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Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Isle of Wight...
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Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Well we finally made it to our hotel, Il Gabbiano, in Baia at about midday having arrived in Naples from Gatwick at about 09.40 this morning. The Easy Jet flight was uneventful and on time, although our rather stout, middle aged air hostess was rather formidable. She barked and growled at all the passengers for no particular reason. Bull dog chewing a wasp sprung to mind! Check in at Naples Airport was efficient and we were soon on the shuttle bus to the car hire centre where we picked up our little Kia (the DH was disappointed it was not a Fiat 500). We plugged in our Italian Sat Nav (brought with us from the UK), typed in what we thought was the postcode for the hotel and off we set. The DH is used to driving in foreign countries so it wasn't nearly as bad as we had been led to believe, although I admit we purposely avoided the centre of Naples! Approximately 35 minutes later we arrived at our "destination", not our hotel but a little corner shop in Baia. DH hopped out to ask for directions and came back about 15 minutes later with two bottles of homemade, local wine and some vague instructions of how to get to Il Gabbiano. Well 2.5 hours later we finally got there via the scenic route shall we say. The hotel is up a very steep hill along a windy road, far from the village but worth it for the spectacular views from every room. Our room is very comfortable, a double with en suite shower and large balcony over looking the bay. It seems a popular place for weddings, one is underway as I type, so the restaurant and seating areas are quite posh and filled with smartly dressed guests. We were hot and tired after our early start so didn't fancy dressing up, instead we caught the hotel shuttle bus into Baia and had lovely pizza and salad at a little harbour front cafe called Il Tucano. Afterwards we paddled in the sea and then caught the shuttle back to Il Gabbiano. The wedding was and still is in full swing so we spent some time on the roof top terrace soaking up the rays (a lovely 30 deg C) then cooled off in the spa before retiring to our balcony to drink our homemade wine and play our day tomorrow. So much to see and do, just a case of fitting it all in the 6 days we have left!

Australia
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for Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples
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1. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Oh this sounds GORGEOUS! Thank you....keep them coming. Had to laugh at your 'scenic route' trip but your DH has my utmost respect for driving in the first place. Looking forward to the next instalment.

Norwich, United...
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2. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Well done for getting there!

Postcodes here cover much much larger areas than in the UK, and the Gabbiano's 80070 extends over to include parts of our island - so lucky, perhaps, that you didn't end up on some coastal cliff edge... staring across the Procida Channel to Ischia?

http://www.comuni-italiani.it/cap/80.html

Glad to read it's going well so far, and that you're finding the Gabbiano as nice as we remember it.... but as for Easyjet - don't tell me Tony Robinson no longer does the cabin announcements? Typical actor, gets a knighthood and immediately drops the day-job!

............................

If your GPS won't take specific addresses, two mappy things we've found useful for that area...

- Stradanapoli, the local equivalent of our A-Z... about A5 size, spiral-bound, with 1:12,000 road maps that go out to Cuma and Licola etc... €10, though possibly hard to find now?

- the Belletti map of Naples province, less detailed at 1:110,000 - but only €5.50

Filling stations may stock them, or something similar.... if going into Naples, try the Feltrinelli bookshops, at the station or in the Via Chiaia area!

............................

Anyway, welcome to Campania - and I trust you'll continue to enjoy the heatwave we're currently having! Good luck with the exploring,

Peter

http://www.pbase.com/isolaverde

Isle of Wight...
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3. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Day 2: Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii

What a day! Well we woke up bright and early and decided it was to be Vesuvius and Pompeii today, so we typed "Pompeii" into our trusty sat nav and off we set. It was surprisingly easy to get there and just by chance we found a 24 hour car park ( €1.50 per hour) in a handy place. We were immediately pounced on by a lady from an "official" tourist information stall who managed to sell us a trip to the crater of Mount Vesuvius (€20 per person) and an audio guide (€5 each) for Pompeii. I have no idea if she was official or not, mind you, but she said the mini bus to Vesuvius would be along in 5 minutes so we gave her the benefit of the doubt! There lies the most terrifying experience of my life, the mini bus driver drove like a bat out of hell whilst juggling not one but two constantly ringing mobile phones. At times he was steering using only his elbows and at others he had no hands on the wheel at all, I kid you not!! Anyway, somehow we arrived alive, if a little bit shaken, and climbed to the crater. Well worth it even in the midday heat. ( I forgot to add that the €20 did not include the entrance fee - that was €10pp extra, you pay when you get there.) There are only portaloos on site, just for those who worry about such things. They were clean enough and had toilet paper, in fact, compared to the toilets at the Isle of Wight festival where I was 4 days prior to this visit, they were luxurious!!

Back in Pompeii we stopped for pizza, salad and a glass of wine at a place opposite the main entrance to the archeological site. It was touristy and expensive (a girl on the plane warned us to check our bill and just as well we did as extras we didn't have had been added). We shared a pizza and salad and had a glass of wine each for nearly €50 (compared to €30 for twice the amount of food and wine yesterday in Baia).

Wow! What can I say about ancient Pompeii?! I never realised how VAST it was!! We were told we needed a couple of hours to see it all, but I reckon you need at least a whole day (or several) to really do it justice and that's coming from someone who is no historian! I felt slightly sorry for the people on group tours, presumably from cruise ships, who were being frog marched by at a furious pace to fit everything in. We bought the ticket that includes 5 sites (Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabia and Boscoreale) for €20 and is valid for 3 days. Does anybody know if we can revisit Pompeii with this ticket as we would like to go back? As you can probably tell we did very little research prior to this trip so we're learning on the hoof. I am going to have to look up the other places in my guide book tonight as I'm ashamed to say I know very little about any of them.

Back at the hotel on our balcony now. Another evening, another wedding!! That's the only downside about Il Gabbiano, since we arrived it has been overrun with one wedding party after another and it's only mid week.We do feel we have to make ourselves scarce as we look a bit out of place all dusty and dishevelled after a days sightseeing! We could shower and get dolled up but we're too lazy. Hey ho, we found the super market and bought more wine, fresh bread and olive oil to consume on our lovely balcony with its spectacular views :)

Who knows what we will do tomorrow, we have no fixed itinerary, but Naples, Ravello, Sorrento and a vineyard are all on the list, plus the other sites included on our ticket above of course. We have 5 days left so if there are any other "must see" places please let me know! I spent time in Scilla as as a teenager but I guess that is too far to drive? DH might just draw the line at that. A boat trip to one of the islands would be good too. We should have come for two weeks but I couldn't palm the kids off for any longer. Only joking, don't think they've realised I'm gone :(

Thanks for reading, please say if it's boring and I'll stop!! It's something to do while the DH slumps in his chair after a day negotiating with the Italian traffic, lol.

Norwich, United...
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4. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Please don't stop - all too few of the threads here are as entertaining!

Peter

Maryland
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5. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

I agree, please do not stop reporting. I will read them. Thanks for sharing, they area a good length and enjoyable to read.

Isle of Wight...
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6. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Thank you!

Italy
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7. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

What a fabulous report, I'm really looking forward to the next episode.

BTW 50Euros for a pizza and salad with 2 glasses of wine is pretty shocking even if it is at the entrance and if they're also adding on extras that people don't have it's even worse.

Hartford...
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8. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Hey....I want to travel with you guys!!!

Reno, Nevada
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9. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

We still remember our dinners at il Nido at the top or Sorrento on the terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples, across to the nightly fireworks in Naples and the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. Now that was a romantic dinner.

Isle of Wight...
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10. Re: Naples and Amalfi Coast Trip Report: Day One

Day 3: Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi

Today the DH has driven nearly 200 miles. I will try to keep the report more succinct as he says I waffle too much!

After a leisurely start we arrived in Sorrento at about lunchtime, what a buzzing town it is. Just on the outskirts, down a little lane, we happened across a little makeshift car park under some olive trees where an old man said we could park for 2 hours for €3 which seemed like a good price to us. We had no idea where we were going but we set off on foot down a steep, cobbled lane which eventually turned into a dirt track after about 20-30 mins leading to a lovely, secluded cove. There was nothing and nobody in site, but just by chance we saw a homemade sign saying "Bar" attached to a wooden post with an arrow pointing right! We followed the coastal path for another 5 mins to find what can only be described as a shack with a few plastic tables and chairs. We were hot, thirsty and hungry by this point and to our disappointment the shack said "closed", but, just as we were about to turn back, a nice man appeared and invited us in for a cold drink and a mozzarella and salami panini (that's all the food they served). How lucky were we?! We snapped him up on the offer and I can honestly say I have never tasted better!! I'm sorry I can't remember the exact name of the place we parked (I think it was Regina Giovanna) but DH took pictures of the signs which we will download when we get back to UK . There were also some ruins at the end of the path which may be of interest to some, and it looked like a lovel bay to snorkel and swim - crystal clear water (unfortunately we had left our swim stuff in the car and there was no way we were going to hike up the path to get it in the midday heat). It was certainly off the beaten track anyway.

I'm waffling already! After lunch, we took the coastal road to Positano, such a striking town with its vertical pastel coloured houses. From there we followed the winding coastal road (wishing we had a smaller car, not the free upgreed Kia Ceed which seemed far to wide for the narrow lanes) through Furore, Praiano, Conca dei Marini and onto Amalfi, all such gorgeously quaint villages built into the extrordinarily steep cliff. How did they do it?? Between Praiano and Conca we stopped at a Resto-Bar called La Locanda del Fiordo for ice cream and lemon soda. I really recommend this place, it is perched on the edge of the cliff and has the most breathtaking views ever!! I noticed it also had rooms to rent on several levels beneath the restaurant all the way to the waters edge almost - VERY steep stairs so you'd have to be super fit!

By the time we reached Amalfi it was nearly 5pm (and nearly wine time!) so we decided to head back through the mountains inland towards. Pompeii, then Naples and our hotel in Baia. We were planning to spend a few more hours in Pompeii but time ran away with us. Oh well, tomorrow is another day as Scarlett O'Hara used to say. We are back at our hotel and, guess what, another wedding is in full swing!