In Holidays, Travel & Adventure

We’ve just spent two amazing days in Italy, docking first at Salerno and then at Civitavecchia. It’s been a whirlwind of ancient sites and breathtaking vistas, and although we only had a taste of Italy it was the most exquisite introduction, and we’ve vowed to return – especially to the Amalfi Coast.

Amalfi Coast 1
I can’t offer you tips about what to see as there is so much to do, and we had only an introduction. But I can hopefully give you an insight into the places we were privileged to visit, and perhaps tempt you to visit them or reconnect you to places you’ve been to in the past.
Amalfi Coast

So without further ado …

After a beautiful day cruising on Sea Princess through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean Sea we travelled on towards Italy. We had our first views of Italy as we entered the Straits of Messina, which separate Sicily with mainland Italy.

Later that night we were incredibly lucky to slowly circumnavigate the volcanic island of Stromboli at dusk. Stromboli is an active volcano and every once in a while we spied plumes of smoke and spectacular fiery bursts emanate from the top of the volcano like fireworks. Being a bit of an embellisher of the truth, I swore I could feel the heat emanating from the volcano as we went past.

Salerno

The next morning we cruised into Salerno just before 7am, and with a cup of tea in hand watched this beautiful Medieval city come into focus rising up out of the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, framed  behind with a stunning backdrop of craggy cliffs.

Salerno 1

Perched high above the town we could see the imposing Lombard Castle, a fort dating back to the 8th century, and as I sipped my tea I read a little about the history of Salerno which was a Roman colony in 197BC but came into its own as the capital of the Norman Empire form 1077 to 1127.

Ancient, and picturesque.

“We’re going to have to return,” Dave said as we took in the spectacular scenery in front of us. We weren’t going to have time to explore Salerno today for we were heading off on a ship’s shore excursion that would take us along the Amalfi Coast to Capri and then on to Sorrento and Pompeii.

Amalfi Coast

Our day started quite early and we disembarked Sea Princess just after 7am then met our garrulous Italian guide Maria, and hopped on a coach that took us into Salerno where we boarded a small ferry to Capri.

The boat journey, which took us along the scenic Amalfi coast was thrilling. We sat on the open upper deck in glorious sunshine as we sped past towering limestone cliffs, sweeping bottle green terraces of lemon trees and small towns that tumble down from the hills to the sea. If you get the chance to see the Amalfi Coast from the sea, take it as the journey offers dramatic vistas and breathtaking views.

Amalfi Coast 3

We briefly stopped at the town of Amalfi (above) before heading on to Capri.

Amalfi Coast 2

We passed small towns like the one above hugging the cliffside, and also the picture postcard town of Positano (a place I’d love to visit) where pastel coloured houses tumble down sheer cliffs to a beach dotted with fishing boats.

Capri

Capri 2

I’d heard about Capri, the famed resort isle off the Sorrento Peninsula, and heard hint that it’s been a getaway for the rich and famous since Roman times, and in my mind’s eye it was a pretty place but one that perhaps I’d never get to see.

Capri 4

The soaring white limestone cliffs of the island rose dramatically from the sea and were bathed in sunlight. As we approached we saw a swathe of whitewashed buildings and a harbour bustling with boat life, and on this sunny day in mid June, it looked picture postcard perfect.

Capri 5

From the bustling Marina Grande where the sun bore down on us like a hot flannel we made our way past a myriad of small colourful crafts offering round trip island tours, and the bustling sea front restaurants, and the gift shops and limoncello sellers, to the Funicular where we were whisked up the mountain side to the town centre in just a few minutes.

Capri 6

The town itself was quaint and colourful and the shopping looked amazing. You’ll find chic boutiques, designer fashion stores, and all manner of quaint, visually appealing shops along the way, but we had no time for shopping today, save for a delicious lemon gelato ice cream  as we walked up the hill.

Capri 3

Everywhere we looked and didn’t look, there were colourful flowers; red geraniums and multi coloured petunias and there was the sound of melodious birdsong, which to us was very evident after 5 days at sea.

Capri 1

We visited the beautiful and shady Gardens of Augustus set high on top of a sheer cliff with beautiful views all the way down to the turquoise sea that was peppered with small boats.

Down to our left we could see the famous three Faraglioni rock pinnacles formed over time by erosion from wind and sea, offering a fabulous (and quite well known) photo opportunity.

Then Maria shepherded us back to the Marina Grande and off we set on a 25 minute ferry ride to Sorrento.

Sorrento

The seaside town that lured Ulysses with its siren song captured our imaginations right from the start too.

Sorrento 1

It overlooks the Bay of Naples and as you approach by sea you’ll see high, ancient city walls and elegant old hotels around the jetty.

A shuttle bus took us up a steep and windy hill to the town centre which seemed lemon-scented and flag-adorned with a jumble of medieval alleyways and narrow cobbled streets lined with interesting shops where we bought locally produced Limoncello and souvenirs to take home.

Sorrento 2

Sorrento is known as a popular holiday resort, for its stunning views, its seafood delicacies and the locally made Limoncello, a tangy lemon liqueur.

We had a typical Italian lunch at a quaint restaurant in a small side alleyway, where the ravioli was delicious  – wine was included too. The service was fast and efficient and the company at our table great fun – we sat with one of the ship’s doctors and his fiancée.

Afterwards we had a short while to explore Sorrento before getting back on a coach and a 45 minute drive to Pompeii.

Pompeii

To say that I was filled with excited anticipation about visiting Pompeii is a bit of an understatement. The macabre part of me was filled with abject wonder about people being petrified by volcanic ash and gases in the midst of going about their daily tasks 2000 years ago.

Pompeii 3

For Pompeii is a city that was buried by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption when the big bad Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD in a tragedy that covered the city and its citizens in ash and cinder.

It was fascinating walking around this ancient city, now a UNESCO World Heritage site that once bustled with life in Roman times for a period of about 700 years before the tragedy struck.

Pompeii 2

A shady walk takes you from the gaggle of souvenir stalls and the Victoria Hotel to the main entrance, and we were ‘wired up’ again to Maria by our radio earphones as she explained some of the history of Pompeii.

You really get the feel that it was once a vacation getaway for Rome’s high society because some of the villa remains suggest opulence and grandeur of the highest order. There are still frescoes on the walls and remnants of beautiful mosaic floors – the excavations were all done by hand, and must have been painstaking labour.

Pompeii 4

You can see where there were once streets of shops, because there are furrows in the stone where the shutters would have been. You can see storerooms of urns and pillars and garden pots … and a petrified man crouching, as well as the petrified remains of a child.

It was sad, and fascinating all at once, giving us a glimpse of ancient Roman life.

Pompeii 1

I’m not sure how many people stayed awake for the coach ride back to the ship, but I do know we passed through some very pretty Italian countryside on the way.

Our shore excursion had taken from 7.30am to 6pm and we arrived back at Sea Princess tired, but full of awe and wonder.

All in all this was a brilliant Sea Princess ship’s tour, well organised and full of fun, giving us a taste of the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii and Italian life past and present.

We will return!

You might also like: Spectacular Amalfi Coast Towns.

Amalfi Coast

I’m travelling as a guest of Princess Cruises, but all opinions are my own.

Have any of you got any tips for visiting the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Sorrento, Salerno or Pompeii?

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Showing 18 comments
  • Suzanne Fluhr
    Reply

    I’m exhausted just reading this. I think I might be frustrated because I would have wanted to have spent a few days in each place. On the other hand, you’ve been to these places and I haven’t, so there’s that. Our longest cruise was 13 days in Southeast Asia. So, I have, on a VERY much smaller scale, experienced the same phenomenon. Consequently, I know there is definitely something positive to be said for cruising. It’s just different than independent land travel. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

    • Johanna
      Reply

      You’re right Suzanne – if we hadn’t done this cruise we would not have discovered so many places which are new to us in such a short time. Of course we would have loved to spend longer in some places of our choosing, but the reality is to see so much in just 104 days is only possible with a cruise, and it makes for such a relaxed way of getting around. I think a cruise gives you the chance to whittle down your bucket list to be able to define exactly where you’d like to spend more time.

  • JOYLENE
    Reply

    We spent 3 days in Sorrento and I adored it ~ I’d LOVE to go back there again!
    Pompeii is much bigger than I’d expected ~ It was so hot the day we were there I ran out of steam three quarters of the way through our tour and didn’t really get to see all of it ~ One day really isn’t long enough to explore it fully!

    • Johanna
      Reply

      I agree Jolene! Just a taste, and plenty to return for 🙂

  • Jeanette
    Reply

    Wow. I can almost smell those famous lemons. I would really love to have a cruise with my husband now my adult daughters 18,21 and my mum. As I mentioned in a tweet my parents went on 2 med adv cruises the first had them hooked, and they booked the next one while on board the grand princess. They loved everything about it esp the balcony, watching early in the mornings as they would visit a new port. In between cruises my dad was ill, in fact in icu and we didn’t know if we would get him home, never mind go on his cruise. He pulled through and had suggested to mum that they renew their vows to celebrate 45 yrs of marriage. At first mum wasn’t keen but I helped dad book the extra bits n bobs and they were totally pampered. We were lucky enough to watch the bridge cam live and then saw the amazing video that princess produced for them. It meant a lot and they had great memories made and beautiful photos to look back on. The following yr dad sadly passed away due to a cardiac arrest but we are so glad that they got to enjoy the experiences of seeing bits of the med they’d not been to before. I know if dad was still with us he would have definitely had a few more princess cruises under his belt!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Ahh Jeanette, this is such a beautiful but sad story and I had tears in my eyes as I read it. How wonderful that your Mum and Dad had those wonderful experiences, and I hope so much that you get to do a Princess Cruise with your family soon.

      • Jeanette
        Reply

        We haven’t played their video since but I think I’ll get mum to play it soon. Yes, I’ll have to start to play the lottery and then the first thing I’ll do is book a cruise! Lol

        • Johanna
          Reply

          Make sure you have the tissues handy for the video replay Jeanette 🙂 x Hope you do get to do a cruise one day 🙂

  • Life Images by Jill
    Reply

    Oh I think I am in love. This area has been way up on my to do list for so long Jo,, I think I really need to book a trip. Thank you for the tour. It all looks simply gorgeous.

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Oh the photos you would take Jill 🙂 It’s a photographer’s dream area 🙂

  • Pam
    Reply

    What an amazing time you’re having Jo. I visited Pompeii a few years ago, it’s the most fascinating place and I really want to get back there one day. Positano has been high on my list since 1979 – we drove in there in a campervan, in the height of summer and were promptly turned around by someone in authority and sent on our way as it was far too crowded with nowhere to park. Still haven’t been back … but I will, one day 🙂

    • Johanna
      Reply

      That must have been a big disappointment Pam : ( Yep, you will have to return and to Pompeii. ..yes a big Wow!

  • Sandy Webster
    Reply

    Thank you for great report about your day excursion – I hung onto your every word! The Amalfi Coast is on our bucket list – Ian wants to do a scooter trip as he has a patient who regularly travels this way & he says it is a lot of fun stopping for coffee, lunch & sleeping over in the hillside villages! ,

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Hi Sandy, I think a scooter trip along the Amalfi Coast would be wonderful. It was an area that really captured our hearts. Glad you enjoyed the blog post, and hope you get to visit soon 🙂

  • budget jan
    Reply

    What a great day. I would advise to book in advance in order to find affordable accommodation.

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Hi Jan, I can imagine finding accommodation in summertime would be quite tricky as it’s a popular area – best to be on a cruise and in a stateroom at this time of year!!

  • Kathy Marris
    Reply

    You sure did cover a lot of territory Jo. Those limestone cliffs are magnificent and how they build villages that look like they are just clinging to the cliffs always amazes me. This is the area I am longing to see when we travel to Italy next year. Plus Pompei will also be on the list. Lovely photos Jo. 🙂

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Hi Kathy, yes, you will love it and I’m so glad you have a trip planned.

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