We didn’t have time to ‘come down’ from our wedding cloud for some time, as two days after the wedding, we flew to Naples to stay in Sorrento on the gorgeous Amalfi Coast. This is a special place, folks. Worth all of the hype and praise it’s been given over the years. It wasn’t our first time in Italy, visiting Milan in June 2016, and it certainly won’t be our last.
Steeped in ancient history and home to Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Amalfi Coast is packed with colour, vibrancy and style. Each town has it’s own charm, views and coastline. The food is fresh, traditional and lovingly made. The people are friendly, warm and caring. Follow my ‘Top 5 things to do on the Amalfi Coast’ below and you won’t be disappointed.
5 – Partake in a glass of Limoncello
A must if you’re staying along the Amalfi Coast. Famed for it’s fruit trees, the coast, Gulf of Naples and Sorrento Penisula boasts some of the best fruit, especially lemons, in Italy. This Italian liqueur is an aquired taste, but can be used to accompany desserts (try pouring it over some traditional gelato), enjoyed after a meal, or simply enjoyed as an evening tipple. It’s everywhere along the coast and can be picked up at reasonable priced in each town. Well worth trying if you’ve never tasted it before and makes a lovely present for loved ones on your return.
4 – Take a boat trip along the coast
During our time in Sorrento, we organised a day long drive down the coast, visiting Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. The tour itself was lovely and the views were stunning, but it wasn’t until out at sea that we saw it from another angle. Bobbing along on a boat ride, for a very reasonable 12 euro, you see the jagged cliff faces, the choppy seas and the incredible wealth of Sophia Loren’s old villa. Seeing the coast from different angles, shows many different perspectives and is well worth the money, time and effort. It was absolutely breathtaking and joyful to be out on the waves.
Below are some images of Ms Loren’s extravagent villa, where she built a helipad, tennis courts and a cable car to help her get around. The old watch tower on the edge of the coast was once lived in by blue eyes himself, Paul Newman.
3 – Take in the postcard picture of Positano
Positano was our shortest stop of the town and coast trip. It’s the postcard shot of the Amalfi Coast, with it’s colourful buildings and houses built in to the steep cliff face. Whilst it can take some time to get from the car parks down to the sea front, it’s well worth taking a stroll down through the winding streets, popping in to the fancy shops and getting that photo finish from the bridge by the boats. We had just enough time to grab a coffee, before climbing back up through the heat, past the lemon sorbet sellers, to get back to our transport….but wasn’t it worth it?…
2 – Visit Ravello
Hidden away in the greenery of the coast is the hill town of Ravello. A peaceful town, home to gardens, Ravello outdoor festival and some of the most incredible views, Ravello is not to be missed. It was a gorgeous place to visit, steep though some parts are, it’s well worth putting some comfy soles on and having a good ol’ wander around the village. Home to gorgeous villas, cafes, umbrella trees and a gorgeous square, spend an hour or two taking in the hillside breeze and shade under the trees with a coffee – or cold beer depending on the heat. Quite a distance, though it is from Sorrento, you won’t be sorry making a stop here.
1 – Visit Pompeii AND Herculaneum
For those of you who may not know the story of Mount Vesuvius, here is a very quick synopsis…
In AD 79 a young Roman boy told his eyewitness account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the now famous volcano dictating the Amalfi skyline. He told of the sky going dark and a cloud of volcanic ash and pyroclastic materials rising from the volcano, which we now know settled on the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, devasting the lives of many – the total number is still unknown. Pompeii is the most famous of the two towns, as Herculaneum was discovered later. Townsfolk died from the heat of the materials by thermic shock and inhilation of the particles. Though many people will tell you to visit Pompeii, Herculaneum is also incredibly impressive and you’ll see why below.
Only one third of this incredible city has been excavated as it was discovered too late and had already been built on top of. Walking around you can see the degree of devastation to the city and it’s inhabitants as the buildings are still caked in the pyroclastic materials, making it too difficult to keep on digging. What’s left of the city is easy enough to get around and I would recommend doing both with a guide, as they are able to give you tonnes of incredible information and answer any questions. Here we walked through homes, shops and public toilets – even swimming baths. Due to the extent of pyroclastic dust that fell on the city, it’s been preserved much more successfully than pompeii. Wall muriels can still be seen, paintings, shop advertisements, see below, it’s actually unbelievable. The ruins which were once a coastal settlement, now sit 5km away from the coast, due to all that fell from Vesuvius.
There are vast and very impressive ruins in Pompeii. You can walk through the streets, meet at the different fountains and see just how advanced the Romans were. Find out about how to differentiate between a shop and a home dwelling, how carts knew to stop for pedestrian walkways and how African slaves and foreign visitors picked from menus on the walls in brothels. The infamous plaster of paris moulds from adults, children and dogs can been seen, along with hundreds of pristine pots and vases.
If you’re visiting the Amalfi Coast, Gulf of Naples or anywhere in trip distance / public transport to these spots, you would be daft to miss this opportunity. Even if history isn’t your thing, these sites are two of the most incredibly preserved pieces of history that I have ever seen. Learning purely about the people and what the Romans thought of is impressive enough, let alone the paintings, buildings and ruins themselves.
The Amalfi Coast is talked about for good reason. It’s not cheap, but it’s certainly not to be missed. It’s a beautiful place, with gorgeous views and bucket loads of history!
What are you waiting for – get on that jet!