As some of you may already have read, Nathan and I went on a holiday to Italy a couple of weeks ago. There were so many things that I wanted to share with you about our visit to Italy, but because of the move I have not been able to write about it until now! I won’t be telling you full on what we did every moment of every day, but I will be mentioning little snippets of our holiday and give recommendations and tips!
We arrived in Italy, Naples very early in the morning. We took the airport shuttle bus from the airport to the central train station in Naples. When we arrived there we were a little bit overwhelmed. We were very tired after only four hours of sleep, the area around the train station is not very nice and we had a hard time trying to find the bus stop of the bus which would take us to our Airbnb in San Lazzaro. While we were trying to find our bus stop we felt like a target for picket pockets with our big back packs. Some people were even following us! But by keeping a close eye on one another and by making sure only to stop walking in convenient places we managed to stay ‘unpicketpocketed’. It was also quite an adventure to cross the road, since cars and scooters don’t really stop when they are supposed to.
It is really a matter of taking a deep breath and just GO. To this day I am still really surprised that we haven’t witnessed any accidents there!
A little tip: the main bus company to drive with is called Sita Sud, once we figured that out, public transport got a lot easier! Strange thing is that the times that are mentioned on the timetables displayed at the various bus stops are not always clear. It occurred a couple of times that the time given meant that the bus would leave it’s starting point at that time, rather than that the bus would arrive at that time at the bus stop where we were. Also, it is most of the time, not possible to buy the bus ticket in the bus itself. There are ticket points where you can buy them. They are usually newspaper stands for example. Look out for the word ‘biglietteria’.
A couple of hours later we stepped out of the bus onto a little square in San Lazzaro where our host, Antonio, picked us up with his car. He drove us to the Airbnb, which was apparently only at a two minute driving distance! But Nathan and I were very grateful for the warm welcome and for the opportunity to put our back packs away. The Airbnb we stayed in was absolutely lovely. It was a very clean little studio apartment and the garden was a great place to sit and admire the view! Find the link to the Airbnb we stayed in here.
After Antonio had given us our tour and pointed out a couple of nice places to visit, Nathan and I FELL ASLEEP. Yes, we were exhausted and all we wanted was to sleep. To our big surprise we woke up in the evening at around 8:30 pm! Almost right next to the Airbnb was a restaurant called Leonardo’s. We decided to have our dinner there (luckily Italians usually eat dinner late!) and found the place nearly empty! The owner/waiter, Enzo, was very kind and a great host. The food was brilliant and the dishes were very fairly prized as well! We went here twice during our stay. I highly recommend this restaurant if you ever are to visit San Lazzaro. If you do, make sure to try the starter with the local mozzarella and try the pasta with eggplant and cheese, it is amazing!
It was lovely weather, so we decided to go for a walk. Next to the restaurant I mentioned earlier, Leonardo’s, is a walking path that goes down towards the Amalfi coast. It is called the Republic path and for a long time it used to be the only way for villagers to go down to Amalfi. They could only get down there by foot!
The beginning of the path was a very neat and long staircase. It was nice and calm, I believe we only came across three people! Since we were trying to reach Amalfi, the last bit of the walk was a bit more tricky! It was not as clear anymore where we had to head towards and the last half an hour-an hour consisted of walking along a road with quite some traffic, which got me a bit nervous! The walk took about four hours and especially the beginning of the walk was beautiful.
The end destination, Amalfi, was lovely. We had a nice walk around and visited the Paper Mill Museum. I couldn’t stop myself from buying some lovely pressed flowers. I am thinking of framing them! We took the bus back to San Lazzaro and we witnessed a typical Italian argument between the bus driver and the driver from the car behind us. They both left the car & bus and had an heated argument with a lot of hand gestures. You just gotta love Italy!
Nathan and I love walking, so we decided to do another walk! This time we did the path of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei). It took us about five hours and it is quite an intensive walk! During this walk we came across a lot more people, but the views are absolutely worth it. Make sure to have plenty of water and snacks with you.
We took the bus to Bomerano and started walking from there all the way to Positano. Some people catch the bus to Positano once they arrive in Arienzo, but since we did not have a bus ticket (sometimes you can’t buy a bus ticket on the bus, you have to buy it in advance), we walked along the road to Positano.
In Arienzo we discovered a little, quite hidden, beach. There was only one fellow walker who decided to have a rest there as well. The beach itself looked a bit mucky, since it was not prepared for high season yet, but it was nice to have a little dip in the water after such a long walk! Interesting fact: right next to the beach was an abandoned building (hotel-like) which really made me wonder what happened in order for it to be left abandoned like that. Even though it was abandoned, you could see what an amazing place it could have been. After a little bit of research I found out that the owners of the hotel started building the hotel without any building permits. They planted a lot of trees around it in order to ‘hide’ the hotel from plain sight. Once government-people noticed that there were suddenly a lot of trees next to the beach, they started investigating it further. They found out that there was a hotel being build, hidden between the trees and stopped the owners immediately from doing it. Nathan and I both weren’t very fond of Positano since it was very busy and quite tourist-y. We preferred Amalfi!
To our sadness it was time to leave our Airbnb in San Lazzaro since it was only available for a couple of nights. For the last three nights we booked a B&B in Naples itself! We loved the hostess of the B&B, but we probably would not go back to it for various reasons, hence me not mentioning & recommending the place here. We had a nice stroll in the afternoon and we saw the Piazza del Plebiscito and the surrounding buildings.
We also visited Santa Chiara and I would definitely recommend that, it has a lovely garden.
We decided to grab a train and visit Pompeii and boy we loved it! It was so much bigger than we expected and because it was National Heritage week (it apparently happens each year the first week of March) we were allowed to go in without paying. I would highly recommend visiting Pompeii. Make sure to take some food and drinks, because there is only one place to buy food in Pompeii itself and it can get quite busy. After Pompeii there is a possibility to grab a bus to Vesuvius, but we didn’t manage to do it since we were too late for the the last bus at 3 pm. We arrived home around 4 pm and were quite hungry. We tried to find a restaurant along the coast (on the streets: Via nazara sauro AND via partenope), but all restaurants there were very busy and not really the type of place we wanted to go to. Thanks to google maps we found a ‘hidden’ restaurant called Pastamore & Chiatamone. It was a lovely quiet restaurant with brilliant food (seafood mostly). As a late night treat, we had some ice-cream. We found a gelateria close to our B&B called Mennella Il Gelato and the ice-cream was absolutely mind-blowing! Make sure to be as clear as possible with which flavors you want, because the staff working there is very busy and didn’t seem to understand English very well.
We strolled a lot around in Naples itself. We visited the Naples National Archaeological Museum, which I definitely recommend. We were again allowed to go in for free because of the National Heritage Week. It was interesting to see the Pompeii section there, AFTER visiting Pompeii itself. It really completed the experience. We ended the day by strolling around the Piazza Dante (and more specifically the street Via Port’Alba). It was our favorite area of Naples since it somehow felt very cosy and it had a lot of bookshops and coffee shops. We had dinner in a pizzeria recommended to us by the hostess of the B&B, called pizzeria Vesi.
It is very close to the Piazza Dante and it was absolutely amazing. When you stand outside, you don’t think much of it, but it was a lovely pizzeria. There were mostly locals there, it was nice and quiet even though it got very busy and the pizza’s were brilliant (and fairly priced!).
We had to catch our airplane quite early, so there is not much to say about this day. There is however one tip that I want to give to you. Nathan and I had a bit of trouble to find the bus stop for the bus to the airport. So just in case you have trouble finding it as well when you visit Naples, here it is!
There is an ‘official’ bus that goes to the airport (the same company you take when you go from the airport to Naples itself), but a different company stops at this bus stop as well which goes to the airport as well. We decided to take that one and it was 1. cheaper, 2. we were the only ones on the bus for a while and 3. it went straight to the airport instead of stopping at the station!
Our total impression of the holiday? We loved the Amalfi Coast instantly, especially San Lazzaro, Amalfi and the walks we made. We both found Naples a bit harder to love. Especially in the beginning we were quite stressed, because we weren’t very familiar with the surroundings yet, the traffic is mad and the picket pockets are a real threat. Both of us were, however, surprised that we started to develop a soft spot for Naples. Once you know your way around and once you get used to the busy-ness it is a nice city to stay for a few days.
I hope this article was useful for you and if you have been in Naples/the Amalfi coast, I am very curious.. what was your favorite restaurant to go to? And what did you enjoy seeing most?