Naples and Amalfi Coast, Italy

My first trip to Naples was when I was working for an Italian family on their private yacht back in 2004, our owners gave us a couple of days off and some of the crew decided to go to see Pompeii. There was a trash strike, so the city was covered in rubbish bags and litter…but it was still so beautiful. This was before I had a smart phone, Facebook or anything to really document my travels and I’ve long lost the photos but the memories are vivid. I’ll never forget how the intensity of the city contrasted with the kindness of the Napolitano people. I didn’t imagine it would take over a decade to return, but I’m so glad I did.

GETTING THERE : From Bordeaux you can take a non-stop flight on multiple airlines, generally for under 50 EURO round-trip if you are flexible date-wise. I flew Volotea this time, which has a lot of great priced flights from Bordeaux. The airport in Naples was a bit hectic, I wanted to try getting into town with the bus system to see how it worked and is was very simple and direct. The only issue being you had to wait in the sun and the bus was rather packed and hot, so if you were traveling with small children you might want to take a taxi…or not…more on that later.

The public transportation is actually great, not expensive and relatively reliable but bring cash. You’ll buy tickets either in the booths outside of the metro lines or in ‘Tabacchi’ shops. You can get most places using it. Metro Art ANM

I don’t have the nerve to drive in Southern Italy, but if you think you can handle two-lane roads being used as three, variable speed limits, race-car like drivers and lots of curvy roads on cliffs…go for it. The reward will be accessing locations not accessible to tourists requiring public transportation. I had to take a taxi to the airport in the morning because there was no bus that could get me there on time once the first metro was late, so I was very grateful the roads were nearly empty and we made it on time to the drivers incredible need for speed in that moment!

WHAT TO EAT : I find the best way to get comfortable in a city is to meet with a local first thing. So, if you know someone there as them to show you around quickly if they have time. If not, find a tour. Mine, naturally, was food focused, light hearted and really fun. It was around three hours long and took you into the belly of Naples. I used ‘Get Your Guide‘ and found someone for 35 EURO (included all tastings) and it was called ‘Naples Street Food and Sightseeing Tour’. The guide, Sara of Raphael Tours, was really nice and personable. We were a small group of around six, and we tried many things, but by far, my favorite was the fried pizza (which was more like a fried calzone to me). I still think about it.

Stopping in for gelato was a great way to end the tour and we also were given tips about getting around, shown important historical locations (take one of the underground tours if you have time), and learned a little bit about the importance of the chilli pepper to the people of Naples.

Frito Misto is one of my favorite meals, so when I learned that some of the best was located at Il Miracolo Dei Pesci (near my hotel), that was where I took my first dinner. The servers were amazing, the table was streetside, laid back, and food was delicious / Largo Sermoneta 17, Naples / +39 081 769 0778 / Il Miracolo Dei Pesci (facebook.com)

50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo was located almost on the same block as my hotel and had a massive line to wait in right after I got there. The pizza was great, if you can get a table outside it will be perfect / Open daily for lunch and dinner, reservations required / Piazza Sannazaro 201B, 80123 Naples / +39 081 1920 4667 / 50 Kalò – Ciro Salvo il maestro dell’impasto (50kalo.it)

WHAT TO SEE : Pompeii is a must see, if it is your first time in Naples you will absolutely want to visit. Seeing as it was my second time, I went to Ercolano/Herculaneum which is a smaller site that was also berried under ash from the volcano Vesuvius. Ornate frescos, home interiors, market stalls and the eerie remains of people are here in this once bustling seaside town. It is a quick 30 minute train ride from Naples and a 15 minute walk down from the metro stop. There is a small museum and gift shop as well. The best part, it was nearly empty when I was there in June and that was before covid, so I imagine you would still have it all to yourself. The afternoons get hot, so try to get there for the morning / Ercolano, Italy / Home (ercolano.na.it)

Take a ferry from Naples to any of the Islands, Capri is beautiful but I spent to many summers only seeing that island, so on this trip I decided to go to Procida…which was a great decision. It’s the laidback, smaller and more authenic sister to Capri. It was easy to get around even on foot, but a bicycle would be ideal. The Talented Mr.Ripley was partly filmed there, as well as many other famous films and the small Island has been chosen as the Captial of Culture for 2022. Read more here : The little island of Procida prepares to shine as Italy’s Capital of Culture | Italy | The Guardian.

I ended up at a paid beach, which is rather typical of the Amalfi coastline. I had a chair with umbrella and could get drinks brought to me which was nice, but the beach was rocky and I didn’t have water shoes so it wasn’t super comfortable. I met an artist, named Luigi Nappa, who was incredibly talented and had a wonderful life story that has taken him around the world. My biggest regret is not buying a piece of his artwork that day, but it gives me a great excuse to go back / Via Roma 50, Procida, Italy / About Luigi | Luigi Nappa

If you take a ferry from Naples, be sure to check which port it is leaving from (there is more than one) and give yourself a good 30 minutes in the ferry terminal before departure to find out where you need to be 2021 High speed ferry and ferry schedule from Napoli to Procida (naplesbayferry.com)

You’ll have probably heard of Positano, which is a really stunning coastal town best seen from the sea. Amalfi is equally charming, and crowded, but is an easy stop by train from Naples (you can also take a ferry, which is wonderful for the scenery). A driver can pick you up from Amalfi and take you up the terraced hills to the Frantoio Gargiulo olive farm, you’ll have a beautiful walk through the trees and finish with a tasting of some very fresh oils. The absurdly aromatic lemons are another favorite of mine and I went home with some of them, as well as the oils / Open daily, book in advance / Via Nastro D’Argento 9 – 80065 Sant’Agnello – Penisola Sorrentina, Napoli / +39 081 807 3730 / Frantoio Gargiulo – Quello dell’olio di Sorrento – Frantoio Gargiulo

WHERE TO STAY : I chose to stay at the Mergellina Resort near the port of Naples, which turned out to be a great decision as it turned out my friend and Gironde neighbor was in Naples the same time…in the same area. The hotel I stayed at was simple, clean, but also needed updating. The staff was super friendly and as a single female traveler I felt very safe. It was also in a quiet area, off the beaten path, which I liked. I could walk to restaurants, but the walk into town was rather long and I would recommend taking the metro instead / Via Mergellina 43, 80122 Naples / +39 081 761 8610 / Mergellina Resort

One morning, my neighbor and I met for breakfast and ate fresh mozzarella. It was insanely good and has ruined me for life. I’ll never enjoy mozzarella again. I recommend you try it / .::: antica casearia fierro – mozzarella di bufala, ricotta, caciotte, procola, prodotti caseari genuini e sicuri :::. (mozzarellafierro.it)

Alternatively, if you have more time, you could drive south and visit a buffalo farm to eat the cheese directly from the source! Tenuta Vannulo – Mozzarella Di Bufala – Paestum, Capaccio (Salerno)

Have a great time…and wear your sunblock 🙂

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