It’s been a long few days. I’ve just turned 30 and since then, everything has been going downhill. I got sprayed with toilet water, I arrived to Italy without luggage, I can’t find decent clothes in Rome that fit me, and now I had to go through Naples – the armpit of Italy (in my opinion). All I wanted was a little Italian adventure to celebrate the end of my 20s… but this wasn’t what kind of adventure I had in mind.
After just two days in Rome, we head to Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast. As we make our way through the streets of Naples, I’m struggling to see why people fall in love with this place. It’s smelly, the people are rude, the food has been overrated up until this point, and its hot, really hot. My goal in Naples is to eat pizza – of course. As we wander the narrow streets, we stumble upon a little restaurant that appears to be packed with locals, a sure sign of quality. We head in and settle near the back. On the walls are awards and blue ribbons that symbolize just how good this pizza is. I order a Margherita pizza with a Lemon Peroni and my hopes are high. The beer is good, as is the pizza, but to be honest, I can’t tell the difference between it and the pizza at Piatto in Halifax. Oh, and on the way out the owner played a little game with the bill and claimed “the payment didn’t go through” and demanded payment in cash. Sure enough we had been double charged, which resulted in a call to the fine folks at Visa to straighten things out and report the incident.
From Naples, we board our ferry to Sorrento, which is just under an hour transit. When we disembark, we’re greeted by an abundance of taxis, buses, and men holding signs waiting to tout tourists around the twisty roads of the Amalfi Coast. We opt for a local bus, but of course, the bus we need is at the top of the hill. With my plastic bag of recently purchased clothes, we make the trek up the steep hill to the town centre. We catch the bus and head towards the campground where we’ll be calling home for the next four days. After a short bus ride, we arrive at our destination and when we check in, the hostess says, “The airline called, they have your bag.” This is the best news I’ve heard the entire trip! She continues, “But it’s a long weekend so they can’t be here until Tuesday”… the day we leave for Southern Italy. *Sigh*
As you can tell by the way I’m telling this story, I was having a pretty shitty time in Italy. That is, until we hit Sorrento. I never imaged the joy that staying in an Italian campground could bring me, but it was just what I needed. The cabin we rented was perfect and fully equipped with a corkscrew, pasta strainer, and an espresso pot – all of the Italian essentials. The staff were wonderful – taking on the task of continuously calling the airline and airport to let them know I wouldn’t be arriving back in Rome for another week and to hold onto my luggage (they never did get a hold of the airline – never fly Veuling… or just fly carry-on only when going to Italy). The campground also has a pool, full-service restaurant, and access to a private “beach”. Wine at the camp shop costs less than 5$ for a litre – but you get what you pay for.
Riding a scooter is probably the best way to get around the Amalfi coast, but it’s not for the faint of heart, or inexperienced. The roads are narrow and twisty with cars and buses entering into your lane as they themselves vie for space on the road. But, for those who have experience riding, it’s an exhilarating and worth-while experience. There are a few rental places to rent from, just be sure to take lots of photos of the bike before you hit the road in case they inspect the bike when you return it (recommended by the guy we rented from).
Sorrento is largely known for two things: lemons and leather. As you walk through the narrow street of the old town, you’ll see countless gift shops with lemon-flavoured candies, lemon scented soaps, and bottles of lemoncello for purchase. Aside from the lemon-inspired goods, visitors can reap the benefits of high-quality, handmade leather goods. Before heading to Italy, I didn’t know of Sorrento’s reputation but quickly realized that I would not be leaving Sorrento without a new, hand-made, leather purse.
From Sorrento’s twisty, scenic riding trails, to their giant lemons that produces the most amazing lemoncello, Sorrento provided the Italian experience I was looking for, and needed.
PS: I did finally get my luggage when I returned to Rome for our flight back to Canada…. but that’s another story for another time.