After two and a half months away from home, we were so excited to meet up with my mum and stepdad in Rome for a little family time, much nicer accommodation and endless amounts of pizza, pasta and prosecco.
I studied in Italy over ten years ago so it was amazing to be able to experience the country with my family and share my memories (and now very average Italian skills) with them. A couple of days in Rome flew by, taking in all the must-see sights, finding time for some much-needed shopping and, of course, eating way too much Italian food.
After Rome, our first stop was Naples to meet Captain Nello and his sailboat, Il Geronimo (Mum’s best discovery on Airbnb!) which would be our home for a few days of cruising around the Amalfi Coast.
We had no idea what to expect when we first arrived but we were more than happily surprised. A beautiful sailboat stocked with plenty of Italian goodies (and more prosecco), Nello and his boat would let us explore the area by sea instead of via the crazy coastal streets that seemed constantly packed with tour buses and vespas – equally nerve-wracking to encounter on a sharp bend!
Cruising slowly along the Sorrento Coast, we could see the beautiful towns from their best vantage points. When it got too hot, we would drop anchor for a quick dip. We lunched in Nerano where a friend of Nello’s served us the most amazing Spaghetti alle Vongole I’ve ever tasted and we watched the small seaside town get ready for the start of high season that would see hoards of visitors descend on the now-deserted shoreline.
Our first night, we stopped off in Amalfi itself to check out the beautiful old church and pinterest-worthy picturesque town. The namesake of the Coast, Amalfi was packed with tourists, limoncello and locals all drinking in the beauty of the area, with its soaring limestone hills and buildings bursting with colour, both painted on and natural from flowers and other plants clinging to the cliffside. After our explorations around town, Nello whipped up a fantastic seafood pasta with local produce and a side of Caprese salad, marinated eggplant and more cured meats, all sourced locally (and again, mostly from friends or family), and tasted exactly like amazing home cooking should.
Day two started with a morning spent exploring nearby Ravello, strolling through the gardens of Villa Cimbrone, with its iconic sculptures which overlook the stunning coastline. The bus ride was an unforgettable experience in itself, seeing how the locals find a way to share the very limited space. That said, we spent most of the trip covering our eyes as the bus took on some of the tightest hairpin turns I’ve ever encountered.
In the afternoon, we sailed back along the coast to Positano for a different kind of exploring, doing some damage to our credit cards in the shops and our waistlines in the gelateria. While we didn’t get to spend long in Positano, we were lucky enough to enjoy the jewel of the Amalfi Coast from the unique vantage point of our boat, avoiding the crowds and taking in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited from afar. We enjoyed a quick dip in the sapphire blue waters and let Positano’s beauty wash over us – literally – from our little spot in the sea.
Captain Nello seemed to know everyone worth knowing, so that evening we dropped anchor at Marina Piccola (literally, Little Harbour), a secluded bay on the far side of Capri, away from the main port and tourist areas. Here, our sailboat sat alongside the superyachts of superstars (including one belonging to Lionel Messi, according to a sneaky Google – a fact that impressed the boys far more than me), giving us a taste of the uber luxury of the Amalfi Coast from our own budget vantage-point.
The only downside to sailing the Amalfi Coast – as far as we could see – was the weather, which we found out when a huge storm passed us in the early morning on our third day. While the superyachts sat calmly in the relatively sheltered bay, our poor sailboat swayed and bounced, jostled by each and every wave. We managed to wait out the weather and gratefully clambered onto solid land a few hours later, a little greener but no worse for wear.
After the morning’s shaky start, we were keen to make the most of our short time in Capri. Finding our way to the main town area, we wandered down some of the most picturesque stone streets I’ve ever seen, with whitewashed buildings covered in bright pink and purple bougainvillea, their simplicity belying opulent interiors. Eventually we found our way to Punta Tagara Hotel, once the home of US President Eisenhower and now serves as a lookout point, offering stunning views of the iconic Faraglioni Rocks and Capri’s breathtaking coastline. On our Captain’s advice, we jumped into on the Capri’s iconic taxis – pimped out with blue and white awnings and matching interiors to check out Anacapri, the old town area that is just as beautiful but slightly less crowded than the main town area.
After all of the walking, we were in dire need of a drink so our afternoon was spent in one of the stunning seaside restaurants back at the small marina, dining on freshly caught fish and, you guessed it, more prosecco. We spent a lovely, lazy afternoon overlooking one of the quieter (but definitely not less beautiful) spots along the Amalfi Coast, reviving ourselves with an after-lunch swim before we reluctantly said goodbye to Capri and set sail for home port of Castellammare di Stabia (which had the second best Spaghetti alle Vongole I’ve ever tasted).
Sailing the Amalfi Coast was a once in a lifetime experience with seemingly endless days of waking up in one stunning town and ending with dinner in another. It was an amazing way to see another side of one of Italy’s most popular destinations and it gave our family a way to spend some down time together without feeling like we were missing out on all of the different spots this spectacular coast has to offer.