I had been living in Italy for three months when my mum decided to come and visit. Beautiful scenery, plenty of coffee and hours of exploring made for the perfect six day trip to one of most famous parts of Italy.
Reviews of Naples were varied from my friends and students whilst I was living in Italy. It was either loved and adored or detested, no in between. When my mum and I first arrived, I have to admit I wasn’t impressed. The roads were littered, graffiti covered nearly every wall, and online reviews had warned that thieves roamed rampant on the underground. Our hotel was located in such an area, but we decided to remain optimistic, first impressions aren’t always correct right?
Our first day trip was Sorrento, a place which we both quickly fell in love with. It was also super easy to get there. From Garibaldi Metro (in the central station of Naples) you can purchase tickets (I think we paid roughly 7.50 euros each for return tickets) and the journey takes roughly an hour. Be cautious though, during touristy seasons these trains get extremely stuffy and people easily fall victim to pick pocketers. I had the unpleasant experience of witnessing a man going around putting his hands into peoples pockets as they were waiting to depart the train, but unfortunately he left with the crowd before we could alert anyone.
I am a firm believer in being aware of my surroundings, regardless of which city I’m in, so I wouldn’t be worried about thieves as long as you keep an eye on your belongings and don’t flash all your goods to a train full of people…but anyway, moving on, Sorrento was so beautiful!! Full of winding, narrow lanes, stalls selling fresh fruit and juice, balconies hanging over each other, it was such a pleasure just to wander around. There was a relaxed ambiance to the place, maybe having come from the rush of Naples, this small town had a charming sleepiness to it which made it clear why so many people choose to holiday there rather than in the city. Following the path down we made our way to beautiful parks and clifftops overlooking the waterfront. Even though it was April, flowers lined the way and the trees were starting bloom. Overlooking the water, the sun shimmered off the surface, and the pastel coloured houses were warming to the eye. It was too cold to swim, so we walked along and checked out the shops, stopping to have coffee and lunch along the way. During my six months in Italy I visited Sorrento twice, and I would love to go back again. It’s a definite must if you are ever in the area as the whole Amalfi coast is just gorgeous!
Our next day trip was Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii was especially interesting as the history behind the ancient town incredible, and to be able to see it perfectly preserved was unforgettable. We spent the morning exploring the cobbled streets, imagining the lives of the people who lived there and how their society worked. Seeing the bodies of people and dogs preserved in glass containers was quite unnerving but fascinating none the less. We had a tour guide, which was really beneficial in learning more about the area. I wish we could have spent longer, but we wanted to make sure we had time to spend at Mount Vesuvius. Being brutally honest, I didn’t enjoy Vesuvius that much at all, but primarily because it felt like the North Pole at the top! I guess we should have realised ourselves that our thin jackets wouldn’t be enough but the whole time I was at the top I thought I was going to be blown off or catch frost bite. However, had it been better weather conditions, I can appreciate it’s probably a lovely walk to the top (as long as you don’t get blown away!). The hot chocolate and view from the top did make up for some of the shivering though, but unfortunately my pictures didn’t come out great as it was quite a grey day.
This leads me on to the last day trip of the holiday – Capri Island. A tasteful mix of piazzas, designer shops and beautiful coastlines, this island is well known for its celebrity visitors. My main memory of Capri was the smell of lemons. Famous for its perfumes, the shops often put samples outside for passerby’s to smell, and as you walk through the beautiful, curving streets, the pleasant aroma of flowers, lavender and lemon waft by leaving you feeling relaxed and fresh.
There are two parts to Capri Island; Capri Town and Anacapri. We were lucky enough to visit both, even though we only had a couple of hours on the Island due to restricted ferry times as we weren’t fully in summer season. Capri Town had loads of fancy shops, selling the most exquisite and expensive jewellery, shoes and bags. It’s particularly relaxing to have some gelato here and watch the water for jelly fish. Anacapri is higher up on the island, and was probably my favourite part of the whole day. We took a chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro, a mountain on the island which offers breathtaking views of the sea and ancient rocks surrounding Capri. The chairlift journey itself was lovely, as we had a full view of the sea and townside, alongside a grassy embankment beneath us filled with flowers and the odd little house. It was truly idyllic. At the top you can find the normal bustle of tourists taking selfies, and to be honest I didn’t blame them. It was so picturesque that one couldn’t help but fish out the selfie stick (which I was mortified to see when my mum first showed it to me, but later realised how handy it was).
There’s much more to be done on the island than we had the chance to see, for example the Blue Grotto, or Punta Carena Lighthouse. I would recommend spending a whole day there as you can really take in the atmosphere when you aren’t rushing around. To end the day, we decided to stop for a hot chocolate. Everything on the island is extremely expensive, but we reasoned a hot drink shouldn’t break the bank. It turned out to cost 11 euros each! And it wasn’t the type of hot chocolate we were expecting, it was literally melted chocolate in a cup. I had to eat it with a spoon.
So, back in Naples, we spent most our days in the busy shopping area of Via Toledi, and admiring the grand architecture of the Teatro Di San Carlo and Castel Nuovo. Naples is famous for its pizza, and seafood, so we took full advantage of this and made sure to consume enough to last a lifetime. Going back to my beginning statement, about first impressions, I have to admit that Naples did provide for a beautiful holiday. Although the city itself wasn’t as charming as I’d hoped, it still had the typical Italian elegance to it, through its surrounding coast and islands, food and architecture.