Thursday, 18 October 2018

AN ITALIAN ROAD TRIP TO REMEMBER


Positano Amalfi Coast


Italy. Oh Italy, you became my favourite place back in 2008 when I first visited you and ten years you welcomed me gracefully for my favourite trip ever.

2008 I fell in love with Italy. The food, the culture and the people had me mesmerised. I went with my dance group and we toured Cortona, Florence and Pisa. Over the years I visited other areas and fell more and more in Love with the country.

Over the last few years there was one trip that I couldn't stop thinking about taking. I wanted to do a road trip from Naples through Pompei and down to the Amalfi coast. The only problem was I had to convince someone to come on this trip with me. Luckily, my boyfriend was up for it so we started planning it back in June.


NAPLES

Our first stop would be Naples. We would spend two nights here before heading to our next stop. I wanted to visit the Naples as I knew it was famous for one thing I particularly loved. Pizza. Naples being the birthplace of my favourite food, I knew I had to stop off there and visit the best Pizzaria in town. L'Antica Pizzaria da Michelle, which was also featured in the 2006 book and movie Eat Pray Love (2010).


I've had a lot of great pizza in my life, in Milan, Rome and even my first night in Naples, but the pizza at L'Antica is out of this world. Named the best pizza in the world, there is always a queue to get in. Luckily, all our first attempts to go here failed as it's closed on a Sunday, Monday we were far too tired so I bargained with my boyfriend and said let's skip breakfast on Tuesday and head straight there as they open at 11 for an early lunch and then we'll make our way to our next hotel in Salerno.

Arriving just before 12pm we grabbed a ticket and was told the wait would be 20-30 minutes. By the time we left, people were being told that the wait would be over and hour and forty minutes. I highly recommend coming early for lunch if you're not prepared to wait that long.

The pizza here was one of my favourite things in Naples. We both went for a classic margarita as they only serve two types of pizza; margarita or marinara. I don't want this whole post to be about pizza, but honestly, if you're ever in the area I highly recommend visiting here.


HISTORICAL LANDMARKS

There’s so much history in Italy. Wherever you visit you will always find beautiful architecture and historical landmarks. Near Naples is Vesuvius, an active volcano that destroyed nearby towns back in 79AD. I really wanted to visit Pompei and Herculaneum. Growing up and learning about ancient Italy was something that I loved. I’ve always loved history and in year 7&8 I learnt Latin. I know extremely random, and totally not me, and although I wasn’t very good at the subject, I thoroughly enjoyed it and always dreamed of visiting Pompei. And fourteen years later I made that dream a reality.


Our first stop was mount Vesuvius. We wanted to hike to the top and see the crater. When climbing it was quite a cloudy day and we didn’t manage to see too much as it wasn’t very clear. However on our way down the clouds started to clear and we managed to get a better view. We really enjoyed this climb as it wasn’t too difficult and the paths are clearly marked.


After Vesuvius, we took a short ride over to Pompei to explore the ruins. If I’m honest, Pompei was a wonderful experience, but, it’s a little overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.

It’s incredible to see how much of it is still in tact as the ashes created a layer of protection, but that said. There is so much of it. We kept walking and walking and it all started to merge and look the same. After heading back to the hotel we sat down and ended up watching a few good documentaries about the town, which gave us a lot more information than actually being there. We didn’t have enough time to visit Herculaneum but I’ve heard it’s a lot smaller and would probably be better to visit over Pompei.


SALERNO

Being that the first few days were touristic and extremely busy, I thought it would be best to stop off in the mountains for the next few days to relax. We booked a small boutique hotel up in the mountains a 15 minutes drive from the city of Salerno.

Salerno is a lot smaller than Naples, but I still recommend coming to visit here on your drive down to Amalfi. It’s another beautiful coastal city that’s vibrant, full of delicious food and beautiful views.


Here we found a wonderful gelateria called Punto Freddo. We loved it here so much that we went three times in less than 24 hours. Definitely try the lemon and the pineapple gelato. Prices are extremely cheap too, it worked out to be around 1 euro a scoop. In London, ice cream that good would cost 2/3 pounds a scoop.


AMALFI

Our final stop, the Amalfi coast. I’ve been dreaming of visiting here for the last four years as I haven’t stopped seeing it on Instagram. Amalfi is possibly the most romantic place I’ve been to so far and I’m so happy I got to go here with my boyfriend. I can’t imagine have come here with anyone else.



We stayed in the beautiful Hotel Santa Caterina (full review to follow) which meant we were only an hour drive away from visiting Positano; another dream destination of mine. Upon arrival to Amalfi we decided to spend the day at the hotel because it was absolutely incredible and driving from Salerno was around an hour and half so we wanted to stretch our legs out a little.


The next day we drove down to Positano to visit the beaches and walk around the town. We found a parking garage as close as we could however if you can find roadside parking do, as the car parks are quite expensive.





Positano is absolutely breath taking. We took in the views in total silence, as it was incredible.  If you want to see authentic Italy, look up and take in the views. The buildings and architecture is insane. It’s something you have to see for yourself to understand just how beautiful it really is.


The only thing about Positano was that prices were unnecessarily expensive. The car parks, the toilets and the clothing shops, everything was a tourist trap. Dresses that would normally be between 20-50 euros were over 200 euros. So be prepared that this will be your most expensive stop on the trip in comparison to the other towns.


DRIVING IN ITALY

When I initially suggested hiring a car everyone told me not to. My boyfriend himself was a little hesitant, as he had heard from friends who have driven in Italy before that they ‘drive like crazy’ out there. And the reality is, they do, you have to be extremely alert while driving. Personally I chose not to drive out there and just be in charge of navigation.

While driving in Italy is completely different to the UK, it is still doable. We rented a car from the airport and used Google maps to get us around. In the streets of Naples there are so many cars, every car and moped has the right of way so you have to be extremely vigilant while driving, not only watching the roads, but watching what every other car is doing too.

Heading up and down the mountains weren’t too bad to be honest. Although the roads are narrow, drivers become automatically more careful beacause of this. We were extremely lucky in the fact that we decided to head from Amalfi to Positano at times that weren’t too busy. Most tours and buses head out early in the morning so skip the morning rush and head out your hotel around 11am.  Also head back way before these buses are on their way back.

Renting a car gave us so much freedom, we were able to go and travel to the places that we wanted to without wasting time waiting for buses and taxis. For us it made the whole hotel hopping so much easier too. Just make sure you purchase the extra cover while booking the car and make sure that your hotels have their own private car parks for over night parking.


LUGGAGE

For my trip to Italy I opted to use my Samsonite Red Cosmolite in medium. I decided to go for a medium suitcase as I knew we would be travelling around quite a bit and didn't want to have to lug around a huge suitcase like I normally do. 

The cosmolite is super lightweight in comparison to other hard shell cases. This meant that I wouldn't struggle with luggage allowance like I normally do and was able to add more of the heavier items I usually end up leaving back home.

In terms of space, It looked a lot smaller to what I'm used to but I still managed to fit so many different outfits and extra bits in the suitcase, plus more because it was so light weight.

I feel like I have gone really in depth on this trip because it really was one that I spent a lot of time planning and researching. Having experienced it all first hand, I can tell you that it was an absolute dream and I’m already planning my next visit. This time I’ll fly in to Rome as my boyfriend has never been, stop off in Naples for THE BEST PIZZA in the world, then down to explore the rest of the coast such as Capri, Sorrento and Ravello.

Would you want to do this trip? Does driving in Italy sound fun to you?

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