We got the train to Napoli from Milano at 2pm – nice business class 2×1 ticket – then change from Napoli Centrale to Napoli Garibaldi – basically the same station but underground and with a different name and get on a train to Pompei at 730pm. Full of locals especially teenagers in this train that is part of the circumvesuviana (around Vesuvio) and is famous for being a bit dodgy.
I tell brucey to get used to the fact that here the decibels are much higher when people talk – this train is so loud. At the first stop a guy dressed like a petrol station man comes on the train and as he walks past I noticed he carries a gun in his pocket! Welcome to Naples / the South – I immediately think. After a few minutes of nervousness and hiding behind the front seat I realize that a few people are actually wearing weird clothes and I put the puzzle together… they actually all come from a fancy dress party!
This gets confirmed as a girl asks the guy with a gun to take a photo of him and he agrees with a smile and making a mean face – I’m sure a Mafia Boss wouldn’t be so tame.
We arrive in Pompei at 820 pm tired and ready for dinner!
We met Pepe at our b&b Feni which was a lovely guy, helpful and smiley, and then go for dinner just downstairs at Macchiavelli – booked with 20% discount on the Fork. We had as starter octopus and mozzarella with friarelli (to die for) followed by ravioli with lime and coffee and a tasty fish dish even if a bit small. The nice dinner with live music (a singer, a contrabbasso and a guitar singing napoleatan and brazilian jazz/bossanova type) was really good and cheered us up from the terrible outcome of the Inter Juve game.
Bed early and ready for Pompei visit tomorrow!
Breakfast at the Sport Bar next to Feni b&b and then the lovely Pepe kindly drove us to the entrance of the ancient ruins of Pompei called Villa dei Misteri. We met our guide Iuliana and the rest of the group from Walks of Italy (found through good reviews on Trip Advisor) and started exploring the amazing site of Pompei.
It was 3 unforgettable hours deep diving in the culture of the ancient Pompei and its roman inhabitants. Lot of it was about having a good life, enjoying the moment and making the most of it in pure roman style. The visit included the “brothels” called Lupanari – where men came to have a good time with girls (walls are covered in porn scenes to make the whole thing quicker) and we learned about some disgusting anti-conceptional methods of the time. Other things we saw were the
Triclino – a sofa where the romans ate while lying down and being served by slaves… then we saw their version of
Mcdonalds – a small streetfood stall with holes where the food was kept cool. And many other things including the plaster of a man a baby and a dog that were caught under the eruption. It’s a must visit in life and if it’s not in your bucket list yet it’s time to add it on!
Then had lunch at Stuzzico by Lucius and then Pepe took us up to Villa Dei Misteri again for our train to Sorrento.
The train was again very noisy and with a nutter shouting at himself as ou would expect in the CircumVesuviana, but we arrived safe and sound in Sorrento which was the wrong stop for our b&b Casa Mazzola. Oops. We took a taxi back to the previous station (sant’agnello) and met our man Ugo at the petrol station to drive us up to the b&b. He brought us up the hill to the beautiful family run b&b casa mazzola – him and his dad Luigi run the show and made us feel immediately at home.
For dinner we got a lift back down the hill and walked 2km to get to our amazing dinner spot at Terrazza Vittoria.
Stunning view of the Vesuvio and amazing food included amuse bouche of prawn, a miniature staircase with fresh made and still warm bread on each step, followed by risotto with lemon and prawns, and spaghetti with courgette flowers and bottarga followed by maialino al latte suckling pig and wagyu steak. Life is tough.
We were full but they brought us some complementary desserts too. Amazing service and outstanding views. Very special! Long walk home and then got picked up at the pharmacy by Luigi the dad of Ugo – another truly lovely person which had the mission of making Brucey speak Italian all the time and managed to improve his fluency in a few days!
Breakfast at Casa Mazzola and then we got picked up by our driver Lucio for the tour of the Amalfi Coast for the day. We travelled with two nice couples one from Argentina, retired and one from California with a 10 months old sweet and well behaved baby.
The traffic was crazy and every place we visited was full of people.
We first stopped at a couple of view points and then Positano for less than an hour just walking up and down and taking in the views while takin photos.
After that we met the driver again at 12pm and carried on for the next 16km which with traffic believe it or not took us over 2 hours to get to Amalfi! The amount of people, honking and traffic almost took away some of the charm of these places but didn’t quite manage – it’s so beautiful here it’s practically impossible to spoil it.
We stopped at 2:15 starving and had a quick look around and even our first swim of the year in the sea on the beach of Amalfi! Amazingly fresh. Then a pic nic on the beach and an ice cream in the main square and it was already time to go. At 4 we were back on the road up to Ravello to see the views. The least touristy of all, uphill with beautiful views of the coast from above and a pretty square with a Duomo and some cobbled streets that bring you back in time. We had a walk and stopped for a freshly squeezed lemonade from the local lemons on a terrace to take in all the views. Wow.
At 545 we got back in the car to arrive in Sorrento at 8pm – what a long day!
We got dropped at the restaurant we had booked for the night called Delfino.
We ate fried calamari, moscardini (mini octopuses) in tomato sauce followed by seafood risotto and tuna with pistachio crust (sounds amazing but was actually disappointing).
Yummy but not amazing and a bit overpriced but really nice because it was in the smaller port of Sorrento over the sea in a glass structure.
Destroyed we got he most expensive cab for 10minutes drive they charged us 27 euros not joking, and then got a lift from the farmacia back up to our bed with Luigi the Legend – out from 9am to 11pm long day!
Woke up and had a lovely breakky at Casa Mazzola before heading to Capri – super kind Luigi gave us a lift towards the port and lots of tips to visit the island. He explained that Capri is divided in 2 parts Capri and Anacapri and suggested to visit Anacapri first and then Capri. We took a boat to Capri and went straight up to Anacapri after a bit of queue at the bus station, as we got up we visited the villa Michele amazing views and beautiful gardens. Then had a quick panino since everything is too expensive here to have an actual lunch and then went via bus to Capri and walked around exploring saw the Augustus Garden with breathtaking views over the coast and the Faraglioni (2 limestone rocks coming out from the sea). Back from Capri by boat at 6ish we stopped in town for a very cheap Spritz at a local bar on the main drag Corso Italia and then had dinner with 20% the fork discount at “il Ritrovo” where we had the whole place to ourselves and ate a good steak served by a friendly tranny.
Bed early after being picked up as usual by Luigi at the Pharmacy.
Last breakfast at Casa Mazzola – it was hard to say goodbye to Ugo and Luigi who were fantastic hosts with great sense of humor and kindness, they even gave us a lovely present at the end to remember the happy days spent here – a small terracotta limoncello glass with hand painted lemons to remember all the pretty lemon trees of this area.
Lovely present and lovely people. We got a lift to the port and left to Ischia by boat, then as we arrived we walked to our hotel Rivamare which was alright but not friendly at all – difficult to compare after the last amazing experience. Had lunch by the beach at Bagno Tre Stelle owned by a guy that lives in Milano and spends all summers May to September here serving food by the beach, and then walked to the Castello Aragonese and visited the massive grounds and rooms with different parts all well preserved and with beautiful views.
Afterwards we got an expensive cab back and then went for dinner by the port at a restaurant called I Ricci (the last one along the port and the least touristy) – I has a very tasty pasta con i ricci (sea urchins) and Bruce enjoyed a lot his delizia di polpo (2 different types of octopus one boiled with chilli and potatoes and the other one grilled with chickpeas and parsley pure) & fritto misto to finish off for dessert we had profitterol. Tough diet here in the South of Italy!
Woke up and had breakfast, cloudy day but decided to go to the Spa anyway. Got the bus from Ischia port to Negombo thermal Spa on the north west of the Island and had an amazing day visiting the many many thermal pools with the amazing jungly settings. Ischia is famous for thermal baths being in the vulcanic area and a vulcanic island. A bit cold and windy but there was no one there and we had mostly the pools to ourselves which was awesome and super relaxing. There were pools of different sizes and temperatures and caves with hot water as well as jacuzzi and strong showers to massage the shoulders. A tough day in the office. Had a quick bite at the self service buffet for lunch and then a snooze on a sun bed followed by more hot baths.
We got back by walking down to the small town of Lacco Ameno and got the bus back to the port. Chilled in the hotel and it started raining so we got a very expensive cab which was like a small tuctuc – an Ape Car which struggled up the hill to a restaurant called Il Focolare. A family of 8 brothers & sisters manage the place, we had amazing food – mixed starters were fabulous and kept coming (favourite was the parmisan creme with truffle and mushroom and the home made green pasta with tomato sauce) and so was their famous rabbit all’Ischiatana slow cooked and marinated for two days or so. Stuffed and happy we then got taken by one of the sisters to the hidden cellar full of wines and caves where they told us more about the island traditions and culture. We then shared a cab with a nice English couple we met, who is currently living in Frankfurt so we shared a few stories about the traumas of moving away from London…
Bed time as we have an early ferry to Napoli tomorrow the last stop of this dreamy holiday.
After breakfast at the hotel we just managed to walk to the port in between showers of rain.
We got the ferry to Naples, sea was a bit rough but not too much luckily.
Arrived at Naples port at 1030 and got the tube to Museo Archeologico where our b&b Museo for 2’nights is located. The tube was actually very clean and easy and it’s not the Napoli I imagined at all. The entrance to the building of our b&b was a bit scary, we got a small and rickety lift up to the 5th floor which exits to a balcony which wasn’t good for our vertigo but we then managed to arrive at the door and met Marco the welcoming owner who told us a lot about the city and gave us a map and lots of good tips for Napoli. He used to be a Vet for over 10 years but he then got bored of crazy per owners (he shared some funny stories about how crazy pet owners can get) and decided to open a b&b – you can tell he loves his job now, meeting people from all over the world he says it’s like travelling every day and he’s so passionate about Naples it’s contagious. He said he tried to move away but he can’t help to come back here, and the things he hates the most about this city are the ones he missed the most when he went to live elsewhere!
The exploring started near the b&b where we visited the Santa Chiara Courtyard with amazing maioliche hand painted columns. Afterwards it was already lunch time and we had a pizza at Vesi Pizzeria – wanted to try Sorbillo (most famous Pizza spot) but the queue was too long. After a tasty napolitean pizza we headed to the Cappella San Severo and saw the Cristo Velato with audioguide – one of the most impressive statues I’ve ever seen. The rest of the church was also amazing including other statues and a beautiful marble floor.
After that at about 4 we headed to the Napoli sotterranea tour – after a small queue we started the visit. What a stunning place. Literally another city lived under the city of Naples used during the war to keep safe from the bombings since Naples was the first city to be freed from the Nazis in 1943.
One part was very small with super tiny roads and we walked through with a candle for about 200 metres in a hallway just 50 cm large!
After that we stopped for a classic babà and mazzetto at the famous patisserie Mazz. We ended up here by mistake and after figured out that is actually very well known! The luck of the travellers.
We then chilled for a bit at the hotel before heading to dinner at Tandem Ragu, famous for amazing home made and slow cooked ragu. We had the Ziti – typical local pasta with ragu and the meatballs to share. The best part was the scarpetta, mopping up the delicious ragu with bread not to leave one drop behind! So tasty and very cheap like all food here in Naples.
Morning breakfast was delicious and we also had a very nice chat with Marco from the b&b. We were just saying with him how the personal interaction leaves a memory so much more than a nice room in a b&b…
after breakfast we headed to the Archelogical museum where we spent 2:30 hours to see a lot of stunning statues, mosaics and remainings from Egypt to Pompei and an impressive miniature of Pompei.
A group of highschool girls asked to interview us for their project and we answered some questions, they were very sweet.
After the museum we headed to lunch at Re Lazzarone nearby and had froed courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta followed by seafood gnocchi and swordfish grilled to share – another yummy lunch.
After lunch we walked to see the Toledo tube station and stopped at the Nuovo Gesu church which inside is super baroque and majestic.
The Toledo tube station apparently won an award for best station in Europe and has nice mosaics. Then we walked to Plebiscito square and visited the Royal Palace – beautiful rooms and stairs and architecture.
After we wondered down to the sea and saw the port area and had a delicious ice cream (just to keep up the diet). Walked back up to the funicular to get to the top of Vomero – the castle of sant’elmo was closed and the monastery we gave a miss. The views from the hill are stunning – afterwards we got the tube back and chilled at the b&b before supper. Our last dinner in Naples was at La Campagnola Pizzeria very cheap and cheerful and full of locals – we tried the fried Pizza which was delicious at the time but we sort of regretted it afterwards since it’s so heavy!! After the pizza they brought us complementary mini fried doughnuts which were to die for! To digest a bit we had a last drink near Bellini Square – I had a Schweppes Lemon and Brucy a B52.
Morning after we had our last breakfast and said goodbye to the lovely Marco and the B&B Museo and off to the station to Milano! Busy times ahead moving house and lots of admin to do… but we charged the batteries with lots of food and beauty in the Amalfi Coast and Napoli – thanks all who made this trip very special!