In the last week of June I travelled with my parents, using TUI, to Sorrento Italy. Here I just wanted to re-cap some of the highlights of my trip and suggest some tips for anyone who is planning on visiting Sorrento.
The journey to Sorrento from Naples airport is a long one. With one road leading the entire way down the Amalfi Coast plus the risky Italian driving style, you can imagine how congested the traffic was. The coach transfer between the airport was roughly 2 hours long but despite the length of the journey, the views were unbeatable.
Our hotel for this trip was the Hotel Minerva. The view across the bay of Naples, towards Vesuvius was incredible. The terrace dining room of the hotel meant that every evening we could sit and watch the sunset over the volcano. The sunlight picked out the brilliant white sails of the yachts drifting along the coast and the trails in the water left by the occasional Jet Ski.
The town of Sorrento is very traditionally Italian. Within the town centre, the main piazza is filled with shops and restaurants, with the main roads leading off towards the ports and the train station. The first trip we went on during the week was to visit Pompeii, which we visited by train. Although it is advertised by the TUI reps as being a difficult commute, this was not my experience. The TUI goal is to sell you their excursions at extortionate prices, where it is actually very simple to make the journeys independently.
As I mentioned, Pompeii was my first trip of the week. The walk to the train station from the hotel took around 20 minutes and was a straight route through the town centre. The train tickets for Pompeii cost €2.50 single and €5 return. The journey on the train takes around 50 minutes to reach Pompeii. There is only one train line which runs from Sorrento to Naples, making commuting on the train very simple. Before leaving the train station at Sorrento, a family of Romany Gypsies boarded the train to play music for the passengers, moving up and down the carriages. Just before the train left they jumped off of the train and made their way around to the next one.
We reached Pompeii at lunch time and easily joined a tour group who were about to set off into the city itself. Being an EU student made the entrance fee cheaper for me with the presentation of ID. It will be interesting to see if this remains the same for us in our post-brexit world. The ancient city is a complicated place, and to get the full value out of your time there, getting an official guide is important. All of the official tour guides within Pompeii have degrees in the study of the city so therefore have a vast knowledge on the history of Pompeii. The city is also a lot bigger than you might expect so getting lost is easy if you are not familiar with the site.
Our tour lasted 2 hours, in which a lot of important parts of the city were covered. If I was to go back again I would definitely make the trip to see the amphitheatre which, because of the long walk it is away from the forum, I didn’t get chance to see. On the day I visited Pompeii the sky was clear, and the temperature was around 36 degrees, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to take bottles of water and suncream with you into the city.
The only other trip I took in the week was to the island of Capri. Capri is the island where the rich and the famous come to live, and take their summer vacations. This is obvious from the streets filled with designer shops and high end restaurants, aimed at the vastly wealthy people who visit Capri.
To get up to Capri, from where the boats arrive, you have to travel either by taxi or on the funicular. From Capri you can also choose to travel up to Anacapri by chair lift, however as someone who doesn’t particularly love heights, this was definitely not an activity for me. This particular day, Anacapri was also shrouded in a thick cloud, making the journey up to Anacapri a pointless one as there would be no view out over Capri.
Overall the trip was an amazing one, although personally I don’t feel as though it is anywhere close to the sights at Venice. If I was to return to Sorrento again, visiting Herculaneum and seeing more of Pompeii are at the top of my list.