My Italian journey concludes with the South of Italy. After a fairly quick train ride from Rome we arrived in Naples which has a reputation of being one of the toughest cities in Italy. Watch your purse, your bags, look out for each other, all warnings we took. We arrive at the Naples train station and had to change trains to get to our next destination, during the transfer both of us cautious, getting quickly to the next level to reach our train. The reality, yes Naples, doesn’t look like Rome, Milan, Venice, but we never felt a threat. Apartment buildings, children in the streets, graffiti everywhere is the look of the city, but during all this shuffle not once did I feel threaten, worried for someone to come to close. People were warm and helpful. My tip always be alert but don’t overdo it, many people still visit Naples every year and it’s still very touristy. Just keep your guard up.
Finally, we arrived to our destination Sorrento: a quick 30-minute train ride from Pompeii, a boat ride to Capri, and an hour flight to Sicily. Sorrento is a cute little town right near the coast that is full of life and has so many little shops to buy cute gifts for loved ones’ back home. The view we had from our amazing hotel, the Ascot Hotel, was of the street and in the distance you could see the mountain side and Mediterranean Sea. Walking around at night is safe and fun, many people are out eating the amazing pizza Naples has to offer. It’s a must, I mean Naples, Italy invented pizza so it must be the best. I tried it and boy was it amazing! Definitely a dinner you must have, and it should be accompanied with a shot of limoncello. One thing to know about Sorrento it part of the land that grows lemons and said to produce the best lemons in the world. So naturally, Italians found a way to make it into a drink. Limoncello can be taken in many form, but we decided to take it as a shot. It has a unique taste to it, so be prepared. It’s something YOU have to drink while in Sorrento.
Our next day here we decided to visit the city of Pompeii. After the train ride, you get off right at the doors of Pompeii. Now many people there will try to sell you on taking a tour because you can easily get lost in the huge city remains, but we decided against it. Tours range from 40-100+ Euros but we wanted to just explore the site, get a feel of the people who use to live there, and travel back in time and get lost in the city. Now you CAN easily get lost in here, so just make sure you have someone who remembers the entrance or don’t wander too far from the main roads.
Now some parts of the city are still being excavated so some places are off-limits and other parts you’re free to touch the walls and see some the remains still being discovered to this day. You can see how close Mt. Vesuvius is from the city and you can only imagine what went through the minds of the people living at the time to see the volcano exploding and not having enough time or place to really go to. You can also see the city’s water system, where the royalty lived and where the people would gather for events. It amazing to see how well the city has been kept knowing it founded around 6th or 7th century BC. Pompeii is an amazing place to visit but really a whole day event, there is so much history, so many things to see and learn that I recommend taking a day to truly take everything in.
The next day we were surprised by my best friends’ parents with a boat excursion to Capri. I believe it cost them around 200 Euros for the both of us (now I’m not entirely sure of the price seeing as it was a gift) but this was the average price for a whole day excursion to Capri. We had a car pick us up from the Hotel Ascot door along with other hotels and drop us off that the port. We got to the port and were introduced to the other 6 people coming on the excursion with us and our captain. Quick tip, make friends with the captain, he let us sit in the front, made sure we were fed, and always helped with anything we need. He then took us to explore the island of Capri, many of you may have heard of the Blue Grotto, now he didn’t take us inside but we did get to see the amazing color of the sea. We even got to see how the water and limestone radiate a purple color onto the caves. It was literally a sight to see, how crystal blue the water was and how complex the caves looked.
We got to even have a 30-40-minute break where we docked in the ocean and got to swim into a cave or just float on the water. After that we docked in Capri and had the whole day to basically explore the island, do some shopping, eat, and just hang out with the locals. Capri was breath-taking. The people super friendly, the food so fresh, and the scenery you just couldn’t imagine. After our time was up we had to head back to the mainland but our captain went a little slower so we could actually watch the sunset right on the ocean and just take it all in. I would recommend to anyone, get an excursion to Capri there are so many options from really inexpensive ones to insane pricey ones. Pick one you’re comfortable with and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
After Capri, we had to wake up early and make it back to the city to take a plane to the beautiful island of Sicily. The plane ride we took was Ryanair and only an hour-long, very cheap and very comfortable I might add. Always a plus to look into other small airlines to travel within Europe because the deals are so good, our ticket was only like 40-60 Euros practically nothing. We did have to pay extra for having an overweight bag but that’s it. So my travel tip is to travel light.
Once we arrived in Sicily, my friends’ family picked us up and we stayed in Misilmeri with them. Now Palermo is the big city to visit but Misilmeri can compete. Her family took us to some of the big places to see in like the cathedrals, museums, and political homes which were all stunning. Then we also went to a church that had a view like no other of the city. Another day we explored the beaches, the sand HOT so be careful, more than the burning Florida sand. The water, however, perfectto! The architecture of the city impeccable like all of Italy.
We spent a couple of days here for family, but also it was my best friends’ birthday and she got surprised with a beautiful dinner in the “La Puerta del Sol” (translation the Door of the Sun) restaurant. It was about a 30-minute drive from the city but it was amazing. I’ll never forget the name, because her family rented the whole restaurant out of us to celebrate, but also the staff was amazing and the food to die for. The photo below doesn’t do it justice but we have an amazing view of the whole city and we were about 40-50 people celebrating so it was a wonderful night and a killer way to end a trip. But that wasn’t the only surprise, her family also had a firework show for her and it just made the night that much more magical. The fireworks helped the nigh sky light up the city. If you’re ever in Sicily go visit “La Puerta del Sol” its staff is so family friendly, caring, and attentive, plus the food was amazing.
To conclude, Italy was all I thought it was going to be and then more. It blew my mind, opened my eyes, and truly made me see that I can handle anything. I had to find a way to communicate, depend on myself to get to the correct train/order food/get directions, and talk/interact with different people. It made me realized I wasn’t a child anymore; I was becoming an adult who could handle living in such a diverse world. The sights of Italy are something to see, the history there is undeniable, and the best part is the culture you just take it all in. I’ll always have a place in my heart for Italy as a place that helped me grow, learned about who I was becoming and wanted to be, but most importantly it made me realize how fortunate I was to even get the experience of going. I’ll always love Italy but for now Arrivederci Italia until next time!
XOXO Karen Giuliana