“Many people come to this area, who have traveled the world. But when they arrived here, they decided to always come back. With this place it’s like falling in love: Once you have met this one person, you will stay with her and this is what happens here.” That’s what the driver told me a bit more than two weeks ago on the way from the airport to my hotel. And when he picked me up ten days later, I almost heartbrokenly confirmed that he couldn’t have been more right. Because sì, I was just up to leave a part of the Italian peninsula, I had truly fallen in love with – at first sight.
Here 7 reasons, why I wish to return to the Amalfi coast & the Sorrentine peninsula and why you should also put this area on your to visit list (and what exactly):
01. Lemons & Landscapes
From almost every angle you will have spectacular views on the coast. One that I particularly loved was from the terrace “La Terrazza” in Sant’Agnello di Sorrento (with a delicious, creamy cold cappuccino I won’t forget either!). There you have an unforgettable view on Sorrento and the Gulf of Naples (and of course, on the Mount/Volcano Vesuvio!).
Especially in and around Sorrento the typical picturesque, colourful mediterranean vegetation and the green landscapes (even at 40°C) are accomplished by all those beautiful lemon and orange trees. (But watch out: It’s strictly forbidden to pick the fruits on the street!)
02. Culture all around
What I loved most about the island Ischia was to feel its authentic and charming flavour. In spite of its touristic side, it is a very genuine place with many lovely fishing houses. And lovers of culture are also spoilt for choice: In Ischia you can visit for example the historic Castello Aragonese. In Ravello you can enjoy the beautiful Villa Ruffolo and its garden, where not only summer concerts with national and international stars take place, but from where you can also enjoy this famous and enchanting panorama:
Usually the prices for entrance fees in this sites are between 5-10 Euro.
For those of you who adore antique sights and history, there is an absolute must-see place in the Gulf of Naples: Pompei, an ancient town-city close to Naples which has been buried and destroyed by the ashes and pumice of the erupted Vesuvio 79 AD. The archeological excavation is not only UNESCO World Heritage Site (as the whole Sorrentine peninsula), but also welcomes more than 2 million visitors every year. Now already for over 250 years tourists have been walking between antique bakeries, temples, sports places and the like. The cheapest way to directly reach the site is by train (Circumvesuvia line). Please consider that many travelers know about this convenient possibility, thus expect very crowded trains at any times. Also, even if Pompei was definitely a very impressive experience, I have to admit that I rather wish to have made it in spring or fall: The waiting time and the hours of sight-seeing under the hot July sun were pushing my heat-lover-limits. So please don’t forget about to be ‘well equipped’ in the summer!
Also in Naples lovers of ecclesiastical architecture will definitely not be disappointed. Even if many churches are closed and in urgent need of renovation, there is still a lot of different artistic religious beauty to admire!
In any case, the particular, colourful and intense atmosphere of Naples will make a strong impression on you. And probably also a tasty one: Enjoy a pizza in the birth place of this culinary gift that Italy made to the world! Unfortunately, however, I was told by many travelers that they were very partly quite disappointed by this city: Crime and other sociopolitical challenges are unfortunately indeed also part of the Neapolitan reality. But as there is so much more about it and no need to do sightseeing with one’s most precious jewels, give the city with Europe’s largest Old Town a chance and get to know and enjoy it with a guided tour! And who knows, maybe you will return to Naples as a student at the world 7th oldest university, the Univeristà di Napoli Federico II , founded in 1224!
03. People – will charm you with their humor
Simply: Italian friendliness, charm, humor and hospitality at its best! Locals are mostly extremely, friendly and helpful. Visitors are mainly British and with their general calm and polite way adds to the relaxed and calm flair of the peninsula.
04. A seaside you won’t forget
The sea is wonderfully clean, crystal clear and sometimes even turquoise. (Advice: On Capri there is besides the Blue Grotto also the less known Green Grotto, where you can enjoy the same stunning, turquoise water effect – for free.)
Sandy beaches are rather an exception and in general sometimes just luxury hotels do have access to (their own) beaches close by. You will mostly likely have also to pay for your day at the beach, but locals might have good hints for you some hidden spots too. For ‘just me & beach loungers’ vacationers, it’s probably more advisable to choose different holiday destinations or look in any case for hotel that might have a swimming pool area or easy access to the beach.
05. The Cuisine!
Where to start? With the popular Neapolitan cake Rum babà, or any tasty lemon ice cream made from the lemons of the region? Or rather with a Limoncello, the world famous, tasty lemon liqueur and / or one of those delicious dishes?
06. Souvenir shopaholics, attention please!
Then you should rather keep some space in your luggage for handmade sandals, linen dresses, coral accessories, lemon flavoured soaps and much more!
07. The relax effect
You wonder how to relax on holidays, if one gets advised to visit Amalfi, Positano, Ravello, Sorrento, Napoli etc. within a couple of days? (Yes, that’s what I am really trying to do in this very moment!) As some of those towns are quite small (such as Positano and Ravello), you can easily combine two or even three of them on a single day. Half a day Pompei and some seaside relaxation in the afternoon is easily possible!
For day trip lovers, Sorrento is definitely the best place to be based. There you will have all the connections that you need to discover the area (by ship boat, train, busses). Please note that there is no train connection to Positano, Amalfi or Ravello from Sorrento or any other more Northern town. This, however, is not an annoying problem at all, as the most beautiful way to discover the Amalfi coast and its artistically built houses, is to reach it on the seaway.
And if you still doubt how to relax with all those places to discover, then a spa day (or more) in one of the thermes of Ischia will be the very right thing for you!
So when I told the warmhearted waitress one day before my departure, how sad I was to leave this beautiful area, she jokingly advised me to get married to someone from the region. Well, even if this most likely won’t happen, there might be still a tempting ‘compromise’ for some engaged readers of you: Why not considering what many, many British bridal couples enjoy there in the summer season? – To celebrate the most beautiful day of their lives in this area of superlatives – with the person and the place they have fallen in love with! (ger)
More impressions of the trip: