There were two main reasons I was keen to visit Italy – gelato and pizza. I know that sounds kind of silly but when you love Italian food like I do, it’s a huge tick off the bucket list.
We’d left serene Switzerland earlier that morning but when we stepped off the train at Rome station, we entered complete chaos. Beads of sweat ran down my face, as I lugged a 20kg suitcase through the hectic crowd, trying to avoid the in-your-face taxi drivers. When we finally found a driver who gave us a reasonable price, I sighed with relief as the craziness disappeared around the corner.
After a much needed rest, we set off on our Italian Adventure early the next day. Pompeii was the first stop and I felt privileged to be given the opportunity to see it in person. As we entered the ancient city, the extreme heat became quite apparent. Only a few buildings along the way offered refuge from the harsh sun, which made it difficult to remain attentive during our lengthy tour. It probably didn’t help that our tour guide had a thick Italian accent but I was appreciative of the bits and pieces that I could pick up. After exploring the tragically beautiful ruins for a few hours, our tour group took shelter in a nearby café and bought exactly what you need when it’s 40 degrees – pizza straight from oven! Now, I love pizza on a good day but nothing I’ve ever had at home can compare to the authentic taste of that margarita.
It was time to get back on the road and make our way to beautiful Sorrento. I wish I could describe our accommodation in the same way. I wasn’t expecting much from a “camping village” but the one in Rome had exceeded my expectations. I swung open the door to our room for the next two days, or should I say shoe-box? They weren’t kidding when they said camping, although a tent would have been a step up. But hey, at least there was a pool, right? I was itching to dive into a fresh cool body of water but we were quickly stopped in our tracks. In order to use the pool you were required to wear a swim cap (which looked more like a shower cap). So there ended our hopes of an afternoon swim.
We then headed to downtown Sorrento where we had a limoncello tasting booked. The store owner Tony, or Fat Tony as he was affectionately known, pranced around the store showing us the secrets of limoncello. Turns out that I’m not a huge fan of the lemon flavoured liqueur but what I did love was Fat Tony’s rendition of That’s Amore.
Before dinner we had the chance to explore the streets of Sorrento. The cross between a lazy beach town and a bustling city gave it a relaxed feel. The appealing seascape was bordered with blue umbrellas and locals enjoying the afternoon sun. Just a stone’s throw away was the lively city centre. Every second store seemed to have a limoncello display out the front but it was the gelato shops we were more interested in. They had every flavour combination imaginable, making it a hard decision, even for the most decisive of people. If it wasn’t for the four course meal we were about to devour, I would have been asking for three scoops.
The next day we were off to explore the Isle of Capri. At first the boat was relaxing but sea sickness and tummy grumbles made dry land a lot more appealing. We were hoping to explore the Blue Grotto but due to the weather, it was safer to have a beach day. A group of about seven of us jumped into the nearest soft-top taxi and travelled up the steep, winding road. Although, it was hard to enjoy the view with several near misses on the way up, finally,made it to Marina Piccola. It was a gorgeous little spot on the Isle of Capri, filled with life. Though the stones that covered the beach were a little rough on your feet, the sunshine, rock jumping and cave swimming certainly made up for it.
On our return to Sorrento, we headed back to the city centre and it was even busier than it had been the night prior. Performers, music and swarms of people created a distinct buzz in the city – a perfect way to spend our last night in Sorrento. And just so you know, there is in fact, such a thing as too much gelato.
Our final day began bright and early, as we would make our way along the Amalfi Coast and back to Rome. The first stop was a lookout, which had a small fruit stand and souvenir stall at the entrance. We snacked on fresh fruit, as we took in the astonishing view of Positano. The day was just beginning to break over the quaint beachside city, which made the moment all the more special.
We continued down the coast, making an extended stop at Amalfi where we were able to explore the beautiful little town, which won us over with Nutella filled donuts. The definite highlight was the gorgeous Amalfi Cathedral at Piazza del Duomo. Although we were unable to go inside, the exterior and a sneaky look through an open window were enough to admire its exquisiteness.
We made a final pit stop to pick up some famous arancini balls before we headed back to Rome. I know the coast isn’t the first place many travellers think of to visit in Italy but it was one of the stand out destinations of my trip. If you’re looking for relaxation mixed with some adventure and a whole lot of pizza – the Italian coast is the place to be!
Laura Jayne x