travelousness: The Amalfi Coast

The first time I set eyes on Italy, I fell in love.  There was nothing about this country that didn’t excite me: the food, the language, the men, the architecture, the art.  Italy is filled with pockets of beautiful and charming towns.  One such region that I adore is the Amalfi Coast in the south.

I recently had a chat with a friend who is currently traveling through Italy.  He reminded me of places like Capri and Sorrento that are all based on the Amalfi Coast.  My conversation with him inspired me to write about it in this second installment of Travelousness.

The Itinerary

This trip took place August 17-24, 2007.

Day 1
Arrived in Sorrento via Naples; by train
Sick day at hostel
Overnight in Sorrento

Day 2
Explored Sorrento
Overnight in Sorrento

Day 3
Day trip to Mt. Vesuvius; by train
Overnight in Sorrento

Day 4
Day trip to Capri; by boat
Overnight in Sorrento

Day 5
Another sick day at the hostel
Overnight in Sorrento

Day 6
Day trip to Amalfi and Ravello; by bus
Overnight in Sorrento

Day 7
Day trip to Positano; by bus
Overnight in Sorrento

Day 8
Checked out of hostel in Sorrento
Morning visit to Pompeii; by train
Afternoon visit to Naples; by train
Early evening arrival in Rome
Overnight in Rome

Let me first give you a visual introduction to the breathtaking beauty of this coast:

Amalfi Coast, Italy | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy | Redesigned By M

Have you caught your breath?  Simply gorgeous, isn’t it?  I don’t even know if gorgeous is a good enough word to define it.  Fantastico, maybe.  Fabuloso.

Sorrento

I spent a week in this region, keeping my home base in Sorrento.  Every day I took a day trip to a different town along the coast.  Sorrento is a great place to stay because it has all the conveniences of dining out and entertainment.  There is also a wonderful hostel that is an easy walk to the town center.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Sorrento | Redesigned By M

Here’s my view from my hostel.  Not much, but I adored the supermarket that was on the corner across the street.  It really helped to have a shop so close to my home base when I was doggone sick.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Sorrento | Redesigned By M

There’s also beautiful scenery down on the coast.  You can take an easy day trip to Capri from here, which is an island just across the water.

Capri

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Capri | Redesigned By M

Marina Grande: this is where the ferries from Sorrento drop you off

Capri, pronounced KAH-pree, is an easy boat ride from Sorrento.  There are two boats that go to Capri: a fast boat and a slow boat.  You can buy tickets for the boats at the box office on the coast of Sorrento.  It is only open at certain times, so be sure to find out what those hours are.  At the time I visited, the difference between a fast boat ticket and a slow boat ticket was roughly €7 (€16 for the slow and €25 for the fast).  As I didn’t know there were varied opening hours, I had to pay extra for the fast boat ticket; a fortune for the unemployed backpacker that I was.

The island of Capri is made up of two towns: the larger town, Capri; and the smaller town, Anacapri.  I didn’t get the chance to make it over to Anacapri, so this post is going to focus solely on Capri.

I made the mistake of shelling out €1 for a tourist map.  Learn from my mistakes and skip the map.  You won’t need it in Capri; I barely used mine.  It’s a small town so just follow the crowds and start walking.  Instead of paying to ride the funicular to the top, I hiked up a long hill to the center of town.  The hill was filled with stairs and it was a steady incline.  At the time that I visited Capri, I was sick as a dog.  I coughed and sniffled the entire hike uphill in the blazing hot summer Italian sun, all the while thinking, “This better be worth it.”  And it was.  Capri did not disappoint.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Capri | Redesigned By M

Here’s my rewarding view for hiking to the top.  The walk up wasn’t that bad, it was just made worse because I was so sick and hot.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Capri | Redesigned By M

Capri was full of pricey shops.  I must’ve seen four Ferragamo stores.  I don’t know why there needed to be so many in such a small area of land.  I found a garden, which offered amazing views of the water of what I guessed to be Marina Piccola (small marina).

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Capri | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Capri | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Capri | Redesigned By M

My advice to you if you plan to visit Capri is to visit the Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzura) first.  The town of Capri is so lovely that it’s worth taking the time to get lost and relax in various gardens or on the cliffside overlooking the beautiful sea.  The trip to the Blue Grotto is fast, taking no more than an hour.

The entry into the Blue Grotto is so, so tiny that if the tides are high that day, you won’t be able to go.  Make sure you plan your trip accordingly.  Was the €10 boat trip and €9 entry fee worth it?  How about I let this photo speak for itself:

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Capri; Blue Grotto | Redesigned By M

Sorry, I didn’t have a good photo of just the water, so you’ll have to settle for a tourist photo with me in it.

Isn’t that water amazingly blue?  The boat captains will let you dive in and swim around also, so be sure to wear your bathing suits!

Here’s how getting to the Blue Grotto works:

  1. Purchase tickets from Marina Grande in Capri (the boat from Sorrento drops you off here).
  2. Wait for the departure time.
  3. All passengers board a motorboat, which will zip you past beautiful cliffs, but uneventful otherwise.
  4. Once near the Blue Grotto, rowboats approach the motorboat to take 3-4 passengers to go inside the grotto.  The rest of the passengers wait until the first round of rowboats return.
  5. To get inside the Blue Grotto, you have to slide down to the bottom of the boat and lay flat because, like I said, the opening into the cave is so small that you’ll likely hurt yourself if you remain sitting upright.  Or not be able to get in at all.
  6. After you’ve entered, be prepared to be dazzled by the deep turquoise water glowing inside the cave when you sit back up.
  7. The trip within the grotto takes all of five minutes.
  8. Then you go out the same way (lay flat on the floor of the boat), climb back into the motorboat and wait until everyone has taken their turn (unless you’re the last rowboat).  Then return back to Marina Grande the same way.
Amalfi Coast, Italy; Capri; Blue Grotto | Redesigned By M

Here I am laid down on the floor of the rowboat to enter the Blue Grotto.  Good times.

Amalfi

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Amalfi | Redesigned By M

Yes, there is a town called Amalfi on the Amalfi Coast.

Touring the Amalfi Coast by public transportation couldn’t be easier and cheaper!  From Sorrento, there are buses frequently departing to various towns.  The bus trip itself was quite the cultural experience! First thing, make sure you snag a seat on the right side of the bus when you are heading south to the coast from Sorrento.  The views are spectacular and not to be missed!  (You’ve already seen previews above.)  As the bus takes off and finds its way closer to the coast, you’ll be glad you’re sitting down because this trip becomes a roller coaster ride of motion sickness.  I actually sat next to a little girl who kept throwing up into a paper bag the entire ride once. Poor thing.  The roads are extremely narrow and very wind-y.  The driver honks every time he makes a turn to warn oncoming cars.  You’ll get many opportunities of seeing the Italian driver work his amazing maneuvering skills whether it’s squeezing past parked cars and a hard place or backing out of a tight spot so another vehicle can pass.  It’s all amazing to witness, if you’re not easily car sick.  Don’t expect to get to your destination on time either.  Just sit back and take in the experience.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Amalfi | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Amalfi | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Amalfi | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Amalfi | Redesigned By M

Ravello

When in Amalfi, do not pass up the trip to Ravello.  This town was recommended to me by one of the bus drivers.  With his thumb raised, he emphatically said, “Ravello.  Good!”  As it was an easy and free bus trip (the cost is covered in the tourist pass that you paid to take the bus from Sorrento to Amalfi) from the center of Amalfi, how could I resist?

The bus to Ravello is not the same as the bus that brought you down the Amalfi Coast.  This is a local bus.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Ravello | Redesigned By M

The town is quite small, but it is very quaint and lush.  It is easy to explore in a couple of hours.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Ravello | Redesigned By M

I just loved all the architectural details and Old World charm of this town.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Ravello | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Ravello | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Ravello | Redesigned By M

Ravello wasn’t busy with too many tourists.  Strolling through the lanes was a breeze.

Positano

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Positano | Redesigned By M

On another day, I made the wild bus trip down the coast again to Positano.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Positano | Redesigned By M

The town was very cute and the shops were adorably charming and sophisticated.  I paid €2.50 for a 1.5L bottle of water, which killed me because €2.50 could buy me a meal or (20) 2L bottles of Aura water from the supermarket across from my hostel.  But I couldn’t find a fountain and I didn’t want to be stuck on the beach all day without water.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Positano | Redesigned By M

I spent about 4-5 hours on this pebbly beach, mostly laying out and reading and sweating.

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Positano | Redesigned By M

Amalfi Coast, Italy; Positano | Redesigned By M

Other Things I Did On This Trip

I also made day trips to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii while on the Amalfi Coast.  Those were really cultural trips that must be saved for another post.  Stay tuned!

Did you enjoy traveling through the Amalfi Coast with me?  If you would like me to feature a particular place next month, please let me know in the comments below!

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Redesigned By M

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4 Comments

  1. Drool…. This looks like a dream. I wanna go!

  2. I must go to Capri… Like tomorrow, haha! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I had an amazing week there! Would do it all over again… this time, without all the sickness. 😉

  4. As the Italians say, “Perche no?”

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