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Trip to Italy – exploring Naples, Sorrento, and Amalfi Coast


Rainy day in Naples, Italy, exploring the city by bus

 
Souvenir magnets from Naples

Naples is well known for being the home of pizza and, well, for the mafia. It is definitely not one of the prettiest cities in Italy, but what I liked the most about it, it's the history, the fact that it is an interesting place where you can definitely see the Italian culture. Spending half of the trip on the bus was not the best way to see this city, but looking on the bright side, we had the time to cover more than just walking around. We tried to stop on the coast to see better the Nuovo Castle but in no more than 5 minutes a terrible rain started, and we had to go back to the bus.



THINGS THAT WE DID SEE AND I WOULD RECOMMEND:


  • Pizzeria O'Munaciello – After some hours spent on the bus, we got hungry, and we stopped to eat a traditional Neapolitan pizza marguerite and try the limoncello. The pizza was really good, if not great, and we had a great view straight at Piazza del Gesu Nuovo and the huge, impressive Obelisco dell' Immacolata.


Pizzeria O'Munaciello pizza in Naples

  • Piazza del Gesu Nuovo and Obelisco dell' Immacolata - is one of the most important, famous and symbolic squares of the historic centre of Naples. We had time to go around the little streets in the piazza, see the local stores, eat some gelato and buy loads of souvenirs. It is really impressive to see the little shops and businesses in the narrow and crowded streets. UNESCO plaque is affixed with the motivation for which the historic centre of Naples has become a World Heritage Site:

It is one of the oldest cities in Europe, whose contemporary urban fabric preserves the elements of its rich history of events. The traces of its streets and the wealth of its historical buildings characterising different eras give the site a universal value without equal, which has exercised a profound influence on most of Europe and beyond its borders. ( UNESCO )

Piazza del Gesu Nuovo and Obelisco dell' Immacolata in Naples

  • Piazza del Plebiscito - The piazza is home to some of the city's main monuments. Along with the royal palace, there is the domed Basilica of San Francesco da Paola, built to mimic the Pantheon in Rome. The twin pastel palaces, Palazzo della Prefettura and Palazzo Salerno, anchor the square on either side, while two bronze equestrian statues stand guard in the midst, one dedicated to Charles III of Spain, the other a representation of Ferdinand I. The celebrated Gran Caffe Gambrinus sits in the corner of Palazzo della Prefettura.


Piazza del Plebiscito, Italy

  • Galleria Umberto - Take a walk through the enchanting shopping gallery situated on Via San Carlo. This gallery, similar to the Galleria di Milano, is a masterpiece in terms of architecture. Designed and built in the late nineteenth century, this elegant gallery portrays Renaissance architecture in Naples. I find the glass dome fascinating and also the detailing on the floor. This beautiful gallery is part of the UNESCO world heritage site. It must be seen whether for some window-shopping, a coffee or simple admiration.


Galleria Umberto

Definitely try the Neapolitan street food, the delicious gelato and a typical espresso while going around the narrow streets of Naples. The best thing that you could do: choose a crowded place, find a café with a terrace and enjoy your coffee while studying the people who pass around, that's where you can see the behaviour of a typical Italian.

 

A mystery for us: Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, Italy

 
Group photo in Pompeii, Italy

MOUNT VESUVIUS


Mount Vesuvius it's impossible to miss in Naples – wherever you go, you can't miss its flat top that dominates the coastline. I was really excited about this because we planned to go hiking to the crater, eat and then go to Pompeii. The only problem was that it was cold and rainy, and after the hike, this was the view:

Mount Vesuvius covered in fog in Pompeii, Italy

Although we didn't really see that much, it was an interesting trip, we had a nice guide who told us some fascinating stories about the volcano and the cities around. Here are some interesting facts about Mount Vesuvius:

  • The devastation brought by the volcano in 79 AD on Pompeii and Herculaneum was not an isolated incident.

  • People died painlessly because they were put to sleep instantly when they breathed the poisonous gases in a surging cloud while the eruptions swept down the city of Pompeii with lava.

  • Among the 100 eruptions since 79 AD were those in 1631, 1794, 1908, and the 1920's.

  • The last eruption was during World War II in 1944, when lava devastated the town of San Sebastian and others within two miles of the volcano.

  • Naples, with 3,000,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area, sits 5.6 miles from Vesuvius.

  • It had been estimated the caldarium of poisonous gases that swept through Pompeii travelled at 30-40 mph. Lava, heated to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, moved three feet a minute in 1944.

  • Scientists warned that Vesuvius would be no less dangerous today, and had been merely napping. The Osservatorio Vesuviano would monitor all activity.


THE CITY OF POMPEII

Everybody heard about Pompeii at some point in their lives, maybe from the History class or while looking for things to visit in Italy. Pompeii it's one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, but just to get a little into details, in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius recorded one of its most catastrophic eruptions, covering the Roman town of Pompeii in volcanic ash, burying what were estimated to have been around 11,000 inhabitants. Almost 150 years later, a Spanish engineer started excavating the site, and archaeologists started to piece together what the town once looked like.



Old street in Pompeii


This UNESCO World Heritage Site draws some 2.5 million visitors every year to wander through its stone streets, admire the frescos in the Villa Dei Misteri and Casa del Centenario and view its ancient temples. Unfortunately, we had a rainy day, but this didn't stop us from wandering around for almost half of the day. Pompeii (the Roman city frozen in time) is such an amazing and impressive place to see, and although you can have mixed feelings about visiting it, it is definitely worth visiting. I was never into history when I was in school, but seeing it, just makes you curious to know more.



The city of Pompeii human ruins

 

Sunsets in Sorrento, Italy and what to see in this small city

 

Sorrento beach in Italy at the sunset

In the Greek mythology, Sorrento was home to the sirens, who lured passing sailors onto the rocks with their beautiful songs. The fact that we had a trip planned for every day we were in Italy left us exploring Sorrento (the place we had the accommodation in) only in the late afternoons or even nights.



Things to do and see in Sorrento:


  • Piazza Tasso – a lively place, full of people, local shops and restaurants, surrounded by orange trees, it's the best place to see how people live in this city.

  • Wander around the narrow streets – Starting from any point, it's a big chance to get lost or even get back in the same place without even noticing. Keep walking, and you never know what you may find: a hidden church, a gelateria, the lovely limoncello shops, pubs, bars or coffee shops, all hidden in the small, narrow streets.

  • Check the small beaches and the Marina – Even if Sorrento doesn't exactly have big beaches, you can still find small places that look like a beach, bridges and pontoons and also the Marina with boats and fishers.

  • Watch the sunset – You can see the best sunsets in Sorrento from the top of the hills down to the beach. It is really difficult to explain, but I will let the photos do the work for me.

  • Feast on local products – lemons, oranges, olives and of course, limoncello! We went to buy some limoncello to take home, and the owner of the shop gave us to try all the alcoholic cremes. They were absolutely delicious, and we ended up buying more.



 

4 Reasons to Visit the Amalfi Coast, Italy in the Off-Season

 

Best Amalfi Coast view seen from the boat


  1. YOU HAVE THE WHOLE PLACE FOR YOURSELF! Ok, maybe you and a few other tourists, but it is still a great place without the crowds of people, shorter lines, and smaller crowds. You notice the traffic is heavy even in the offseason, just imagine how crowded it can get in the summer.

  2. EVERYTHING IS SO MUCH CHEAPER! From accommodation, boat trips, buses, and even food! If you are a student, like me, you will definitely appreciate the huge difference between prices for holidays in spring/autumn and the ones in the summer. Going with a group of 60 people is also helpful in getting big group discounts added to the student discount. So it's a win-win!

  3. PERFECT WEATHER! Coming like us from the wonderful weather of the UK, it was great to have 20 degrees and sunny weather in March. It's not that hot as the summer and definitely not as cold as the winter. So the weather is perfect for making the most of your day from morning until late at night.

  4. YOU CAN REALLY SEE THE ITALIAN CULTURE! Considering the fact that there are just a few tourists in the offseason, you have a chance to meet more locals and see the way they live and act on a daily basis. Visiting Italy and Amalfi Coast is not only about enjoying the beautiful views but also about understanding the Italian culture and the way they enjoy life, or how they say 'il dolce far niente'.












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