Entrepreneur & travel blogger Nikita Thanwani takes us through her marvellous trip around Mezzogiorno (Southern Italy).
Is there a place more picturesque than Positano? It’s hard to imagine… The charming town is carved into the cliffsides, with bright orange and blue umbrellas lining the beach, and winding cobblestone alleys lined with unique restaurants overlooking the beach and roadside shopping.
Southern Italy has a Mediterranean climate and is a beautiful place to visit all year around. Although temperatures vary, the temperature was just perfect during our sojourn in May.
Our south of Italy trip started in Naples, which is the birthplace of Italian pizza! Positano and Amalfi are regarded as the Amalfi Coast’s two crown jewels, and no visit to the area is complete without spending a day exploring these picturesque seaside towns.
A lot of backpackers and first-time tourists choose Positano as their base as it is one of the most charming towns south of Italy. Positano is a vertical town made up of narrow streets, stairways and alleys that climb up the mountain, with colored houses that seem to be set in rock. Staying in Positano is probably less suitable for people who don’t like to climb too many stairs or walk a lot; hence, a town like Amalfi or Sorrento would be better suited. Given all the camera equipment we had to lug around, we chose Sorrento as our base. This gave us a lot of opportunities to do day trips and see the busy sights of Amalfi and Positano.
Napoli to Sorrento is a 3-hour train journey and we found accommodation right next to the Stazione di Sorrento (Sorrento train station). We stayed at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria which boasts a gorgeous view overlooking the incredibly blue water, and the beautiful town and beach. Sorrento, which is also known as the city of lemons, has plunging cliffs. The main train line that connects Naples and Capri is the most popular base for moving around.
Driving in southern Italy wasn’t too scary, as warned by the locals. We managed to swift our way to some of the smaller towns and villages which have narrow roads quite well!
Day 1: Sorrento
We hired a scooter to enjoy the coastline and started the evening by visiting the not-so-touristy spot Bagni Regina Giovanna (Baths of Queen Giovanna) – one of the most enchanting and romantic places on the Sorrento coast. The explorer in me wanted to see this hidden beauty in Sorrento. The ride from our hotel was about 10 minutes, and after trekking down a hilly road for another 15 minutes, we reached the beautiful Bagni Regina Giovanna – enveloped by a mesmerising view and cool water to bathe in. I could not believe the surreal and picturesque spot where the kayaks were floating in the middle of the heart-shaped cliff. This place is loved by locals and couples who have cute picnics here, enjoying the natural views and diving into the cave water!
Later, we headed to piazza tasso (the center of the town) and noticed this stunning restaurant right at the edge of the road – ‘Ristorante o parrucchiano la favorita’. The setting surrounding this restaurant is stunning. When we walked in from the crowded street, we had no idea how large and private the gardens of this restaurant would be. It was surreal, dining in the midst of lemon trees! We didn’t miss the opportunity to walk around the place after dinner. It’s really the small, quaint places that have my heart.
Day 2: Amalfi
We then drove to Amalfi Coast Road and decided to spend the day there. Wanting to soak up the distinct atmosphere of Amalfi, we decided not to hire a car because riding around this area on a scooter is a fantastic way to explore and fall in love with the place…
The Amalfi Coast is well-known for its artisanal pottery, which can be found in many of the towns along the coast. The ceramic shops in the area are a riot of vibrant colours – bright blues, vivid turquoise, and eye-catching lemon yellow hues that feature an iconic lemon motif. This makes sense given the region’s fame for lemons and limoncello (a popular Italian liqueur)!
There are numerous things to do on the Amalfi Coast, and we chose to visit the Emerald Grotto – a natural highlight along the coast. When sunlight filters through the waters of the small cave, it appears to be emerald in colour and casts sparkling reflections all along the cave walls.
We walked to the beach and had a sunset dinner at Ristorante Franchino, a cliff edge restaurant, to enjoy the most spectacular scenery ever! From the rich culture and history of the Amalfi Coast cities to the tucked-away wonders of the countryside, this place truly has it all.
Day 3: Positano
A trip to southern Italy cannot end without visiting Positano; the most beautiful place on the planet. Driving through Amalfi gave us picture-perfect ocean views and we stopped at picture points for some romantic photos, and indulged at roadside eateries. Upon reaching Positano, we parked our scooter at a parking lot which cost us €4 per hour, then decided to explore Positano by walking around and enjoying the Mediterranean climate.
Positano is known for its handmade leather goods and sandal-making has been a popular profession for centuries. We shopped for sandals, and spent a few hours at Le Sirenuse whose exterior is adorned with flower-filled archways and perfect ocean views. This is one of the most romantic hotels in Positano to have lunch at. We danced the night away at one of the clubs and drove back when the weather got too chilly.
Day 4: Capri
From Sorrento, we took a boat trip to the glamorous island of Capri. There are multiple ways to go to Capri, but we chose the ferry to enjoy the stunningly beautiful views. It took us about an hour to reach Capri from Sorrento.
Riding the chairlift up to the highest point on Capri was an experience in itself – and the views from the top are just magnificent! We couldn’t take our eyes off the views of the Faraglioni or Via Krupp, which snakes towards the sea far below the Garden of Augustus. For some reason, these gardens don’t get mentioned as much as other vantage points around Capri.
This glamorous island is also known for its luxury shopping and the magnificent Faraglioni (stacks of coastal and oceanic rock formation eroded by waves, found at the coast of several regions of Italy), which is one of the most mesmerising parts of Capri.
Finding ourselves riding by lemon trees, winding along dramatic cliff roads, we concluded that this Mediterranean paradise is ideal to spend a few days of summer… I’d go back to Italy in a heartbeat!
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