Posted in Holiday Happiness

One day in Capri (Italy)

One day on the island of Capri in Italy

The last part of our Italy adventure was to be one day on the beautiful island of Capri. We were up early, the birds were singing, the sun was shining… what could possible go wrong?! Let’s just say the day didn’t get off to such an easy start… my son was not in the best of moods as I had bollocked him for losing his new trainers! But as he sulkily wandered down the jete to board the boat I took what would become one of my favourites shots of the holiday. It’s funny how the images we share, seemingly perfect do not always portray what’s really going on in the moment. A photo can say a thousand words but it can also hide them…

Vico Equense Harbour

Getting to Capri

As mentioned on a previous post we were staying right by the harbour in Vico Equense so this was ideal for reaching our destination. It took around 40 minutes to reach Marina Grande, the busy main port where our day in Capri would begin!

Marina Grande Capri

Here there are lots of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from. We had a wander about and then decided it was probably best to take a boat tour of the island. It was soon easy to see why Capri is said to be home to some of the worlds most amazing natural scenery…

Island of Capri

The islands majestic peaks and rocky terrain contrast with the most turquoise blue waters. Sat peacefully on that boat with the wind blowing through my hair and the smell of salty sea air I was in heaven (Note to self: must buy add buy a yacht to bucket list!!)

One day in Capri? Start with a boat tour!

Our boat tour was about an 90 minutes and had the waves not have been so choppy it included a trip into the blue grotto. This is the famous sea cave where the sunlight reflects off the amazingly blue water illuminating the cave. It can be entered only via rowing boats and is suppose to be spectacular… I was really gutted to not go inside. However the water around the island did not disappoint in general… this photo below was taken at the Emerald grotto.

Blue Grotto

The Faraglioni rock formation is probably one of the first images that springs to mind when you think of Capri. The rocks jutting out of the sea range from 80-150 meters high. The middle one has an arch which legend says that if couples kiss as they sail through they will forever stay together. The rocks jutting out of the sea are really quite something…

Faraglioni rocks Capri

Other sites included Marina Piccolo and Punta Carina lighthouse that’s been there since 1866. If you only have one day in Capri be sure to take boat tour, it really is a must… it’s a fantastic way to appreciate the Island.

Anacapri

We docked back in Marina Grande keen to explore further. Anacapri located on the higher west side of the island was to be our next stop. Catching a bus seemed the easiest way to get there. But let me tell you it was crowded!! They literally stuff the bus but thankfully it was only a short ride.

From the centre of Anacapri you can catch the chair lift up Monte Solaro to the highest point on the island. I was excited but my son decided to sit this one out staying at the bottom with a gelato. Honestly he missed out, it’s not scary!

Monte Solaro chair lift

It was amazing going up, at first you could see people’s gardens below, little vegetable patches, I even spotted some bird of paradise flowers growing. As you get higher the only thing you can hear is the birds singing beautifully then silence… just total peace and quiet. The views you are treated to on the way up are spectacular…

Mont Solaro view

The ride is about 15 minutes long and upon reaching the top you must get off. There is a cafe if you want refreshments or simply take in the views… I didn’t stay up there long at all given my son was waiting at the bottom but my head was literally in the clouds.

Top of Mount Solaro

Once my feet were back on the ground it was time to explore Anacapri. Said to be much smaller, quaint and authentic than Capri town itself it did not disappoint. We meandered around it’s little streets, browsed some of the boutique shops and stopped for some baked goods and a cocktail (for me only obviously!) by the beautiful church of San Michele.

San Michele church Anacapri

Capri town

Conscious of the time we caught the bus back to Capri town. It was much busier, but no less charming to explore. Designer stores and expensive boutiques were plentiful, catering to the rich and famous the island attracts. We stopped off for Pizza where my son actually fell asleep with his head on the table… could I finally have burnt him out? Ha ha!

Time to head back to our ferry. Many use the funicular to transport them between Marina Grande and Capri town but the queue was too long so we braved the descent walking instead… not too challenging but probably not recommended if you have bad knees. Just before heading down one last look at the view…

View from Capri town

Stay in Capri!

We were ready to leave Capri as a full day exploring left us hot and tired. But honestly it was a mistake not to stay on the island. I suspect once the day trips depart much like Positano a different more relaxed Capri emerges. I would have liked to have sampled some cuisine, fine wine, done some walking and just soaked up all it has to offer. However if you do only have one day in Capri the above could be the perfect itinerary. We really felt we got a good first taste of the island.

Will I return to Capri? For sure… along with Positano it was definitely the place I loved most on my Italy Adventure. I feel I have only just brushed the surface of this amazing country so guess what?! I return in May but to a different region… stay tuned!

Rachael x

P.S If your looking for a more private experience check out Gianna’s boat tours. I would love to use him next time – https://www.giannisboat.com/

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Visiting Pompeii and Sorrento

Leaving behind Positano for the third part of our adventure was exciting. It was an hours drive to get to our destination, a little town just outside Sorrento called Vico Equense.

Where we stayed

Hotel Le Axidie was situated by the harbour and had it’s own beach, a swimming pool (my son was over the moon!) and was far enough from the crowds of tourists that flock to Sorrento. On arrival the reception staff were most welcoming and helpful. The hotel also offered a free shuttle to the train station and into the centre of Vico Equense which was perfect.

The first day there was spent relaxing on the beach and my son made an English speaking friend (always a bonus!) playing in the pool which meant I could wile away my day with a good book and a few cocktails. From the beach you could see mount Vesuvius… if you look to the left of this photo it can just be seen.

After a good nights sleep we were up and ready to go to Pompeii. My son was so excited for this trip… he had learned quite a bit about Pompeii at school and had been sharing all the facts ever since we got on the plane. First though we fuelled up with a good breakfast… a great continental selection and views of Napoli bay, the harbour and mount Vesuvius made it extra special.

Pompeii

We took the hotel shuttle to the train station and easily bought a ticket to head to Pompeii. On arrival it was pretty confusing… there were lots of options of tours, I decided we should take a guided one after regretting having no guide at the Coliseum. This was definitely a wise move, aside from the museum part I would literally of had no idea what I was looking at other than a bunch of ruins! Also it quickly became apparent you could easily get lost in there… it’s huge!!

Get a guide if it’s your first time!

The guide very informative about the ancient Roman city and the catastrophic eruption of mount Vesuvius in 79AD. She pointed out all the different areas of Pompeii – former streets, tracks of the chariots, and the stepping stones in the street – so you didn’t have to walk in the actual street if it was flooded -, to water “fountains”, to uncovered ovens for baking bread, the baths, the amphitheater and of course the brothel!

Please note: don’t let your kid climb on the ruins… you will get told off! Which thinking about it makes sense… they need to preserve the area. This photo was taken before we got a royal telling off, whoops!

Wandering around Pompeii is very hot… there is not much shade so be sure to take some water in. I think our tour was two hours and it was enough, my son was getting bored towards the end. Definitely not ideal for children younger in my opinion. It is really a fascinating place and must be seen to be fully appreciated. Remains of mosaics and paintings can be seen through out the site – it amazing how well preserved they have remained.

Where’s all the bodies?

Like many visitors we were intrigued to see the bodies. Excavators who uncovered the human remains noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By carefully pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, the final poses and faces of the last residents of Pompeii were revealed and can be seen today.

A little research would have told us that the bodies are not just strewn all over the site and that many have been moved to a museum in Naples. Apparently a few can be seen on the southern western side of Pompeii but on our two hour tour we didn’t see any whilst walking around. However we did see them close to the entrance in a little museum.

It was originally assumed that most of the victims were asphyxiated by volcanic ash and gas but further studies have shown there was no time to suffocate. The contorted postures were not the effects of a long agony but were the result of spasming due to heat shock. So devastating and pretty eerie to look at.

I know we only brushed the surface of Pompeii but I was happy with what I saw and learnt. I have to confess I’m not massively in to history but it held my interest and was definitely worth the trip.

Sorrento

We hopped back on the train foot weary and hot and guess what? Accidentally got one that went straight to Sorrento. Much to my sons dismay I decided we may as well get off and explore it. We had planned this for another day but no time like the present!

A short walk from the train station is Piazza Tasso, the bustling centre of Sorrento. From here you can catch the land train for a tour, begin your walk down the alleyways and main shopping street or eat and drink in the bars that are located on this square. 

We meandered down the little cobbled streets where lemon themed goods are the name of the day. Be sure to try some lemoncello – after all it is here that is originated. Shops selling gelato, clothing, leather goods and ceramics are plentiful.

Sorrento is a lovely town to wander about. We reached Marina Piccola and could see down below the little spots for sun bathing by the sea on little piers that jutted out. I would have liked to spend some time down there but we didn’t have swimwear with us. Soon after we headed back to the hotel after our busy day.

Sorrento is very charming but not a patch on Positano in my opinion… definitely worth a visit though. Have you been to Sorrento and Positano? Did you prefer one over the other? Let me know!

Rachael x

P.S Don’t miss my next post all about the beautiful island of Capri!

Hotel Le Axidie – http://www.booking.com/Share-d2D5VQ

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Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Perfect Positano

If you had asked me a few years ago where Positano is I would have had no clue. I’d never heard of it or the Amalfi coast for that matter if I’m honest. Instagram has a lot to answer for when it comes to travel. You see I know it’s a big wide world out there but Instagram has really opened my eyes. So many beautiful places and I want to visit them all. When I first clapped eyes on Positano I knew I had to go… that cliff side village cascading down to the pebble beach is the epitome of the Amalfi coast.

Following on from my last blog post we left Rome for part two of our adventure. The thought of driving the narrow winding roads through Italy made me feel anxious so we travelled on the train from Rome to a place called Salerno south east of Naples. The trains are really easy to navigate in Italy, they were clean, efficient and station staff were very helpful. The journey took about 2 hours.

Salerno looked a lovely little place but we were to head straight to the ferry port and onwards to Positano. Ferry’s to the Amalfi coast only run in summer and this essentially was the start of the season being the end of May. Tripadvisor had warned me that if it’s even slightly choppy they don’t run but we were lucky, the ferry was set to go shortly, yay!

Sat on the top of the open top ferry was the best place to be… a little breezy but let me tell you it was well worth it for the views. The Amalfi coast is beautiful… lush green rugged cliff sides dotted with white washed buildings, the odd church steeple, villas and small pebble beaches. I literally sat on top of that ferry breathing in the sea air and pinching myself… it was indescribably magical. We stopped off at Amalfi first, time for a quick selfie!

As we approached Positano I recognised it instantly… you know when you see things on Instagram and think is it really that nice? With all the filters and editing these days you could be disappointed. It’s safe to say I wasn’t, it was everything the picture perfect images promised. Even my 10 year old son was impressed. I don’t actually have a photo of when we docked… I was far too excited and taking it all in.

We were staying at Casa Teresa situated 100 meters above sea level! Paying for our luggage to be taken up by porters on a golf buggy was definitely a smart move. We wandered through the town resisting the temptation to stop at any of it’s boutique shops and up the steep winding hill. The views were spectacular…

Casa Teresa was the perfect base… if your fit, healthy and don’t mind walking. It may have been a climb but the views from up there are totally worth it. The rooms were antique style and charmingly Italian. Breakfast was plentiful and served on the sea view terrace. But what I remember the most is the birds… throwing open those wooden shutters and standing on the balcony with the sun streaming on my face to the beautiful songs of those birds is a moment that will stay with me forever.

We had scheduled only two nights in Positano which would be plenty if I hadn’t fallen in love with the place but I challenge anyone not to. Our days were spent meandering down the 300 hundred steps to spend time on the Arienzo beach.

Marina Grande beach is where the ferry’s come in and much busier than Arienzo. We spent time on both but favoured the smaller quieter one. The beaches on Amalfi are made up of pebbles which I wasn’t sure I would like but honestly it made it all the more charming. I loved sitting there watching my son play in the water and the world go by. Reading my book, paddling and having some lunch in the beachside cafe.

Positano is a lovely place to wander around. Littered with boutiques selling handmade goods, chic linen clothing, ceramics and what they are particularly know for is sandals. Of course I had to indulge. Just a little further up the hill out of the main shopping area (if you can even call it that?!) I found Mastro Positano to make the most exquisite handmade Italian sandals. Honestly it’s so hard to choose… they make and fit your shoes right away. Not cheap at over €100 but well worth the little indulgence.

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating in Positano. Locally sourced ingredients, fresh fish, seafood and homemade pasta make it hard to choose. The area is known for its lemons so be sure to make sure you try something lemon infused whilst there. The lemon sorbet is served in an actual lemon by Marina Grande and is so refreshing. I didn’t pay massive attention to where I dined (being pre blog attention to detail is lacking here) but I can tell you to wander about as restaurants are in the town and scattered up the hill. We didn’t have trouble getting in anywhere but we did dine rather late one night waiting for a table at restaurant with a spectacular view… so worth it!

I spent 2 nights and 3 days in Positano… and that is a good amount of time to absorb its charm. Day ferry’s are in and out of the port through out the day and honestly if I had come for the day I would have felt completely robbed. When the day guests depart and the sun sets a different Positano emerges, a more relaxed vibe.

We were really sad to leave Positano, although I know I will return one day. It stole a little piece of my heart… it definitely earns the title of this post… it’s simply perfect.

Have you been to Positano? Or the Amalfi Coast? I would love to hear what you thought…

Rachael x

P.S Keep an eye out for Part 3 of our Italy Adventure – Sorrento and Pompeii.

Casa Teresa link – http://www.booking.com/Share-Ji5hC4J