As the weather turns
chilly across Europe, I can’t help but think back to one of the loveliest holidays I had last spring. A bit self indulgent, I’ll admit, but allow me to reminisce, as I crank up the heating and sip my umpteenth cup of tea. Everyone that knows me well, knows that I love Italy and there was still so much of it that I had not seen, therefore, it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing my destination, after a long stretch at work.
As this was going to be a solo trip, I decided to split my days between three destinations in the South of Italy. Flying into Naples, I spent 3 nights in the city, 3 nights in Sorrento and 3 nights on the island of Ischia.
The level of chaos in Naples (Napoli) was jarring, especially in the city centre; bold, brash, and loud, but if i’ve learnt one thing in my years of travelling to Italy, it is sometimes to expect the unexpected; there is definitely a method to the madness and in the midst of the chaos of comes the payoff in terms of glorious food, exceptional architecture and warm hospitality. I ate pizza in the birthplace of pizza, I’ll admit that my first attempt was a bit of a let down, but I soon learnt that keeping the toppings simple was key in Napoli. Thereafter, I stuck with simple Margherita and it was fantastic! Lots of walking around Plebiscito, seeing the piazza with all its notable sights and also the old town, where there were bargains to be found everywhere. There was Via Chiaia with its myriad shops, every corner had something to dazzle and distract. The market in Centro Storico was most fascinating; a treasure trove of everything from wooden figurines to clothing, leather goods and food. I ate the most delicious pastries-Rum baba and Sfogliatella were particular favourites! Taking the funicular up to Vomero, a residential part of Naples: it was saner, cleaner and I could actually walk without any issues. The views from the medieval castle Castel Sant’Elmo were phenomenal, providing 360 degree views of Naples and a much needed escape from the chaos. Having heard so much about Passalacqua coffee I had to give it a try and it did not disappoint.
I took the hydrofoil (a small ferry, really) from the main port in Naples, Molo Beverello, to the port of Sorrento. Total journey time was around 35 minutes. Admittedly, this was not the most relaxing boat ride, mainly due to the engine noise but it got us to our destination! I immediately felt awash with calmness on getting into Sorrento, the atmosphere was a lot more measured, the air cleaner and seeing the cliffs, port-side hotels and houses finally marked the official start of my holiday. There were people getting on and off private chartered boats and commercial ones and I had the odd restaurant waiter trying to lure me into his restaurant on the marina. Transferring to my hotel -not only were the views and seascapes gorgeous, my daily walk into town from my hotel gave me plenty of time to recalibrate and meditate. My hotel, Mira mare was outstanding both in terms of comfort and service and I had unforgettable dining experiences throughout my time in Sorrento. I took the opportunity to take a day trip to Positano on my second day by boat and even though I had seen photos, there was nothing quite like seeing the stacked, pretty houses that encircle this hilly town in real life. The town faces the marina and in order to access the town you have to continue climbing sets of stairs, which take you past different artisinal shops, restaurants and the odd hotel; the higher you climb, the better the views of the town and marina beneath. It really was special. I had the most delicious seafood risotto, overlooking the marina, watching the world go by, I then had a delizia al limone gelato ( my new favourite) from ristorante covo dei saraceni. I still dream of this gelato! It was so fresh, with sweet tanginess from the lemon and crunch from the biscuit, just divine! I walked around some more before heading back to board the boat back to Sorrento. I did plenty of window shopping on my walks, read and relaxed by the hotel pool before transferring by hydrofoil to ischia for the final part of my trip.
Ischia had a completely different vibe, I had debated between Capri and Ischia, In the end I decided on Ischia, as I felt Capri would be too touristy, how this backfired! not only was Ischia provincial in my view, my hotel was very much a throwback, both in the room decor style and in its clientele. However, I did not let this deter me from having a relaxing time. I savoured the hotel pool and loved walking to the port daily, enjoying the freshest sea food in every guise- pasta, risotto and drinking good wine! Not forgetting the most indulgent tiramisu on my final night. I visited the castel Aragonese d’ischia on my final day. This was surely a holiday to remember. In hindsight, it was a good thing that Ischia wasn’t as lively as expected, as that gave me a chance to really unwind and just be. Now though, it’s back to my current reality…i’m about to step outside….where is my umbrella ???🤦🏽♀️.
*The weather does seem to be turning, to be fair, it looks like an early spring is upon us, so maybe not that bad. My sentiments remain the same, however, regarding this trip.