Sorrento and Capri (Part 5 of 5)

Sorrento is known as one of the world’s most charming and romantic old towns with it’s many cafes, shops and historic sites. It is located in southern Italy about an hour south of Naples, wedged on a ledge and separates the Gulf of Naples from the Gulf of Salerno. This is a land of high hills and valleys and mountains surrounding the entire peninsula. The area is surrounded by smaller villages like Meta, Sant’ Agnello and the area known as Massa Lubrense.  Sorrento is a good home base for your Amalfi Coast excursions.

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Bay of Naples

Piazza Tasso is the central square in Sorrento and the hub for fancy hotels, artistic and cultural events. There are many side streets, almost alleyways I would call them lined with all manner of shopping from high end boutiques, gelato shops and cafes everywhere just to stop and relax and remember why you are here! The town is laid out on an East – West orientation to take advantage of the most sun and North – South to get the prevailing winds.  This was originally a Greek town plan. The 13th century palaces that dot the back streets have no balconies and this was for security.

 

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Sorrento

The limestone rocks here create a soil that is very suitable for various types of vegetation. The most popular and well known product from the region is of course lemons and that oh so famous liqueur: Limoncello!  Of course, we won’t forget to mention the olives, vineyards, vegetables, tomatoes and orange groves also.

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Limoncello
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Peppers, peppers and more peppers!

For our final stop on this Amalfi Coast tour: Capri

You definitely can’t miss Capri!  This island is romance on steroids!!!  The views are mind boggling dramatic and the ocean is a glorious turquoise color. Capri and Ischia are the islands to the west of Sorrento in the Tyrrhenian Sea.  You are hooked immediately upon your arrival to this busy marina and you are in love immediately.

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Marina Grande Capri

Villa Jovis, one of the most magnificent of the Roman Emperor Tiberius’ island palaces is located on Capri’s second highest peak and is a great spot for hikers.  He was the first “tourist” they say who fell in love with Capri looking for a refuge from the hustle and bustle in Rome.  The island is famous for hiking and if that is not for you take the chairlift to the top of Mount Solaro and gaze down upon the towns of Capri and Anacapri and the famous Faraglioni rock formations (see top photo).  Mount Solaro is the highest and most panoramic location on the Island of Capri. From this vantage point you can see all the way down to the center of the town of Capri and to the town of Anacapri and all the way to the Sorrentine peninsula and the Gulf of Naples.

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Anacapri from Monte Solaro chairlift

Of course you will find the most fashionable shopping square anywhere in southern Italy with high end boutiques just calling your name.

Be sure to explore the island both by land and sea.  The Grotta Azzura- The Blue Grotto is a true adventure.  Both times I have been the sea was too choppy for us to enter but it is supposedly absolutely breathtaking.  If it is anything like the other grottos I did see… well- you decide!  I have never seen water this color- anywhere!

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Are you convinced yet!

 

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View back towards Sorrento and Positano

 

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Enjoying JK Place Hotel

 

I have loved every minute of my time on the Amalfi Coast and frankly can’t wait to return again and again! Thanks for traveling with me!  Ciao for now until my next adventure!  If you missed parts 1-4 you can find them here on the blog and all the photos are on my Flickr album.  Hundreds to enjoy and way too many to put in this blog.

When you are on the Amalfi Coast hire a private driver or take a taxi.  Both are experts in the sights and history of the area and will make your journey that much more memorable. Again if you are interested in going to Italy considering working with either of the ladies below and tell them Robin Lensi sent you. I suggest you contact either:

Capritime Tours– Rebecca Brooks or

L’Esperta – Ashley Turney

 

 

 

 

Come Fly with me to Ravello and Amalfi (Part 4 of 5)

Amalfi, a truly medieval city has the grandest cathedral anywhere in the Arab-Norman style. The Duomo di Sant’ Andrea with it’s striped facade in Saracen colors and the Chiostro del Paradiso is spectacular.

 

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In front of the harbor is the Piazza Flavio Gioia in honor of Gioia who is credited with inventing the maritime compass in 1302.

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Amalfi Harbor

Don’t miss the little town to the east of Amalfi called Atrani.  It is often said the town looks like an opera set.

 

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Atrani

And then you come to Ravello, high atop Monte Cereto and my personal favorite!  Unlike any place on earth!

 

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Ravello from Scala

 

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Ravello Piazza

 

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Ravello

You can’t come to Ravello without taking home some ceramics.  Or in my case twice shipping home huge containers!

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Perched 1,500 feet above the bluest bay in the world, the Bay of Salerno it provides the most breathtaking views on the Amalfi coast.

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Ravello is the home to two of the areas most famous medieval gardens, the Villa Rufulo and the Villa Cimbrone.  The crown jewel in Ravello is undoubtedly the Belvedere of Infinity in the Villa Cimbrone.

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Villa Cimbrone
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Belvedere of Infinity – Villa Cimbrone

This garden is the highest point in Ravello and the views are not to be missed.

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Here are some of the sights from the Villa Rufulo. They host an amazing Music Festival every summer.

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Truly one could go on and on about the Amalfi coast but it is safe to say it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  For the entire Album please go to my Flickr album so you can enjoy all of the photos.  If you missed any of the previous parts in this series here is a link to Part One. Ciao and stay tuned for the final installment! I hope you will consider following my blog. Enjoy!  If you are ready to start planning your trip you can’t go wrong with Ashley Turney and L’Esperta.

 

Hiking on the Amalfi Coast (part 3 of 5)

So let’s continue our tour of the Amalfi Coast!

For those so inclined there are plenty of hiking adventures to be had.   We chose the Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods), which winds its way from Agerola for 5 miles to Nocelle and then down to Positano. This is the Amalfi Coast’s most famous walk. The views are astonishing of both the Mediterranean and the mountains. The Amalfi coast is a World Heritage Site. You will see mules and people, abandoned buildings and remote hillside farms. On any given weekend the people of the Amalfi coast get out and enjoy nature. Many can be seen walking or picnicking on the trail and just relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. So let’s begin!  Here is a sneak peek at what you might see while on your hike on the Path of the Gods.

 

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Our welcoming party!
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Which way will you travel? We went from Agerola to Positano

 

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How will you travel?

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Need a home? These hermitages cling to the hillside seemingly suspended in mid-air.

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The views are so special
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Looking in every direction the view unfolds with untold beauty with plunging views of the Mediterranean and the towns below

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Praiano

 

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Have no fear the trail is well marked

 

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People out enjoying the day
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Be prepared of course as you are hiking, bring snacks and water since there are obviously no services along the way

 

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The path is a little tricky at times but easily negotiable. The walk is moderate but the path can be narrow in spots. Do NOT step to the left!The path is a little tricky at times but easily negotiable. The walk is moderate but the path can be narrow in spots. Do NOT step to the left!

 

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Just around every corner the views are expansive of the coastline here from Positano to Capri and beyond.

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Finally our destination – Nocelle and then down to Positano.  You can walk down the 1500 steps but we took a ride.

 

There are many other paths we also did Ravello to Minori.

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Stopping for a breather.  A long way down.  We took a cab back uphill to Ravello!
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Stairs, stairs and more stairs! Look up the view towards Salerno was gorgeous!
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Figs, olives and grapes greeted us all along the paths

You might also check out Ravello to  Atrani via the Valle del  Dragone or on Capri, one of the most beautiful coastal walks in the world, the “Path of the Forts”.  Get out and enjoy the views like the locals.  You won’t be disappointed! Did you miss Part 1 and 2 of this series? Here you go: The Amalfi Coast part one.  Ready to read Part 4: Come Fly with me to Ravello and Amalfi – here you go!

 

Ciao!  See you for the next in the series: Ravello and Amalfi

“Positano bites deep” in the words of John Steinbeck (part 2 of 5)

Continuing on our tour of the Amalfi Coast we come to Positano!  The jewel of the Amalfi coast is most likely Positano, the most photographed fishing village in the world is southeast of Naples.  John Steinbeck when he visited in 1953 wrote “Positano bites deep.  It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” The houses seem to be sitting on top of each other as they cascade down the slope.  “The artist Paul Klee described it as “The only place in the world conceived on a vertical rather than a horizontal axis.”

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Positano from Path of the Gods

Are you in search of beaches?  Well look no further than the Spiaggia del Fornillo or the Spiaggia Grande in Positano.

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Spiaggia Grande

Positano’s 3 town areas are connected by an endless series of staircases.  This is not for the faint of heart!  Wander down the Via dei Mulini among the shops and bakeries or just sit by the pool.

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Covo dei Saraceni

 

Maybe get a pair of sandals made while you wait.

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Don’t miss the Palazzo Murat!  It looks like a palace with its bougainvillea covered balconies.

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Palazzo Murat- Positano

 

At the heart of every town is a church.  Here it is Santa Maria Assunta with its green and yellow majolica dome which is visible from everywhere in town.

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Santa Maria Assunta

At every turn the views are dramatic and memorable.

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Amalfi coastline – Positano to Capri

All over the Amalfi Coast you will stumble upon wedding after wedding.  Beautiful spot for a destination wedding.

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Weddings in every church all along the coast

While you are here try your hand at a cooking class.  There are many offered all over the coast.

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Making Bruschetta

 

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Eggplant Parmigiana anyone?

So plan your trip but leave time to relax, eat, drink and soak up the magic that is the Amalfi Coast!  See you on our next leg of the journey when we travel to Sentieri degli Dei or “The Path of the Gods” above Positano.  The views are breathtaking!

See all the photos from my trips to Italy on my Flickr page and be sure to Follow my Blog so you don’t miss the next installment. Part 3: Hiking on the Amalfi Coast!  Did you miss Part 1? Here is a link!   I would love to hear about your adventures on the Amalfi Coast. Post comments below.  Follow me on Facebook.

Ciao!

Fascinating Facts about Cruising the Thimble Islands

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
a tale of a fateful trip,
that started from this tropic port,
aboard this tiny ship.

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Standing watch or just enjoying the sunshine

Okay not really but for those of you who remember Gilligan’s Island that is what I pretended this adventure was!  These islands were first discovered in 1614 by Adrien Block for whom Block Island is named. Fun to dream and pretend although I don’t imagine life was very easy back then. With our capable captain on board we were ready to sail!

 

 

 

 

Originally called “The Hundred Islands” in the 1700’s The Thimble Islands is an archipelago consisting of small islands made up of Stony Creek pink granite bedrock in Long Island Sound located in and around the harbor of Stony Creek, CT in the the southeast corner of Branford, CT.  Today there are only 32 inhabited islands.  The name The Thimble islands came from the native thimbleberries, or more commonly black raspberries, once plentiful on the islands.

There are many stories about Captain Kidd having buried treasure on the islands in the local folklore and this of course fueled treasure hunters to seek out The Thimble Islands and the infamous “Money Island” which is the second largest island at 12 acres and has an entire village of 32 houses and a library.

Governor Island consists of 10 acres and has 14 houses while Bear Island is home to a granite quarry.

Eventually the islands became a resort spot, attracting families and city dwellers.

Eventually the islands became more privatized as summer residents established homes there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay so who needs running water and electricity?

That’s what I call solar power!

 Horse Island, the largest island at 17 acres is an ecological research station run by Yale University and consists mostly of poison ivy. Oh gosh!

Our journey on the Sea Mist, whose been touring visitors around the islands since the 70’s started with laughs and stories of times gone by! Sadly, the islands suffered quite a lot of damage in the Hurricane of 1938.

 

 

There are many islands with cute names and some just plain silly like “Cut-in-Two Island,

Jepson Island, Pot Island,

Cut-in-Two Island now connected by a bridge

Outer Island, Davis Island, Hen Island, Potato Island, High Island, Rogers Island, Mother-in-Law Island and High Island. Too many to remember frankly!

Supposedly Mother-in-Law island got its name after a nosy mother invaded the privacy of her newlywed daughter and son-in-law. In retaliation, the couple took both boats and left the mother on the island by herself with no way to get home.

 

Outer Island is an ecological preserve and refuge for migratory birds and is part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuse. Guided tours and field studies are available and the island is owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Outer Island

Enjoy your tour!

 

Well I hope you have enjoyed your tour.  The next time you are in the Branford, CT area make sure to take a trip on one of the touring vessels ready and waiting to regale you with stories and drinks celebrating a bygone era!

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