Europe

Amalfi Adventures: Road Tripping Along the Italian Coast

Ok. Forgive me. This is a LONG-overdue post that I’ve been meaning to finish forever, but better late than never, right…? Well, here goes!

Back in October (of 2017!), over my school holiday, Chris and I took off on a four-day trip to Italy’s Amalfi coast. I had seen pictures of this stunning region all over Pinterest and Instagram and I was just dying to see it for myself! We landed in Naples on a warm Thursday morning, picked up our little rental car, and hit the road.

Now, prior to our trip, a lot of people we had talked to thought we were crazy for wanting to rent a car in the Amalfi Coast area, warning us about the windy mountain roads and the aggressive Italian drivers. Having owned a car in both London and Boston, though, it was not as daunting as one would otherwise expect… but I was still glad Chris was the one driving, and not me!

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An easy drive out of Naples via the toll road led us to a mountain pass before arriving in a beautiful little hillside town called Ravello. We parked the car and stood by the road for a few minutes, just admiring the view over the coastline below for a bit before making our way to the “city” center.

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After we had landed, I had sent a message to our friends, Brittani and Trevor (of The Blogowick), who had come to Ravello around this time last year. I asked what the “must do” things were. They immediately got back to us with the name of a pizza place called Mimi Bed & Breakfast – Bar Pizzeria. It did not disappoint. We each got a full pizza (as one is required to do in Italy) and devoured nearly every bite.

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We explored Ravello a bit more before hopping back in the car and making our way along the coast to the city of Amalfi.

Amalfi ended up being so packed with people that we couldn’t find any parking. Chris dropped me off so I could snap a photo of the famous “Duomo di Amalfi” (the Amalfi Cathedral) and circled around the roundabouts and tiny, crowded streets until I jumped back in the car. (What a guy! ❤️)

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We drove the remaining 30 minutes to our final destination of the day: Praiano. It was a beautiful little town with amazing views of its popular neighbor, Positano. We were able explore the town a bit before getting some snacks and drinks while enjoying the sunset from our hotel (Villa Bellavista) terrace. What a perfect end to our first day!

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The next morning, we woke up early and grabbed breakfast on the terrace before throwing on our “trainers” (as they say here in the U.K.) and heading up the hill to the “Path of the Gods” trail head. It was a beautiful morning and we were ready for a hike!

We climbed up hundreds of stairs before reaching a church where the path turned into a proper hiking trail. We made our way up and across the hills, practically drooling over the amazing coastal views.

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After a few hours, we reached our destination… well, almost. We made it to a cute little village called Nocelle. We had to climb down hundreds more stairs to get down to the road. From there, Chris was going to take the bus back to Praiano to get the rental car and I was going to walk into Positano to check into our next hotel: the Hotel Vittoria Positano.

That was the plan, anyway.

What really ended up happening was that Chris missed the first bus we saw, couldn’t get another bus because he hadn’t pre-purchased a ticket (huh??), and finally decided to RUN the 4.3 miles back to Praiano on the windy mountain roads (after hours of steep and hot hiking, mind you). While it was an absolutely beautiful run, Chris said it required a bit of strategic “bus-dodging” around the sharp corners.

While Chris was busy getting his extra workout on, I, on the other hand, just got lost. (I did find some coconut gelato, though, so I think we all know who had the better afternoon.)

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After wandering around Positano, lost and not minding one bit, I finally made it to the hotel. (Unfortunately I had to climb back UP about 300 more stairs to get there.) Meanwhile, Chris decided to channel his inner Mario Andretti and drive like an Italian on the windy mountain road in our small, lightweight, hatchback rental car. (I’m glad I wasn’t with him!)

Finally at the hotel, we showered and made our way out to an outdoor dinner at Ristorante Bruno. We enjoyed some pasta and wine as we watched the last of the sunlight disappear over Positano.

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We then grabbed a drink at the hotel bar in La Sirenuse, and a final one on the top floor lounge at Music on the Rocks before heading back to the hotel for the night.

We got up early the next morning and drove to the city of Sorrento. We dropped our bags off at the Hilton Sorrento Palace hotel, then went down to the waterfront where we hopped on a boat (that we later found out was built right there in Sorrento!). We were heading to the island of Capri!

On the boat, we met 4 girls from Ireland (in rough shape after a night out!), 2 Argentinians, and 2 other Americans, in addition to our Italian captain and tour guide. We headed to the island as our guide gave us some background information about Capri and some tips about what to go see when they let us off the boat.

We circled the island first, stopping at the White Grotto and the famous Blue Grotto. This was kind of a funny stop. You paid an Italian man in a small row boat (I think it was 20 euros per person?!) to tell you to duck then push you through a TEENY little opening in the rock wall (after waiting for the right time between waves, of course, otherwise you would obviously be decapitated).

This is where we ended up. Amazing! The water was glowing blue and absolutely beautiful. The number of other boats in there made it feel a little less special, but oh well. Still pretty magical!

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Photo from Capri.com because I was too afraid to bring my phone haha!

Once on the island, the tour group from the boat split up. Chris and I took a convertible taxi (typical mode of taxi transportation on the island) to the top of the hill in Anacapri. We walked around, got some pizza, and grabbed a drink at Hotel Caesar Augustus on a beautiful balcony, high above the sea.

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After exploring Anacapri a bit, we hopped back in a taxi and headed back down to Capri. We got some delicious gelato and did some window shopping before heading back to the boat for our trip back to the mainland.

Later on, back in Sorrento, we were surprised to find a gift of limoncello (made right there in Sorrento!) waiting for us in our hotel room! A sweet (well, more like sour) end to our lovely Italian day!

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On our final day, we hopped back in the car and left Sorrento, heading back toward Naples to fly home. Chris and I decided to make a historical pit stop to see the ruins of the city of Herculaneum. When my dad lived in Italy for a study abroad program in college, he had gone and recommended it to us.

I can’t honestly say that I remember much of the history of Herculaneum because Chris and I got split up and he had the only audio guide (oops), so here’s a quick description from the Visit Pompeii Vesuvius website:

“Herculaneum has been preserved like no other site in the world, not even nearby Pompeii. The city was buried beneath 16 meters of ash and mud during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, and this layer of detritus saved two-story domus homes with the internal architecture and décor intact, including features in wood and marble, decorations, jewelry, and even organic remains like food, providing a unique view into the daily lives of the ancient population of Herculaneum.”

It was pretty fascinating walking around the ruins and seeing how some of the impressive mosaics have remained (somewhat) intact!

After checking out Herculaneum, we headed back to Naples for our flight back to London. It had been another whirlwind and action-packed getaway for these Navigating Newlyweds!

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