Italy is one of my favourite places. I have been many times before and have visited Tuscany, Lake Garda, Venice, Verona, Florence, and Rome. I’m just back from Sorrento which is near Naples on the Amalfi coast in southern Italy. The area is otherwise known as the Neapolitan Riviera.
We flew from Manchester airport to Naples. Naples airport is not too bad. It’s efficient at handling luggage, which is the main thing. Once out of the airport there was a coach waiting for us to take us on the 2 hour drive to our hotel in Sorrento.
The road to Sorrento from Naples follows the coast road. The first part of the trip is on a dual carriageway before you join the winding road that has spectacular views out over the sea. On the way to our hotel we passed, on our left, the amazing sight of Mount Vesuvius. The first thing that struck me was the fact that the area below Vesuvius is densely populated. Apparently, there are 1 million people living directly next to the volcano. Rather them than me was what I was thinking!
We stopped to drop off people at other hotels before we arrived at our hotel, The Aminta. The hotel is situated at the far end of Sorrento up a hill and round lots of hairpin bends and about a mile out of the town.
Our hotel room had a fantastic sea view out over the Bay of Naples. The Neapolitan Riviera has a reputation for having one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and I have to say that I think the reputation is justified.
The hotel Aminta is a very good hotel in my opinion. It is suitable for anyone wanting a quiet holiday, although there is a little bit of traffic noise from the busy road. It takes about 30 minutes to walk down the hill to Sorrento town but there is a free bus service that runs every hour.
We walked into Sorrento and then caught the bus back to avoid the walk back up hill! The hotel Aminta has a very good swimming pool and has a spacious sun terrace with sun beds and also nice comfortable settees which are nice for sitting on in the warm evenings and having a drink. The bedrooms are comfortable and the food is excellent. It was nice some evenings to sit at a table outside on the terrace to have dinner and at the same time to look out over the Bay of Naples as the sun set. Truly spectacular!
The town of Sorrento itself is I have to say, nothing special. There are plenty of tourist shops, cafes, restaurants and the town has quite a few traffic free roads. But Sorrento is a busy and bustling town and everyone seems to ride a scooter! Sorrento is high up on a cliff above the sea, so to get to the sea you have to walk down a steep road or catch a bus or taxi.
The best place to stop and rest and have a drink or a meal has got to be the Foreigners Club. Sit out under an umbrella on the terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples and you can watch the world go by. This café/bar has got to have one of the best views you will find anywhere in the world and the coffee is good too!
Sorrento makes a good place to visit some amazing tourist places. One of the trips we went on was a full day visiting Pompeii and Vesuvius. If you can, visit Pompeii with a proper guide. The information you get by doing this is fantastic and it makes the trip much more interesting. I was amazed with the size of Pompeii and how intact the buildings still are. All the roofs of the buildings in Pompeii collapsed under the weight of the ash from the volcano but the walls of the buildings are still intact. You can see houses, shops, bathhouses, even takeaways and brothels! Pompeii really was and still is a fascinating place. Walking along the cobbled streets is like going back in time 2,500 years.
After Pompeii we drove to Vesuvius which takes about 1 hour. There is car parking and then you have to walk up a path to the summit. It’s worth the walk but you have to pay to reach the very top which seemed a bit stupid to me as there was a long queue and only one old man taking the money!
Another trip we did was ‘Capri by night’. We took the late afternoon boat to the island of Capri. The idea was that we could wonder round the cobbled streets of Capri and do some window shopping and then we would have dinner in a nice restaurant and then come back on the boat later that night. Because everyone gets dressed up when they visit Capri in the evening we decided to get dressed up too.
Whilst we were waiting for the boat on the jetty a huge wave appeared from nowhere and completely drenched me and a couple of other people from head to toe! Not a good start to the trip but that was a sign of things to come! The boat trip to Capri took about 45 minutes but when we arrived we got caught up in massive crowds on the quayside. We found out later that someone had died of a heart attack whilst boarding a ferry. We caught the funicular railway to Capri town. What an amazing place Capri is. This is where all the celebrities take their holidays, and I now see why.
There are dozens of designer shops and winding little cobbled streets and alleyways. There are wonderful colourful wild flowers, delightful houses and hotels, hidden restaurants and great views. Capri is a place where you can hide away from it all. We had heard that George Clooney, Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt were on the island but we did not see them, but someone had seen Michael Caine the week before.
We were just getting into the swing of this designer shopping thing when there was a big thunderstorm and the heavens opened. I had just begun to dry out from the previous soaking I got, so I bought an umbrella from a shop. Other people decided to get wet and I saw a lot a drenched people making their way to restaurants looking a little wet to say the least. All in all Capri is a fantastic place. It has retained its charm and character despite being one of the biggest tourist attractions in Italy. It is somewhere I would like to visit again.
All in all, this was a great holiday. It was a nice mixture of relaxing by the pool and visiting historical and interesting places. The best bits for me were Pompeii and the island of Capri. Sorrento itself is ok. The hotels are very good and the coastline is breathtaking. The Amalfi coast is well worth a visit.