Updated: Mar 23
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but it’s extra sweet during the summer. There is a postcard picture at every turn from the sensational coastlines of the Amalfi, to the rolling hills in Tuscany, to the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Dolomites. Italians are known for their food, art, culture and history; therefore, it’s no surprise they live ‘La Dolce Vita,’ meaning the sweet life. We were lucky enough to get a sweet taste.
I’ve been fortunate to explore Italy four times, but I have to say this last trip was one I’ll never forget. I don’t remember all the details of my past adventures in Rome, Capri and Florence; therefore, this blog post will focus on the trip my brother planned for our mom's 60th birthday.
Summers in Europe are what dreams are made of. For me, Summer in Italy is about rocky coves, the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, the sound of cicadas in the air and the warm nights. Our mom's birthday is June 1st - temperatutes in June are generally mild, versus the hotter summer months of July and August.
HOW TO GET THERE: If you’ve never been to Italy, I’d suggest starting or ending in Rome, but since my brother and I’ve been to Rome, we wanted to kick off summer on the Mediterranean Sea.
After 16 hours of traveling we landed in Naples, Italy. (San Francisco - Barcelona - Naples). We were picked up by a driver arranged through the hotel. It was an hour drive to Sorrento from the airport. I don’t recommend renting a car if you are traveling to the Amalfi - the roads are narrow and it is very difficult to park. To get to Sorrento from Naples, you could also use the Circumvesuviana trains. The Circumvesuviana station is just beneath the Naples Central Train Station (Napoli Centrale), and it takes a little over an hour to get to Sorrento too. You’ll need a NA5 Ticket – €4,50 (valid for 180 minutes), but honestly after 14 hours of flying we just wanted a car to get us there ASAP.
For long days of travel, I suggest packing a TRTL sleeping pillow, it's supper supportive compared to the standard travel pillow.
SORRENTO - POSITANO - AMALFI:
I wonder if locals feel like they are living in a movie? Having an Italian last name, I tried to blend in as a local, but as a tourist, I felt like the camera’s were rolling.
Sorrento is the official start of the northern border to the Amalfi Coast. Marc wanted us to stay in Sorrento because it is closer to Naples airport/train station and it’s also a quieter town compared to the bustling pebbled streets of Positano/Amalfi. However, most of our dinners and explorations involved Positano so if we did it again, we might stay in Positano or Praiano (situated right between Positano and Amalfi, which is a great location and not as busy).
I’ve stayed in Sorrento before at Capo La Gala, but this time we stayed at the quaint Hotel Belair. Opening our patio doors to the sprawling Mediterranean Sea was the perfect way to start each day. Our first morning we woke up before the sunrise and we were greeted by birds chirping and fishermen preparing their boats beow at the harbor.
There are so many beautiful hotels in Sorrento and Positano. It all depends on the budget.
We knew we wouldn’t be spending much time in the hotel so we wanted a reasonably priced hotel. Other options below . . .
Other Lodging Options:
VRBO - next time I would try an Airbnb or VRBO
I invite you to come on a journey with me as I take you through our itinerary. . . .
Arrival day, settle in, rest and enjoy Hotel Belair.
Official first full day.
After enjoying a complimentary breakfast (which was great - we had yummy pastries and warm dishes), we set off on our hike.
My brother decided we should see the Amalfi coast from above. I questioned it, but it was worth it for the VIEWS! Most tourists don’t hike while on holiday; they stick to the beach, but if you have an adventurous spirit - I suggest packing hiking shoes and exploring the Path of the Gods.
The Path of the Gods: (or Il Sentiero degli Dei in Italian), is a (2-4hrs trail) starting at Bomerano and ending in Nocelle where we took a city bus into the main town of Positano for lunch. It was an hour long taxi ride to the starting point. Taxi’s aren’t cheap - a trip from Sorrento to Positano or vice versa runs about $100 US. Piazza Paolo Capasse was the exact location in Bomerano where we started. Beginning in Bomerano means that the hike is downhill, including a steep set of stairs. There is little shade so make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, water and snacks and start early to avoid hiking in the heat of the day. We didn’t spend much time in Bomerano, but it’s a great location to hit the restroom and grab some pastries or sandwiches to eat along the trail. I packed a water bottle that I was able to fill along the trail too. I’m telling you the pictures don’t do it justice - we saw Amalfi from above, a sudo aerial view and it was HOT, but spectacular!
Postcards from Positano - a day to fully explore the iconic city.
It’s important to schedule reservations 2 - 3 months ahead of time at some of the luxury hotels you plan to visit for lunches or dinners.
Maestro’s magic. A terracotta tiled terrace with panoramic views and complimentary water taxi’s for those dining and staying at the villa. Decorated by maestro Zeffirelli himself and his team, each room presents a different face from the extraordinary cast of Villa Treville’s rich history. “The Duchess invited me to stay for lunch and let me explore… The place was a riot of Mediterranean vegetation, pines, flowers, trees, cacti. Through the foliage were dramatic glimpses of Positano, an opera set with dramatic mountains behind it..” Franco Zeffirelli
Spiaggia Grande - the famous beach is a quick water taxi from Villa Treville where you can sip on aperol spritz at the famous Franco’s Bar.
We ended the day visiting Le Sirenuse, La Sponda and dined at Aldo where we watched the sunset over Positano. "Le Sirenuse is a wonderful place from which to enjoy the simple pleasures of Positano and the spectacular Amalfi Coast. John Steinbeck, who visited in 1953, wrote 'Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.'"
The architecture, design, and stunning views are unmatched, but if I were to be honest, the service at Le Sirenuse (where La Sponda and Aldo's restuarants are located), leaves you wanting more.
There is no better way to see the Amalfi coast than by your own private boat. There are so many companies to choose from, but we loved ours because we could walk to the harbor from our hotel. We wanted a Sorrento boat company - we used MBS Blu Charter, they were responsive and helpful and the boat felt brand new. Our captain was a nice tour guide and provided us with complimentary drinks and champagne. We spent the whole day, 8 hours, touring the coast!
We stopped in Amalfi (I've never been to the actual town of Amalfi) it was adorable. We spent a little over an hour walking around, grabbed a lemon slush and visited the Amalfi Cathedral, a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo. The cathedral includes the adjoining 9th-century Basilica of the Crucifix. Leading from the basilica are steps into the Crypt of St. Andrew, where his relics can be found.
We continued our cruise and stopped in Positano where we grabbed a pizza for the boat ride. We made periodic stops to jump into the warm sea and took a nap in the sun as we traveled back to Sorrento’s dock. If you have more time or don’t care to see the city of Amalfi; I'd suggest a day trip to Capri.
Other Boat Companies:
* Most boat companies start out of Positano.
There are boat companies for private or group tours.
From hiking to boat trips, it was a wonderful first leg to our 2 week adventure. We were able to get a mix of activity and relaxtion, but for honeymooners or couples - you could stay an extra day for lounging at the beach or a cliffside pool.
We ended our chapter by the coast at the breathtaking Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano. As perfectly stated on their own website - “The San Pietro di Positano is more than a hotel. It is a journey within a journey, where memories are created and never forgotten. A haven of peace, immersed in nature, this elegant home harmonises old-world traditions of hospitality with contemporary, understated luxury. Escape to this small slice of paradise suspended between the sea and sky.”
After eating so much pizza throughout the trip, looking back - we had the best pizza at Zass, at Il San Pietro di Positano. In Italy the food is remarkable, it's so fresh and so rich with flavors. You will taste what it truly means to have farm to table dining. Most of the products used come from the hotel's own organic vegetable gardens or local growers and suppliers. I've never had sweeter cherries, watermelon or kiwis in my life. That night we toasted to our trip, said goodbye to the Amalfi coast and got ready for our train ride to Tuscany.
I have to say, travel can often break down your ego and make you feel like you have so much to learn. Every country I travel to I’m left craving more time and wanting more experiences. Marc nailed it with the planning and if the Amalfi was any indication of what the rest of the trip was going to be like - we were in for an epic journey!
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
* All Pictures taken by Marc Scarioni