Tuesday, 6 May 2014

AMALFI COAST ADVENTURES

The Amalfi coast in Southern Italy is a 28 mile winding narrow route of dramatic coastline that is home to some of the most beautiful towns and stunning panoramas in Europe. One of the best holidays we've ever had and I'd go back in a second.

Below are some of the highlights of our trip including some tips and hints of where to eat, drink and travel around. Do some research before you go and plan your itinerary well - there are things you won't want to miss!

GETTING THERE & AROUND

For our trip we decided to fly to Naples and then go directly to our furthest stop, Ravello. We then worked our way back from Ravello to Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, Pompeii and Capri and then finally back to Naples to fly home.

Fly:
Direct flights from Dublin to Naples with Aer Lingus.

Transfer from airport:
I would highly recommend booking a private car/bus transfer from Naples airport to Ravello if you are going to make this your first stop. This costs approximately €90 if you book ahead of time or €120-€130 if you hire a taxi there.

Your other alternative is to take a bus from Naples airport to Naples city centre, then take a bus to Salerno, then a bus to Amalfi and then a bus to Ravello! We opted for the least stressful route of getting a taxi with all our baggage - I know it seems expensive but believe me it's worth it.

The local bus and boat service is really great though once you get to your first destination. You can then easily move between the small towns along the coast.



Car: 
I wouldn't really recommend renting a car while you are traveling along the Amalfi Coast. The roads are extremely windy, narrow and steep.


Bus:
Bus services along the coast are year-round and efficient. SITA operates a service along the SS163 between Sorrento and Salerno, with buses leaving about every hour. Buses also connect Rome and the Amalfi Coast, terminating in Salerno. http://www.sitabus.it/


Boat:
Boat services to the Amalfi Coast towns are generally limited to the period between April and October. From Naples, Metrò del Mare www.metrodelmare.com) runs summer-only services to Sorrento, Capri, Ischia, Positano, Amalfi  and Salerno. TraVelMar (089 87 29 50) connects Salerno with Amalfi and Positano.


RAVELLO
View of Amalfi Coast





STAY
Villa Casale
Villa Casale is located a short walk from the main piazza of Ravello, with the Duomo and the gardens of Villa Rufolo within easy reach. It is very conveniently located close to lots of lovely restaurants which set their tables out in the Duomo's piazza in the evening where you can enjoy the local food and vibrant atmosphere. A large swimming pool is set on the main terrace of the complex, surrounded by beautiful scenery. The view from here is unbeatable. 

Villa Casale is composed of 9 apartments,with a total capacity of 25 people. 

EAT

Eating and drinking out in Ravello and in general along the Amalfi Coast is not expensive, you just need to have done some research on where to go. There are mega expensive restaurants in lots of the 5 star hotels but if you are on a tighter budget, like we were, listed below are some of the places we tried and had great value food and wine.

Restaurant Figli di Papa
Located just a few metres from the main square, Restaurant Figli di Papa is a great place to try local specialities at a very good price. Delicious fresh fish, homemade pasta, delizie al limone (traditional lemon cake) and local limoncello. The local wine from the Amalfi was more often than not, cheaper to drink in the restaurants than to buy in the shop.


Beef Carpaccio - Villa Maria
Villa Maria
Villa Maria, a traditional Italian Villa, is situated up a gently sloped pathway, towards the Villa Cimbrone gardens, a few minutes walk from the main square. With their own organic fruit and vegetable garden, it is noted for its good food and fresh, seasonal ingredients. During the summer months you get to enjoy a candlelit dinner sitting in their beautiful garden terrace with a fantastic view over the valley.



Homemade Raviol Parcels - Villa Maria
Drink
Cocktails in Hotel Caruso
Hotel Caruso
Nestled on a clifftop in Ravello, overlooking the Azure sea, Hotel Caruso is a haven of tranquility on the Amalfi Coast. Drinks aren't cheap but it's well worth venturing here for an unforgettably  romantic candlelit evening with live piano in the background, delicious cocktails and nibbles while staring out at the incredible view. We were in heaven.


TO DO
Walks from Ravello to Amalfi & Minori
The Ravello Tourist Office, beside the Duomo on the main square, provide a free walking map of the area. 
Also sunflowerbooks.co.uk have published a full hiking/walking guide of the area. 

Villa Cimbrone

Villa Cimbrone was once an old farmhouse which was transformed into a fortified palace and luxury hotel. Situated on the cliff top with incredible views over the Amalfi coast, Villa Cimbrone is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon wandering around. The garden is laid out along the cliff edge and includes a Temple of Bacchus and Roman statues. The restaurant in Villa Cimbrone 'Il Fauto di Pan' is a one michelin star restaurant. A must visit for any foodie.

You pay a small fee into the gardens & villa - open daily 9am - sunset


Villa Cimbrone

Villa Rufolo and the Ravello Festival 
To the south of Ravello's Cathedral, a tower marks the entrance to this 13th century villa. Villa Rufolo is famed for its beautiful cascading gardens and for staging concerts during the town's annual classical music festival, the Ravello Festival.  

Ravello Festival
POSITANO
STAY

Casa Cuccaro

Casa Cuccaro is a B&B set in one of the most idyllic, dramatic sites above Positano in a little town called Nocelle. It's a fantastic retreat from the hustle and bustle of Positano town during the summer months. A local bus goes every few minutes from the centre of Positano, up the very windy and steep road to Nocelle.

Each room in Casa Cuccaro has it's own balcony with sun loungers where you can sit and basque in the sun with a view over the entire bay. Absolutely amazing breakfast is served every morning on the large communal terrace where the owners Gerardina and Peppe love sharing a beer and local stories with the guests in the evening.


EAT
Casa e Bottega
Great lunch spot in the centre of Positano. Delicious sandwiches, salads and cakes served in the middle of a modern and trendy ceramic gift shop. The place has a very homely feel with the food prepared right in front of you on an island in the kitchen.

La Tagliata (Dinner)
5/6 course traditional Italian dinner cooked up by the Italian 'Mama' and her extended family all for about €35 including wine. Fantastic value for the feast of amazing local foods that you get to try here. There was even singing and dancing and playing local instruments at the end of the meal which everyone got involved in! 

Il Ristoro de Pizzeria (Dinner)
A hidden little gem that we came across very close to our B&B in Nocelle. We loved this place so much I think we returned 3 times for dinner. Incredibly good value and authentic experience of what the Amalfi coast is all about.

Positano beach
SORRENTO

STAY
Hotel Prestige, Sorrento
Lovely hotel, very reasonably priced with an incredible pool view over the whole town of Sorrento. Free shuttle service up and down to the town every 15 minutes. The hotel recommended this lovely restaurant 'Il Panorama' for dinner which is just down the road and well worth going to.

VISIT 
Pompeii
A visit to the ancient town of Pompeii near Sorrento cannot be missed. It's an unforgettable day out. Guided tours are available on arrival for approximately €10 each on top of your entrance fee. It's well worth joining one of these tour groups as Pompeii is so vast and would take a full day to see the entire place. The tour guides will bring you on a condensed 3 hour tour and show you all the highlights, giving you are very good insight into the lives of the people that used to live in Pompeii.

For more information on Pompeii; getting there, opening times etc check out this link.
Pompeii

CAPRI

STAY
Da Gelsomina, Anacapri
Da Gelsomina has a small number of guest rooms, a restaurant and swimming pool situated just a few steps away from the famous and spectacular viewpoint Belvedere della Migliera. Each room has a small terrace with a view right over the sea. Most nights we sat here, watching the sun go down while sipping on Da Gelsomina's own wine made from the grapes growing right outside our door.

EAT

TO DO
Unbelievable day trip by boat around the island of Capri. A little on the expensive side but well worth it. 

Da Gelsomina Vineyard
Capri by boat

GETTING HOME
A simple boat trip from Capri to Naples enables you to have a quick bus trip then directly to Naples airport.



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