A Holiday in Sorrento, Italy
Posted on September 6, 2016
Well, I have to say that my holiday to Italy was an excellent one and preferable to other great holidays I have had in Europe for a number of reasons.
However, on the downside, Italy, courtesy of a perfect storm of being traditionally expensive and the post Brexit collapse of the pound, is not cheap, with a meal for two and a bottle of wine often racing past the 100 euros mark.
What you do get in Sorrento, is a town proud of its traditions with independent shops, restaurants, cafes and bars lining the streets rather than crappy theme pubs and American fast food outlets. The back streets are a great place to walk around, browse the shops, and have the occasional wine or beer stop.
This reaffirmed my belief that a country does not have to exit the European Union to keep its cultural identity and that any alleged threat to the British identity is not Europe, a continent steeped in tradition, but corporate America.
This is not to dismiss America entirely but it is not Europe that has filled our towns and cities with Starbucks, McDonalds and KFC, making every High Street in every provincial town look entirely the same. Italy, France and Spain haven’t changed our culture, they have their own to protect and Italy appear to do it rather well.
Apart from Sorrento, we went to the following places.
About an hour (courtesy of heavy traffic) this live volcano watches over the Bay of Naples waiting to blow (the last time was a mild eruption in 1944). In this event, the authorities have about 72 hours to evacuate 800,00 people from the crowded and chaotic city of Naples. Good luck with that chaps.
We got a bus about three quarters of the way up and did the rest by foot. If you do this, don’t attempt what I did and turn up in flip flops as it is tough terrain and it will play havoc on your back and knees without decent shoes or trainers.
At the top, you can look into the crater and back over Naples and imagine what it would be like watching it erupt, knowing hot lava is coming to engulf your home. On the positive side the views are stunning.
The crater from the last eruption at Mt Vesuvius
If you go to this region, you have to go to Pompeii, otherwise you will spend the rest of your days justifying to your friends why you didn’t. Firstly, Pompeii is very hot, so be prepared as you will tire out trying to see it all without water.
Pompeii was engulfed in ash during the Roman times and since excavation has begun, geologists have uncovered more and more of this city, with the roads and many buildings in an incredibly well preserved state, notably the red light district.
The area around the site is unattractive and almost resembles a shanty town, so I would recommend a visit but not to stay there…it is only 2.7 euros from Sorrento on a train, a fact that we found out a bit late after getting overcharged. It is 13 Euros to enter (free on Sunday) and your children’s inheritance to eat or drink in any of the surrounding restaurants.
Pompeii is well worth a visit
Amalfi and Positano
We visited these coastal towns on a 12 man speed boat, an excellent day out that included lunch and free booze on board with stops for swims in the rocks and so on. The skipper was good fun and informative and both towns are pretty and full of bars and restaurants in the traditional streets.
In Positano, I had my only bad meal of the trip (chicken salad) which was probably just bad luck but worth noting that exploitation does happen in these restaurants that have multiple boats stopping with customers they will never see again. If I had to make a choice, I would choose Amalfi over Positano.
Amalfi is well worth a visit
Capri is an island for the wealthy. The main town is split in two with a harbour and a designer shopping paradise at the summit. We walked to the summit and nearly died of exhaustion after assuming we would save a small fortune avoiding the stair lift. It is 1.80 Euros so do not make the same mistake, it is a very hard slog.
Capri is very pretty and clean but in my opinion it almost feels a bit too clinical, with immaculate designer boutiques lining the streets in between restaurants boasting the pop stars, actors, footballers and gangsters who have adorned their premises. You would need to be very wealthy to stay there for more than a few days but if you are just across the harbour in Sorrento, you would be mad not to visit it on the passenger ferry which is 35 Euros for a return ticket.
Capri is lined with trendy bars and restaurants
Sorrento is the place to be as you have easy access to all the places listed above, returning in time to enjoy the bustling streets full of lively bars and restaurants that all give you a feeling of being somewhere a bit special, which of course, you are.
If you haven’t been to Sorrento, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough but you will just have to accept there will be times when your pockets need to be deep and you credit card will take a pounding.
*The video picture catalogue below is mainly for my dad who doesn’t use Facebook, but feel free to watch.