If you’ve never been to Italy, it’s exactly as you’d imagine it. Amazing views, scenery, and people. I had been once before in college, but hadn’t been back since. When a two night work trip popped up, I was excited, but immediately exhausted at the thought of it. How would I cram everything into those three days including travel PLUS squeeze in enjoying everything that I remember loving about Italy?
The one thing I didn’t mention was that this trip was to the Amalfi Coast. AMALFI! I had been to Sorrento on that college trip and loved it, but from what I had heard, there were more incredible spots. I quickly got to work planning all the things that needed to be seen and done while we were there. We were traveling over from Nice where we had spent a night and left our hotel at 4:00am, flew to Rome, had an hour layover, and flew on to Naples. From Naples, we drove the one hour to our first stop, Ravello, passing by Pompeii on the way.
The road to Ravello was winding and climbed at an impressive incline. When we got to the end of the road, quite literally, we jumped out and began the walk through Ravello. I was afraid to blink for fear of missing something. That is the only way to describe the town. Quaint little shops lined the narrow and winding cobblestone streets that were peppered with mysterious old doors that led to some secret spot. We had lunch at Villa Cimbrome, a hotel with the most unforgettable views. We then stopped by Palazzo Avino to see what they had to offer and I simply cannot describe it. One Google search will show you what I mean.
We were tight on time and unfortunately had to jump back in the car for our drive to our hotel in Positano. We, quite literally, wound our way along the coast and finally arrived at Le Agavi which offered different, but equally unreal views of the Mediterranean. The following morning, my colleagues and I went down 90 steps from the hotel and got on a funicular that brought us to the hotel’s beach club at sea level. From there, we jumped on a small boat to go to the harbor just off the Positano beach where we boarded a beautiful private boat to take us to Capri.
Peering down at the beachgoers from the Hotel Santa Caterina
The view from my room at Le Agavi
Before arriving at the marina in Capri, we made a quick stop at the Blue Grotto, a little cave known for its dazzling blue waters that look electric against the dark walls. I’d heard many things about this place, but nothing could have prepared me for what it really is. We docked in a sea of boats, trying to avoid hitting one of the small boats that the “guides” were paddling. There is no rhyme or reason, simply calling out how many people you have that would like to go inside. The guide pulls up, you jump in his boat, he takes you to the boat that sells tickets, and he paddles to the line to get you inside. When it’s your turn, he tells you to get low. Like really low. As low as you can go. I had no idea why I was on the bottom of the boat with my neck strained so hard that my chin was to my chest. That is until I saw the guide grab onto a chain and start a countdown. In one whoosh, we were flying through the tiny opening that led to the cave. When I say tiny, I mean it. Despite trying to become one with the floor of the boat, my head almost scraped across the top of the cave.
Waiting to go into the Blue Grotto
When we got inside, there were many boats, but I didn’t see that. I saw the most amazing water I’ve ever seen. I could not believe it was real. Before I knew it, all the guide boat captains started singing together, their deep voices echoing off the grotto walls. Our guide rocked our boat along with the tune. We came flying out of the cave the same way we went in and my head was buzzing. Where on earth had I just been?!
Inside the Blue Grotto
Capri was just as amazing as you’d expect it to be. We sat down to lunch at Villa Verde, a spectacular restaurant known for its famous visitors, where we just let the waiters bring us out food. Imagine every kind of Italian food that you love. They all made it to the table that day.
Simple cheese ravioli as a starter and it was absolute perfection
Cruising around Capri. Super awkward photo, but hey, I'm on a boat!
Short on time, we said farewell to Capri and were greeted along the way back to Positano by dolphins. Sipping on champagne, I couldn’t believe my luck. Not just in the dolphins, but in this trip. Our quick stay in Italy was capped off with dinner at Il Pirata in Praiano which, funnily enough, is built into a cave on the water. I purchased a cookbook they were selling which featured some of their recipes along with other restaurants along the Amalfi Coast. Shockingly, I have not made one single thing from the book because I know that nothing could ever top being in Italy itself.
The walk down to dinner at Il Pirata
A portion of this article first appeared in The Showcase where Ash is a contributing writer.