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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wagaman

Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri

After arriving in Vico Equense from Naples, we walked uphill from the train station about a mile over the cobble stone streets until we found where we were staying, Hotel Sporting. We knew right away that we were going to enjoy Vico Equense. It was just big enough to have things to do, just small enough to be quaint, and a little lesser traveled than its neighboring towns like Sorrento, so you could feel the authenticity of the town versus the mark tourists had put onto it.

Our hotel was perched atop and built into a steep cliff on the Bay of Naples and had an expansive view of Mt. Vesuvius across the bay.

This was also the view from our room and it was absolutely gorgeous! We had floor to ceiling windows that opened up to the bay which allowed us to drift off to sleep each night to the sound of the waves. We were in heaven! After Rome, this was a very welcomed change of scenery and change of pace!

After checking in to the hotel and relaxing for a bit, we went down to check out the hotel’s private beach. They had an elevator that went down through the cliff and opened up into a tunnel that took us out onto the beach. It was perfect! The only way to get to the beach was through the elevator or by boat so it was very secluded and very peaceful.

They had a small snack bar and a sandy beach so we grabbed a couple of drinks and enjoyed the sun for a bit. That evening, we went to a restaurant that we had seen when we first arrived. It was a very nice restaurant and we were seated near the open window which offered a spectacular view of Mt. Vesuvius behind the bay.

The next morning we grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and then headed back to the train station to go south 5 more stops to Sorrento. On the way, we found a really good little cappuccino shop that we ended up visiting everyday while we were there. When we got to Sorrento, we looked into some options for things to do and decided to take a hop on hop off site-seeing bus tour to Positano, which was the official starting point of the Amalfi Coast. One of my favorite movies is “Under the Tuscan Sun” with Diane Lane and part of it is filmed in Positano. So ever since I first saw it, I have wanted to go there. I was absolutely giddy at the thought of finally being able to see it in person, so Dustin let me have the window seat on the way there so I could get the first views of it. Along the way, we passed several olive groves, lemon and lime groves and vineyards. About half way into the hour long drive, the road turned to the sea side and we began the famous drive along the Amalfi Coast. The winding roads twisted and curved along the mountainside high above the sea. The views were miraculous and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Unfortunately our photos were taken through a bus window so they just don’t do it justice!

Finally we turned a corner and there it was; a sign that said “Positano”. I was like a little kid on Christmas morning and felt absolutely euphoric to finally be in this place that I had dreamed of going for so long! It was a little surreal to finally be there.

Positano is a cliff side village and the streets are very narrow and steep so the bus dropped us off at the city’s high point where we found about a million stairs looking back at us to get to the bottom, but luckily we were going down instead of up, so we started on our way to find the beach. We had heard of a restaurant ahead of time called Da Adolfo where they pick you up on the beach in a boat and take you on a short ride to the restaurant that is only accessible by boat. Since we are both boat lovers and we enjoy visiting the lesser known places when we travel, we thought this sounded like a perfect place for lunch so we planned to try and find the departure location.

Along the walk down, the steep alleyways were well manicured and lined with many charming, upscale boutiques and cafes and some of the walkways even had lemon groves and beautiful flowers growing above them.

We finally picked the right alley to follow and it eventually opened up to the beachfront. The black pebbled beach was the epicenter of the town and filled with life! We walked down to the water and put our toes in the Tyrrhenian Sea. A favorite thing of mine to do in our hometown is to collect beach glass on the shores of Lake Michigan and Positano had an abundance of it nestled in with the smooth black stones, so I couldn’t help myself but to collect a handful of pieces from this magical town to take home with us.

We finally spotted the tiny Da Adolfo boat and made our way over to the docks where it was dropping people off. Unfortunately, they had limited hours and had made their last trip to the restaurant for the day so we were too late L A little bummed that we had missed it, we took a quick picture with the boat and decided to explore a little bit and find some souvenirs for our family.

Positano is known for Limoncello, which is a sugary lemon flavored liqueur that is made from the fresh lemons there, so we made sure to buy a bottle to try and picked up some to take back for our friends and family. We sat on the edge of the water and sipped on it a bit while taking in the views and it was delicious!

When it was time to head back to Vico Equense to our hotel that evening, we did not feel like making the hike up all of those stairs to get back to the bus stop so we decided to take the ferry back to Sorrento instead, which also gave us a new perspective on the gorgeous scenery. Plus, Dustin and I always enjoy a good boat ride!

As we approached the marina in Sorrento, we saw a couple of huge cruise ships anchored in the harbor. The Amalfi Coast is a popular region for Mediterranean cruise ships to stop and they are massive up close! The ferry dropped us off in Sorrento and we climbed up a bunch more stairs to the city atop the cliffs and walked back to the train station.

That night we decided to try the hotel restaurant for dinner. They had two choices- an indoor fancy restaurant or an outdoor veranda that was considered their “pizzeria”. Although the weather was a bit chilly, we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful views and sounds of the sea so we sat outside and we were the only ones out there. They probably thought, “Those crazy Americans”! We ordered Pizza Vesuvio and it came out served to us in the shape of a volcano! It tasted as good as it looked! After dinner, we sat on the balcony and had a couple of after dinner drinks and just enjoyed the evening.

In the morning we followed our routine of breakfast in the hotel, cappuccino at our regular stop, and again headed to Sorrento on the train; this time with a different final destination in mind. When we got to Sorrento, we bought tickets for the ferry to take us out to the island of Capri.

While in transit, a local tour guide that we met told us about some boat tours he offered that took people around the entire island. It was a pretty good price so we paid him and he told us where to go to find the tour boat when we got off of the ferry.

The boat tour took us counter-clockwise around the island and the guides pointed out some of the main sites, including Capri, Anacapri, the lighthouse, and the grottos.

They had several grottos (sea caves), White, Blue and Green, named after the color that was reflected from the rocks onto the water in these areas. Normally on a calm day you can take a separate tour and enter these grottos on smaller boats but the tide was too high the day that we visited so they were closed and inaccessible.

During the tour, we got to see the entire circumference of the island, Marina Piccolo, and some very high priced resorts and homes where celebrities often frequent. Towards the end of our boat tour, we also got to see and drive through the famous Faraglioni Rocks that make a natural arch over the sea.

The boat dropped us back off at Marina Grande and we walked up the hill to find out where to buy tickets for a chairlift that we had heard of that offers magnificent bird’s eye views of the island and mainland. We found that you have to buy tickets for the chairlift and then find a way to get yourself from the harbor up to Anacapri at the top of the island. They had a fleet of taxis for this purpose, which were not cheap, but the quickest way up. They quoted us $25 for a one way 5-10 minute ride to the top. Walking would’ve wasted too much time so we decided to splurge. The taxis were very unique. The best way I can describe them is that they looked like a convertible with a cloth cover draped across the top but with open sides and a ton of legroom!

The winding roads had beautiful views as we twisted up the rocky terrain and the open sides allowed for some really great glimpses of the island.

When we reached the top, the chairlift was just a short walk away. We gave the operator our tickets and hopped on the single seater chairlift to Mount Solaro. The ride up takes 13 minutes and the views along the way are unparalleled! It was such a cool way to see the island.

At the top, there are 360 degree views of the island, the mainland, Mt. Vesuvius, and of course, the Faraglioni Rocks. From the top, they looked miniscule and it was hard to believe earlier that day we had driven through them in a pretty decent sized boat!

There is a very neat statue of Emperor Augustus at the top that perfectly frames the rocks if the photo is taken from the right angle. There is also a small gift shop and restaurant at the top where we enjoyed a frozen cappuccino and walked around a bit.

After the ferry ride back to Sorrento and the train ride back to Vico Equense that evening, we went down to the town square and had a drink and some snacks at an outdoor café since the restaurants weren’t quite serving dinner yet. One thing we really loved about Italy is that most all of the towns have a town square, or piazza, that serves as a central gathering point for everyone. It really creates community within the villages and brings everyone together.

For our final day on the coast, we decided to go back to Sorrento and do the hop on hop off bus tour again, but this time we planned on taking it all the way to Amalfi. We figured we couldn’t go to the Amalfi Coast without visiting the town it was named after! We were again able to go along the same beautiful road that we had taken to Positano a couple of days earlier so this time Dustin got the window seat so he could enjoy the views that I had already seen.

It took about two hours to drive from Sorrento to Amalfi and when we got there, we were pretty hungry. We walked into the town and after site-seeing a bit, we found a café on one of the main roads and shared a pizza, which was very tasty!

Although Amalfi was beautiful, we didn’t spend a lot of time there. Instead, we decided to take the ferry back to Positano. I had been relentless with trying to get a good shot of Positano on my camera because I wanted to capture the same view of the town that had been my computer screensaver for so many years. The boat ride gave me a totally different angle on the charming town as we approached from the sea. We definitely got some great shots and enjoyed the cool salty air.

Once back in Positano, we did a little shopping at some of the boutiques there. Everywhere we travel, I buy a magnet and Dustin buys a shot glass so we of course had to find those, and then I also like buying things that I can wear because each time I put the item on, it reminds me of the place where I was when I bought it. I ended up buying a new swimsuit there and Dustin purchased a T-Shirt in Amalfi.

In an effort to get that one last great shot of Positano before we left, we wandered up the steps on the opposite side of town from where we had been the first time we visited. There was a walkway there that went along the edge of the road and it was the exact perfect angle that I had been looking for. It captured the colorful houses tucked into the side of the mountain, the beautiful beach, and the view of Positano that had been my screensaver. I felt accomplished! And a slight bit dorky!

Dustin was very patient with me while I made him take about 1000 pictures with me from that view.

While taking pictures, we stumbled upon another bus stop and decided to get back on the hop on hop off bus that we had taken that morning to Amalfi so that it could take us back to Sorrento. The bus was jam-packed with tourists heading back for the evening so there was standing room only. An hour long ride seemed like days after all of the switching back and forth and back and forth on the twisty, curving road trying to balance our weight so as not to fall on the people next to us who had been fortunate enough to get seats. We finally made it back to Vico Equense that evening and decided to enjoy our last dinner there on the balcony at our hotel pizzeria again.

In the morning, the hotel concierge shuttled us and our luggage to the train station where we took our final ride on the graffiti covered Circumvesuviana train line. By this time it wasn’t even scary anymore though since we had ridden on it so many times back and forth to Sorrento during our 4 day stay on the coast. We got back on the high speed train at Napoli Centrale to head to Florence. We were eager to leave Naples, but sad to say goodbye to the stunning Amalfi Coast. We truly enjoyed our time there and I think Positano will always have a little piece of my heart.

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