WED. JULY 8 — SUN. JULY 12: Day 30-34
A Trip to the Amalfi Coast:
Capri, Positano, Sorrento, Pompeii
Wonderful things happened at dinner today.
1. I guessed our waiter’s name correctly. After he took our order, I told Molly and Sarah, “His name is Francesco. I just know it.” My hunch was correct. When he told me his name, I couldn’t stop laughing.
2. Molly told him, “Amo la pasta. Voglio sposarlo.” I love the pasta; I want to marry it. She got a couple funny looks.
3. I took a photo of the chef and told him to smile. “Sorrido!” He responded, “Chefs don’t smile.”
4. Francesco asked me, “Che cosa fai stanotte? Viene avere una birra.” What are you doing tonight? Come have a beer.
So, I ended the night at Popcafè drinking beer with Francesco, Pietro, and Aurora. Francesco doesn’t speak any English, Pietro speaks some, and Aurora speaks fluently. There was a point in the conversation when all three of them started rattling off to each other in Italian and I just sat there listening to the beautiful language flow out of their mouths as effortlessly as water flows down a riverbank.
Aurora kept telling me how cute I am and how well I speak Italian. I don’t speak as well as I would like, but I’ve started cracking jokes in Italian, so I think I’ve definitely come very far!
~ Capri ~
3 days. 3 nights. From the crystal clear, aquamarine waters of the Blue Grotto in Capri to the mouth of Vesuvius, each day was spent discovering a different part of the stunning coastline of Amalfi.
I went on this adventure with a student travel agency in Florence. On Thursday evening, we departed from the Santa Maria Novella train station to our hotel in Sorrento, Napoli. The ride was around seven hours, with a 45 minutes stop for dinner.
On Friday, we took a ferry boat from Sorrento to the Island of Capri. The highlight was to stop at Capri’s most well-known attraction, the Blue Grotto, but the waves were too intense, so unfortunately, the Grotto, with its mysterious blue light, was closed.
I spent a large portion of the ride with my eyes closed and my head between my knees. The motion-sickness medicine I took wasn’t strong enough for the waters of Capri.
I did meet two wonderful Italian teens named Eduardo and Veronica who kindly shared their crackers with me, excitedly added me on Facebook, and persistently told me to come visit them at their home on the coast when I come back to Italy.
They were gorgeous. The kind of gorgeous that is a little bit hypnotizing.
Look at these mountain goats! I have no idea how they stand on the edge of this cliff for hours, but more importantly, how they even got up there in the first place.
Faraglioni is the Italian language term used to refer to these coastal and oceanic rock that are formed by erosion from ocean waves.
My first time seeing coral! The color was much more vibrant than I expected. It was difficult to get a shot of them due to the waves crashing over them repeatedly.
After the boat tour, we headed up to Capri Town on the funicular railway, stopping at the Augustus Gardens on the way for a quick photo opportunity of the magnificent views before heading down to Marina Piccola to chill out on the beach.
Yes, Amalfi is beautiful and it is breathtaking, but it is also very packed with tourists, which of course makes everything very, very expensive.
We stopped for a granita, which was recommended to us by our tour guides, and it was the most refreshing drink I’ve ever consumed, disregarding the fact that it was a scorching 100+ degrees (Fahrenheit).
“What in the world is a granita?!” you may be asking. Let me enlighten you. First, they take frozen lemonade made from lemons so big that they require two hands for holding and shave it. This slushy-like consistency is then topped with the juice from freshly squeezed oranges and an optional three shots of vodka if you’re feeling wild.
There is nothing else like it, and I don’t think I’d ever be able to replicate it even if I tried.
I’ve never been too adventurous of a seafood person, only dabbling with the occasional salmon or shrimp. I decided, being just inches away from the Tyrrhenian Sea, to be adventurous and try spaghetti with clams (spaghetti alle vongole). I was very happy with my choice! Delizioso!
~ Positano ~
Day two was spent in Positano, a picturesque town with steeply-stacked houses tumbling down to sea in a stunning vertical cascade of sun-bleached peach, pink, and terracotta.
We were free to relax and take in the sun on the free beach or rent a lounger and umbrella for the day. I’m not a huge beach lover, so after taking a few refreshing dips in the sea, Molly, Sarah, and I explored the streets, passing custom-made sandals, homemade jewelry from street vendors, and many shops to take home the aroma of Positano with lemon-scented products produced locally.
The quote by John Steinbeck does this village more justice than I ever could: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
A caprese panino with my first peach bellini!
Peroni, an Italian beer that has stolen my heart and tantalized my tastebuds.
I needed something to cheer me up as we trekked six-hundred uphill stairs to the bus. The only way to travel through the coast is by steps. I walked 1,200 stairs today and I hike Mount Vesuvius tomorrow. I feel like a limp noodle!
~ Pompeii ~
Hiking Mt. Vesuvius (around an 11 mile hike at a 15 degree incline) was worth all the sore calves and shaky thighs in the world. Italy, I “lava” you!!!
I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. My head was literally in the clouds!!!
I’m glad it didn’t erupt on us! ;P
My faint love for beaches is overpowered by my fierce love for mountains and hiking.
You bet I ate Neapolitan-style pizza in Napoli!
This was our adorable tour guide for Pompeii!
I really had no idea of the magnitude of Pompeii until I was there. One cannot possibly see Pompeii in a day.
To start off on a light note, if you were new to town in Pompeii, or just visiting, you would need to know where to find a prostitute. This phallic road marker pointed the way to the brothel. Seriously.
This one was above the entrance to the brothel. Inside, there were plenty of frescoes to get one in the mood…
This is the bed where the prostitutes would sleep. It doesn’t look very comfortable!
Sad to see, but one of the remarkable things about Pompeii is how the combination of ash and gas conserved the shapes of the bodies of the people and animals in Pompeii in the exact positions they were in when they died. What is seen today are plaster casts made from these remains.
~ Sorrento ~
Overall, the most memorable part of my trip was exploring Sorrento night life after returning to our hotel. I adore the energy of Naples, and it is where you see the stereotypical dark-skinned, loud, beautiful Italians, which was an interesting contrast from the more fair-skinned, quiet, (and still gorgeous) Florentines I was used to. The night life in Sorrento felt cinematic and a bit surreal, making me feel like I was in an Italian movie. I definitely want to go back to Sorrento one day!
Though, as much as I liked Naples, my heart will always belong to the fields and fields of gorgeous sunflowers in Tuscany.