This was the 1 trip that I knew I absolutely had to take, long before the semester even started. I didn’t imagine I’d be taking it with 3 dudes, but in any case the weekend had finally arrived!
We booked it with the company, Bus2Alps, and I would recommend ONLY booking this trip with them. We only did it because 1. It has been voted their #1 weekend trip and 2. Planning 3 towns plus an island in 3 days, is a little tricky. Scratch that, considering it was me and 3 men.. make that impossible.
The 4 hour bus ride from Rome to Sorrento turned into 6 hours. For some reason the highway was shutdown at 10 pm, so we detoured through downtown Napoli. It’s like driving through the Southside of Chicago with 70 white kids. To up the anti, the bus was too big to fit down 90% of the streets, so we had caravans of Italians stopping traffic and leading us out. It was comical; one Italian would lead us to a checkpoint and then pass us on to another who would continue, and so on until we got on an open highway. Surprise Surprise.. it’s Italy. On the brightside, it was a double decker and we sat on top in the front with a better view than the driver.
If I had to hear the Jew Yorks behind me complain one more time about how bad they wanted bagels and how they couldn’t believe they had to share a room with 12 people without their own bathroom.. I was going to throw them to the Neapolitan dogs.
Out of the 3 hostel options we stayed in Seven Hostel, closest to the port, the most recommended, and most importantly, the one Dom Mazzetti stayed in when he filmed this.
Ughh, Friday we woke up at the butt crack of dawn. All 250 of us met down at the port where we took a ferry (biggest damn ferry I’ve ever seen) about a half hour to the island of Capri. Straight from the ferry we jumped into 15 person boats with cute little Italian drivers. We drove around the entire island on this tour. From the water looking up the side of the island it looks like the dense tropical forests of Jurassic Park. At one point I thought I heard the cellphone ringtone from the movie. On the edge of one cliff laid tons of spotted goats.. which makes sense considering Capri means “goat”.
Boat Tour Highlights:
- Grotta Azzurra: Dragging behind our tour boats was a string of even smaller 4 person boats that would take us into the cave of the Blue Grotto. Our driver’s name was Albo and he sang Italian songs to us as we ducked under the cave and into the highlighter turquoise pool of water. * Go late morning/early afternoon for the best color
- Farglioni/Love Tunnel: Picture the Dolce and Gabbana “Light Blue” commercial. Bam! I tried closing my eyes hoping that when I opened them I’d be sitting next to that sexy, ripped, Italian model, but to my disappointment, I was stuck with Kyle, Casey, and Kurt.
Scooch and I in the Love Tunnel
- Green and White Grotto: Unbelievably crystal clear water slapping against the bright orange coral attached to the cliffs
- The statue of the Scugnizzo: Little boy waving towards the sea and welcoming visitors to the island
Back on land we trekked up to the Piazzetta of Capri Town, known as the Ritzy little square. We were only up here for a few minutes, but long enough to indulge in the greatest summer drink ever created: La Granita d’Arancia Rossa – freshly squeezed tart blood oranges in an slushie.
Even further up the island is the beautifully quaint town of Anacapri. My 3 “boyfriends” and I grabbed lunch at Le Arcate, right by the cab stop. We were utterly disappointed with the 10 pieces of calamari for 13 Euro (sorry we’re spoiled in Rome by Zio Tony for dinner, wine, dessert, and lemoncello for 10 euro), but the Linguine alle vongole quickly made me forget about it. The Neapolitan dialect is so slang and different than in Rome, but the waiters immediately knew my family had to be Neapolitan because of the way I cut some of my words short, like they do – “va be’”!
Linguine alle Vongole
The guys took the chairlift up to Mount Solare, but I don’t pay for views, especially when I know I can find better ones – which I did! Meanwhile I did some one stop shopping: I had custom fitted handmade leather sandals made for my sister and I, and tasted and bought limoncello (for when I get home and need a reminder that this semester was not a dream). So you can get tipsy while waiting for your sandals to be made.
Continue along the street of shops filled with limoncello, perfume, soaps, and ceramics until you hit this coastal view:
Instead of waiting around Anacapri and teasing myself with the shops, I met a group of North Carolina girls who were headed down to the beach. We took a Capri taxi, aka Malibu Barbie convertible, down the steep winding narrow roads to the marina. Our cab driver, Alessandro, blasted Michael Jackson for us, so there we were, hands in the air belting Dirty Diana at the top of our lungs with our amused Italian friend.
The beach was a pebble beach which is actually more comfortable than you’d think, cause you can shift the pebbles easier to frame your body. I refused to get in the ice cold water and we laid there until it was time to ferry back to Sorrento.
Our hostel had the perfect rooftop terrace that for some reason stayed empty. Not many people found out about it, which made it our secret pre-game getaway spot. DJ/Bartender Casey “Scooch” Marini took the reigns to divvy out some pre-dinner drinks to pair with our sunset view.
We took the buses into town and I was unbelievably shocked to see how glitz and glam the downtown area is. It is your typical beach town with tons of patio bars and restaurants and lit up palm trees lining the street, but completely opposite from the plain and empty area we stayed in. Accompanied by some street musicians, we had our well-anticipated “bier e pizza” at Pizzeria Aurora. My pizza was topped with spicy soppressata, bringing me back to my kitchen at home and my dad’s homemade soppressata.
The rest of the night was spent outside under the canopy of an awesome Spring Break style patio bar called English Inn, jamming out to oldies, aka 2000s Classics, and judging sloppy Americans in their natural habitat.
Day 2 we got a later start, which everyone needed, and took the buses down the coast to the colorfully picturesque, Positano. The bus swerved around the edge of the cliffs, so when you look out your window you’re looking down a steep drop into the Mediterranean. We parked in a lookout on one of the turns and had to walk.. all the way down to the beach. Little old Italian women were peering out their windows in confusion as the 250 passed by with excitement and anticipation.
We must have walked down over 500 steps, enclosed on both sides with vibrant colored houses and shops, and the shimmering ocean in close proximity. We were welcomed at the bottom by $20 overpriced sunscreen, black sand beaches, and coronas, bloodies, and daiquiris pouring out of the beach bar. We were genius enough to bring our own refreshments and steal a blanket from the hostel to share as a towel. We posted up for a couple hours to soak in our first bit of sun of the semester.
Before we headed out on the water, we walked into town for a giant panini and Peroni. The deli guy had a huge line of Americans ordering boring American sandwiches, so the minute I walked up and said “Focaccia con Prosciutto crudo…” he told me he’d make me the House Panini and man oh man, there’s nothing like fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil on a hot day at the beach.
Mid-afternoon, a ferry took a big group of us on a “booze cruise” over to a secluded inlet.
The minute they dropped us off, everyone ran to the cliff and starting climbing. The entire time I kept thinking, “Man, I’m not responsive enough to be scaling rocks.” But at least I was over the ocean. After seeing the softball sized bruise my roommate came home with on her leg from cliff jumping, I was a little hesitant, but I had to check it off my bucket list.
The jump felt fine, but when I walked out of the water everyone was concerned, “Are you okay? Why are you bleeding?” Who the hell knows. I don’t know if I blacked out underwater, or if my adreneline numbed the pain, but when I came out my knees and toes were bleeding – 2 weeks later I still have scars to prove it, but it was so worth it! The rest of the afternoon I made fun of Casey’s brilliant idea to cool off his hot rum and coke in the ocean.. genius idea, terrible execution.
Back in town we walked through the narrow streets, so some of the guys could buy linen gifts. Kyle and I were on a mission to find that Positano view you see on all the postcards. We kept walking up random sets of staircases hoping they would give us the right angle until we finally found it!
Once again, back in Sorrento, we enjoyed the hostel’s happy hour and the incredible Amalfitana sunset before dinner. The hostel set up a buffet dinner for everyone, but everything looked like frozen food and that’s not how us world traveler’s roll. Instead, we took the hostel’s recommendation and walked down to the port to a restaurant/hotel called La Ripetta. My pasta con frutti di mare was ten times better than those plastic string beans and bouncy chicken breasts back at the hostel.
Din Din and Duckface with my boys
After a walk back to the hostel, with vespas whipping around every dimly lit turn, we posted up in the bar. With a live DJ, Kyle didn’t waste much time hittin the dance floor. He was working with moves I didn’t even know were possible for a guy. It was hands down the most entertaining thing I saw all weekend. He was shakin’ it with a gay guy, giving a girl a lap dance, and completely making a fool of himself.. but I respected that..
Drop it drop it low
Casey started shaking up beer and spraying it all over Kyle.. he got a little carried away when he got on the table and poured it over my head. But we walked away that night with a generous round of applause for Kyle’s entertainment. The next morning at breakfast he had everyone, guests and the Italian waitstaff, shaking his hand as if he was the new Seven Hostel celeb.
The trip wasn’t over quite yet. On our way towards Rome we made a pit stop in Pompeii. In AD79, a dark grey cloud of hot gas, ash, and rocks poured from Mt. Vesuvius down through Pompeii – killing and destroying everything in its path. The 300C degree gases instantly killed the people and the ash preserved their bodies.
The buried city is an incredibly large treasure and has been preserved in such great detail. With Mt. Vesuvius hovering over the city, we walked through ancient dug up houses, bars, restaurants with wood-burning pizza ovens, an old supermarket, and the whore-houses.
Can you please point me in the direction of the brothel?
Brothel bed, looks comfy.
The hardest things to look at are the plaster casts of the people who were caught incredibly off guard, had no time to escape, and tried to protect themselves or unborn children with their own bodies.
Pregnant woman protecting unborn child
*Definitely do a guided tour! My guide had been doing tours for 30 years, was extremely passionate, humorous, and just plain ol’ adorable. Otherwise, make sure you have a Rick Steve’s tour guide app or something like it because without guidance you honestly won’t know a bar from a bathroom*
When in Naples, what must you do? Not get pick pocketed and eat a pizza! Right down the street from the buried city was Pompeii Pizza. When there aren’t 250 hungry college students packed inside, or you want to venture further from Pompeii, I’m sure you won’t have to wait an hour and a half like we did, but in any case the pizza was well worth it! Mmm it was doughy and flavorful, and I would give anything for a slice right now!
Although I blew through a lot more money than I planned to this trip, it was definitely one of my favorites and a must-do if you’re in Italy or even Europe for an extended period. Trips with my boys are never dull and once again, I’m so happy that I chose to take every weekend trip with a different set of people. It made my experiences more memorable and I learned a lot about what it takes to travel on your own.
It’s places like this that make me sad to be home in America. Don’t get me wrong, America’s great and all, but it will never compare to the beauty and history of Europe. I walk down my street at home and see nothing but newly constructed houses and parks, while back in Europe you walk a couple steps and hit ancient ruins. I left my heart in Europe and that’s where it belongs.
Catching up on a couple more posts, sorry!
Ciao (..Wow, I miss saying that)