Sorrento was the first stop on our trip, and ultimately, it ended up being our favorite city! There’s something to be said for the magical beauty of mountains/cliffs set against a body of water. So picturesque! It was also a great home base for exploring the Amalfi Coast. The train and bus systems are super easy to navigate – one of the main reasons we were able to take three day trips during our time here.
On our first day, we checked in, showered, ate, and then set out to walk the streets of Sorrento. It was fun finding random side streets to explore. We also spent a great deal of time looking out at the water and marveling at the fact that we were finally here.
We stayed at the Grand Hotel Royal and loved it! The concierge was friendly and did everything possible to make sure we were comfortable during our stay. Our room was clean and huge (for European standards). It kind of felt like we were staying at a bed and breakfast. Very cozy! The location was perfect too – walking distance to everything! A breakfast buffet was also included in our stay. The spread included all kinds of things, including pastries, toast, eggs, different meats and cheeses, juices, coffee, etc. A great way to start our day!
WHAT WE DID
Pompeii and Vesuvius – We took the train to the Pompeii ruins and then did a “tour” of Mt. Vesuvius. Most people said Pompeii took them 2-3 hours to walk through…well, it took us almost four! The ruins are incredible and sad at the same time. You can almost feel what the residents of Pompeii must have felt on that fateful day.
The tour of Mt. Vesuvius was also very memorable. We took a bus up to a certain point and had the option to hike to the crater. We hiked! And it was so worth it. The views from the top of Vesuvius are breathtaking. I could have spent all day up there!
Capri – We took a ferry to Capri but had no real plan after that. Immediately upon walking off the port, we saw a sign for a two hour boat tour of the island. The tour included a stop at the Blue Grotto as well. We decided to get on the next boat and take it from there. You guys! It was amazing. Capri is a beautiful, majestic island, and we got to see it from all sides.
When the Blue Grotto stop came up, Vishnu and I made a quick last minute decision to hop into a smaller boat and just go for it. Again, totally worth it! Our guide told us that the sand at the bottom is white, and when the sunlight streams in, the water appears to be this amazing electric blue color. He also told us to dip our hands in the water for good luck!
After our boat tour, we grabbed some lunch and then set off for a hike to Arco Naturale, a natural arch dating back from the Paleolithic Age. We were told the hike would take 30-45 minutes. No one told us about the stairs. It was a crazy 45 minutes, but we finally made it. Vishnu and I were speechless. The view of the arch and the water and the clear blue sky was unforgettable. The sheer beauty of it all made me tear up a bit!
Amalfi Coast – We rode the SITA bus to both Positano and Amalfi on our last full day in Sorrento. Every article, review, and blog post I read said that the bus ride is scary and not for people with weak stomachs. I thought it was perfectly fine. Maybe it’s because we’ve rode through much steeper cliffs with much crazier drivers in India! Anyway, if you decide to go the SITA bus route, definitely sit on the right side of the bus for the best views!
Our first stop was Positano. We got off at what I think was the city center and then walked down to Spiaggia Beach. Finally the Mediterranean Sea, and it was stunning! The most bluest of blues. I wish we could have swam in it…next time!
We (more like I) then decided on a lunch place that was at the very top of the cliffs closer to the next town over. I totally didn’t think about how crazy of a hike it would be to get there, but it was. It took us a sweaty 1.5 hours. But looking on the bright side, we really got to see Positano (that’s what I kept telling Vishnu anyway!).
After lunch, we walked down to the SITA bus station and rode to Amalfi. By the time we got there, I was exhausted…like couldn’t keep my eyes open. So instead of getting off and walking around, we just enjoyed the views from the comfort of our seats. I know, I know. But my legs/feet were absolutely killing me by this point!
I will say that from all the different places we went, Positano ended up being our favorite overall. The colorful cliff side homes facing the blue sea, our adventurous hike up the cliff, and the amazing lunch we experienced just couldn’t be topped!
WHERE WE ATE (that was notable)
Pizzeria Da Franco (Sorrento) – Great casual pizza place near the train station. We ended up going here twice. The crust is thin, chewy, and perfectly charred from the wood fire oven. Really good distribution of toppings too. And the red sauce is finger licking good!
Aurora Light (Sorrento) – This restaurant is located in the main square and claims to provide lighter/healthier Italian food. I don’t know if it was healthier, but it was quite good. Vishnu ordered the cannelloni stuffed with ricotta and spinach, and I went with the tagliatelle and mushrooms. I thought both dishes were executed really well (especially mine), but Vishnu thought it could have been a little better.
Gelateria Davide il Gelato (Sorrento) – This was our first taste of gelato in Italy, and it was good! To be honest, the Snickers gelato cake Vishnu got stole the show, but my cup of chocolate and hazelnut gelato did the trick as well! It wasn’t the best we had but it definitely wasn’t the worst.
Le Relais (Grand Hotel Royal, Sorrento) – This was our complimentary meal at the hotel, and it was delicious! We each got appetizers, a primi course, a secondi course, dessert, and a bottle of wine. The standout items of the night were the eggplant parmesan (it was tender and buttery) and the molten lava cake (the best we’ve ever had).
Buonocore Gelato (Capri) – BEST gelato in Italy…hands down! We stopped here after our Arco Naturale hike because so many people were crowded around the gelato counter. And I’m so glad we did. Not only is the gelato (me) and sherbet (Vishnu) perfection, but they make the waffle cones in front of you. In fact, my cone was still a tiny bit warm! So fresh. I got a huge scoop of the Fantesie (sp?) di Capri flavor and it was heaven on a cone. Buonocore set the gelato bar really high…for life!
Osteria del Buonconvento (Sorrento) – This restaurant was a short walk from our hotel but not quite in the middle of everything. For some reason, that made me feel like we were getting a more authentic experience. And yes, while the food was delicious, the music they played in the main dining room was obnoxious! Imagine this – beautiful restaurant, Italian food/wine, and Lady Gaga blaring from the speakers. It was strange. But music aside, Vishnu’s mushroom ravioli was spectacular – the pasta and the sauce really came together so well. I kept sneaking bites to the point where he asked if I just wanted to switch plates!
La Tagliata (Positano) – This is the restaurant we hiked 1.5 hours for! The first thing we learned upon sitting down is that there is no menu. You eat what mama makes. For us, this included a number of appetizers (beans, pickled vegetables, and eggplant parm), a primi course (made from scratch pastas), a secondi course (grilled meats for Vishnu, pieces of grilled cheese for me, and a salad to share), and dessert. You guys, we were stuffed, and we didn’t even eat everything. I really felt like we were at our Italian friend’s house for lunch. And the views? AMAZING! This was such a unique experience, and I’m so glad we didn’t give up and eat somewhere else.
If you had to pick you absolute favorite place in the world, what would you say it is?