Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sorrento

For the fourth stop on our trip, we headed down to Sorrento. We actually stayed in a small town just outside of Sorrento (to get away from all the tourists who were already there in April!) called Massa Lubrense.


Sorrento is a great place to take day trips from because it's easy to get to Naples, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, Capri, etc. One day we took a ferry to Capri:


When we docked, we hopped right on a smaller boat that took us out to the Blue Grotto. It's a nice little 20 minute boat ride to get to the Grotto, and it's fun to see the island from the sea.



When we got to the entrance, smaller rowboats were waiting to take us inside the cave.


Getting inside is a riot: the entrance is tiny and everyone has to lie down in the boat so no one hits their head on the rocks. The rower waits until there are no waves and then whooshes the boat into the cave by pulling on a chain overhead.


Once you're inside, the sea turns neon blue from the light of the sun - it's really incredible. The rowboat driver rows you around singing Italian songs like "O Sole Mio" and you hang out in the cave for 10 minutes or so. It's definitely an experience not to be missed if you're in the area.

Afterwards, we took the chairlift up to the top of the island, where the views were amazingly beautiful, and then we hiked back down before lunch.




We ate lunch up in Anacapri (towards the top of the island) because it was less crowded up there. Of course we had delicious Caprese ravioli and Limoncello afterwards. We've really been lucking out with the weather this trip - this day was gorgeous and so was every other one. (We brought two bottles of sunscreen with us but we've had to buy about three more...I guess it's a good problem to have).


Another day we went to Pompeii, which was hot and crowded (as always) but fascinating (again, as always).




One thing that we did that was very cool and closer to our home base, was a farm tour. It was something that I stumbled on while browsing Trip Advisor before we left for the trip. The farm is called La Masseria and they take visitors around on various tours. We picked a two hour tour, and Eugenio, a fourth generation farmer, showed us around the farm and talked about the history of the area and explained how they grow their products. Sorrento is famous for their lemons, but they also have tons of olive, orange, fig and chestnut trees.



The farm was so peaceful and it smelled amazing there from all the delicious trees and herbs! Italians are great at using every inch of the land, as well as every part of every product. For example, lemon pulp is used for marmalade, the juice is used for lemonade (or kept as lemon juice, obviously) and the rind is used for making Limoncello, the after dinner drink.

For the rest of our time there, we explored Sorrento. We were planning on taking a day trip to Ravello or Positano on the Amalfi Coast, but we had been doing so many day trips that we decided we just wanted to chill. We had our own little beach down below the place where we stayed and it was fun to hike down there for a coffee in the morning.



The tourist season was just starting to get going, but we had the whole beach to ourselves, except for a few locals! In downtown Sorrento, however, it was a different scene with tourists everywhere! And lemons. We explored downtown one afternoon....



...but then we found a great little area down on the sea called Marina Grande. It's part of Sorrento but used to be its own little community. It has a funkier, more local feel to it and these days it's much quieter than up in Sorrento and it's so nice to sit on the sea and eat lunch.



We've been eating tons of seafood this trip since we've been by the sea pretty much the whole time, except for Rome. Our favorites are insalata mare (seafood salad), spaghetti with seafood (or spaghetti with clams) and at Marina Grande, they had this amazing basket of fried fish which everyone was ordering, so of course we followed suit.



Then, last Saturday morning, we headed to Naples where we would board the ferry that evening, for Sicily. We had the afternoon in Naples to kill and had one thing on our agenda: pizza.


We went to L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele which is one of the most famous in Naples (for various reasons, including the fact that the pizza scene in the movie Eat, Pray, Love was filmed there). The whole thing was a scene. We arrived at about 12:45 and there was already a huge line outside. What you do is go inside and take a number and then come back out on the street and wait for two hours. I'm not kidding - we waited for an hour and forty five minutes. Italians hate waiting in line anywhere - at the grocery store, in the car - so we figured that if they could wait, we could wait. Plus the people-watching is incredible. And the pizza is even more so. There are only two types on the menu: margherita (with cheese - buffalo mozzarella) or marinara (without cheese). We went for the classic margherita, of course, and it was the best pizza we've ever had.

That evening we got on the ferry and set sail for Sicily, where we arrived in Palermo early the next morning. More on Sicily next week!

PS - If you missed the first part of our trip, here is Cinque Terre, Rome and Bari.