to travel / {may 2009} amalfi coast, italy: overview and day 1

{I’m a few years behind on processing photos from vacations and am slowly catching up. I was missing Positano the other day, so I’ll start with the Italy 2009 trip.}

As mentioned in another travel post, my roommate and I scored a low fare to Rome for May 2009. I’d never been to the Southern part, so we decided to head down from Rome and come back up for Florence before we had to leave (because I love Florence). Our itinerary included the Memorial Day weekend:

Day 1: Arrive in Rome. Travel to Sorrento.
Day 2: Sorrento, Naples.
Day 3: Sorrento, Naples, Vesuvius.
Day 4: Ischia.
Day 5: Ischia.
Day 6: Positano.
Day 7: Positano, Capri, Amalfi.
Day 8: Florence.
Day 9: Florence.
Day 10: Rome.
Day 11: Return home.

Day 1: Arrive in Rome. Travel to Sorrento.

Most of Europe has an excellent public transportation system. There is no point in driving — rental cars are expensive, especially in Italy where collision damage waivers are required due to the high accident rates. Also, most of Europe drives manual transmissions. Automatic rentals are usually double in price and low in inventory. And how you seen how nailbiting the Amalfi coastline is? There’s a reason why it’s in National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime.

I’d met a nice, older gentleman on my plane ride over and we chatted quite a bit on wanderlust. He was biking (Harleys) from Rome to Sicily with his brother-in-law and a female friend. He’d asked my roommate and I to join. Alas we had other plans… and luggage!

We took the train from the Rome FCO airport to the central station in Rome and then transferred to another train bound for Naples. From Naples, we caught a smaller regional train, the Circumvesuviana, to Sorrento (its last stop). I think the trip took 2-3 hours. We got a pass and if I remember correctly, the ticket covered the Circumvesuviana (from Naples to Sorrento) and buses down to Amalfi. It was a great deal because we took a few trips to Naples for pizza (my non-food loving roommate was such a trooper) and it is an hour long ride on the somewhat ghetto “train”.

We stayed at the Palazzo Starace in the town center, which was a short walk from the Circumvesuviana station. We stupidly carried our bags up 3 or 4 flights of stairs to where our rooms were, not understanding the what the owner was saying or the existence of a pulley system. It’s good that we have plenty of training for stairs at home (we live on the 6th floor – no elevator).

After we freshened up, we headed out. First order of business was to find a gelato shop. After that, we figured out how to get to the waterfront/beach and found a place to eat pizza/drink European Coca-Cola and people watch. May was a beautiful time of year to visit. It was hot but not sweltering. We walked around, saw some locals dancing, saw a wedding dissemble from a church, gazed at Vesuvius, etc.

Sorrento is famous for their lemons… and limoncello.

The town of Sorrento is on top of a cliff. We walked by this place at night and it was scary. Have you seen Pan’s Labyrinth?

The bougainvillea was a picturesque backdrop for the girl who likes bright colors.