Last week I spent 5 blissful days visiting the Amalfi Coast and Southern Italy with my Mum and sister. Italy is one of my all time favourite places and it is somewhere I have visited numerous times! However, this was my first time exploring this area, so I thought I would share a bit about what we did and where we would revisit!
Ravello is a small hillside town on the Amalfi coast and is definitely worth a visit. Surrounded by breathtaking views of the ocean and lush green hills, this town is filled with cobbled and winding streets, family run shops and some beautiful public gardens.
Getting There: I flew into Naples before taking a taxi directly to the small hillside town. You can take a train if you want to cut down on your costs but as Ravello is so isolated, you will still have to get a taxi for part of the journey. The taxi ride was beautiful in itself and even though I was absolutely exhausted from a VERY early flight, I still was able to appreciate the breath taking views through bleary eyes!
What To Do
I wouldn’t advise staying in Ravello for more than one night. We stayed for two but it was just a little too long. Whilst it is a stunning place, it is a very small town and you can easily cover it in a day.
Gardens: There are several gardens you can visit whilst in Ravello but I would say the one to see is Giardini Cimbrone. This garden is absolutely breath taking and has a stunning ‘Infinity Terrace’ which boasts incredible views. There is also Giardini Rufulo but personally, I feel this pales in comparison to Cimbrone. If you have to pick a garden, definitely choose the latter!
Duomo: The duomo (cathedral) looks over the main square in Ravello and is worth a visit. There are also some beautiful little churches dotted throughout which you can pop in to and view.
Shopping: Pottering round the little shops is always a pleasant thing to do when on holiday! In Ravello you can find a lot of hand painted pottery, cashmere and cotton, and also a famous cameo shop (we did look at the beautiful jewellery in this shop but didn’t buy anything, our conscience felt a little conflicted by the fact they use coral to produce majority of their products!)
Food and Drink: There are a selection of little cafes and restaurants throughout Ravello. The majority will serve you a tasty coffee / hot chocolate and a panini. However, our favourite place to eat was a small Wine Bar called Enotavola, found down a street just off the main square. Here you will find traditional and tasty Italian food and a great selection of wine, all for a reasonable price.
If you are also looking for a good view and delicious Aperol Spritz (or the Ravello version of an Aperol Spritz, then visit Da Salvatore. This has a balcony overlooking the ocean, plays funky music and has an all round good vibe. Plus their version of an Aperol is absolutely delicious.
I have wanted to visit Pompeii for years now and it is definitely one I am thrilled to have ticked off the bucket list! We took a taxi from Ravello, directly to Pompeii and stored our luggage at the site to save us carrying it around with us. We arrived relatively early and I would recommend anyone planning to go does the same, the influx of tourist by midday is quite extraordinary!
We opted not to get a tour guide as they provide free and very informative guide books with a map at the information point, which suggest possible routes you can take depending on how long you want to walk around for (Pompeii is very big!) All of us had a rough idea of the things we wanted to see and we scanned the map for any other areas that sounded interesting.
Pompeii is well worth the visit, even if you aren’t a huge history nerd! It is just incredible to see a place with so much historic reference and impact. The Basilica and forum are the main areas to see but otherwise, I recommend just wandering through the streets and exploring at your own pace. Make sure to take a hat and water though as there is not much shelter!
Sorrento was by far my most favourite place. After quiet Ravello it felt so vibrant and alive. There is a great selection of restaurants and shops. You do day trips or tours via ferry, bus or trains to a variety of places such as Capri, Positano and the Amalfi Coast. I would definitely go back in a heart beat.
Getting There: From Pompeii we got a train to Sorrento. The train is definitely the cheapest and easiest option to go with if you are visiting from Sorrento. Pompeii is only a 30 minute train ride and the station is just outside the site entrance. You can also get an express train between the two which is around 20 minutes in total – either way, it is super easy.
Hotels: There are a range of hotel options to choose from in Sorrento, from budget to high end. We stayed in the stunning Grande Hotel Royale as a end of trip treat and it was absolutely beautiful. They are only a 5 minute walk from the centre and have a gorgeous terrace overlooking Vesuvius – also a perfect place for evening cocktails.
What To Do
Food and Drink: Sorrento has numerous Michelin starred restaurants to choose from and whilst we didn’t try any of these out it just highlights the wealth and good food within this city! There are two restaurants we did try however, that I would definitely recommend!
L’Antica Trattoria is a stunning restaurant and well worth the price. Serving Italian flavours in a modern way, it is a lovely change if you fancy a something a little lighter for the stomach! I would recommend booking as it is incredibly popular and by doing so you guarantee yourself a spot in the stunning vine covered terrace.
Donna Sofia is found up some very nondescript and winding streets in Sorrento. The restaurant does offer a free taxi service to and from Donna Sofia, to save you the hassle of trying to find it! The food was excellent traditional Italian food, filled with tasty antipasti and pasta, as well as a lot of photos of actress, Sofia Lofen, who the restaurant is named after.
Raki, is the place to go if you want some proper Italian gelato! No preservatives or additives this ice cream is the real deal and utterly delicious. You can find it on the popular tourist shopping street Via S. Via S. Cesareo.
Shopping: If you want to buy anything involving lemons then Via S. Cesareo is the place to go! Here you will find limoncello, lemon plates, lemon chocolate, lemon soap – all made from the famous Amalfi Coast lemons. You can also find good quality and reasonably priced leather goods, and linen and cotton clothing!
Positano is a stunning cliffside town right next to the sea and well worth a visit. Filled with boutique shops and winding cobbled streets it is perfect for a day trip. Lose yourself in the streets and stop at ay of the local bars and restaurants for coffee and fresh seafood.
Getting There: We took the ferry from Sorrento as we wanted to see the coastline from ocean. The ferry only takes 30 minutes and is a nice change from the hair-raising roads! You can however, opt for bus or taxi but do be warned that the bus ride is not for the faint hearted and you will find yourself speeding down some very narrow and winding roads!
I absolutely loved my travels around these southern part of Italy and cannot wait to return! Let me know if you have any must-see places or top tips in the comments below!