A very early start out of Paris, meant that we were flying into Naples by breakfast time. A quick 2 hour flight and suddenly we were flying over the amazing Amalfi Coast and into the main city Naples. I had pre booked a driver to meet us at the airport and drive us to Sorrento, where we were staying. There are 5 of us, with lots of luggage, so taxis are out of the question for the airport pick up, and the thought of hiring a car, which crossed my mind, seemed a little adventurous when we had not been to this part of Italy before.
I also pre booked a tour to the ancient city of Pompeii on our way to Sorrento. Kind of killing 2 birds with stone. We were always going to visit Pompeii, so it seemed logical to do it first, and assuming the hotel rooms would not be ready until later in the day, this was a good way to address timing and location issues. Our driver, Lorenzo, was a keen guide, and within 30 minutes we were lining up at the gates of Pompeii.
We were there by 10am. Good timing. I strongly suggest, if you plan to visit Pompeii, get there super early, or much later in the day. For one, the heat is dramatic in this area, and by 1130, the city was jammed with tourists and tours. Allow 2 hours, max, for the viewing. It’s enough.
The erupting volcano devastated Pompeii nearly 2000 years ago in 79 AD but the ash and rock helped preserve buildings almost in their original state, as well as forming eery shapes around the curled-up corpses of victims of the disaster. It really is quite a strange sight to see human forms, in protective positions, frozen in time. Only the hardest of hearts remained unmoved at the sight of these doomed ashen people clinging to each other as catastrophe approached, mothers cradling their children, husbands embracing wives, dogs straining on leads. On a less sombre note, the architecture is quite stunning. Columns and marble, bathing areas and judicial chambers, all at a standstill. Some completely ruined, others, partially. Time has stood still in this ancient Roman town.
By 1pm, after a quick traditional pizza lunch, we jumped back in our car, and Lorenzo was expertly navigating his way around the winding cliff top streets to Sorrento. (Good idea not to hire a car) Located in Campania, Sorrento is not officially part of the Amalfi Coast, just North, however, it seemed like a pretty perfect place to start. Lorenzo drove us through the town before taking us to the hotel, to point out the best restaurants and bars, the best gelato bar, and the town square. His advice, if the menu offers fish and chips, run. Only eat at traditional Italian bistros. Good advice.
Our hotel, The Grand Hotel Ambasciatori, is pictured above, and is located high upon the cliff, overlooking the ocean. I spent many months, researching and planning this itinery, and I selected this hotel for a number of reasons. The location was key. A five minute walk to the town square, an ocean view was paramount, and a private beach. The lift for beach access was an unexpected bonus.
I wanted to inhale this spectacular coastline, and there are only a handful of hotels that encompassed my wish list. The view is incredible, has to be seen to be believed; and at night the flickering lights of Naples across the bay is stunning. The private beach is in fact, a deck protruding out into the ocean, with sun lounges, a bar and striped blue and white European style umbrellas. The atmosphere is perfect.
Our first night in Sorrento was spent, relaxing on the terrace, enjoying the night lights, eating pizza..again, and sipping Limoncello…It could not get much better….