For the last week, I have had the privilege of spending my time in the beautiful Sorrento, which is located in the south of Italy. I haven’t been abroad since 2012 so it was very surreal when May the 4th (be with you) arrived and my family and I were off to the airport! As someone who adores Italian food and a certain brunette bombshell I was full of anticipation and excitement when we landed in Naples. Therefore, I thought what could be a more fitting title for this blog post then a Sophia film which was exactly how my Italian adventure was to begin?
As we were only there for seven days, there was definitely no time for resting, which is fine by me as when I go on holiday I want to visit the country and see all of the beautiful places. However, that meant getting up as early as five in the morning and as late a six thirty – what a lovely lie in!
After spending the Wednesday walking around Sorrento and booking the tours, we traveled to the wonderful Naples the next day. I was extremely excited to visit Napoli, of course because it is the birth place of my favourite food – Pizza, but Sophia Loren also spent a lot of her childhood here. From Sorrento is takes about one hours drive which is completely fine by me as the scenery in Italy is absolutely incredible!
As soon as we arrived in Naples we visited the Cathedral and I was in absolute awe of it’s beauty. I adore Italy’s architecture and it was even more outstanding in this stunning building, it was incredible to think about the amount of time and effort that went into producing such a beautiful place. I was also amazed to hear from our lovely tour guide Florentina that there are over 400 churches in Naples – each one we walked past was so lovely! We visited the famous market stalls where the Christmas markets are held, the streets in Italy are so narrow compared to England yet so full of traffic, it’s incredible. I saw some beautiful tambourines with Sophia painted on them and when looking in the store I noticed an actual photo of her visiting the store! It’s so wonderful how proud of her country she is and the feeling is definitely mutual.
After walking around the heart of Naples we finished the morning with a pizza, after all, where best to have my favourite food then where it was invented? I’m not ashamed to say that I had Pizza every night in Italy and it was absolutely wonderful! I also have to say that the dessert I had in Italy was truly out of this world, I looked forward to meal time every day!
The next day we visited the absolutely beautiful Anacapri and Capri. I was extremely looking forward to this day after my mum told me that Brigitte Bardot’s Contempt (1963) was filmed there. To get to Capri we had to take a twenty minute boat drive as it is a small island. It was such a beautiful way to travel and such wonderful scenery, I’ve truly never seen such stunning sea water, it was almost a turquoise colour. Once we arrived in Capri we drove up to Anacapri, which is the smaller village and the one above.
We walked through both villages and it was truly paradise. The views were absolutely incredible and I even saw three beautiful cats, one was casually watching a lizard, an amazing animal I couldn’t believe I was seeing. Capri is famous for it’s beautiful perfumes and I could definitely tell why! Sadly I didn’t buy any but when leaving Italy I visited a perfume store in the airport an saw the island wasn’t just popular with tourists, Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier, Audrey Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin had also visited!
On Saturday we travelled through the Amalfi Coast and it truly was a journey like no other! With only one road in and one road out you can imagine how busy the traffic can get but as the tourist season has just started it didn’t really affect us. We first stopped in a small village called Positano and visited a large store that sold hand made ceramics, in Italy this item is very popular and I could definitely see why. There were so many different items and all we’re so intricate and beautiful! Outside the store there was a sign placed opposite that showed a Roberto Rossellini film, La Macchina Ammazzacattiv (1952) was shot entirely on the Amalfi Coast!
Once we arrived in Amalfi we took a boat trip along the sea and our lovely tour guide Melanie pointed out to us two very important houses owned by Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida! I was completely overwhelmed with excitement and that truly made my whole day. I also found out on the Tuesday I arrived home that Sophia was actually in Italy when I was visiting! She was in Rome, which was too far from Sorrento but it made me very happy to see after all these years Italy will always have a special place in her heart.
Our last stop in Amalfi was visiting Ravello and the gardens in Villa Rufolo which were incredibly beautiful. I was in at awe seeing such stunning historical scenery. Driving up to Ravello was quite scary, our driver was wonderful thankfully but I couldn’t believe how high up we were going! In Southern Italy the land is filled with mountains and it truly is amazing to see all of these houses and buildings built on there.
On Sunday we visited the incredible Pompeii and Herculaneum and our wonderful tour guide Sonia shared so much information on the history of these villages. Although Pompeii is a lot bigger and arguably more famous than Herculaneum, it is definitely not as aesthetically pleasing as the latter. It was fascinating to learn how the people in Pompeii lived, we learnt about their shockingly lack of hygiene and what kind of foods they ate – thankfully we are a lot more fortunate now.
The village of Herculaneum is a lot closer so it was incredible to be able to see Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that caused all of the tragedies to these two places. I was also fascinated by how low down the in the ground the village was, we had to go down a lot of steps through tunnel to visit the actual village. As soon as we arrived there you could tell that Herculaneum was the wealthy village, they even had their own private beach. Although what I found very upsetting was seeing all the skeletons of the people that had obviously been going down there when the Vesuvius erupted and were instantly killed. Some of the other tourists were actually taking pictures of the skeletons which I personally found incredibly disrespectful and morbid.
What was incredible about Herculaneum was the amount of architecture that was still intact, some of the expensive houses still had colour on the walls and portraits. There were also bath and changing rooms. Our tour guide informed us that it is unknown how much land there is that has still yet to be uncovered of Herculaneum which is absolutely fascinating. Archaeologists are constantly researching both villages and finding new artifacts and information, who knows what will be discovered in the many years to come?
Visiting both of these villages was an absolutely fascinating experience but I couldn’t help find the tourism very ironic and poignant, although both are filled with incredible history, so many people tragically lost their lives there.
On our finally day we visited the Volcano that caused so much tragedy in Italy, Mount Vesuvius. Although I was looking forward to seeing this incredible volcano, I was pretty apprehensive as it’s still active! Knowing that it could erupt any time was quite intimidating but I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Once we had driven to Vesuvius we had to walk all the way up to get to the top – which was definitely not an easy task! The paths were so uneven and my poor feet were absolutely throbbing, so I’ll admit, I wasn’t the quickest walker – but I got there in the end. It was hard to comprehend how incredibly high we were when at the top of the volcano, but the views up there were so worth it. Looking into the volcano it was fascinating but very uncomfortable to think that this volcanic rock had created so much damage to such a beautiful country. What amazed me was that you could actually go the whole way around Vesuvius, I don’t know how or where the tourists got the energy but you could actually see some people on the opposite side.
I can definitely say that my week in Italy was an incredible experience and one of my favourite vacations I have ever been fortunate to go on. It still feels pretty surreal to be back home and no longer hearing the beautiful language or seeing the incredible scenery. I feel so lucky to have been able to see so many incredible places in such a short time and the memories I have will truly be treasured.
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