Last Thursday I left for the Amalfi Coast region of Italy. I went with three girls from my program here in Florence, and we decided to do it through a student travel program called Florence for Fun.
We stayed at a little hotel in Sorrento, but our first day was spent on Capri. Capri may be my new “when I win the lottery and have a ton of money, I will move here” place. It was so beautiful. The sun was bright, and it was hot outside, but with the cool breeze it was still enjoyable.
We did the usual touristy things first. We took a boat ride around the island. Since I was a kid, I spent a good amount of time each summer at the lake on boats. I have determined that when I retire, I’m buying a yacht (yeah, with my teacher’s salary), and I’ll spend my summers on Capri.
We saw the Blue Grotto. It is actually really cool, and I can totally see why people have been fascinated with it for hundreds of years. The water all around this coastal area is crystal clear and blue, but when you’re in the Blue Grotto, you almost feel like you’re at some kind of theme park where they’ve installed lights at the bottom of the water to illuminate it. You can see everything, all because of the way the sunlight is reflected.
The Amalfi area is known for its huge lemons, among other things. One great alternative to gelato on a hot day is a granita. Kind of like slushies, granitas are made from ice but instead of pouring syrup on them, real juice is added. The granita di limone (lemon granita) in Capri was easily the best granita of my life. It was like someone took lemonade, froze it, and gave it to me to devour.
When I went back for my second granita of the day (this time a granita di melone–melon/cantaloupe flavor), I had my first celebrity spotting! One day in class a while ago Peter, our art and architecture professor, lectured right next to Kelly Rippa, but of course I was listening too intently to notice. Well, this time I saw the celebrity. Jessica Simpson was on Capri doing some shopping in the longest cover-up I saw all day. If you search for her paparazzi pictures from Capri, I saw her wearing the long red/orange cover-up.
Capri was a great place for shopping. The area has great lemoncello as well as red coral. I did a little shopping, some eating, and then some beaching. The beaches in Capri aren’t quite like the beaches in Florida. Most of them are private where a chair rental is necessary to gain access. Chair rentals cost anywhere from 5 euro to 18 euro. We managed to find the best little public beach though–Marina Piccola. It was tiny, but not very crowded at all so it didn’t matter too much. This beach was a rocky beach, but the stones were smooth so it was still comfortable. The sun was warm, the water was cool, and the breeze was constant. It was lovely, and I did not want to leave.
We wandered around Sorrento at night some. The town turns into a circus town at night. By this I mean there are people dancing with fire (batons and whatnot), people throwing LED-flashing toys up into the air, people playing music in the streets, and people selling food everywhere. There are also horse-drawn carriages in the street, and the horses will bite you if you get too close. One of my friends learned that the hard way.
The second beach day we spent in Positano. It was almost as pretty as Capri (Capri wins because it’s an island, therefore more beach space). Positano was super hot. I spent a few hours on the beach, which was a combination of black stones and black sand. This combo made it hot, so of course I found a good granita (not as good as Capri), and did some shopping. Before I left Florence, I heard about stores on Capri that made custom sandals. Alas, I left Capri without any, so I was thrilled to find a similar store in Positano. The sandals were very customizable from the heel height (flat, 1/2 inch, wedge) to the strap color and location. I got a pair of sandals and watched them be made right in front of me! It was definitely a pretty cool experience.
Positano left me with quite the little sunburn, though, which was not good for the next day exploring Pompeii. Pompeii was hot hot hot. The ruined city itself was basically what you’d expect–a bunch of stones and a bunch of dirt. It’s worth seeing once though. We wandered through the city, creating our own tour and stories (after Sicily, I’ve come to realize I don’t really care for large guided tours).
After Pompeii we climbed Vesuvius. Mount Vesuvius isn’t as large as Mount Etna, but we were actually able to go to the top of the real crater because the volcano is dead. The crater now has green grass and flowers in it, like it didn’t kill a ton of people a few thousand years ago. The hike was cool, although steep, and the views of Naples were pretty.
It was sad coming back to Florence from such a lovely beach weekend. It seems the heat was not only in Amalfi, though. Florence is 80 degrees here at midnight, with the highs around 95. Next week the highs are supposed to climb to around 100 degrees. Class this week shouldn’t be too bad though. We had presentations on Monday in Italian cultural history, and we have an Italian language quiz on Thursday. This coming weekend I’m looking at doing a few day trips on my own to Venice and Cinque Terre. I don’t think I’ll be able to escape the heat, but at least Cinque Terre is another beach town!