Issy and Ang go to Italy (Part 3) – The Amalfi Coast

IMG_2228Friday morning, we made our to Roma Termini, both super stressed about making all our connections in time… not realising it was the beginning of what was going to be an AMAZING day!

First we were worried about our taxi to the railway station. The night before we had tried to book a taxi from multiple places, one of them informing us that there was to be a public transport strike throughout Rome and because of that we weren’t able to book one. Not convinced, we kept trying and the only one that answered (Radio Taxi: +00 39 06 3570, calling from a UK phone) thankfully seemed to accept our booking. Still, we didn’t sleep too soundly that night wondering whether this supposed strike would affect our travel. However, the next morning our taxi did show up on time. Yay.

We got to Termini two hours before our train was due to depart because we needed to book a connecting train from Naples to Salerno. We’d been messaging Giovanni, the host for our Ravello Airbnb, asking what was the best way to get to Ravello and he told us to get to Salerno because from there we could get a ’Sita Bus’ to Amalfi, where he could then pick us up.

Travel Tip: If travelling to the Amalfi Coast by public transport, book your train to Salerno or Sorrento. The Sita buses to the coast do go from Naples, but they run more frequently from Salerno and Sorrento. The journey takes about 1hr30 from either place and costs roughly €3.40. Bargain!

Annoyingly, when we were planning the rest of our trip back in Bologna we couldn’t really find any reliable information on Sita buses online, so we hastily booked our train to Naples and hoped for the best. Spontaneity fail. Though, I think we both agree that we’re so glad we did, because our train journey from Rome to Naples was so entertaining! You know when you’re travelling, by train/plane/coach/whatever, and you end up having a huge conversation with the person next to/opposite you… both knowing you’ll never speak again but both enjoying each other’s company? Yeah, well that happened. We ended up befriending a guy called Luigi, who was travelling to Naples with his dad. He was such a character that he pretty much had our whole carriage’s attention as he proceeded to crack jokes and attempt conversations with anyone who would listen… with Issy serving as his Italian-English translator! It definitely helped us get through 3hr train journey with failing air conditioning.

IMG_2910Everybody’s new best mate, Luigi.

Despite the memorable journey, the train actually arrived at Naples later than intended so we ended up missing our connection. *cue panic* We thought we’d try the tourist information desk to find out our options, but they were anything but useful! We then went to the Trenitalia ticket office (the train line we’d booked our connection to Salerno with) and they informed us that we could just use our ticket to get on the next train to Salerno. They changed the time on our ticket and we were on our way again. *happy faces* This journey took about 40 minutes and even took us past Mt. Vesuvius which we weren’t expecting.

IMG_1011A wild Mount Vesuvius appears!

Once we arrived at Salerno we bought our tickets for the Sita Bus to Amalfi from the little tabacchi in the station. My gosh was that the most beautiful bus journey we’ve ever taken! The route pretty much followed the twisty, sometimes super narrow roads (mad skills!) that wound along the coast, giving us breathtaking views of the sea. May not be ideal for those who get travel sick, but I was definitely snapping photo’s the whole way!

IMG_1062IMG_1105 IMG_1123We arrived in Amalfi a lot later than we’d told Giovanni, but he graciously waited for us and gave a lift to Ravello, which is about 20 minutes up in the hills from Amalfi. He even carried our REALLY HEAVY suitcase all the way down the steps to the house. Bless him!

Once we got to the house, we were completely speechless! We’d seen pictures on the website when booking the place, but even that didn’t prepare us for how stunning it was going to be! From the little vegetable garden, to the massive terracotta terrace, to the mesmerising view… we couldn’t fault it! The house had 1 double bed, and 2 pull-out sofa’s, sleeping 6 people in total… so it was more than perfect for us! Giovanni even kindly stocked the kitchen with milk, tea, coffee, fresh fruit, and even offered us a beer when we entered. Win!

IMG_2776 IMG_1213 IMG_9781 IMG_1229Dat view tho.

After he left, and the two of us had a much needed sit down to collect our thoughts, we freshened up and headed out for a late dinner. Giovanni had suggested ‘Cumpa’ Cusimo’ as the best place to eat in Ravello, so we had to check it out. When we got there we soon realised it must have been popular with how busy it was. Nevertheless, we asked a waitress for a table for 2 and watched as she seemingly reluctantly led us through to the back of the restaurant.

Now, you know how when you walk through a restaurant you have a sneaky look around at all the people at the tables… don’t lie, you know you do… well we were doing just that. However, nothing prepared us for walking around the corner to the emptier back room of the restaurant and locking eyes with none other than Mark ‘THE FRICKING HULK’ Ruffalo. I swear, he must have seen our eyes widen in recognition when he looked at us. Regardless, we both tried to play it cool as we sat down at our table. It was only then that we realised he was also dining with Dianna Agron (Glee) AND Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby, An Education, Drive). *dies* Naturally, we spent the whole evening debating whether we should go disturb them for a photo, before chickening out and settling on trying to take ninja pictures instead.

As well as dining in the same room as an Avenger (and internally freaking out because i’m a massive Marvel fan!), we also had some tasty food whilst we were there. Danilo, one of the staff, suggested we get a platter of seasonal vegetable dishes to start, and a selection of different pasta as a main… so we did, and they were delicious! Homemade pasta, home grown veg, proper Italian cooking! We couldn’t get over how tasty and flavourful the produce was. Just goes to show how much of a difference there is in flavour when you’re eating something in the country it’s actually grown in! Dem tomatoes tho. The place had such a jovial, family atmosphere, which you’d expect as it’s run by brother and sister. They were both so kind to give us a free lemon tart to share, a massive glass of wine and even two peaches to take home too?!

IMG_9787Seasonal vegetable platter.

IMG_9793Tomato, red peppers and mozzarella salad.

IMG_1293IMG_9801 IMG_9796All the pasta.

IMG_1317IMG_9817We then decided to finish our day with a gelato from ‘Caffè Calce‘ (which they gave us for free?!?!), located on the main square. If you ever find yourself in Ravello, craving gelato late at night, this place is open till 2am!

IMG_9823IMG_1352Ang’s Melon & ‘Delizia Limone’. Issy’s Green Apple & Lemon.

Full of delicious food and gelato, we made our way back to the house reflecting on how we’d had such an awesome day. How, despite delays and not fully knowing how we were getting to Ravello, everything seemed to fall into place for us when travelling. How Ravello completely blew us away with how incredibly beautiful it was, and how we’d felt like we’d made the best decision staying here. How if not for one of my colleagues mentioning Ravello to me in passing we would never have even heard of it, let alone thought to go there. How a spontaneous ‘instant book’ on Airbnb turned out to be such an amazing house, with a such a lovely host. How a mere suggestion by said host of where to eat led us to dining in the same room as Quinn from Glee, Daisy from The Great Gatsby, and THE FRICKING HULK! The man knows Robert Downey Jr.! Could you tell we spent most of that night saying ‘is this real life?’?

 

The next morning we woke up and had a colourful breakfast of fresh fruit, including the peaches from Cumpa’ Cosimo (possibly the sweetest peaches we’ve ever tasted!).

IMG_9873 IMG_9871We then head out ready to devote a whole day to exploring Positano. It’s such a popular holiday destination, we wanted to see what all the fuss was about! We got the Sita bus from Ravello down to Amalfi (purchasing tickets at a little souvenir shop on the main square for €1.80). There is a path you can use to walk down to Amalfi, but we were told it takes about 40 minutes to an hour to do so, whereas the bus only took 20 minutes.

To get to Positano we decided we were going to catch a ferry from Amalfi, because it took only 35 minutes and only cost €8.

Travel Tip: It may cost more to travel to Positano by ferry than by the Sita Bus, but if it’s a scorching hot day it’s almost worth it for the 35 minutes of cool sea breeze. 

IMG_9921IMG_9928 IMG_1506IMG_1527IMG_1578IMG_9933 IMG_9944 IMG_1572IMG_1590 IMG_1591As soon as we arrived in Positano we realised why it’s so popular. The place is not only beautiful, but so colourful!

IMG_9946IMG_1599IMG_9947 IMG_9950IMG_1621IMG_1627IMG_1649 IMG_9977 IMG_1671 IMG_9983IMG_0001IMG_0003  IMG_0007IMG_0011 IMG_1705IMG_0040For lunch we stopped off at ‘Ristorante La Cambusa’, a cheerful restaurant located on the seafront.

IMG_1635 IMG_9963 IMG_9966Spinach ravioli with ricotta, and a butter and sage sauce.

IMG_9968Fruitti di mare.

IMG_9970After some serious exploring we then decided to head back to Ravello to spend our evening there. Don’t get me wrong, Positano is perfect for a beautiful beachy getaway, if that’s what you’re after. Though, for us, it felt very touristy. I guess after seeing Ravello, and how idilic and picturesque it was, Positano just felt really crowded. That, and we weren’t really looking to spend our time at the beach. We were just wanting to explore, and Ravello is definitely a good place for that! We got on the Sita bus back to Amalfi (€2.20), then got on the bus back to Ravello from there.

Here, we just leisurely roamed around, falling even more in love with the place as we uncovered so many stunning vista’s!

IMG_9893IMG_9900IMG_9901 IMG_9902 IMG_1456 IMG_9891 IMG_1461 IMG_9906 IMG_9910 IMG_9917IMG_2203IMG_1861 IMG_1862 IMG_1890 IMG_1894 IMG_1923 IMG_1949 IMG_1980 IMG_2038 IMG_2052IMG_1257We then stopped by ‘Caffè Calce’ again, for a dinner of prosciutto & pears and ham croquettes… coupled with a few cocktails.

IMG_0063 IMG_0067 IMG_2081We were so happy to just spend the warm evening sitting out on the square, people watching (there were so many weddings going on every day!), and eating good food. At one point, we even got into a conversation with a family from London, who sat at the table next to us. Small world huh? They were really friendly, and insisted we try the Rum baba’s from the restaurant… so we did. We also got a lemon granita, because when on the Amalfi Coast, eat all the lemons! My gosh, these were DELICIOUS! Whoever thought to soak a cake in rum was a bloody genius!

IMG_0070

The next morning (after a quick iced tea with lemon granita) we decided to visit the public gardens of Villa Cimbrone, one of the hotels in Ravello. We’d heard it was a must-see, and well, Issy loves anything botanical! What we didn’t realise was that we were about to set foot in one of the most stunning places we’ve ever been. And for only €7.

IMG_2134 IMG_2178 IMG_1845 IMG_0087 IMG_0093IMG_0103 IMG_0107 IMG_0118 IMG_0124 IMG_0126 IMG_0127 IMG_0132 IMG_0133 IMG_0142 IMG_0150 IMG_0152 IMG_0155 IMG_0161 IMG_2326IMG_2334 IMG_2335The Terrace of Infinity.

IMG_0178IMG_0180 IMG_2339 IMG_0181 IMG_2349 IMG_2351 IMG_0191 IMG_2366Mercury’s Seat.

IMG_2374 IMG_0197 IMG_0208The Temple of Bacchus.

IMG_0210IMG_0214Eve’s Grotto.

IMG_0216 IMG_0228Casually walked into a fairytale.

IMG_0238 IMG_2200 IMG_0240IMG_0241 IMG_0248The Crypt. Or Hogwarts?

IMG_2507 IMG_0249After spending a good few hours in the gardens (we could have spent more!), we decided to pop down to Amalfi to have a quick look around and to buy some souvenirs… and gelato.

IMG_2589 IMG_2584Ang’s Limoncello and Ricotta & Pear. Issy’s Amaretti, Chocolate & Almonds and Nougat.

With bags full of limoncello, lemon sherbets, and lemon-themed fridge magnets, we made our way back to Ravello… to get ready for the ballet! We’d booked tickets online to a show as part of the Ravello Festival, which is an annual summer festival of music and arts that takes place in the stunning gardens of Villa Rufolo.

Back at the house we got all dolled up, ready to enjoy our last night in Ravello. First we stopped by ‘Ristorante Pizzeria’ for dinner.

IMG_2655 IMG_2624 IMG_2628 IMG_2632IMG_2637IMG_0263Sausage, sweet peppers and olives.

Next we found ourselves at the Hotel Caruso. We figured since we got dressed up we may as well pretend to be all cultured and sophisticated and indulge in a cheeky cocktail at a luxury piano bar. The waiter led us to our table, whilst a pianist was playing a gentle tune on the baby grand in the corner. He then suggested we try the white peach bellini’s… so we did. How they were so pink still baffles us?! Also, all bars should serve smoked almonds. Just saying.

IMG_0266 IMG_0268 IMG_2658IMG_0274 IMG_0276IMG_2226IMG_2213We then made our way to Villa Rufolo for the ballet. The venue was absolutely stunning, with the Belvedere stage sitting on the edge of a cliff with an amazing view of the sea and coastline at night. Despite not knowing anything about ballet, the both of us were captivated and downright impressed with what the dancers could do! It was also whilst we were watching that we realised the 5 dancers had actually sat next to us in Caffè Calce the night before too, proving just how much of a small, quaint little place Ravello is!

IMG_2763 IMG_2752When the ballet was over, we headed back to the house to pack and to try and get an early night before we had to leave the next day.

In the morning, Giovanni kindly offered to come see us off and to carry our REALLY HEAVY suitcase up the steps to the main square. He even brought us cake for breakfast! Seriously, if anyone is planning on visiting Ravello, we couldn’t recommend Giovanni’s place enough! He was so hospitable and the house definitely made our visit to Ravello so memorable!

 

All in all, we had the best time in Ravello and we’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone! We’re already planning our next visit!

 

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