THE AMALFI COAST and POMPEII – SEPT. 26
Today was probably one the tours that I was most looking forward to. A quick explanation: I know that I have mentioned tours a couple of times, this trip is not like my last one where it was a fully organized tour. Instead for this trip my mom and I booked various single day tours through a site called Viator. So far at three days in, I cannot recommend this site highly enough. It is absolutely insane how great our tours have been and how knowledgable our guides are.
Before I get to our tour, I need to mention that part of my excitement for today’s trip was that I didn’t think I would get to do it. Last night before heading out to dinner I was looking over our voucher for today and saw that it said that it was required that we verify our hotel pickup two days before the trip or else they might not show up. Needless to say I was freaking out, and if you have had the pleasure of meeting me then you know that this wasn’t pretty. But as luck would have it when we were exiting our hotel this morning our driver was already there ready to take us on our full day trip.
The first part of the day was dedicated to the Amalfi Coast with the latter part of the day being in Pompeii. All I can say is thank god that we had somebody else doing all of the driving. The Amalfi Coast has unbelievably windy roads, 50 times worse than anything I experienced in Romania. This was probably one of the only times in my life where I felt motion sickness in a car; there were parts where I had to close my eyes so I could try to pretend that the roads were straighter.
The views, however, were definitely worth the pain. Every single stop we made was gorgeous, each one seemingly topping the previous view. One stop in particular was a lot of fun because we got to walk around the area for about an hour taking photos and buying tchotchkes (kitschy items). I didn’t buy any limoncello, but I did get myself a magnet and lots of lemon candies!
Our lunch stop was in Positano. For those reading this in my hometown, I swear I kept confusing this with Postinos (a cool, popular sandwich restaurant/bar)! We were given the option to go with our guide to a restaurant that he recommended or we could do our own thing. Because we only had two hours–and Italian service is notoriously slow–my mom and I agreed that we would rather grab some street food to save time to walk around the town and hopefully shop.
Not that we knew it at the time, but this was one of our best decisions. Out of sheer luck we happened upon a a cafe that offered both a delicious pizza and an amazing view. But the best part was that this meal only took up around 20 minutes, leaving us plenty of time to go window shopping. The shopping was a little disappointing at first, most everything was laughably overpriced, but the whole atmosphere made up for that. Shopping is nice, but a great view trumps it every time.
The only thing that made leaving the Amalfi Coast bearable was knowing that our next stop is Pompeii. After spending years studying Anthropology and Archaeology (most importantly including a year in England where I focused on Ancient Roman Archaeology) this was a site that I was incredibly excited to visit. The history nerd in me was practically fan girling at everything around me, and it definitely helped that our tour guide was clearly passionate as well. I don’t know that I have ever had a tour guide that was earnestly upset about some of the other tour groups blocking our ability to see what he was talking about and to take our own photos. At one point he actually went over to those groups’ guides to chastise them for not keeping their group moving; it was kind of adorable.
For dinner tonight I spent almost the entire time spent on the bus today trying to find something that would be good to eat. Finally I settled on this restaurant called Casa Bleve. All around this place was just a fun experience. First off, when my mom and I arrived we had just come straight from our tour because thankfully our bus driver was more than willing to drop us off at the Piazza Navona where the restaurant is located. In case this is not getting across my point, I shall elaborate: we were woefully underdressed. The websites I found gave no indication that this was a fancy restaurant, but when we showed up in our exercise and walking gear it was clear that we were not exactly dressed for the occasion.
But from the way that we were treated you would have never guessed that we were not looking our best. The staff was incredibly funny, constantly joking with us if we couldn’t finish our meal (one waiter tried to force us to finish our burrata and fig jam…it was much cuter than it sounds) and they even ended up giving us free dessert, a discount, and two free roses. Honestly, I checked over our receipt when we got back to the hotel a thousand times trying to figure out how we were being scammed. Everything you read about dining in Italy says to beware of extra charges and that while bread is brought to the table with every meal you are charged for the bread whether you eat it or not.
In our case they comped us for the water and bread (I know it was for this because we were charged for both but the price of them was the exact same as what was being comped), never even charged us for our tiramisu, and there was no hidden cost for the two roses. I even looked up their menu online to see if the prices were lower than what we were charged thinking maybe that’s how they scammed us by giving us things for free; that is how paranoid I was. But it turns out they were exactly how they seemed, and it definitely brought a smile to both me and my mom.