The Amalfi Coast

Plan a trip around the Amalfi coast we said. It’ll be easy we said.

But what a trip it was.

It always amazes me how much you can fit into a 2 week holiday yet still feel blissfully relaxed and like you’ve succeeded in making every instaenviable post possible. Despite the hagglers in Naples, the prices in Capri and the endless (and I mean endless) steps we descended! We made it round the coast with pennies, just, to spare and not a pizza untouched.

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First stop – Naples. Flights from London > Naples are extremely reasonable. Get them early enough and you can fly there from as little as £94 return in high season. (EasyJet.com)

Depending on how much or how little of the Amalfi coast you’re planning on seeing the luxury of being flexible is totally at your disposal. Frequent buses, boats and taxis (albeit the latter £££) are available to get from A-B.

Pompei – The ruin-ed city. Pompei is a short train ride from Naples airport. It’s on route to Sorrento, if you wish to stop off for a quick visit. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a night here. We stayed at the conveniently located La Casa Di Plinio (http://www.lacasadiplinio.com/). A remote setting that has beautiful rooms and the BEST freshly baked croissants I have ever tasted. It’s worth the stay just for those. Only moments from the archeological site, a must when exploring the Amalfi coast in our eyes. The next day we boarded  the train from Pompeii to arrive only 20 minutes later in Sorrento.

Sorrento – A thriving, tourist popular destination. It is lined with sunbathe friendly coastline although word to the wise, get there early to secure your spot or be prepared to fork out between €10 and €20 for a sun lounger. The beds are much more comfortable and ‘at lounger service’ is provided for those must-have margaritas.

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Pizza, pasta and all things Italian are found in the endless maze of roads that are a tourists heaven. Filled will quaint shops, restaurants and bars that spill onto the tiny cobbled streets. Selling anything from the famous Sorrento lemons to memorable souvenirs.

If you’re after a traditional Italian with great service, a must to visit is the slightly hidden away L’Antica Trattoria. Best to book to get a table inside, nestled in the rose bushes and fairy lights that just insists you step inside. It’s a true Italian restaurant that is made to perfection and believe me, the amount of Italian cuisine you’re set to endure it’s these hidden gems that you want to savour.

Down below the town is the fishing port, another popular favourite amongst locals more so, for the daily catch. Romantic dim lights lead you to taverns and shacks that sell anything from prawns to lobster to scallops alongside a €8 carafe. I was easily sold. The steps back to the town absolutely work off half the calories…

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Ischia – A must when travelling the Amalfi coast is a visit across to Ischia. We caught the daily return boat from Sorrento’s port. You can access it from any port along the coast proving that the somewhat small, relatively untouched island is one you have to see. It has a magic, laid back ambience teamed with incredibly beautiful architecture. It has abundant streets, shops and cafes to get lost in and a focal castle to make your way around. As well as ample shoreline to enjoy it really is a castaways paradise.

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Capri – what can I say. The best things really do come in small…island form! It is the jewel in the crown. We caught the boat from Sorrento to Capri, and quick 25 minute journey. Armed with both our backpacks we headed straight to get a moped. Yes, you read right. Luckily my boyfriend is part Spanish and has driven these since he was 14 he assures me. Backpacks in tow, we biked up and over the winding island to Anacapri. Our home for the night. If you’re going to stay on the island, you’re going to have to splash out. Let this be your splurge, the islands worth it. We stayed at the beautiful Casa Mariantonia.(http://www.casamariantonia.com/). A delightful hotel complete with pool, lemon grove terrace for breakfast and remote control shutters to your private balcony just to top off your utter movie worthy experience. We stayed one night yet one night is enough to see to the sights. If flash is your game then Capri is definitely your name. What an exquisite yet expensive island. If like us, the beauty over rules the extreme wealth this island has then take a leaf out of our book and rent the scooter. €100 for 48 hours. This way you can really see the full extent of what Capri has to offer. The charm of this island is infectious once you see its beauty. Things to explore are

-The Grotto Azzurra (blue grotto) – €28 to take the tour inside to see the crystal clear waters. A tourist trap but a beautiful one at that. Get there early to avoid the queues.

-The lighthouse. A perfect location to watch the sunset with a couple of beers. There is also a beach club, Lido del Faro and pool located here. Pricey but popular.

-Marina Piccola is a beautiful beach with restaurants and shacks for lunch through to dinner. A popular spot to bask in the clear Italian waters.

– Faraglioni. The famous sea stacks off the southeast tip of Capri. Speed boats and yachts surround the waters here however, if like us, adventure is what you seek I actively encourage you to hire a kayak and sail to this infamous sculpture. The Go Pro is optional yet also encouraged.

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Positano – Undoubtedly the most picturesque town along the coast. Behind that facade are…( here’s where I’m meant to say further beauty and endlessly picture perfect photo points which unquestionably there are but…) STEPS. Steps, steps and more steps. It’s not a town for the faint hearted, we quickly found out. Once we departed the boat from Capri to Positano, we mounted our backpacks and headed up the 300 and odd ( yes we had counted by the time we had climbed them over 10 times) steps to our hotel. Much to the amusement of the check in girl. We had arrived and boy was it worth it.

We stayed at the Palazzo Talamo (http://www.palazzotalamo.it/en/), a sea view room is essential. One to over look the harbour and to take in that notoriously neatly packed cliff front. If you can peel yourself away from a take away pizza on your balcony. Yes we did. Then there’s a wonderful restaurant next to Palazzo Talamo called Le Terrazze. Best spot to have dinner whilst watching the moon rise over the harbour.

Positano is positively beautiful. It has endless winding streets, the painted buildings, the stunning shops and Italian food in abundance. A couple of days here is plenty, grab a cocktail and enjoy the view that’s seen by many but enjoyed by few.

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Amalfi – not far, and not to dissimilar to Positano yet Amalfi is a pocket full of beauty. It consists of one main street that leads to the must see’s of the town. After disembarking the boat from Positano to Amalfi we walked to a hidden, overtly romantic suite that wasn’t intended at the time of booking. Promise. However, the coincidental indulgence was gleefully accepted. Breakfast on the roof and Amalfi from the sky are two more things we hadn’t bargained on. ( http://www.residencedelduca.it/)

must see’s include-

Amalfi Cathedral – Duomo di Sant’Andrea Apostolo be sure to grab a coffee in the main square and admire the view.

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Chiostro del Paradiso – The beautiful porch to the cathedral.

Palazzo san Benedetto – a hill side monastery that is worth the climb. Check opening times with locals as they can vary daily.

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Ravello – Last but by no means least is the exquisite Ravello. It’s reached by a, not so pleasant in 35degrees heat, 40 minute bus ride up the cliff side to the small yet perfectly formed village of Ravello. Get the bus early opposite the harbour, tickets can be bought from many tobacco/souvenir shops in the town and are extremely cheap. Ravello definitely delivers on its promises of true Italian views, food and romance.  We spent 3 nights here in total. 2 spent in Bar La Fontanella with what has to be the best views from Ravello across Minori bay and beyond. And a final night in B&B Boccaccio, a well-kept b&b moments from the main square. Ravello, as I have mentioned is small. Really one day here’s more than enough yet to really explore the beauty in and around allow yourself a couple of days. Once we’d roamed the narrow back streets, people watched in the main square over the best cappuccinos in Italy and admired the stain glass Duomo Ravello cathedral we decided to venture to Minori. What we should have done is pay attention to our host, who when we said we’re walking to minori she laughed, hesitated, then said “oh, you’re being serious”

Laugh though she might, we began our down STAIR hike to the beach and small town of Minori. The whole way down thinking, what goes down must come up. Despite the trek, the walk is worth it if a day by the sea-side and enough gelato to sink a small ship is what you desire. After all the climb back up will burn it off!

Our final night couldn’t have been more perfect, we had a lazy day in Ravello followed by a night at the Villa Rufolo. A wonderful palace setting that’s open air and in the summer hosts sunrise and sunset concerts. We were lucky enough to get tickets to one of the final nights, a concert showcasing pianist Alexander Lonquich and the Munchner Kammerorchester. A stunning end to a super trip.

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The next morning we got the slightly less packed bus down to Amalfi town to catch the boat to Sorrento and finally the train back to the airport in Naples for our flight home. A journey that comprises of many elements but is seamless as long as you are aware of the boat times as buses and trains come by regularly every day.

Rediscover Europe and book you trip around Italy, it truly is one to remember.

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