View from the back path
Here is the view from the simple back path we chose to take back to our hotel. The views were worth a million bucks. This entire area of Italy is blessed with fabulous scenery..due in great part by the way the land rises up so quickly from the sea. The result is that almost any hillside has its own gorgeous landscape.
Ferry or catamar
The fast catamaran proved to be the most efficient means of transport at the Amalfi Coast. We used the service of Metro del Mare a few times (from Amalfi to Sorrento, from Positano to Sorrento) and the ferry always left right on time (which cannot be said from the bus service!).
Another PRO is the splendid views on the coastline that are included in the price.
Day Trip: Pompeii
Sorrento is a great starting point for a day-trip to Pompeii . You can reach Pompeii by Circumvesuviana train, departing Sorrento every thirty minutes. The trip takes about forty minutes- make sure you catch the right train when you're coming back!
In Pompeii you can see the the ruins of a Roman city that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 79 AD. Pompeii makes an excellent half-day trip from Sorrento, or a day-trip if combined with Herculaneum or Mount Vesuvius.
An Evening Passeggiata
Remember what I said in my first tip about traffic? Pedestrians get a welcome break in the evenings when some of the streets around Piazza Tasso - including a section of Via Corso Italia - close to all vehicular traffic for la passeggiata: the little walk. This traditional evening stroll is social time for Italians, who tidy up to meet family or friends at favorite cafes, grab a gelato, take their little ones to the park or just enjoy Sorrento's soft evening air. This is a great time to do a little window shopping as most of the shops are open and, while still very busy, it feels less chaotic without the daytime street congestion.
WARNING: While the traffic ban is a boon for walkers, it could be a headache for drivers. If you're renting a car and plan on arriving in the evening, you might want to check with your hotel to see if you might need an alternate route.
3 fast paced days in beautiful Sorrento
"Day 1...beers and Capri"
We arrived in Sorrento on an overnight train from Venice. The train was a little rough, and sleep was minimal, however the moneys sove from the night's accomodations proved great for some nice "made in Sorrento" in-laid wood souvenirs.
The train from Naples was a little dis-heartening, with young children begging for change, and connstant warnings of pick-pockets, however upon arriving in Sorrento Susan finally understood why I chose to add this location to our Italian Honeymoon.
After checking into our hotel room (Hotel del Corso - just off the main square) and getting cleaned up we walked down to the marina (Piccola) and enjoyed a couple of cold beers while enjoying the wonderful views of the city on the cliff.
On the whim, we decided to get the ferry out to Capri, which was the destination on our list that we decided to scratch due to lack of time. We made it out there at around 3:00, which left us a little over 3 hours to explore before getting the last ferry back to Sorrento.
The island was absolutely beautiful. We walked up to the town centre and enjoyed a late lunch, then headed further over to catch a glimpse of the Faraglioni and a stroll in a nice little park (garden of Augustis I believe?)near the "cool winding path down to the water..." (pretty sure that's not what it's called!!)
We just strolled around for a while and enjoyed the views, then got a ride back to the marina on the Funicular, with 15 minutes to spare! We do wish we could have had a full day to appreciate the beauty of Capri, but are very glad we made it there if only for a little while.
Back in Sorrento we walked the streets for some time, doing some window shopping and buying some gifts, and had a nice dinner in yet another place I can't remember the name of!
"Day 2...Lords of the Wedding Rings!"
Our second day in Sorrento (or should I say from Sorrento) was one Susan had been looking forward to most of all...Pompei and Vesuvius. Susan, being a History major, always wanted to visit pompei; and myself after seeing Pink Floyd's famous "Live at Pompei" video, was really wanting to see the Pompei Amphitheatre.
We made it out there around 10:30, rented some audio guides (not great...should have pitched the extra money for the tour) and spent 4 hours walking through the ruins. The highlights for us were the baths (which contained the plaster cast of a couple of Vesuvius' victims), and the theatres...and of course the Amphitheatre. Much of the ruins are the same, and after 4 hours we decided to split to hit our next major destination...the volcano.
We found a kiosk at the Pompei Scavi train station where we bought tickets for a guided vesuvius trip on a tour bus. The trip lasted a little over 3 hours, which accounted for the 40 min trip there, around 20 minutes hike to the top and back, and around an hour at the crator to explore.
It was really cool on top of Mount Doom...I mean Vesuvius, with smoke and steam still bellowing out from the deep crator. In fact, they say that if it is not smoking, then you could be in trouble! We tasted and bought some wine on top...not sure the italian name, however it translates to "The Tears of Christ". The grapes are grown on the slopes of the volcano. The bottle we bought was from the 2nd of 3 souvenir shops located on the lip of the crator, and was stamped with a Vesuvius stamp...pretty cool I think. And the wine was good if I ever drink it. Who knows, it could be worth something someday if the mountain decided to blow it's top again. On that note, it is said it's not a matter of if, but rather when.
After alot of pics and some Lord of the Rings jokes, we headed back down and back to Sorrento. We had the best home-made pasta ever (surprise...don't remember the name of the place, but I think it was something like Holiday In Sorrento - Not the Holiday Inn). We walked the streets a little (shops in Sorrento stay open till 10) and ended up in Villa Comunale...a great place for a view. Seemed to be the local make-out spot!
Another day gone in Sorrento...getting sad by this time as only 1 day here left, and then one in Rome before the flight home.
"Day 3...Amalfi Drive...Arrived alive!"
On our last day based in Sorrento, we headed down the Amalfi coast in search of great views, cool towns and some hiking.
The open-top sight-seeing bus from Sorrento to Positano was the perfect choice for the first part of our journey. The drive offered great views of the coast, and was accompanied with headphones with some short history lessons and relaxing music. Just as we got off the bus (luckily for us) on top of positano, it began to rain. We purchased an umbrella and got the shuttle bus down to the bottom of town. We had lunch at a great little Trattoria, browsed around a little, and headed for the beach to view the town. We never stayed in Positano long, as our main destination was Ravello. The stop here was great though, as I ate the very best spagetti of my life, and susan had some delicious Risotto. Guess what...I don't remember the name of this place either!!!, but the ceilings were all painted with landscapes and people.
We decided to catch the ferry to Amalfi after some snapshots of this really cool town. The boat ride to Amalfi was nice. Once there we grabbed a cappuccino and got the local bus up the hill to Ravello. I had read on the site that there are some nice hikes from Ravello down to Amalfi, so this was our plan.
In Ravello we hung out in the square for a bit, and bought some nice olive oil and vinigar bottles in typical hand-painted Ravello style. Then we set out for the hike...which was a little dissapointing. Maybe we never took the right way? We went in search of the tourist office, which I had read through my planning contained free maps of the different hikes. For some reason the office was closed. When asked directions, we were told to simply walk down the steps and follow the signs.
The walk down was just steps, and roadways. I was kind of expecting some small paths or fields...but just steps! and more steps! Ocasionally these steps would lead out onto the road which we would have to travel (absolutely no sidewalks, and if you know how Italian's drive...!!!). It was nice though just the same, and would have been nicer had the rain held up.
Back in Amalfi we caught the more affordable means of transportation back to Sorrento...the SITA bus. The bus ride was great...constant horn barmping to warn oncoming vehicles (the road...which is cut into a cliff...is very narrow and the vehicles are fast. Probabily my favourite part of the day was the drive out and back...but maybbe not foe the faint of heart.
Back in Sorrento we enjoyed our last meal there...the best Lasaugna ever! I actually remember the name of this place. In Tasso square, Pizzaria Aurora. A short walk around then back to the hotel to pack our things. Ciao Sorrento!