After a few months in the bustling city of Rome, a weekend getaway to the Amalfi Coast sounded like a perfect break before final exams…especially when it was organized through a tour group with convenient (and relatively cheap!) accommodations. Even though I spent a weekend with my family touring Amalfi, I found no reason not to go back to the beach. The trip to the Amalfi Coast attracts students from all over! Half of the Temple program was present this past weekend, and the other half is going the following week. And after my mini vacation there, I can understand why! After receiving emails with departure and group leader information, we all met up at Termini station Thursday evening to receive colored wristbands and board our appropriate buses. Because of the massive amount of students on the trip, we were broken up into smaller groups depending on which hotel we were assigned: Hotel Londra, Hotel Florida, or Seven Hostel, all of which were within walking distance of each other in Sorrento. The drive down to the coast took about four hours, but the time passed very quickly because our buses had TVs and our leaders brought movies! (It’s been so long since I’ve actually sat down and watched an entire movie…) Naturally by the time we arrived at midnight, all of us were exhausted and went straight to sleep to prepare for the early start the next morning. On Friday we left our hotels at 8:00am to head for the port in Sorrento, where we boarded a private boat and set sail for the island of Capri. The first stop (if you can call this a “stop”) was at the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a sea cave off the coast of Capri that glows blue because of the sunlight passing through an underwater cavity. Our boat rested in the water while groups of four or five at a time climbed into small rowboats to take us through a small opening into the cave…so small in fact that all of us, including the guide, had to duck and practically lay down to fit through! Unfortunately the day wasn’t very sunny so the cave wasn’t as illuminating as I anticipated, but it was fun nonetheless. Two people from my boat even paid a few extra euros to jump in! They only lasted a few seconds though because the water was freezing.
Once everyone from our tour had a chance to see inside the cave, we departed on choppy, rough waters for the Marina Grande in Capri. On our way there, we passed the three Faraglioni sea rocks used in the Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue perfume ad, and the Marina Piccola, which is home to many American celebrities. One of our guides even commented that the marina is so sophisticated that every dog’s DNA is registered, for the pure fact that if you fail to pick up your dog’s poop when out on a walk, the dog can be identified and you will be fined. Once docked, we ascended up to Capri Town where we met a private transport that would drive us further up to Anacapri. Before leaving, however, a bunch of us stood in a long line for a freshly squeezed blood orange and lemon slushi. It was one man in a tiny little stand extracting pure fruit juice and it was absolutely delicious. At our highest point in Anacapri, we had the opportunity to take a chair lift further up Mt. Solaro for breathtaking 360 degree views of Capri below. The day was so foggy though, that the chair ride had better views than from up top. We were surrounded by a mist of clouds and couldn’t see a thing! We were given a few hours to explore Anacapri on our own; there were shops specializing in coral, limoncello, and hand-made sandals. We didn’t leave from the port again until later in the evening so the rest of the day was spent enjoying the sunset over the beach. When we got back to Sorrento, an optional dinner was organized at Il Leone Rosso, followed by a night out at the English Inn, an outdoor beer garden with drink discounts for tour members.
Saturday’s excursion started at 10:00am with another private bus to the black sand beaches of Positano. We had the entire day to ourselves and thankfully we lucked out with the weather! Rain was in the forecast all day, but it was mid sixties and partly cloudy. A few people ventured into the water, but most bought wine and panini and just relaxed in the cute beach town, with its shops and houses built right into the cliffside. There was originally an opportunity to take a boat out and go cliff jumping and cave swimming, but the water was too choppy. Once checked out of our hotels, we headed to Pompeii, for either a guided tour, or the option to walk through it on your own. For some people, including myself, we were touring Pompeii the second time around. But again, I did not mind. The day was even nicer than the fist time I went and since I chose to walk through without a guide, I ventured into some areas I hadn’t seen before. The ruins are so big, there’s no way anyone can see everything in one viewing. Now that I’m back in Rome, the amount of work I have to finish in the last two weeks of school is hitting me hard. Amalfi was definitely a last hoorah of the semester, and I recommend every student do this tour in April’s nice weather before the workload piles up!