For all of our European travel, neither of us had been to Italy before, so we were super excited to visit before our Barcelona vacation with M’s family. After a long layover in Brussels (nothing interesting to report there except for the beer and waffles, as expected), we arrived in Napoli to explore the south of Italy! We really only had a few days since we were going to Spain afterwards, so we definitely could’ve spent more time here but were able to get a good taste of what everyone raves about. As someone who loves dramatic landscapes, good food, and water, the Italian coast was a perfect place to visit– almost honeymoon-worthy!
Sorrento was a perfect jumping off point to explore the Amalfi Coast. Overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, the seaside town is a 1.5 hour bus ride from the Naples airport. We stayed at the Hilton Palace using points, and were happy to partake in the highly-ranked hotel with all the beautiful tiers of pools and lounges.
Sorrento itself is a beautiful, charming town perfect for spending a few days to explore the streets and do some tourist shopping. There were so many lemon trees everywhere! I also had my first delicious pasta here on a random street – previous to this trip I HATED normal pasta, but I finally was introduced to how it’s supposed to taste!
We explored the highlights of the Amalfi Coast from our base in Sorrento one of the days, taking the hair-raising bus on our way to Positano, then taking a ferry to Amalfi town itself. While Positano was the most photogenic, our favorite town was actually Ravello, which was perched on the cliffs a bit north to Amalfi. They have beautiful classical music concerts on the cliffs almost every night, with plenty of villas to explore. Warning that the ferries, while the quickest mode of transportation across the coast, stop running fairly early (around 5 or 6 PM), so we made the investment ($10) to buy tickets for the “sightseeing bus” for the way back to Sorrento, which guaranteed a seat and included air conditioning and wifi (the public bus we took in the morning, while a must-do experience and had crazy views of the cliffs, was a bit nauseating and we were too tired to undertake the trip after a whole day of running around the coast!)
Capri is SUPER crowded and touristy, but if you find the right spots of the island it’s absolutely magical just like the rest of the Italian coast! We took a relatively expensive ferry from Sorrento to Capri and brought our luggage so that we could take the ferry straight from Capri to Naples at the end of the day. The visitors dock had a lot of luggage storing facilities so it was relatively easy on that end.
After pushing through the hordes of people crowded near the dock, we waited for the bus to take us to the other side of the island to Anacapri. We only had a day to explore the island so we were pretty impatient, and the bus took forever to come (tiny buses came every 30 minutes or so). I think you could’ve taken a private driver/taxi for a lot of money, but we didn’t think it was worth it.
We took the chair lift to the top of Mount Solaro and explored the villa nearby. It was foggy so we couldn’t see much once we were up on the mountain, but the journey up was breathtaking!
Stop by for pizza. Run away to another city immediately afterwards. (Maybe we were unlucky, but we almost got pickpocketed and after the magical beauty of the Amalfi Coast, Naples seemed dreary and dirty!)
We took the (super convenient and fast) Italian train to Viterbo only to meet up with M’s dad who was in town for work. And it was fabulous! The town itself was great and M went out to explore the historic city, but I stayed in the spa all day and pampered myself with the natural hot springs at the hotel. Not a bad way to spend a day of vacation in Italy 😉
Ok wow, now that I’m writing all of this (4 months late), we actually did SO MUCH in Italy! We spent almost 2 days in Rome and thought it was perfectly fine, but would not go back. Many of my friends LOVE Rome, but it seems like it happened to be their first European city they visited. We’re not super into Roman ruins, so the city didn’t do that much for us – or maybe we were just tired. The tourist attractions like the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and Trevi Fountain were so overrun with tourists, and the city itself was stifling in June. We did hit most of the major attractions and particularly enjoyed the Forum (which seemed to be the least popular, incidentally), but our favorite part was spending time biking around the park and walking along the River Tiber.
Isola Tiberina (an island in the middle of the River Tiber) was quaint to explore as well.
And after a wonderful almost-week in Italy, after many delicious pasta dinners and gelato, we were on our way to Barcelona for the trip of a lifetime (blog post to come)! 😉 😉 I’m excited to visit Northern Italy or Sicily in the future!