small shops and cafes. White is the theme with majority of the buildings in this colour and the dashes of the most clourful flowers. We walked along the narrow lanes and had a snack at this family owned pizzeria which had no seating but seemed famous as there were plenty of locals and tourists getting their share of the delicious pizza. We spent some more time and soaked in the beauty of Anna Capri.
Spending a few hours here is not enough but we had to say our farewell and headed back to Capri. Capri is much bigger and lots more tourists here. It’s beautiful yet swanky with a lot of big labels dotted around the main square. We wondered around the streets and before we knew it was time to move on. Next we took a boat to go around the island which was recommended when I read about the must do’s. There are a few sites including the famous Blue Grotto which we skipped and is up to individuals if you want to visit. The over an hour wait for a 3 minute boat trip into the Grotto did not appeal to me with kids. You can hire a private boar or use one of the larger ones to go around the island. We opted for the larger boat which cost us €50 for a 2 hours trip around the island. . The views are mesmerizing and a must if you visit Capri.
Once we were back on the island we had a lunch at the harbour and must say it’s nice to just sit here and see the world go by. As we sat and enjoyed the views the kids were busy splashing in the little beach right in front of us. We finally headed back to Sorrento saying our goodbyes to this beautiful island.
Day 4. Amalfi
After a filling breakfast at our lovely hotel we headed to the historic town of Amalfi today. We decided to take the bus again which took us an hour and a half. Luckily this time it was not over crowded but the last 30 minutes of the ride is a winding up hill journey so if you do suffer with travel sickness suggest you take some medicine. The buses pass through Positano and once you start the climb the views are breathtaking. The bus drops you in the heart of the town close to the marina where you can get ferries to Sorrento via Positano and Naples. We headed towards the town center which has a beautiful piazza at the steps of the famous Cathedral. We had a quick snack in the cafe at the center and enjoyed the views and the sun. There are shops dotted around the center and some big brands if you fancy.
As the Mrs. decided to sample the local shopping it was time for me to head to the beach with the kids. Like most of the other beaches around this area they are pebbled with crystal clear waters. The only sad thing is that most of them have been privatized so you will need to pay a fee to use them. You can hire beach chairs and umbrellas here but they all come at a price and to give you a flavour we paid €32 for 2 chairs and an umbrella. We spent the next few hours here enjoying the sun and the water. Plenty of kids around and once we had our fair share of the beach we decided to walk around the city. It is busy in July and a lot of walking if you want to see the whole town. Getting our share of the souvenirs it was time to head back to Sorrento and this time we decided to take the ferry. (€60 for the four of us.)
It is a scenic trip with a stop at Positano where you will surely use your cameras as the views when you leave Positano are just jaw dropping.
Day 5. Sorrento and back to Naples.
Last day in Sorrento and we decided to have our breakfast and wonder around the city for one last time. We walked through the lanes into the main square (Piazza Tasso) and visited the Chiostro di San Francesco. After spending some quality time here it was time to say our goodbyes to Sorrento and head back to Naples for our second leg of the holiday ‘ROME’
I had pre booked a taxi from the city center the previous night and yes you can negotiate rates with them. It cost us just short of €100 for a minivan which was comfortable and spacious. Once again the train and the bus are cheaper options. It took us an hour to get to Naples main train station and this again is dependent on traffic. After a short wait at the station and a refuel we were off on the high speed train to ROMA.
I will share the Rome experience in my next blog and also jot down some of the must do’s and eat outs around the places I visited.
Hotel Used on this trip
Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterraneo
Hotel Capri Sorrento
Mercure Rome Colosseum Centre
Sorrento – http://www.lalanternasorrento.it/
Naples – Caffé Rosati
Rome – http://www.baccanoroma.com/