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Jun
16

Travel Diaries | Amalfi Coast, Italy

I’m still battling the post-vacation blues, but what better way to remember the amazing adventure that was Italy than to start my blog post series on it? If you were following along with my Instagram stories, you know I recently got back from an eleven-day trip to the land of pasta, pizza, and gelato. It was my first “group travel” experience (which I’ll get into more later in a separate post), but the group wasn’t set to meet until Monday in Rome, so I decided to leave Chicago after work the Friday before and spend a few days alone exploring the Amalfi Coast! I think I can go on for an entire post about traveling alone (which I think I’ll do), so I’ll spend the majority of this post detailing what to do and how to make the best out of two full days in the Amalfi Coast.

The first thing you have to consider is which town you’d like to stay in. The Amalfi Coast is made up of several coastal towns – Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Minori, Atrani, Maiori, Praiano, Cetara, Furore, Erchie – and that’s not even the full list. I, personally, chose to stay in Positano because just about every travel blog I read before going suggested it and I couldn’t have been happier. Without having been to the others, I can’t compare them, but I can say – you won’t be disappointed if you choose to stay in Positano. It’s strikingly beautiful and there’s plenty to do!

One very important part of the trip that I overlooked for far too long is how to get to the Amalfi Coast – it’s not easy! It depends on where you’re coming from, but I came from the US, so I flew into Naples and then hired a driver for a private transport to my hotel in Positano. This was pretty costly, but there were a few reasons I opted for this route: I landed in Naples around 9pm, so I didn’t want to try to figure out public transportation at that time, and check-in at my hotel ended at 11pm, so I needed to get there ASAP. If you’re flying in a bit earlier, you can take a train from Naples to Sorrento, and then take the SITA bus from Sorrento to Positano (or a different bus if you’re staying in a different town). If you’re coming from anywhere else in Italy or Europe, taking a train to Sorrento is probably the easiest/most affordable way to get to the Amalfi Coast, and then you can take a ferry or a bus to which ever town you’ve decided on.

Day 1: Exploring

The night I actually arrived in Positano, I really only had time to get a gelato (priorities), and then go to bed, so I’m counting “Day one” as the very next day when I could actually get to exploring!

If you’re coming from the US like I was, you might wake up ridiculously early (thanks, jet lag). I just embraced it and woke up at 3am. I waited until the sun came up and then took to walking through the Positano streets which was so fun because it was before any day-trippers got to town and the only people out and about were store/restaurant owners getting set up for the day. This was the part that I was able to perfect my pronunciation of “buongiorno” because just about everyone stopped to greet me on that walk. I highly recommend getting up and experiencing the welcoming, warm nature of these people before they get bombarded by day trip tourists.

Eventually, I headed back to my hotel for a breakfast of cold cuts, hard boiled eggs, a croissant, and of course, espresso. One thing I noticed right away is that “breakfast” as American’s know it is just that – American. Italians don’t do the whole scrambled eggs, bacon, etc. for breakfast which was disappointing at first, but it’s hard to be sad for too long with a croissant in your hand.

The rest of the day I spent wandering around the shops, the beaches, and I saw just about every street within Positano. You can literally spend a whole day doing this, but if you’re interested in a little more adventure, I’d suggest renting a Vespa and cruising around the other Amalfi Coast towns. I had planned to do this, but it rained in the morning and the roads were somewhat slick and I didn’t want to risk my life on those roads (they are terrifyingly windy). My plan was to visit Ravello and Amalfi as those seemed to be the most-blogged-about towns after Positano. However, I ended up getting a pair of leather sandals made at a store called Nana and perused the other local shops for sunglasses, adorable clothes, lemoncello, ceramics, etc.

As lunch time (1-2pm there) approached, I stopped into Seraceno D’Oro for margharita pizza, wine, and lemon sorbetto (in a frozen lemon!). That’s another thing about the Amalfi Coast – lemons everywhere. I love lemon and was in total food Heaven! I highly recommend sitting outside at this restaurant (and really every restaurant in Positano) because it’s just so dang pretty everywhere and there’s never a bad view. The only thing to get used to is that the street will be close enough that you can reach out and touch cars as they pass – although, don’t actually do this.

Let’s keep on this food theme. For dinner this first night (8-9pm), I decided on Da Vincenzo which is the oldest restaurant in Positano and just as amazing as reviews said it would be. I got buffalo mozzarella as an appetizer (no, not buffalo flavored, but made from the milk of buffalos) which I’m told is only available in this part of Italy. For my main dish, I got my first seafood of the trip – grilled octopus, and of course, white wine.

For almost every meal in Positano, I got an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert, and I ate it all. I walked so much throughout the day that I never got uncomfortably full.

After dinner, the sun was starting to go down, and I had read about the amazing cocktails and views at Hotel Poseidon, so I decided to walk back over to that side of town. I sat outside on the terrace for a bit and took in Positano views at night which are incredible, but I probably wouldn’t go back here. The one drink I got was pretty good, but it was 25 euros and the staff were quite inattentive. I’m assuming the lack of service was because I was alone. I’m planning to write a whole separate post about the rewarding parts and the struggles of traveling alone, so stay tuned if you’re interested. By the time I left Hotel Poseidon, I realized I’d been awake since 3am, so I went back to my hotel and knocked out within minutes.

Day Two: Boat Tour to Capri

Even if you only have two days, I highly recommend taking a day to explore Capri! I started out my Capri day by getting breakfast (quiche and a cappuccino) at a local market called Latteria and then hopped on a SITA bus to Sorrento where the boat was to take off. If you can, I’d recommend trying to find a tour that will pick you up in Positano because going to and from Sorrento is kind of a hassle and a time-suck, but it was a beautiful bus ride. Being a week day, there were kids going to school on the same bus I was on which gave me one of those realization feelings when you’re on vacation and you remember that people actually live, work, and go to school where you’re visiting. If you end up deciding to take the bus to Sorrento to board your vessel, the bus tickets can be bought over the counter at any of the tobacco shops around town – just be sure to specify the SITA bus.

Right before I left for this trip, I discovered Air BnB’s Experiences and ended up booking a few because they looked so fun! This is where I booked the boat tour and while it was fun, it certainly isn’t what was advertised. It was advertised as a luxury yacht tour (with a picture of an actual yacht), with an aperitivo, drinks, lemoncello, but it ended up being an old fishing charter with some beers and a sandwich which would have been totally fine if it was advertised that way! I think the rule of thumb here is that unless you’re paying $500-$600, it won’t exactly be “luxury.”

As anticlimactic as the “luxury yacht tour” was, it was really fun simply because I got to meet other people! I met honeymooners from Brazil and two other girls from the UK who I took to exploring Capri with. We, unfortunately didn’t have much time on the island after seeing everything there is to see from the boat (Faraglioni Rocks, the Blue and White Grottos, etc.), but we did stop to have a pastry and an espresso in Capri’s famous piazzetta. After that, it actually started pouring! I mean thunder, lightning, enough to stop the ferries that were going in and out. At that point, I decided I didn’t want to deal with going all the way back to Sorrento and then taking the hour bus ride back to Positano, so I just waved goodbye to my new friends, hopped on the next ferry to Positano, and set sail. When we arrived at the dock, I was actually very wet, very tired, and very cranky, so I decided the best thing to do would be to take a nap.

I woke up just in time for dinner and thought instead of researching places online which I’d usually do, I’d walk around for my last dinner here and see what caught my eye. I left my hotel and chose a different path than I had taken before and (after many, many, MANY stairs), it lead me to a beach I knew nothing about! It was a little chilly out, so there weren’t any beach goers around, but I walked along the water when someone called to me and asked if I wanted to get a drink in their beach restaurant.

I told them I was actually looking for dinner and they recommended Lo Guarracino which was a short walk back up all those stairs I just went down. I took their word for it and…WOW I was glad I did. I got the marinated anchovies and then seafood pasta and they were so delicious!

After typing all of this out, I realize a lot of the time in Positano, I “walked around.” I’m never that person! I always have something I want to be doing, but the sheer beauty that is Positano somehow transformed that way of thinking. I, for once, wasn’t worried about doing and seeing everything in the place I’m in for fear that I’ll never be back. I like to think this is because from the second I looked up and saw all those iconic pastel buildings, the street cafes, and friendly faces, I knew I’d be back. I knew I’d have more time.

The next day was a travel day to Rome, so I woke up early, got breakfast from Latteria again, packed my bags, and made my way to Stazione di Napoli. Keep an eye out for a blog post about that!

Thanks for reading!

Sarah

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