My first trip to Italy was the perfect little low budget getaway I was looking for. I’ve seen other people’s pictures from their Italian holidays and it all looked so romantic and glamorous. I had to do my research and plan my itinerary in advance since I’m neither glamorous nor consciously coupled with anyone.
I decided to stay in Naples and do day trips to Pompeii, Amalfi, Sorrento, and Positano. I flew into Naples from London Gatwick at 7 in the morning. My lack of local linguistic skills was ruthlessly exploited by a taxi driver who charged me twice as much for a ride to the B&B. The lady at the reception very diligently gave me a map and showed me how I could get around Naples on foot and by train. I was also warned not to keep any valuables on me while I was out and to stay away from narrow alleys after dark. That gave me a bit of a scare, so I left my passport and cards back in my room and set out with my backpack and camera to explore Naples on foot.
Naples reminds me so much of this little town in Western India I grew up in. The old buildings with satellite dishes and clothes hanging in balconies. Little shops that sell everyday supplies. Fish and meat markets. Fruit and vegetable vendors. Lots and lots of pizzerias. And piazzas full of people milling about, puffing on cigarettes and sipping on wine. Old cars honking away and scooters snaking in and out of narrow lanes.
Ruins of Pompeii
The next morning I had a hearty breakfast at the B&B and took the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. When I got off at Pompeii station, I went to the tourist information center to pick up a map for walking directions to the excavations and a bus ticket to Mount Vesuvius.
You would usually have to buy a ticket to see the excavation site but because this was off-season, I got to enter for free. It can take about 2 to 3 hours to explore the ruins.
Walking through the ghostly ruins of an ancient Roman colony destroyed by fire and earth spewn out of the mighty Mt Vesuvius in the background is quite a cathartic experience.
Among the ruins are old houses, temples, shops, cafes, amphitheaters and a brothel.
The bus from Pompeii to Mt Vesuvius takes about an hour on a long winding road.
The dirt trail from the parking lot to the crater is relatively easy to climb and took me about 40 mins.
The impressive crater.
There’s a tiny shack at the top that sells coffee, wine and Italian pastries. I had myself a nice little cup of hot coffee and enjoyed the spectacular views of the Bay of Naples.
I waited at the parking lot for about 30 mins along with the others before realizing the bus we booked had probably already left without us or wasn’t going to arrive. Thankfully, there was another public bus with a few empty seats which we were happy to take for a few extra euros.
Sorrento and Positano
To get to the picture perfect cliffside village of Positano, I took the train from Naples to Sorrento where I wandered around a bit and then took the SITA bus to Positano.
The streets in Sorrento are lined with orange trees, fancy shops and street vendors selling lemon-flavored candies.
The bus ride from Sorrento to Positano takes about an hour. When I finally got off the bus, I was blown away by this view!
Positano is a bright and colourful little coastal village on the slopes of a seaside cliff. It has a pebbled beach and its steep, narrow streets are lined with beautiful boutiques and cafes.
The waters are a pristine blue that almost blend into the perfectly clear sky!
My 40-minute nap on that pebbled beachfront was the perfect women’s day gift to myself. I had gelato at one of the restaurants on the beach and started heading back to the bus stop at around 6 pm. Got lost, ended up on another side of the beach before finally making it to the bus stop just in time for the 7pm bus to Sorrento and then the Circumvesuviana train back to Naples.
The next morning, I took the train from Naples to Salerno and a bus from Salerno to Amalfi. Amalfi is a beautiful little coastal town much like Positano. It is also included in the UNESCO world heritage sites.
At the heart of Amalfi is the Saint Andrew’s Cathedral (Duomo) overlooking the Piazza Duomo. The cathedral dates back to the 11th century.
You have to buy an entry ticket to be able to see St Andrew’s shrine and the well-preserved paintings on the wall along with other sculptures and relics.
I had an early dinner at one of the cafes in Piazza Duomo before taking the 6pm bus back to Salerno and then the train back to Naples.
On my last evening in Naples, I walked around the streets one last time, had a glass of wine at the Piazza Garibaldi and had an early night. The next morning, it was time for me to head back from my brief but very rewarding Italian holiday. Ciao!