I know, I know, one week somewhere is just not long enough, let alone in a beautiful country like Italy. A one week quick jaunt over to the Amalfi Coast was what I had and I can’t grumble at that! My travel companion this time was my lovely mum, we were heading for some quality time together and Italy was the perfect place to do that.
You can not get away from the fact that Italy is famous for pizza, pasta, gelato, lemons, and mozzarella to name but a mere few. Oh and Prosecco! It is the homeland of these delicious food stuffs and I had every intention to eat my way through the glorious carbs all week. I literally ate pizza or pasta or both, gelato and pastries every single day. And I am not sorry, and I fully accept the price you pay – about 50lb’s! I wasn’t going to sit there and flick a lettuce leaf around a plate, hell no, I enjoyed every bite of it!
The One Week Experience: 5 Places to go
We wanted to have a mix of sightseeing, eating and some beach time on this trip so we planned out the key things we would like to do. Maiori and Minori, Amalfi, Positano, the island of Capri and the ruins of Pompeii was the stomping ground for the week. Believe me, there is plenty to do and see, so many hikes and little towns.
Based in Maiori we grabbed the local bus or boat worked our way up the coast visiting a few of the medieval towns. Here are our highlights – just a small taste of the area.
#1 Minori & Maiori:
Minori is a sweet little place, it has character. It relies on tourism – as most these towns do and caters to the tourist but it has managed to maintain an authenticity about it. Tucked up behind some shops there is a Roman Villa which has left a fantastic imprint and insight into how the Roman nobles vacationed back in the day. Yep, they had holiday homes! Its a small exhibition but does hold many ancient artefacts, and it is free to visit.
Maiori is where we based ourselves in a hotel. It’s a nice little place with traditional shops like green grocers and bakeries amongst it’s restaurants. If you walk through the town you can embark on the path up to the Castle of S. Nicola de Thoro – Plano. I say embark as it is many many many steps up. The walk takes you past traditional homes and tiny corridors – hats off to the older generation who tackle these stairs on a daily basis! The views are wonderful and the steps make you feel like you have achieved something. Although not an actual castle but a fortress built around an ancient church, it certainly looks like one.
There is a sweet and cheerful old man who greats you as you wander in, he takes you around what is accessible and explains which each area was. The old man guide speaks no English, and I speak zero Italian but somehow I understood everything he was saying and enjoyed the conversations we were trying to have. One thing…he took a shine to me! I do understand the universal language of ‘you look like a pretty young thing, let me hug you and grip you with an iron grip as I say farewell and kiss your whole face‘ (I was squirming to keep him off my lips!) I had left my mum on the way up as it was a bit too much for her to manage, so I was alone and I did think, blimey, old castle guide man accosted me 😉
This medieval town is so lovely, there are steps and secret tunnels; alleys; arches and back streets to explore. There is a very impressive cathedral, Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea situated in the main square, Piazza del Duomo. You can’t miss it with it’s fantastic set of stairs leading to the impressive building. The square is a great pace for dinner, when it’s dark and everything is lit up, and you can just sit and observe the buzzing crowds while marvelling at the cathedral. Treat yourself to some pastries at La Pansa, it has beautiful 1830’s décor, everything looks shiny and special and the staff look super smart in black bow ties.
We had the pleasure of catching the Amalfi Musical one evening, it was held in the towns dramatic and moody medieval Armoury. It was great, the audience were seated around the edge of an amazing stone arched room, the only props were lighting and a smoke machine, oh and swards! The modern style opera depicted historical events in Amalfi, their voices were phenomenal, so full of emotion.
This town looks absolutely stunning, it is postcard perfect. The town is on a steep hillside going down to a little pebble beach. You can wonder the tiny corridors and steps going through the restaurants and boutiques. It is full of colour, plants and people. It is absolutely worth a visit to see and wander at how a town was built like that so long ago. Now, it’s picturesque, but there was an air of boutique culture and money about it. It was notably expensive – my pizza here was 14 Euros but in Maiori it costs about 6 Euros. I did however have the best pizza of my life here! It really had the creamiest mozzarella I’ve ever tasted. This is such a beautiful town!
Sounds so glamorous doesn’t it, Capri. We took a day trip over to the island of Capri on a boat (obvs), we had the idea of mooching around the town, maybe visit a Roman Villa – yep more holiday retreats for the noble Romans. I know that we didn’t scratch the surface in exploring the island but to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it too much. It was JAM PACKED with people, there were massive lines to buy a bus ticket or use any of the transport there, it was just too crazy for us. We sussed out the beach area to find a spot to lie down. Seriously, It was so busy you were literally lying at a hairs distance between bodies, It felt weird and a bit like trying to share a bed with strangers! The water was stunning and the harbour town was cute but it was too touristy and rammed with pushy people for me. I’m not joking when I say there was a mass hysteria crowd getting onto the boat. It was mental! I had never seen anything like it – imagine people trying to save themselves from something life threatening but they are trying to get on the boat.
You MUST visit Pompeii. I will be writing a separate post on Pompeii but for now, all I can say is it was amazing. If you like historical sites this will blow your mind, I felt totally humbled and so lucky to be walking the ancient streets of this city. We pared the Pompeii trip with a little hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius, so worth it. It was magical.
5 Things I Recommend To Do That We Didn’t – not enough time:
#1 Walk of The Gods:
There are a multitude of really great hikes and trails on the Amalfi Coast. The Walk of The Gods comes highly recommended. It is apparently a beautiful hike with breath-taking views. You can chose to join the walk at a number of points – some of which involve steps…many many steps. Sounds great to me!
#2 Make your own gelato:
Need I say more?
My main reason for wanting to go here is for the Museo Archeologico Nazionalle, it holds many of the original artefacts found at the site of Pompeii and is meant to be fantastic – one of the best in the world (if you like that kind of thing).
Naples city has many areas to discover, famous for pizza and the markets are deffo worth a visit. You can join on a walking tour which is focused on street art, including a Banksy.
#4: Romantic gardens, the villas and churches:
There are so many dotted high up along the coast. Ravello, which is situated above Amalfi was somewhere which came recommended for its amazing views and gardens.
#5 Something Lemony:
Walking the numerous lemon groves, eating the numerous lemon flavoured treats and tasting Limoncello numerous times (Limoncello is a lemon liquor which comes from this area). Sounds like a good afternoon to me.
This barely even touches on the amount of wonderful things to do here, no matter what you’re into. Please do share any great, or bad experiences you had in this area so we can give ideas for future trips 🙂