A while back, I had an unexpected opportunity to take a couple of days off before a long holiday weekend.

Quickly looking over the long list of places we’d like to go, we settled on Italy and booked a flight to Naples to explore the Amalfi Coast and its surrounding areas.

Arriving after a nonstop flight from Frankfurt, we rented a little Fiat at the airport.

We picked Sorrento as our base because we wanted to see the town and because it was an easy trip to both Capri and Pompeii.

Being there in the off-season meant that a lot of places were closed, but we often prefer traveling off-season to avoid crowds.

We arrived at our B&B early in the evening and had just enough time to walk into town for dinner.

Two things in particular struck me on the walk.

The first is that death notices like this one are plastered all over town.

And I mean ALL over town.  We saw poor Bianca Aiello’s name all over the place.

The second is that there are lemons growing all over the place and they are very big and very yellow.

If you’re fond of limoncello or lemon-flavored gelato or basically anything lemony, this is the place for you.

The B&B where we stayed included free breakfast, which was eaten in the kitchen of the family home on-site. 

It was a great way to start our first full day in Italy. 

After filling up, we walked down to the port to take the ferry over to the island of Capri.

The first thing we did after the ferry ride was to hop on a city bus to the town of Anacapri. 

See?  No crowds.  Nobody around but that dog.

In Anacapri, we took a chair lift ride up to Monte Solaro.

The views on the 12-minute trip up are incredible.

And the views from the top of Monte Solaro are even more incredible.

As you can see, it was a bit foggy when we were there.  It was much foggier than that when we arrived but most of it quickly burned off.

The rocks that you see sticking up out of the water are called the Faraglioni, which is also the Italian word for those types of formations.

After about an hour walking around the top of Monte Solaro and enjoying the surroundings, we took the chair lift back down to Anacapri.

We did a little walking tour of the area and it was pretty much a ghost town. 

Nobody around but that bird.

Heading back to the bus stop, we got on another city bus to go up to Capri town. 

And by up I really mean up – it’s an uphill ride and our main purpose in going there was to ride the funicular back down to the port.

I have a thing about riding funiculars and have ridden them in several countries.

And every single time, I sing “Funiculì, Funiculà!”.  Out loud.

The ferry back to Sorrento arrived just as the sun set.

On the walk back to the B&B, we of course had to stop for some liquid refreshment, including the Tipple of the Trip.

Peroni is the best-selling beer in Italy and we did our best to keep those numbers up.

The following day we were picked up at our B&B by a driver we had hired to tour the Amalfi Coast.

Before you go thinkin’ we’re all high-falutin’ hiring a driver, he does tours for groups of 8 in his mini-van.  In the off-season it was just the two of us.

We did have a rental car and could have driven the coast on our own, but I’m very glad we didn’t. 

For one thing, the driver really has to pay attention to the road and can’t really enjoy the amazing scenery (although this didn’t seem to stop our driver from looking seemingly everywhere but the road) 

For another, the driver knew where to pull off for photos, where to park and how to get to little towns along the way.  He also took us to a hidden gem of a place for lunch and pointed out sights (That’s Sophia Loren’s house! That’s the hotel where the movie Only You was filmed!) that we would not have known on our own.

Of course no visit to the Amalfi Coast is complete without a stop in Positano.

It’s as breathtaking in person as every photo you’ve ever seen of it.

We also made a stop in the town of Amalfi itself, which was equally as gorgeous as Positano.

The driver then took us to the small mountain town of Nusco, which was a couple of hours away, for the La Notte Dei Falò festival.

The festival consisted of open bonfires throughout the town, lots of dancing, performances by groups wearing traditional costumes and eating, drinking and merrymaking.

This makes sense if you know that La Notte Dei Falò means “The Night of the Bonfire”.

It was worth the long day to experience a different side of Italy that sees few tourists.

On the last full day of our trip, the weather changed dramatically and the day was filled with thunder, lightning and pouring rain.

Unfortunately that was the day we’d planned to go to Pompeii but as they (whoever “they” are) say, the show must go on.

Notice anything unusual in that photo?

If you read the post about our time in Florence, Italy and the day trip to Pisa, you may remember that we were able to get photos of the Leaning Tower with no tourists around. 

That’s because it was raining buckets the day we went, and the same principle applied to Pompeii.   You can see there’s not another person in sight, which is unusual for a UNESCO site that gets over 2.5 million visitors a year.

One thing I was not prepared for before visiting Pompeii is the sheer size of the place. 

This was a city of 11,000 people before it was covered in almost 20 feet of ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.  It is unbelievably well-preserved due to the ash covering that laid on top of it for about 1,500 years.

Seeing things like artwork (mosaics, statues, etc.), temple ruins, theatres, cooking area and homes as they  looked almost 2 millennia ago is just unbelievable.  There’s even a brothel you can visit with interesting artwork on the walls.  (Note:  The brothel is not open for business at this time.)

Luckily, one of the things those clever Romans built into the town was giant stepping-stones in the road so the citizens didn’t have to step in dirt, water, mud, snow or things like horse droppings.

There’s Sean putting them to good use.

Just as we were leaving Pompeii, after having spent several hours exploring it in the rain, the sky cleared up just enough for us to get a glimpse of Mount Vesuvius.

That evening Sean went to a local grocery store for snacks and drinks to have at the B&B as we were both just too wet and tired to go out to eat.

The next day we flew back to Frankfurt having thoroughly enjoyed our last-minute trip.

Have you been to the Naples/Amalfi Coast area?  Give us your thoughts!

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