ITALY TRAVEL GUIDE – NAPLES, SORRENTO & AMALFI COAST
Ticking countries off my bucket list gives me so much joy, and when I bought my ticket to Italy last year, the excitement was immeasurable! I was in Italy for 7 days and spent 2 nights in Naples and 5 nights in Sorrento.
With another summer creeping on us, and me preparing for yet another European trip, I hope that this will be a useful guide to someone planning an Italian summer in 2023!
Italy has always been high on my list and visiting Southern Italy last year was everything I ever imagined! From the coastal towns, food, gelato, architecture and expansive coastlines, I can definitely see why this was a popular hashtag destination immediately after the world opened up.
Note: This trip and its itinerary were organized by the lovely team at Gojolley, and it was a semi-private team with only two people.
There are so many places to visit in Italy – whether you’re going to Northern, Southern West or East Italy, I’m sure there’s a variety of experiences to be had. For this trip, we visited Naples and the Amalfi Coast, which are both located in Southern Italy.
Couple of FAQ’s:
- The local currency is Euros. I took my AMEX and it worked everywhere, so I didn’t have to convert Canadian dollars. However, I recommend having some cash for road side purchases like gelato or a bottle of limoncello!
- Staying in one city and making day trips is a great way to see the picturesque smaller towns!
- I don’t recommend staying in an all-inclusive hotel, because you want to go out and experience all Italy has to offer!
- Get ready to walk A LOT! Italians walk everywhere in the summer, so it’s best to pack comfortable shoes. Think flats, sandals and sneakers. If you want some inspiration, here is everything I packed for my trip
- Do not overpack, except you’re going for a special occasion. The dress code in Italy is very relaxed, minimal and basic. Think functional shorts, dresses, shorts, and accessories.
- The roads are quite narrow, and driving can be a hassle for non-locals. Don’t bother with renting a car :)
I flew from Toronto (YYZ) to Rome (FCO) airport, and took the train to Naples.
I wanted to enjoy the scenery, but in hindsight, I wish I took a direct flight because I struggled with navigating the train system, as a first-timer.
Note that there is no direct train from Rome to Naples, so this is what you do instead:
- take a local shuffle from FCO airport to the Roma Termini
- board a direct train from Roma Terminal to Naples Centrale
Once I got a hang of the commute, the train ride was very comfortable and quite fast. I bought an upper-class ticket, so I was also served some snacks and drinks on board.
You can either buy tickets online or at the station. I recommend buying it at the station, so you’re not in a rush to catch a particular train time. There are different train lines and they come frequently. Here is a great website to see train times, arrivals and departures.
Naples was the perfect first stop on this trip. It is a vibrant and tourist packed city in known for its rich history, delicious food, and stunning architecture. The alleys are narrow, with wide boulevards and the bustling streets are very full of life.
CARUSO PLACE – BOUTIQUE & WELLNESS HOTEL
We landed in Naples and spent the first night at Caruso Wellness Hotel. This boutique hotel is located on a very busy street in Napoli, steps away from the medieval castle, Maschio Angioino.
If you’re looking to stay in a central part of town, then I recommend it. However, if you want something more secluded and quiet, then this might not be the best option.
I stayed in the Classic Double Room and it was very spacious for 2 people. The amenities were modern and nice, and the hotel staff was also pleasant.
The hotel offers a daily buffet breakfast in the bar and is steps away from major attractions like the Royal Palace of Naples and the prominent church “Basilica Reale Pontificia San Francesco da Paola”. It’s also in close proximity to stores like Zara and Sephora.
One thing to note is that cars are not allowed to drive directly to the hotel in the summer, because the street is closed off to accommodate pedestrians. There is a central drop off location about 3 mins from the hotel, meaning you will have to carry your bags the rest of the way.
One highlight of my stay in Naples was this absolutely AMAZING gelato from Casa Infante. It’s next door to the hotel and there’s always a long lineup, but it’s totally worth it, trust me! It’s a miracle I can go back to mediocre gelato after tasting that goodness.
If I could describe Sorrento in one word, it’ll be dainty.
This charming coastal town is known for its picturesque views of the Bay of Naples, charming streets, and delicious cuisine. It is a popular tourist destination with a rich history, beautiful architecture, and easy access to nearby attractions such as Pompeii and Capri. The town is also famous for its production of limoncello, a traditional Italian lemon liqueur, and its colourful ceramics.
HOTEL PARCO DEI PRINCIPI
On our second day, we took a road trip to the Amalfi coast, where we spent the majority of this trip. The drive to Sorrento was one of the most scenic rides I have ever been on. There’s a beauty about Italy that cannot be explained but is best experienced and probably shown in photos.
We stayed at the 5-star Hotel Parco Dei Principi. This property was designed by a famous Italian architect, Gio Ponti, and the 5-star treatment was felt from the moment we checked in.
The property is so gorgeous and different from anything I’m used to. The colours in the room and hotel premises were so blue and vibrant, and one thing I particularly loved was it had an intimate feeling, that made my experience better.
We had complimentary breakfast at the hotel every morning, overlooking a gorgeous view. Rumour had it that Mariah Carey’s boat was docked across the hotel, and it honestly made me feel like a star too lol.
FOOD / ACTIVITIES
WHERE TO EAT ON THE AMALFI COAST
Between an endless supply of pasta, limoncello and seafood, I was convinced I was in food heaven! This was a relaxing trip, anf most of my time was spent trying out old and new cuisines with exciting flavours! The food in Italy is so fresh, that it gives a whole new meaning to farm-to-table.
Some of my favourite dining experiences were:
- La Cantinaccia Del Popolo: This little spot was one of my favourite restaurants in Sorrento! If you ever visit, be prepared to see a queue waiting for lunch time. Do not get discouraged, because it’s some of the best food you’ll ever have! Check out my review on TikTok here.
- Le Tre Sorelle: This dainty little restaurant is on the stretch of the Positano beach. It’s popular for it pizza and fish dishes, and I had some of the best grilled seafood here. You definitely want to book a reservation for this, because in busy seasons, it’s almost impossible to get a walk-in table.
- Visit the Blue Grotto: We took a boat ride from Sorrento to Capri. Along the way, we stopped to tour the Blue Grotto, a stunning sea cave with crystal-clear blue water. The view of the island on the water is IMMACULATE!
- Explore the Gardens of Augustus: These beautiful botanical gardens offer stunning views of the sea and the Faraglioni rocks.
- Take a chairlift to Mount Solaro: Enjoy panoramic views of the island from the top of Mount Solaro, which can be reached by a chairlift. I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxing this activity was, especially because I’m scared of heights. At the top of the mountain, you can stop to take photos and videos of the most gorgeous aerial view of Capri, like this one.
- SHOP! – If you are like me, then you have to save up to do your designer shopping in Capri. I had an amazing time browsing through the markets and buying from both local and international designers. Capri has a great selection of designer items that you will not necessarily find in other stores, and I believe it’s because it’s a go-to destination for celebrities! Bonus point, you get ALL your tax back at the airport!
PIZZA AND CHEESE MAKING
Italy is known for its delicious pizza and cheese, and there are several places where you can learn how to make them yourself.
We spent a day on a lovely farm called Primaluce in Sorrento. This family-run farm offers group or cheese-making workshops where you can learn how to make mozzarella, caciotta, and ricotta cheese. They also offer pizza-making classes using traditional wood-fired ovens and showed us the vineyard and how to make wine using the grapes grown on the farm.
The hosts, Fransisco and his family were very educational, funny, inspiring and hands-on! They ensured we had a great time, and I left with pleasant memories of a beautiful afternoon of cooking, mingling and dining with new friends!
NOTE: You can arrange pick up and drop off services from your hotel with the farm.
This trip was a memorable one for me, and I’ll always cherish the memories I made on my first European summer! I’m so excited to be heading to three enchanting cities in Europe in the month of May, so stay tuned!
If you’ve found this guide useful, leave me a comment down below and share it with your friends!
Till next time,