Sorrento, Pompeii & The Amalfi Coast

Best Essex destination location photographer

“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you’ve gone.” John Steinbeck.

I did a little turning 40 (yikes!) earlier this year but what with a crazy wedding season, I’ve only just managed to get in a little celebrating!  It also happened that we booked to go in the very week that 15 years previous my now hubby had asked for my number at the bar in a pub! Double whammy!  We have a bit of a bucket list like everyone else, though, admittedly it contains a lot of places in Italy (some of which we’ve ticked off already!).  I did consider New York as thats on there too but after such a busy summer we really both wanted a slower pace and I’m pretty sure New York is not the place for ‘slow’!  Instead we thought we’d tick off Pompeii, Sorrento and my absolute ‘must see’ Positano.  We based ourselves in Sorrento and had first thought we’d book a hire car so we drive around at our leisure, however, after a bit of investigation decided to trust in Italy’s public transport, and let me tell you, we were glad we did! Not only is the public transport very reliable and fast but its also very wallet friendly and really theres not many places to park a car in any of the places we wanted to visit, particularly Positano where the buses can barely squeeze down the hairy, narrow mountain roads past those who have been crazy enough to leave their cars parked there!  After flying into Naples, we hopped on a bus to the port and got a Hydrofoil across the Bay of Naples getting an incredible view from the water of the ominous Vesuvius and honestly, arriving in Sorrento via the harbour is just the most impressive way to set eyes on this stunning place!

Sorrento is a perfect place to base yourself for hopping over to Capri or Ischia and to discover the Amalfi Coast. But don’t miss out on the lemon-scented streets of Sorrento itself. The town is orientated towards pedestrians, with narrow streets, the centre of town is very compact and you can get anywhere quickly on foot.  The town has everything you’ll need from grocery shops to restaurants and plenty of little boutiques selling the regions specialities, leather goods, ceramics and not forgetting limoncello, a delicious lemon-infused liqueur.  Our hotel was right on the outskirts of town above the port and had incredible views right across to Naples!

The rooftop view from our hotel!

The rooftop view from our hotel!

I’m pretty sure you can’t get bad meal in Sorrento, we certainly didn’t have anything that wasn’t delicious but my favourite restaurant had to be PortaMarina Seafood, situated right on the port its a family run business and the staff are extremely friendly and efficient.  The atmosphere is everything you’d want it to be with twinkling festoon lights and candles and we actually sat and ate as the fishing boat pulled in and delivered another catch – you can’t get fresher than that! The tuna I had that night was simply the best I’ve ever eaten, simple, delicate and delicious! What a gem!

From Sorrento, you can travel easily by train north to Rome, Naples or Pompeii, or take the bus south to any of the towns along the Amalfi Coast. As I said, we found purchasing tickets for the bus and trains really easy and cheap and both can be brought from the train station in Sorrento a few minutes walk from the town centre.  Day 2 we headed out to the ruins at Pompeii on the train – its about 20/25 minutes and as its a commuter train we were told it can get very busy but I think we lucked out and got a seat all the way there.  The entrance to the ruins are literally a 2 minute walk from the train station (though turn right, not left!) and a ticket without a guide will set you back just 13 Euros.  It was pretty busy so I can only imagine how packed it gets in the summer months and its also very dusty and hot.  Theres only one little restaurant to buy food or water so definitely take a bottle with you! Also, flat shoes are a must.  The paths are very uneven and can be hard going especially for younger or older visitors.  Having said that, it IS worth a bit of hard work as the ruins are spectacular and lived up to my expectations!  Another fabulous place ticked off my list!

The following day we headed back to the train station to catch the bus to Positano.  Again, these are commuter routes and the bus was as packed as it could get.  I’d advise a seat on the left hand side of the bus (as you get on) if you want to see the views of the coastline, and my word, what a view – it is one of the most spectacular drives in the world!  I have to admit that buses on narrow, winding, cliff top roads are not my favourite place to be so I was pretty happy to get off at Positano, though my hubby was pretty impressed with it!  As Positano is built into the cliff face, it is very steep and to get down into the town there are thousands of steps that wind through narrow alleys filled with shops, cafes and boutiques.  Now, I’m not so great with the words (better with a camera!) but I came across the quote I’ve used at the start of this post and it completely describes the way I feel about Positano.  It is just so perfect that its almost not real.  We basically spent an entire day moving from one cafe to the next, eating and drinking and watching the world go by.  Just sheer bliss!  

We’ll most definitely be returning to this part of Italy, hopefully for a little longer next time! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of those views!

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