Sunday, October 20, 2013

Italy days 1 and 2: Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

Hello there friends, I'm doing my best to fideliser my audience by posting irregularly and infrequently. I'm a bit worn out with the new job and the commute and everything, but I have lots of wonderful memories from my trip to Sorrento with my parents back in September (seems so long ago) that I have to get around to sharing with you. (I've actually powered through all my Italy blog posts now, so stay tuned over the next week or so!)

We sort of lucked in to deciding on Sorrento as our holiday destination. Dad wanted Norway again, but while it's a beautiful country, we went there last year and it only seemed fair to go to Italy, since Mum's been wanting to go for a long time. There are so many great places to see in Italy though, and I first suggested traipsing around the Tuscan countryside. Dad suggested Naples, since he's keen on Roman history and so on, but there were doubts about the relaxing qualities of the city. A quick google later, and I lucked into the information that Sorrento seemed to be a pretty popular tourist destination - close to Naples and Pompeii, near the famous Amalfi Coast, but quite small and relaxed in itself. Perfect!


I did my due diligence before our trip, picking out suggested sightseeing destinations for each day, but I didn't really get into the nitty-gritty of pictures or whatever, so once we got off the motorway from Naples and started driving around the bay, the beautiful views took my breath away. Coming from a few days in the north of England, where it seemed autumn had already set in, the wall-to-wall sunshine and hot (sometimes TOO hot) temperatures also came as a welcome surprise.

Our first day (or afternoon) was mostly spent settling in to the hotel (with bath, hallelujah) and strolling around Sorrento taking in the sights. There's basically the old town centre, which is made up of narrow alleys, restaurants and souvenir shops, the port area, with some lovely views from the cliffs above, and then some less touristy areas round about. Not a huge amount to see, but it was great as a base to relax, eat and drink limoncello in. On the second night, we found a lovely restaurant a little bit off the beaten path, which featured good food, friendly staff who didn't give the impression they were just milking the tourists for all they were worth, a cute little stray cat who could be coaxed into coming to eat scraps (I think he had half of my Dad's shrimp), and free limoncellos as a digestif. I think we ended up going back three times! Most days, we did one activity which took a few hours in the middle of the day, and the rest of the time was spent chilling out and enjoying being on holiday.

Me in Sorrento, with Vesuvius in the background

A shop in Sorrento selling lemon products

There was a Dali exhibition on when we were there, with sculptures scattered through the town

On the second day, we took a bus from the train station for a drive along the Amalfi Coast. It was a bit confusing, since our bus stopped in Positano, and then the next buses coming through were travelling straight through from Sorrento, so they were packed with people. However, we managed to get on another one going all the way to Amalfi, so we got to see the beautiful scenery from the bus and then just decided to see what Amalfi had to offer.

It was another pleasant small town, with the same sorts of things as Sorrento - restaurants, shops selling limoncello, etc. The big highlight was the cathedral in the centre of town. You had to pay a small fee to get in, but I'm really glad we did. Not only was the architecture beautiful, but it was full of historical relics (literally) and precious objects. We kept seeing a representation of a man being crucified in an X shape, and were wondering why. Dad speculated that it was St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland: you can see the St. Andrew's cross on the Scottish flag (an X shape). We couldn't figure out why St. Andrew should be so important in this cathedral until we talked to one of the staff, who told us that St. Andrew's relics were supposedly brought to Amalfi at the time of the crusades. If you go down to the crypt, you can see the altar where he is buried.

After the cathedral, lunch and a spot of limoncello tasting and purchasing, we hopped back on the bus home. Despite falling asleep a little bit on the ride (it was hot!), I decided to get out at Positano just to see a little bit more of what the Amalfi Coast had to offer, while Mum and Dad went back to Sorrento. I just wandered around, had a gelato, took some photos and went home pretty much, but it was still nice to see another town.

Views on the Amalfi Coast drive





I think this is Amalfi...

...and this is Positano, but hard to say!

Me and Dad in Amalfi

Positano

In front of the Amalfi cathedral

In the cathedral basilica, which date back to the 9th century

Inside the cathedral proper, which had a quite unusual boxy shape

A beautiful chapel in the cathedral



Dad and me in the cathedral. A rare "collectors' edition" photo of me wearing glasses!

9 comments:

  1. Limoncello! Ahhhh, good memories.

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    1. Limoncello -- it's like summertime in a bottle!

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    2. Yes, I have my bottle in my freezer, but I don't know if it'll be quite the same!

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  2. So many amazing places to see! I've only been to Rome but I'm dying to get to the Amalfi Coast. It looks like it's bursting with color :)

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    1. Yes, I seem to end up going back to Italy a lot without really planning to, it's got so much to offer. This trip was very different from others I've done in northern Italy, since it was more about relaxing and scenery, whereas in other cities it's been more art and museums. And always the food ;)

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  3. Thank you, Gwan, for posting these photos! I LOVE the Amalfi Coast and it has been a couple of years since we've been there. Sigh. Had I known that you were going to Amalfi, I would have recommended that you go to a restaurant hidden in a back alley that serves the best pizza in the world. It's the pizza by which I judge all others. Norway's a beautiful country but Italy would have won my vote, too!

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    1. You're welcome, lots more to come from the region! We had some good pizza, but that's a shame we didn't try yours! I bet there is a ton more to see on the Amalfi Coast, we only did a couple of highlights really. I'd love to go some time it's not so hot and walk in between a couple of the towns.

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  4. Yay!! You're back!!!! And chock full o'Italy pics! First off, you look gorgeous in these shots. That dress really looks quite lovely on you! Polka dots suit you.

    Amalfi is just breathtaking. Wow. I can't wait to see it one day myself!

    Sounds like you had a great time with your family....and lots of limoncello. Excellent. ; )

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    1. Thanks! It came originally with a bright red belt, which I loved, but I went to wear it one day and it had gotten mysteriously stretched out :( I suspect a kitty might have used it for pouncing practice... It really needs belting though, cos otherwise it hangs open at the front a bit too much even by my standards.

      Yes, it was super pretty. Look at that deep blue sea, *sigh*

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