|View inside the Vesuvius crater.|
The hazy view down below showed a few forest fires (often started deliberately to free up land for building projects) and the Tyrrhenian Sea surrounded by the mountainous cliffs.
Unlike Rome, where ancient monuments have suffered millennia of weathering, re-use and pillaging, Pompeii had the good fortune (for posterity at any rate) of being overwhelmed by the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius. The ancient street plan is intact, the town still has its full complement of civic buildings, the houses still have their frescoed walls, and – thanks to painstaking work by generations of archaeologists and vulcanologists – we have a fairly clear picture of what life was like here 2,000 years ago. The picture is still being completed: emergency digs during roadworks on the Naples–Salerno motorway have revealed the full extent of a frescoed leisure complex close to the Sarno river. Allow at least three hours for visiting Pompeii; it will take longer if you intend to see the amphitheatre and the Villa dei Misteri, a good 25 minutes hike apart.
|Fresh seafood for sale.|
|A covered passage along Via Trebunali.|
In downtown Naples, life takes place at full throttle especially along the bustling Via Trebunali. Mini-operettas take place on every street corner, while flashing Vespas scoot across pedestrian piazzas. Small, narrow streets hung thick with laundry are covered in exhaust pouring from a passing bus. Naples is also renowned for its distinctive style of thin-crust pizza. We tried two kinds at Sorbillo and a thicker version from Panificio Michelangleo Bobb.
The Amalfi Coast is a 50-kilometer stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula, in the Campania region. It is a popular holiday destination, with sheer cliffs and a rugged shoreline dotted with small beaches and pastel-colored fishing villages. The coastal road between the port city of Salerno and clifftop Sorrento winds past grand villas, terraced vineyards and cliffside lemon groves.
|Colorful fisherman boats in Sorrento.|
|View from our Positano hotel.|
|The boat ride to Capri was a highlight of our vacation.|
|View from Capri. See how all the ships pepper the water below - amazing!|
From Positano, we continued to Amalfi which is Italy’s version of the French Riviera, only decidedly more vertical. The beachside villages spill into the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the towns up above on the cliffs overlook the coastline with killer views. The pastel-colored houses that crawl up the hillsides like so many barnacles out of the sea have captured our imagination for decades. Sheltered from behind by the steep slopes of the Monti Lattari, Amalfi's Ancient Roman origins are evident from a number of ruins. A must-see is the cathedral. From inside the cathedral, visitors gain access to the first Duomo of Amalfi, now called the Basilica del Crocifisso, and to the splendid Chiostro del Paradiso.
Here is a map of the stops we made in Naples and along the Amalfi Coast - feel free to use it to build your own itinerary:
For more Italy eats check out my restaurant reviews. We really enjoyed the mix of historical site-seeing with glorious seaside relaxation. The views from the Amalfi Coast are just breathtaking. Driving is quite stressful though, so be prepared for narrow streets and impossible parking. Have you visited Naples or the Amalfi Coast before? What are some of your favorites things to do and places to eat? Please share in the comments below!