A Blonde, a Brunette, and a Red Head take on Italy. Part 4 – Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

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Marina Grande

Sorrento was…well…BELLISIMA! Surreal. I felt as if I was part of Homer’s odyssey and listened intently for the Sirens as our ferry pulled into port.  The sheer cliffs were impressive, with the homes and hotels sitting precarious atop, beckoning us to visit and admire their views from their respective balconies.  It was not as I expected. In fact, is was much more than I could have ever dreamed. It is no wonder that Sofia Loren, the iconic actress, found this area of Italy her favorite. She filmed “Scandal in Sorrento” here. There are images of Sofia all around town.  I had found this remarkable city to stay in after reading about it in a few tour books, etc., to be a great place to stay and visit all the nearby locations such as Positano (#1 on my list), Pompeii, Naples, Capri, and the rest of the Amalfi coast. My co-travelers agreed, and we had booked 3 nights in the Hotel Del Mare (http://www.hoteldelmare.com/ ), a wonderful hotel in the infamous Marina Grande in Sorrento. We had called ahead while in Orvieto and inquired as to if we would be able to come a night early and they were more than accommodating. In fact, they placed us on the very top floor, with a door that opened to a sunroof with the most amazing views, one of which is my current desktop wallpaper. The hotel was the tightest space we had slept in so far, since we had previously stayed in much more spacious Airbnbs with separate bedrooms, but found the sacrifice of space was well worth it. The view from the window alone took my breath away. It was at this window that my niece, Sydel, proclaimed to us that this was, by far, her favorite place she had visited out of all her world travels that year (this girl has gone some places, let me tell you!). The hospitality provided by Tony, and all the others who worked there, was amazing and they deserve to know how great they made our stay.  Thank you, Hotel Del Mare!!

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View from the Sun deck at the Hotel del Mare. Mount Vesuvius in the distance.

4 nights means a lot of stories from Sorrento. I will try to keep it short and sweet.

Day 1 – Traveled by slow train from Orvieto to Roma. In Roma, we never left the train station, but did eat some amazing McDonald’s cheeseburgers before we boarded the high-speed Italo train to Naples. And by highspeed, I mean sign of the holy cross, please let me live through this, highspeed!!! The train was operating at speeds up to 220 MPH (360 km/h). The countryside was breathtakingly beautiful here. When we arrived at Naples, we were very wary of pickpockets due to the many warnings we received from other travelers, and guidebooks alike. We took a cab from there to the Ferry station Mollo Beverello and took a €12 ferry to Sorrento. From there we took a €20 cab to our hotel.

Day 2 – walked up to town from Marina Grande. Ate at an English pub. Staff was uber friendly, Sydel got her first Italian kiss from the server Luigi.  Walked to center of town. Looked at the old mill. Train ride that takes you to all the tourist locations throughout the city. ½ hour ride.  Interesting. Not as good as walking to them yourself.

Day 3 – Laundry day. It had been a while, so we walked our laundry up the hill to the city and waited in line for one of the 4 washing machines to open at the laundry mat. It was very nice to have more of a selection of clothes to pick from since we were living out of our 42L backpacks.  Came back and got ready for dinner on the Marina. I had freshly made raviolis with a vodka sauce from the restaurant called  RISTORANTE BAGNI DELFINO  Delicious!  But a very small serving.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t eat more of the delicious squares of goodness.

Day 4 – Took an early €2 bus ride from Sorrento to Positano. The roadway is infamous for its scenery and sheer cliffs. Unfortunately, the woman who was forced to stand up next to me since they ran out of room, easily got carsick and began throwing up between my friends and me. It was horrible. We took the ferry home for €14, which I have to say was worth the extra splurge. Our first stop after leaving Positano was Capri (where the rich and famous go). It looked just as beautiful as the Italy I had seen in Sorrento, just a bit more secluded being on an island.  The ferry then took us back to the port in Sorrento where we were welcomed again by those beckoning cliffs.  I MUST SAY, COME TO SORRENTO BY FERRY. YOU WILL NOT REGRET THE EXTRA FEW EUROS.   Upon our return, we sauntered over to a near by a day use sun deck/eatery, who rented lounge chairs that sat on a small pier with umbrellas, food and drink service.  The three of us women jumped into the water off the ledge of the pier and quickly swam back. It was cold!!  And different than swimming in the beach or bay like we were used to. The water was choppy, the ground was mossy, and I wanted out of there to go worship the sun. We took the pic and got out.

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Day 5- Time to get ready to go. (sniff sniff) Sorrento, I will never forget you. I bought the T-shirt and wear it proudly.  One day I will bring my husband to your welcoming arms and he can revel in the wonder which is you.

Journal Entry September 20, 2017   Wednesday;   SORRENTO, ITALY

“Where do I begin? What can I say about Sorrento? How it rises 1500 meters from the sea on cliffs, switchback stairs leading pedestrians to the main city. Streets winding up with mopeds, trucks, and cars maneuvering around each other with what seems to be no actual rules, just the occasional consideration to allow someone to have a turn into the lane.

Drivers honk as they pass, and wave as most seem to know each other here. A friendly awesome from the natives is easy to come by. Surprisingly with the hordes of tourists who arrive via ferries daily.

Our hotel sits 50 meters from the beach in Marina Grande, the old fishing village. We must walk 8 mins to reach the city center upstairs and inclined sidewalks consistently bringing us higher and higher. We must stop and catch our breath several times, but use this as a happy excuse to appreciate the amazing views. When we reach the top, we arrive just in time to see the bustling town come alive. I am glad for the hills as they help me feel justified for the gluttonous eating I do here. Yesterday alone I had 2 breakfasts, a pizza for lunch, and raviolis for dinner “Bagni Sant’ Anna”  http://www.ristorantebagnisantanna.com/.  Let us not forget the wine! At least a ½ liter. But the house wine at €7 a liter is hard to pass up, and harder to find anything bad about it (yummy!) I ate so much yesterday I had to go to bed early.

Our plans here include relaxing on the beaches here by the water, which my companion determine to be the Mediterranean. We will drink limoncello, eat more pasta (Lord help me), and rejuvenate our souls. Tomorrow, we adventure to the Amalfi coast and set our sights on Positano. Positano!!!! The only thing missing is my husband. Hard to be without him in such a romantic place. The sites, smells, sounds, all lead me to wishing I was in his arms and creating these memories with him. He tells me that our daily calls and many pictures help to feel that he is here too.

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Sorrento Swimming

Journal Entry September 22, 2017   Friday; LEAVING SORRENTO FOR ROMA

Sorrento stole my heart just a little. The window towards the sea, the marina with the local fisherman bring up their catch for the day, the sun decks with the tanned bodies, both large and small, old and young, worshiping the sun and relaxing. We swam in the sea while small fish swam around our legs. Drank Bellini on a sun soaked deck above a rumbling green sea.

The food, the sights, the sounds. Climbing up steep hills just to be in shock at the beauty before my eyes as the sea draws my eyes to it. The volcano Vesuvius looming above the cities across the water, knowing just 2000 years ago, it buried the civilization of Pompeii.

I will miss Sorrento as one who misses a dear friend they made at summer camp. Always cherishing the memories and hoping, one day, the wonderful things I did could be relived again. Like your fist kiss, first slow dance, and the first time I ever met my husband.

If I could put it all in a bottle and sell it I would be rich, and could afford to come back as often as I wanted, but Sorrento is to be experienced in person. You must feel the sand in your toes. Look up the cliffs at the homes above. Eat the pasta at Emelia’s and chase it down with a limoncello. Feel the sun kiss your skin as you close your eyes and lay down on a deck above the water. Feel the burn in your legs as you climb up the hills, and know this is one of the reasons Italians are so fit. Order a carafe of house wine and split it between those you love. If I could do it again, I would stay longer.

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Caroline Nelson © 2017 unpublished work. All Rights Reserved.