Two summers back, I had spent a memorable time in Italy, Europe. While the rest of Italy remains well charted out in the Indian travel scene (that includes the bus full of people doing Europe darshan), Amalfi and the beautiful coastline of Southern Italy was quite a chance discovery for me.
We were staying in Germany and I used to switch on to German television channels to learn Deutsch. It was a trick that my “lehrerin” (teacher in Deutsch) from language school had suggested. Germans are known for their wanderlust and it is during one of those binge watching of travel shows on television, that I discovered the dreamily romantic and the holiday hot spot for the rich and famous – Amalfi Coast.
Planning the itinerary
We had already chalked out our travel plans and made all the bookings for Italy when the idea of visiting Amalfi Coast had popped up. We had one free day in hand, which we wanted to utilise by visiting Pompei. I was upset, but as luck would have it, I discovered that there was a possibility of doing a day trip from Rome to Pompeii and a chance to discover the gorgeous coastline, within the same day. It was long (around 15 hours), strenuous and expensive day, but a memorable one.
The best way to explore the gorgeous coastline would be to spend a couple of days there, staying in one of those sea facing villas and riding on a very Italian Vespa. But if you are short on time, like us, you can plan a day trip from Rome.
I looked around on the internet and stumbled upon the Tours-Italy (Avventure Bellisime) website. I looked around few similar tour packages being offered by other tour companies. Some of them were less expensive, but in the end, I went with the reviews, ratings and the quick turnaround about the questions asked. The tour cost us around 200 Euros per person (total of 400 Euros for a day). The inclusions were – pick up and drop off from our Rome hotel, journey in an AC Mercedes mini van with only 5 more along with us, in total 7 people making it a semi private tour and a wonderful English speaking, experienced driver cum guide and services of a knowledgeable local guide in Pompei who was also a historian by profession.
The entrance fees to Pompei Archaeological site (around 13 Euros) and the cost for lunch was not included in the tour cost. Visit their website from the link provided above to get more details about the trip, current prices and schedule, the inclusions and exclusions.
I plan to do a separate post on Pompei and why availing the services of a good tourist guide there is a must. But this post is about the sweet Italian life, ala ‘La Dolce Vita’ 🙂
We were picked up at sharp 7:00 AM from our hotel – “Hotel Fiamma” a vintage 3 star property located in the heart of Rome, one which I will recommend for the delicious breakfast it served every morning. From my experience, I can say that the trip was extremely well planned and their was ample room for exploring and visiting the places. It was not hurried at all. One had to just sit back and relax
The Coastline: Mama Mia Road
The drive down the entire coastline of southern Italy, is in one, sorry two words, breathtakingly gorgeous. All thanks to the Deutsch televisions show, otherwise I would have not known that such a place existed on this earth.
So, practically you will be taking twists and turns at every corner and will be chasing the view all through out. If you are travelling in a Vespa, be careful since an experienced hand is always preferred so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the view. The Italians are known world over for their love for Gelatos and he locals call the road down the Amalfi Coast as the “Mama Mia Road”.
Stops and must visits
We wanted to practically stop over at every turn to click photos, since the place was out of the ordinary. We first stopped just after crossing Bay of Naples, at Sorrento. Naples, by the way, is credited to be the birthplace of Pizza and we crossed the town after visiting Pompei. Like most of the towns on the way, Sorrento is a quiet little town.
Our next stop was the picturesque little town of Positano, which is often called the “Jewel of the Amalfi Coast”. No visit to Amalfi region, is complete without visiting Positano. The trip that we booked was very well planned and we had ample time in our hand to explore the quaint and beautiful little town of Positano on foot.
But be a little careful as you will have to climb a few stairs. The cobbled streets and the stone staircases add up to the virgin charm of the place. It is a like a town frozen in time – peaceful and untouched.
You can plunge directly into the Tyrrhenian Sea (a part of the Mediterranean waters) from one of those beautiful and super expensive villas. Our driver cum guide told us that many Hollywood celebrities owned a villa or two at one corner or the other of the beautiful Southern Italian coastline.
Some of the beautiful and colourful shops on the way before we reached the beach.
Once we reached the beach, we could not resist going into the water for a little while.I promised myself that I would go back there again just to laze around on the beach.
You can hop on one of those ferries that you can see in the picture and visit Capri from Positano.
Actually, before it turned into a holiday destination for rich and famous, Positano was a beautiful little fisherman’s village in Italy.
After Positano, our next stop was Amalfi, the town after which the coastline is named. Amalfi was actually the holiday destination of Romans around 2000 years back. Did I hear rich and famous? ;P
Frankly speaking, after visiting Positano, Amalfi did not sweep me off my feet, but yes, it was beautiful, not in the Aishwarya Rai kind of way, but may be in a Sushmita Sen kind of a way.
Since I am a Bollywood buff, I had to make that comparison. Actually, Positano is striking in her appearance, but the charm of Amalfi lies in the timeless elegance personified by the place.
The water will be your constant companion and you will be lucky to spot a few remaining Norman watch towers in Amalfi
Cuisine: Where to eat and what are the local specialties?
There is a saying that when in Rome, do as the Romans do. It is applicable if you are nearby Rome or where the Romans holidayed.
We decided to have our lunch in Positano in one of those beautiful sea facing Italian restaurants called Ristorante Chez Black. The entire beach boulevard is lined with numerous eateries and restaurants, but we chose “Chez Black” because of the view to die for.
The place has a gorgeous photowall which bears the testimony of “who’s who” having dined there.
We ordered as per the suggestion of the restaurant staff and I think I had the best Italian food of my life over there. The waiter thought that Indians were all vegetarians and suggested vegetarian dishes only in the beginning. When we told that we would like to have sea food and local Italian delicacies, he suggested one dish with cottage cheese and prawn stuffing for me. for my husband he suggested one with pasta and meat. He also suggested some white wine to go with the food and it is till date, one of the best lunches that I had with my husband.
The lunch was an expensive one (around 50 Euros) and so was the trip. But trust me! you will not regret it ever. After all, money cannot buy you happiness or the memories?
Also, if you are around Southern Italy, do not forget to try the local’s favourite drink – the “Limoncello”. Southern Italy is famous for the limes grown in the region and “Limoncello” is a strong alcoholic beverage prepared from those limes. We got a bottle of “Limoncello” as a travel souvenir for our home.
Amalfi was our last stop on the way and we returned to Rome after a long day, but yes, with a treasure trove of memories. So what are you waiting for? If you are planning to travel to Italy sometime soon, pack your bags and chalk out your plan to visit the Amalfi Coast.
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