Life outside of China has taken off rapidly with travel, and since my departure, I have been making up for 'lost' time, happily unwinding, and visiting cities and places that I had planned on seeing since 2020. It feels great to finally be free to do so, especially since I embarked on my travels during the Summertime.
I took advantage of the summer heat and sunny weather, which made it perfect for my hot summer shenanigans. I finally made it home to Trinidad after four years and then embarked on a little Euro-trip, visiting cities and towns in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and the UK.
During this time, I realized that I have changed how I travel. I no longer seek to see and experience as much as possible within the given time but have grown to enjoy and explore at a slower pace, not wanting to see or do the most, but be in the place that I am and appreciate just that- maybe it comes with getting older. My newfound preference for travel still afforded me fantastic experiences over these past couple of weeks, and my time in Italy was certainly one of them!
Traveling to Italy had been a dream of mine as I am a fan of old movies. And I'd often swoon over the settings off the coast of Italy in the films watched. It felt great to finally be there this Summer. I arrived at the end of August and along with my friend, spent nine days in the South of Italy. We traveled around coastlines, hopping on ferries, busses, and planes, enjoying life, pizza, pasta, and wine.
Here are some highlights from our time there:
Day trips to Capri and the Amalfi Coast:
We took a one-day boat tour from Sorrento to Capri and spent our time swimming in the ocean and exploring the glamorous island of Capri. The beach at the port was filled with fellow day-trippers as well as visitors that were staying on the island. We took the local shuttle bus further into the island, and eventually came upon a more upscale side of the town. It made me think of the settings of those old movies and I have now promised myself that I would return to Capri to spend some days indulging in the glamour.
Traveling by ferry proved to be a convenient and budget-friendly way to be on the water and to visit islands in the South of Italy. Capri can be accessed by ferry from various ports including Sorrento, Naples, and Positano, and it is a more budget-friendly option.
Ischia was another island that we visited via ferry from Sorrento. We enjoyed almost every moment of this day in the village of Forio, which is the second stop on the island via ferry. Ischia was a fantastic spot to get a taste of a charming unspoiled Italy. This island has gorgeous streets lined with local shops and cafes that were easy to access after disembarking from the ferry. Ischia has a flatter landscape compared to Amalfi town and Positano, which made walking around more pleasant, and the breathtaking sea views were a welcomed bonus. There were many beaches to choose from on this island, which was our 'hardest' decision of the day! We were sad to leave Ischia at the end of the day and, I promised to return to this picture-perfect island.
As previously mentioned, we also visited Positano and Amalfi town, and both felt like these two destinations are a bit overhyped by media and maybe even the movies that charmed me. These two towns were a bit more difficult to explore, and crowded with tourist. Positano was my favorite between the two, and maybe staying on the island for a few days with a sea view hotel may have changed my impression of the town. Both Positano and Amalfi towns are accessible by bus, boat, car, or ferry, my favorite view of the island was from the ferry.
My most memorable experience while visiting these towns was the time spent at a local, more hidden beach cove in Positano. Lido La Marinella was suggested by a local as he overheard us saying that we wanted to avoid the crowds at the main beach at the port- shoutout to that guy. We got to this beach via stairs that are cut along the rocky coastline. Just a 10-minute scenic walk from the marina, we found Lido Marinella nestled along a quiet, sandy cove, and spent the rest of our day lounging like locals.
Spending 3 Days in Naples:
When it comes to living like locals, our most raw experience was during our time in Naples. Naples, Italy’s third largest city, has had a reputation of being unsafe and intimidating. It has recently continued to become a more popular tourist destination as its historical relevance, architecture and of course, pizza are all reasons to visit. It is after all, the birthplace of pizza!
We stayed for three nights in the city center and spent most of our time walking around, exploring the city's streets, and of course eating. Our first order of business upon arrival was to find the pizza! We also joined a City Sightseeing bus tour while in Naples, and viewing this historical city from above was worth it, especially since it was one hot Summer! It was relaxing to learn about the city's history while having impressive views from the bus, in shade from the rays of the sun.
Naples is a very real place- rough around the edges, which makes it effortless for one to immerse in local life in every corner of the city. The architecture is beautiful, even though many buildings seem abandoned and countless homeless residents sleep on their steps next to piles of trash. It is hard to overlook the social issues of the city that hits a visitor in the face, but it somehow makes one more intrigued by Naples, its history, and how it got to its status and reputation. It also encouraged us to search for the city’s hidden gems.
One place that we discovered, is called, Palazzo Venezia, an old palace from the 1400s that houses a hidden garden café and hosts a variety of art-related programs like art classes, exhibitions, and musicals. We also discovered many intriguing restaurants along the alleys of the city center and enjoyed great service while dining in Naples. The National Archaeological Museum was also a place of interest that we, unfortunately, did not have the time to visit. There are also gems off the coast of Naples, including the above-mentioned islands of Capri and Ischia.
Art and Beach hopping in Puglia:
Puglia was our last stop on our trip to the South of Italy, and we decided to take it easy and stay put in the historical city center of Monopoli. We enjoyed being surrounded by impressive historic architecture, rugged coastlines, and beaches. Coincidentally, we arrived in Monopoli just in time for Panorama Monopoli, an impressive city-wide exhibition took us through the old city center on somewhat of a treasure hunt. We were given a map that guided us to to 16 different locations that housed works of 60 artists. Works included contemporary, modern, and ancient art that were exhibited and seamlessly interwoven into the natural landscape and historical architecture of the city.
The best thing about visiting Italy in the Summer is that the beaches are warm, or at least warm enough to comfortably enjoy the ocean and cool down from the summer heat. I suffered in Portugal as the beaches were stunning and inviting, up until I tried to enter the freezing water. Imagine my glee when I arrived in the South of Italy and experienced beach hopping along rugged coastline, comfortably dipping and splashing in the ocean. Your girl was living her best life!
I had a great introduction to Italy on this trip and I can't wait to return to revisit some of my favorite places as well as rediscover more of this beautiful country. The biggest learning from my intro to spending a Summer in Italy is this, consider staying at the smaller islands off the coasts as they seem more serene and are more stunning, then, take day trips to the main coastal cities. I have a feeling that this will work well with my new laid-back way of traveling!
Stay tuned for more deets on my Summer of Freedom.