Bella Italia

Thanks for tuning into my first blog!

I was planning to write about my kitchen renovation. But it’s cold, wet and it’s February and I’m longing for some warmth so I’ve been looking through my summer holiday snaps and here I am about to start writing about Italy instead!

I had lusted to go back to Italy since I first visited in 2011, when I went to Monza (I’m a Formula One fan) and Lake Como. So in August last year, I packed my bags for another taste of La Dolce Vita.

Sorrento is on the northern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula in Campania, southwest Italy.  It looks out over the Tyrrhenian Sea with the most incredible view of Mount Vesuvius.  It also makes for a fantastic base to travel to its more famous neighbours – Amalfi, Positano and Capri.

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Early morning view of Mount Vesuvius from my hotel room balcony

The main square in Sorrento is Piazza Tasso, a buzzing place with lots of bars and restaurants and a maze of pedestrianised shopping streets.  Now I don’t need much persuasion to support the local economy when it comes to shopping but whether you are after some Italian leather, beautiful linen clothing or a bottle of Limoncello there is something for everyone.

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There is no beach to speak of in Sorrento.  Instead, head down to Marina Piccolo where you can spend the day at one of the many lidos. €10 will grab you a comfy sunbed, clean showers & toilets and wifi. The lidos are a great place to watch the boats coming and going into the marina and of course have the fantastic view of Vesuvius.

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Lidos at Marina Piccolo

It’s from here that you can catch a ferry to Amalfi, Positano and Capri. I had visions of a glamorous entrance to these places by sea but seeing as I nearly fetched up my lunch on the ferry back from Naples the previous day, I had to take the bus. Seriously, can you believe that someone from an island has no sea legs!  I can highly recommend the cappuccino freddos on offer in the cafés at the marina though.

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Cappuccino freddo

The Amalfi Coast is on the southern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula. Amalfi itself has a small, volcanic beach and a busy piazza with restaurants aplenty and a stunning Duomo.  I found the food to be reasonably priced but the shops are definitely more expensive than in Sorrento, so if you’re looking for general souvenirs or gifts then I would suggest you don’t buy them here.  A quick bus trip up the road takes you to Ravello, where Villa Rufolo provides you with one of the most breathtaking and famous vistas on the Amalfi Coast.

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Positano is about an hours bus journey away from Sorrento.  I can’t imagine there are many other bus routes that are as beautiful as this one as it winds right around the coast. I’m pleased to report that the bus drivers aren’t maniacs either! When you jump off the bus and walk down into Positano, the road is lined with clothes shops and gelato stalls (Italy is up there for the best ice cream in the world, in my opinion! You must try it. Daily!).  As you get closer to the beach the road disappears and you find yourself in a maze of pedestrianised streets selling hand painted pottery, beautiful linens and paintings.  It really is worth a visit, you’ll recognise Positano from photos on social media but they don’t do the beauty of the place justice.

Isola di Capri.  Now due to the unavoidable fact that Capri is an island, I obviously had to get a boat there.  Fortunately the journey only takes about 20 minutes, which is about 10 minutes to the good before I start to feel my last meal creeping up my œsophagus.  I am led to believe that there are stunning grottos around the island that are a joy to swim in but I kept my feet firmly on the Capri ground.  Like everywhere in this region, it is stunning but Capri is particularly busy. And be prepared to pay through the nose, it’s very expensive.  I went up the furnicular and enjoyed an Aperol Spritz in the piazza, a drink that cost me €23 no less!

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€23 a pop!

Back in Sorrento for some calm, I enjoyed being surrounded by old buildings and sinking a few proseccos.  Because Sorrento sits on top of cliffs, with it’s marinas below, lots of the hotels make the most of their fantastic view with a bar on the roof.  My hotel was at the bottom of the cliff in Marina Grande, a deliberate choice so I could be as close to the sea as possible.  Marina Grande has 7 or 8 restaurants dotted along the sea front before a pretty 10 minute walk up to Piazza Tasso.

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Beautiful, old building
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Piaggio Ape
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A black cat having a snooze before the fishing boats return
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Rooftop bar overlooking Mount Vesuvius
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My hotel room and balcony in Sorrento. About as close as you can get to the sea!

It goes without saying that the food is delicious, but just in case you don’t believe me here’s evidence of what’s on offer in the region.

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If you like a bit of history and culture, Pompeii and Herculaneum are a short train ride away.  If you’ve seen the film you’ll have been led to believe that Pompeii was destroyed by lava from the erupting Vesuvius, but in actual fact it was destroyed by the pyroclastic flow (the ash) which subsequently helped to preserve the ruins. I would recommend a tour guide – the site is huge and I really wouldn’t have had a clue what I was looking at without one. I probably wouldn’t have been able to find my way out either, as I have no sense of direction whatsoever!

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After a week in Sorrento and the surrounding area, I really didn’t want to leave.  I don’t often like to go on holiday to a place that I’ve already been but I would definitely go back here.  Sorrento is a perfect holiday setting with the added bonus of easy transport links to nearby places of interest.  The weather is hot (it was around 30 degrees when I was there at the end of August), the sea is warm and the food is incredible . I’m going to leave it here, I feel a holiday booking coming on…

If you’re still reading this or have just looked at the pictures – thank you! If you’re thinking of visiting and have any questions or any recommendations for other places for me to visit in Italy, drop me a line!

Amy 😊

 

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