From Rome, we took a train to Naples and a car to the Amalfi Coast. Our day started off “exciting” when we overslept and missed our train. Good thing trains in Italy are super easy and run so frequently. In no time we were off to Naples.
From Naples, we stopped in Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a tour of the ruins. Pompeii was buried under 20 feet of volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. As a result, the city was almost perfectly preserved and has provided an incredible amount of information on ancient Roman civilization. The city wasn’t discovered until the 18th century. It took over 200 years to excavate and still is only 3/4 excavated.
Pompeii is huge and gives you a good idea of how life was lived. There were so many aspects of the town, like stores, that felt almost contemporary. It was amazing and sad to see the outlines of human bodies, who were trapped by the sudden eruption. Mount Vesuvius is still active—it is the only volcano in Europe to have erupted in the last hundred years and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.
From Pompeii, we continued on to the Amalfi Coast. On the way, our driver stopped at a cute little lemon stand on the side of the road to get us Granita, a refreshing lemon ice treat. The Amalfi Coast is also a UNESCO site, describing it as one grand balcony suspended between the sea and the mountains. There are vineyards and lemons groves everywhere! The winding roads take you high through the cliffs and Italian drivers are nuts—let's just say not an ideal situation for someone afraid of heights (Brendan). We finally made it to Ravello, a small village on top of a hill with panoramic views of the coast. We stayed at the most incredible hotel, Palazzo Avino, and could not have been more excited to be there.
We spent our first day exploring the tiny town of Ravello. We stopped at a tiny sandwich spot and had insanely good paninis while walking around town. The village is small and charming, with a few restaurants and shopped. We also checked out Villa Cimbrone—a hotel with gardens overlooking the coast. The views were spectacular!
That night we had dinner at Cumpa Cocino. The cook is a local celebrity, known and loved by anyone who visits Ravello. She loved Brendan and we were getting a kick out of her hugging and speaking to him in Italian.
The next day, we took the ferry from the town of Amalfi to Capri. Seeing the coast by boat was the best way to appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of the landscape and colorful coastal towns.
After our hour ferry ride to Capri, we quickly transferred to a smaller boat for a tour of the island and of the famous Grotta Azzurra. Pulling up to the Blue Grotto, there was a crowd of 20 other big boats and a handful of row boats. The row boats go in groups to the bigger boats, pick up passengers in groups of 4, take them to the “toll boat” to pay the entrance fee and guide them to a tiny opening of the cave. The opening of the Blue Grotto cave is so small everyone literally has to lie down in the row boat to get through.
Brendan said he started asking questions too late and made us all laugh by saying MK was “keyholing” us again (like the keyhole in Rome). After 45 minuets of waiting, all four of us finally climbed into a tiny row boat to go to the Blue Grotto.
It was a hilarious experience- we were all screaming as we laid down in a boat and somehow made our way through the opening of the grotto. The bottom of the cave is covered in perfectly white sand, which makes the water glisten blue. Our captain started singing in Italian and we rowed around the grotto for a few minutes. After our hilarious grotto experience, we continued on the tour of Capri and Anacapri. After the boat tour, we took a taxi up to the town on top of the hill for lunch and more granita! We ended our day in Capri with a chairlift ride to the top of Anacapri. It was so cool to see so many different beautiful views of Capri!
On our ferry ride back, we got off at Positano to walk around and have sunset drinks at Le Sirenuse. We had the most picturesque view of Positano.
We also stopped at San Pietro, a hotel MK’s grandparents, Jim and Barbara Baisley, stayed when they were visiting their daughter Barbara, who had been studying abroad in Rome. San Pietro is built into a cliff and from the outside it does not look like anything special. Mama famously said to DJ, “Well Jim, you’ve done it again. Where did you find this dump!” She quickly changed her mind when they walked down the winding stairs to see the gorgeous pool and tennis court!
We spent our last full day in the Amalfi Coast doing a wine tasting/tour and Mozarrella making class. Our tour guide, Danielle, was a hilarious Italian guy who had us laughing all day. His friends, Luigi the wine maker and Biagio the cheese maker, opened their restaurant and vineyard just for us. Making mozzarella was so much fun! We had great wine, incredible food, and were laughing all day at our new Italian friends.
The Amalfi Coast was breathtaking! We absolutely loved staying in Ravello. Next time we will come a little later in the season (May/June) and might consider spending a few nights in Capri and Positano in addition to Ravello!