The Amalfi Coast, that glittering gem of blue water, striking cliffs and colorful buildings, has endless things to see. How does one possibly focus and get the most out of a nine day trip? Here’s how! I will tell you where to stay, what to eat and how to avoid some common pitfalls.
This was my first time south of Rome but my 4th time in Italy. I decided to focus on Naples and the Amalfi Coast. This ended up being my favorite part of Italy, one I plan to return to.
We arrived mid morning from Miami via Rome. We checked into the M Gallery and had some cappuccino, then set out on a quest for the food Naples is famous for and supposedly does best…PIZZA!
Per several sources we had heard about Da Michele’s. We headed straight there. Hello hangry! There is always a line so we took a number and waited. To our dismay there was no bar to have a drink while waiting. What?? My resourceful friend Jill took a little walk and returned triumphantly with 4 small bottles of wine she had found at a minimart. Score! I think we started a trend as others in line did the same.
We finally were seated, happier after wine. The service is actually very good, despite the crowds. You have 3 choices of pizza, traditional Marguerita with or without extra cheese (get the extra) or cheeseless Marinara (No.).
We took the train to Sorrento. This took about an hour. We chose Sorrento as a base for the trip, which I advise. Trying to stay in all the other towns such as Positano or Amalfi involves lots of time spent packing, unpacking, checking in and out. Sorrento is larger than other places and easily accessible by train or ferry.
We stayed at the AnticheMura hotel, just off of the Piazza Tasso.
Next we visited a lemon orchard. Sorrento is known for the BEST limoncello in the region.
We took a day trip with a boat ride up the coast. The hotel can help you book this. We disembarked from a port close to Sorrento.
We stopped first in Amalfi, then Positano.
The path of the gods or “Sentiero degli dei”, is a walk between Amalfi and Positano that puts you on the top of the cliffs, the same ones we had gazed up at from the boat.
I had researched how best to do this walk, since there are options involving differing amounts of difficulty. Despite my research we still were very confused. We first took a bus from Sorrento to Amalfi. The bus doesn’t leave that frequently so make sure you catch an early one and get there very early since even in the offseason there is a line. Then you have to take a bus towards Agerola and get off at Bomerano. There is no direct bus from Sorrento to Bomerano. The bus drivers don’t speak English and are not at all helpful.
Another option is to start in Positano, walk up very steep steps to Nocelle, be exhausted, and not make it very far. The way I did it, you end in Nocelle, reward yourself with amazing meal at a family restaurant with a view and then go downhill to Positano, or catch the small bus.
We got a bus at a decent time and then once we realized the bus didn’t go to Bomerano, we were confused. Luckily I overheard two men asking the bus driver in Italian about going to Bomerano. We quickly became friends with these guys and followed!!
A short bus ride from Amalfi to Bomerano and we found the beginning of the “Sentiero”. We picked up a stray American girl along the way as well. The more the merrier!
The walk was gorgeous, but definitely challenging. Sometimes the path wasn’t that far from the edge and it was crumbly, rocky, and steep at points. We got lost only once and a random man in a house yelled at us that we were going the wrong way. Again, happy we had Italians with us to translate this helpful yelling.
There’s Positano in the distance below and the small village of Nocelle above, where we stopped for lunch at the wonderful Santa Croce restaurant.
We could have walked down to Positano but…
We eventually got the bus. Our new friends drove us back to Sorrento where we had pizza, lots of limoncello and tons of laughing.
Our new friends drove us to Vesuvius and wouldn’t you know, there was some sort of Easter related festival that caused extra crowding and the police arbitrarily wouldn’t let us drive high enough to see Vesuvius. We just saw Pompeii but it was spectacular.
If you don’t know the story of Pompeii, it’s crazy. Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD (as well as many other times) and covered Pompeii in thick layer of ash, basically killing 2000 people suddenly who had no warning. In 1748 it was discovered to be quite intact under the ash and the bodies they found reflected the way they died….doing regular activities. Very haunting and interesting.
I should not have been climbing on ancient ruins…I was yelled at and I felt badly for being dumb…but since I have the picture, I’m going to show it! LOL
That night back in Sorrento, the hotel suggested a place that tourists don’t usually go and the restaurant sent a car to pick us up since it wasn’t in town. It was called Da Filippo and easily one of our favorite meals of the entire trip. Everything was fresh and delicious and the restaurant was quaint and charming.
We had mussels, shrimp, an artichoke quiche amuse bouche, gnocchi sorrentine, tagliatelle with porcini and local Aglianico wine.
We took the ferry from Sorrento to Capri. This was really easy. We bought tickets right before leaving. The hotel had the schedules and we basically walked to the Ferry. Upon arrival to the port in Capri, a driver from our hotel picked us up at the port. The hotel was the Excelsior Parco and although it wasn’t the most convenient location for walking to town, it was perfect. The driver would take us to town and to the port up until a certain time and then there was a bus from town.
We immediately booked a boat trip around the island where we saw all the different grottos including the famous blue grotto. I found this over-rated. You arrive by a big boat, pay some money, transfer to a small boat where some guy skillfully and carefully rows you into a tiny entrance into the grotto. This entrance must be timed with the waves so you don’t get crushed. You also have to lie down in the canoe. I heard after 6pm or so, the tour operators leave and locals from a seaside bar next to grotto simply jump in the water and swim into the grotto. This is what I will do next time!
After the boat ride we had a delicious lunch at La Smeraldo.
Then we explored the port area and then Capri town.Not to be missed is the gelato at Buonocore Gelateria. You can smell the homemade waffle cones from the down the street. Best gelato I had the entire trip. There is always a line but it moves fast.
First we had a morning hike. Capri has many great walking and hiking areas. We went to see the Arco Naturale. From the Piazzetta in the Capri town head down Via Vittorio Emanuele to Via Camerelle, then follow Via Tragara towards the Arch. Follow the signs and then head down a steep hill to the gorgeous Cave of Matermania. From there, the path takes you down to the Punta Tragara, with incredible views of the famous Faraglioni rocks. This trail has lots of steps, both up and down, but the end where you walk back to town is easy.
Our hotel’s driver was busy so they graciously offered to pay for a taxi to take us to Anacapri. The taxi was a convertible and we certainly enjoyed this drive!
Anacapri is less bougie and pretentious than Capri town. The shops are local, artisan. This is the place to get custom made sandals. I especially loved the linen shop. There is a chair lift to get to the top of the mountain and it is completely worth it. The views are incredible.
This night was another fantastic meal at Il Geranio. Fantastic views, service and food. Just a short walk from center of Capri Town.
We ferried from Capri to Naples. This took about 2 hours. With one more day in Naples we of course wanted more pizza. We wanted to go to the 2nd most famous place in Naples, Pizzeria Trianon, just around the corner from Da Michele where we had gone on Day 1, but it was closed after 3, which many restaurants are in Italy. Low and behold, just across the street from world famous Da Michele, which still had a huge line, was and empty pizzeria that was open. Pizzeria D’Angeli. So we went, and I enjoyed that pizza every bit as much as its more famous neighbors!
After lunch, we walked around medieval Naples, the famous Spacconapoli, with a plethora of lovely and colorful churches.
Outside the Duomo of Napoli we saw this major religious event taking place. We later discovered it was the Feast of San Gennaro. I am not qualified to explain it but here is a link. http://www.napoliunplugged.com/festival-of-san-gennaro-naples-italy.html
Despite what you may hear about Napoli being dirty and dangerous and not worth seeing, I say NONSENSE. It is a beautiful interesting city with a rich history. And Pizza. As for the dangerous part, just use common sense and be aware. I felt completely safe and I’m a teeny woman.
Until next time Italy!