happy & healthy abroad: the bay of naples

This past weekend was one of those great once in a life time experiences. Some friends and I traveled to the Bay of Naples to visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii and see the beautiful island of Capri. Being the weekend after my trip to Rome, I really felt the need to tackle this weekend trip a little differently- I wanted to be more flexible, look for the authentic experiences, and just really try to appreciate the sights I was seeing.

Friday around noon, we arrived in Naples and headed straight to Pompeii so we could maximize our time. Pompeii was even better than I expected. The ruins were fascinating and with the mountains surrounding the ancient city, the view was striking. It almost seems funny to me how the rubble of the buildings of a long lost civilization destroyed by a volcano can be so beautiful.

After successful and enjoyable explorations of Pompeii, we continued on to Sorrento where we had airbnb reservations. When we arrived at our destination, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Olive trees lined a driveway leading up to a villa with probably one of the best views of Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. Our host, Mario, greeted us and showed us around the place- our bedrooms, the view from in front of the villa and the terrace. Apparently the villa was originally owned by the grandfather of Mario which was passed down to his father and now to him. The olive trees are used to make artisanal olive oil- you can imagine how geeked I was. I asked if he had any I could buy, but unfortunately there was a bad growing season last year so he had already ran out of his stock. 

After settling into our rooms, Mario offered to take us to a local restaurant farther up the cliffs, which happened to have a whole gluten-free section on the menu and guess what? I ordered a gluten-free pizza with grilled vegetables. Why?

  1. I was in the region of the birthplace of Pizza
  2. I haven't had pizza and YEARS
  3. Perhaps it's a sin to not have pizza when in Italy

It was a fun evening spent in a local place that we would've otherwise never have been able to get to with good food and speaking lots of Italian.

Our host Mario also offered to take us on a private tour around the island of Capri on Saturday- lunch on the boat, exploring the caves, and swimming in the ocean all included. How could one say no? We were originally planning to go to the island by ourselves, but as I mentioned previously, we decided to be flexible and open to any unique experience that may happen to come our way. Saturday morning had a lovely and leisurely start. My friend Carina and I walked down to the town of Sorrento before breakfast, it was nice to slow down and just enjoy the beautiful place we were staying. We left around 11 to go to the boat which was in a small port town on the very tip of the peninsula called Massa Lubrense

Capri was gorgeous, the steep and jagged cliffs were beautifully contrasted by the the green foliage and the dark blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea . We stopped for lunch at a little inlet surrounded by rocks. Mario prepared a fresh caprese salad dressed with his own olive oil right on the boat. Definitely the best caprese salad I have ever had, hands down. Once we finished eating, we all jumped in the water and swam for a short while.

After returning to the mainland, we walked down into town and had dinner by Marina Grande, which is actually small in comparison to the other port in Sorrento, Marina Piccola. Apparently Marina Grande was built first so it was bigger than Marina Piccola... for awhile.

Sunday morning was equally relaxing, a couple of my friends decided to leave early to do some things in Napoli, but I decided to take another slow morning. Before breakfast I had a lovely time reading in the hammock that was in the front of the villa with a spectacular view of Mt. Vesuvius. We headed to the train station after breakfast and I must say that I was sad to leave. I told Mario (in Italian of course) that I hoped that I could come back and stay at his place again sometime soon.

Overall, it was a weekend to remember- I stayed in a villa, got a private boat tour around Capri from a native of Napoli with whom we spoke mostly in Italian. It was such an awesome experience to be able to hold a conversation with a southern Italian that had no relation to our program in Ferrara- it made me realize how far I've come since arriving. I can't believe I only have one more weekend here in Ferrara before I leave for the rest of my travel adventures and I can't wait to share it with you all. Until next time, ciao ciao!