Hi! Sorry that I’ve been a bit MIA, but with travel it’s not always easy to fit in time for a blog post. As for the past 2 weeks, I’ve been busy having the absolute time of my life.
Thanks to Knut, I’ve spent the past year exploring so many amazing parts of the world. From Norway to the Netherlands and now to Italy, I’ve been able to immerse myself in the different lives of various peoples and truly experience culture. This past trip to Italy was more tourist-oriented than immersion-based compared to my other treks to Europe, but it was equally as enlightening as I learned about the life of a traveller – bouncing from city to city, lodging in hostels, and getting lost in the wonder of adventure.
This post will take you through our trip to Italy as we traveled from the busy city of Naples to the calm fisherman’s town of Procida to the picturesque Amalfi Coast and finally to the history filled streets of Rome. Expect good food, hospitable people, and way too many photos of me posing alone.
On our first day in Italy, Naples greeted us with sunny skies, aggressive street vendors, and passionate couples. We began our 3-day stay with a pizza lunch on the Bay of Naples, paired with a Peroni for Knut and a limoncello for me. Although I stuck to red wine and prosecco for the remainder of our Italian travels, I highly recommend every tourist trying the classic lemon flavored dessert liqueur. When in Naples, be sure to walk through the many different neighborhoods from the classic main street, Toledo, to the Centro Storico to the Quartieri Spagnoli. Each neighborhood brings its own unique feel, adding to Naples’ undeniable charm.
As for the evening, our favorite dinner restaurant was Nennella. Tucked into an unassuming backstreet just a few minutes from Toledo, Nennella threw us into our most Italian experience of the trip. A restaurant frequented by tourists and locals alike, Nennella is a must-see in Naples. Fortunately, we arrived 5 minutes to 8:00pm on Saturday night and were seated within minutes. Throughout our meal, the line formed to at least 30 people waiting for a coveted table. Nennella offers a 4 course meal plus more than enough wine for €15 per person. Unable to read the Italian menu, we asked our waiter to choose for us. Meanwhile, the entertainment ensued. The waiters orchestrated more of a circus act than a dining experience as they placed plates down in front of people only to grab them away just as their forks grazed the antipasto plate (they subsequently delivered them to another table). The hectic restaurant had a hole-in-the-wall vibe and forced guests to sit back and simply take in the peculiar environment. After we took our last bite, we were playfully, yet seriously, ushered to get up and leave, along with the other guests who had arrived when we did. Beware, those who prefer order to chaos will find themselves reaching the edge of their comfort zones (me). But with the right attitude, it could be your best time in Italy. If you’re not already stuffed from the carbo-loading marathon at Nennella, stop by Cafe Infante for some delicious gelato on your way home (I HIGHLY recommend the peanut butter flavor).
People say that Naples is an unclean city, but I think that they’re being too harsh. It’s no Amalfi Coast, but it has its own appreciated charm. Neapolitans are warm and welcoming – in fact, we felt more comfortable at Hostel of the Sun in Naples than at any other place we stayed. Greeted with genuine delight as “Norwegian man and Jordan” whenever we entered the brightly colored lobby, we both thoroughly enjoyed staying in Naples. As Luca, the desk attendant, said: Naples doesn’t treat foreigners as tourists, but rather as treasured guests in their beloved city.
Our second day in Naples spontaneously became a getaway to the smallest island on the Bay of Naples, Procida. A quiet fisherman’s village with wonderful views, Procida makes for quite the enjoyable day trip. Winding your way through the island’s calm, colorful streets and enjoying breathtaking views while sipping an afternoon coffee from a seaside café is the perfect way to sneak in some relaxation and escape from the more popular, tourist-filled Italian destinations. With a beautiful hour-long ferry cruise that transports you from the bustling city of Naples to this little fairytale town, a trip to Procida offers a spectacular seaside experience.
Sorrento, Capri, and Positano
Before I left for Italy, I was told time and time again about how absolutely beautiful the Amalfi Coast is. I must say, the rumors are amazingly true. Sorrento – just an hour train ride from Naples, and the home base for the second half of our trip, was nothing short of breathtaking. Acting as the most city-like town on the coast, Sorrento is filled with beautiful cobblestone streets, dozens of bustling restaurants both in the city center and along the coast, and countless shops. Though more populated than the other towns on the coast, Sorrento was much quieter than Naples. Our favorite part of this city was watching the sunset two nights in a row, once from a seaside table at the Marina Grande and a second time while enjoying gelato from our favorite gelato place in Italy, PURO, at the Villa Communale Park.
The second town on the Amalfi coast that we visited wasn’t actually a part of the mainland, but rather it was the enchanting island of Capri. Despite a weather forecast for storms, we braved the ferry from Sorrento and arrived in sunny Capri for one of our best days in Italy. Expecting the “yellow line” blue grotto tour, we stepped off the ferry to find that the Blue Grotto was closed for the day – something that frequently happens. Luckily, there was another boat tour adapted for the choppy sea conditions and so we still got to experience the beauty of Capri from the sea. Following the boat tour, we took the cable car up to the top of the island and spent the day getting lost in Capri’s narrow streets. A highlight was stumbling upon the Krupp Gardens, which offer a fabulous view of the cliffs we boated through in the morning. Despite Capri’s extremely touristy feel, it provides such unique natural beauty that fitting it in is a must.
Finally, we ended our Amalfi Coast exploration with what came to be my favorite excursion – Positano. From the moment we stepped off the Sorrento-Positano bus, I was in love. From the crystal clear blue water to the brightly colored houses that line the cliffs of the coast, Positano is picture perfect. After enjoying the view from the top, we began to make our way down – stopping by countless charming shops and pausing to take in the breathtaking views. Once at the bottom, we enjoyed a delicious lunch by the sea and then laid on the beach for a much needed afternoon nap. Walking up and around Positano’s rocky coast, I was absolutely enthralled. Winding through the crooked streets, I couldn’t stop snapping photos of everything – hoping to ingrain the beauty of the town in my mind. If you’re planning on going to Italy soon, Positano should absolutely be on your list.
Our final day in Italy was spent in the old, historic city of Rome. Taking the train to the Trevi Fountain stop, we began the day tossing a coin over our shoulders (right hand, left shoulder…yes, we had to Google that) in order to ensure a return to Rome. The Trevi Fountain was even larger than I expected, towering over the buildings around it. We loved the view so much that we had lunch near the fountain, then returned later in the day to enjoy our final gelato on the fountain’s steps. Throughout the day, we made our way through the classic Rome landmarks – the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps. Knut and I couldn’t get over how everything has been preserved so well. It’s truly unbelievable to think about how the people who built that city made it so sustainable that it’s still around today. As we wandered through the city’s streets, we could feel the historical significance of them. Rome’s draw is so much different than most European cities, making it that much more enchanting. Our 6 hours in Rome were short, but a perfect end to our little Italian getaway. We left Italy that night with full stomachs and unforgettable memories.
Italy was my first true “trip” to Europe, as the others have been visiting Knut in his home country of Norway and his school’s location in the Netherlands. Exploring a new place together that neither of us had been to was occasionally frustrating, but mostly exciting. We enjoyed the adventure thoroughly and cannot wait for the next.
P.S. Stay tuned for a post about my second stay in the Netherlands in the next few days!