To describe this place in one word, that word it would be ‘unreal’. The sights, sounds, and colors seem too perfect to be true. It’s as if you’ve stepped into a chalk drawing from Mary Poppins that exists only in your imagination, but is right in front of you. The feeling of discovering a secret that you are now itching to tell someone about.
This was my first group guided tour (not including school field trips). As lovely as it was to save money and have everything done for you, that’s why I hated it. I would have rather spent the money and had meals/accommodations that I enjoyed, over the few ‘perks’ that the company had to offer me. This is my one piece of advice to you: you know yourself best, do things the way that you see fit so that you can enjoy yourself. While I still have wonderful memories from this trip, the sleepless nights and moving as a group of 70 I could have done without.
Sorrento is a city that glows in sunrises and sunsets, the air seeming to smell and taste of lemon naturally. Its vast port whisked us away to the island of Capri for a day of salt water and sun burns (one being the result of the other). Stepping onto the shore of Capri, you have to simply blink away the disbelief (and bright sunlight after your ferry voyage). Before you is an island whose hills disappear into the clouds, and then come rolling back towards you with a sea of towering green trees and white buildings scattered around. Aimlessly wandering Capri landed myself and my roommate in a garden. The entrance fee was €1, but I quickly decided that was a price I was willing to pay to keep the flowers watered. The Giardini di Augusto cling to the side of Capris hills, offering beautiful views both within and without. If you find yourself on Capri, pay these flowers a visit.
What is Capri without its famed waters and grottos. These waves are known for their natural sapphire color, drawing in countless boat tours each day. Some say it’s a tourist trap, but I say it’s practically one of the wonders of the world. Looking down at naturally growing coral calms you while leaping into the icy waters invigorates you.
Positano is a prize for everyone who can stomach the motion sickness inducing bus ride to get there. Picture those pastel colored costal towns you see in movies, that are tucked away into hillsides; that’s Positano. It’s no wonder this little place is featured in ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ even though it’s not within Tuscany at all. Whether you’re there to buy custom sandals or lay out on the black beach, Positano holds a charm that stays with you long after that ridiculous bus has carried you away.
Our Easter Sunday was a rainy one spent in Naples. Even being the hometown of our tour guide, the spirit of Napoli was a tad bit soggy unfortunately. This was easily remedied by world renowned pizza and a whisper of sunlight through the clouds. The massive Piazza del Plebiscito holds a game that many visitors try their hand it. It’s simple: walk from the door of the Royal Palace in a straight line across the piazza to the church of San Francesco di Paola, blindfolded. If you end up between the two statues at the front of the church, you win. Sadly all of us failed, but it made for a ton of laughter while watching each other veer hilariously off course.
Bright and early the next morning, our group boarded buses and approached the sleeping monster. Mount Vesuvius sleeps currently, but is widely known as the most dangerous volcano in the world. This is because of the population that lives in and around the ‘red zone’ of its reach. Naples holds the title of third largest populated city in Italy, and is within deadly reach of Vesuvius. This volcano is infamous for its detonation in 79 AD that cost the cities of Heculaneum and Pompeii everything. Hiking up this beast in the early morning mist gives visitors an eery feeling of the power beneath their feet. Signs containing prayers are posted at the summit by those who wish for history to never repeat itself.
Our lovely tour company offered a guided tour of the Pompeii ruins, but I opted out of it. The tragedy of Pompeii is one I know a little too much about. I first heard the story in a 7th grade history class and was equal parts shocked and intrigued. The city lost in such a horrible way, rediscovered to shed light on a forgotten civilization. The streets filled with the casts of victims last moments could chill even the coldest hearts. This place has so many stories to tell for those who take the time to learn, listen, and view the astounding ways it has survived against unbelievable odds.
This trip just skimmed the surface of what the Amalfi Coast has to offer. This region could have months devoted to it and still reveal new discoveries. In my humble opinion, it’s a sin to visit Italy without stopping here for some limoncello.