AMALFI COAST – Positano
Amalfi Coast is truly spectacular. If you haven’t been there yet, make sure to include it in your future holiday plans. We only managed to see Positano, apparently the most picturesque of the Amalfi coast towns, but we already know that we’d love to go back one day and see more of this area.
Getting from Naples to Positano takes time. I think during summer there might be a direct ferry, but there wasn’t one when we there in May, so we took my favourite Circumvesuviana all the way to Sorrento (€3.6 per person one way). There you have a few options: cheap and cheerful and quite frequent local bus departing from the train station (€1.8 per person one way), the City Sightseeing bus (€10 one way, €16 return) and the not so frequent but more pleasurable and more expensive ferry (€16 single per person).
We opted for the local bus and were the last people to get on the bus that was just about to leave. That meant standing position but at least right next to the driver so not too bad for possible motion sickness.
The road along Amalfi coast really is quite winding and in many places you’re staring right at a massive drop to the ocean. The bus driver was unfrazzled and confident so our journey to Positano wasn’t as bad as we expected. Especially that the views were amazing.
As soon as people got off the bus, everyone started to battle for the best place to take the picture – the selfie sticks were out! But of course it wasn’t the last picture taking spot, so we just passed the queue and moved on to see what Positano had to offer. The first thing (apart from the views) we both noticed were the beautiful, colourful ceramic table tops in the restaurants we were passing by. And then we discovered shop after shop full of ceramic handicraft, where we spent quite some time marvelling on all those cute items and deciding what we’d bring home with us.
The whole town is just totally picturesque – at every corner there’s something to make you smile or go ‘wow’. Everything is neat, tidy and very colourful. The hotels scream expensive luxury – white gloved chauffeurs seem to be the norm. But I’m sure there’s affordable accommodation somewhere out there, or so I hope because I would love to stay somewhere in this region next time we come to visit.
All the Mediterranean charm is here – narrow lanes, steep staircases, little shops, lovely scented climbers covering the walls and the relaxed atmosphere. As usual we did what we do best – we walked aimlessly around the place. The seafront looked very pleasant and inviting but since we weren’t yet hungry or going to sit on the beach, we walked back up to get a better view from the top. To cool down a bit we stopped for the trademark drink of the region: a refreshing ‘lemon slushie’ – simple yet delicious and a must.
After some more walking we decided it was time to sit down for some lunch. As you can imagine there are plenty of restaurant to choose from, but we had our eye on a particular spot with a terrace overlooking the sea. A couple of cold beers, seafood risotto and a pizza and we were in heaven.
And there was one more surprise to top it all up – a little box with a pretty, shiny engagement ring! We actually got engaged while travelling in Australia three years ago (mentioned here) and at the time I got a shark tooth necklace instead of a more traditional ring. So since I wasn’t expecting it, it was a lovely surprise.
After such a lovely day, even the return trip to Naples couldn’t spoil our mood. So first there was a delayed bus to Sorrento. I think most people at the bus stop (many would be a good estimate) expected it to come from Sorrento, turn around, take us on and leave. Instead it came from somewhere along Amalfi coast and was mainly full. Luckily we managed to get onboard – as last people, again. Most of our fellow queuers were left behind… The bus driver this time was definitely Italian – angry, impatient and swearing, making us fear for our lives most of the trip. He also overheated the engine, so we had to stop in the middle of that narrow road and wait until the engine cooled down sufficiently so we could carry on. There were also two crashes that created a massive traffic, so instead of 20 minutes, the route from Positano to Sorrento took more than an hour.
The train journey to Naples would have been uneventful, but at some stage a woman sitting opposite us spotted something, closed the windows and announced that it was ‘for safety’. She then told me to put away my camera and warned us to be very careful and watch for pickpockets.
Yes it was a lovely day but we were glad to be back in our hotel after all.
Capri is a yet another beautiful island, very popular with tourists. And it shows – multiple ferry departures, throngs of tourists, tidy streets and ridiculous prices. But it’s well worth the visit and as it was in our case, a great culmination to our Italian adventure.
We took a morning ferry from Naples (€20 each one way), which was, unsurprisingly full. If it is a day trip and you have an idea at what time you might want to get back, buy your return ticket to avoid queuing again as soon as you get to Capri or missing out on a ferry you planned to take, simply because it might be sold out if you leave ticket purchase shortly before the departure. We didn’t do that and when we wanted to buy a ticket to get back to Naples our preferred ferry was sold out and we had to wait for the later one. Lesson learnt.
It takes less than an hour to get to Capri, unless you take a slow ferry, in which case you may double that time. Upon arrival be prepared to fight your way through the crowds to get a ticket for Funicular (€1.80 one way) and then stand in a long queue to get inside. The ride itself doesn’t take that long, but the town itself it quite high up, so it does save a rather steep walk to the main Piazza Umberto, where pretty much everyone starts their Capri experience (although getting there certainly qualifies as an experience already).
Capri town is absolutely charming so having an aimless wonder along those very narrow and very steep streets is a pleasure itself, especially that you won’t come across any mad mopeds. There is no motorised traffic allowed, except for a few local service cars, which don’t come around too often. Fabulous. Then there’s of course Grotta Azurra, Anacapri, Monte Solaro and many other things to see and do, but a day trip may not be enough to experience it all. At least not if you don’t want to rush from one point to the other like a headless chicken.
From the very crowded and very small Piazza Umberto (it’s called Piazzetta for that very reason) we walked to Giardini di Augusto. The gardens aren’t very big but are lovely and have the most amazing views of Faraglioni and Via Krupp. Most people carrying selfie sticks, come, snap and go, while others can’t get enough of the magnificent views (note: we don’t have a selfie stick).
Via Krupp looked very inviting from up above but it turned out it was closed due to the danger of falling rocks. Typical.
So instead we went to see Arco Naturale.
And instead of something like this:
We saw this (due to work to reinforce the rocks forming the arch):
It was beach time. Marina Piccola, on the south side of the island was our destination. And it didn’t disappoint – yes it was crowded and there were pebbles not sand, but the colour of the water and the scenery was breathtaking. We even went for a refreshing swim.
After some relaxing time it was time to head back to town and to the port. So it was another ‘up and down’ walk – first steeply up back to Piazzetta and then instead of catching Funicular we walked steeply down back to the ferry terminal. Well worth the sore knees in the end.
At this point we got our ticket (available not preferred as mentioned above) and set down for some very expensive aperitivo, while waiting for a ferry to take us back to Naples.
Even though we both found Capri very touristy and rather pricey, we enjoyed our day there very much and would certainly want to come back to see all the things we didn’t get to and hopefully walk the Via Krupp…