Italy in the Spring is wonderful, but Southern Italy in the Spring is particularly special. I spent 4 days travelling around Naples, Sorrento, Capri and Pompei with friends, taking in the beautiful scenery, culture, and of course, lots and lots of food.
We arrived in Naples in the morning from Bologna after a bit of an uncomfortable 9-hour coach journey. The exploring began straight away and we climbed to the top of Castel dell'Ovo - a seaside castle with breathtaking panoramic views of the Gulf of Naples.
After visiting the city's main square, Piazza del Plebiscito, we headed to Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, home to the unusually constructed Church of Santa Chiara. A short walk away from the Piazza was the Church and Convent of Gerolomini, a beautifully made 17th century building.
By this point, hunger was setting in and it was time to experience some of Naples' famous cuisine. We followed the absolutely amazing smell of fritto misto - essentially deep fried seafood and vegetables - to a little food stall called Passione di Sofi. For just 6€ (around £4), you can pick up a huge cone of fish and vegetables that will fill you up for the rest of the day.
The day ended with a night at Galleria 19, one of Naples' most popular nightclubs. It certainly lived up to its reputation!
After a pitiful 3 hours of sleep, we travelled to Sorrento the next day. Having been to Sorrento around 6 years ago, I was very excited to return and it was just as beautiful as I had remembered. Sorrento is also an incredibly friendly place, the locals are very accommodating and helpful. The people were definitely a highlight of the day.
For lunch, we had our first pizza of the trip (just a little late!). I find that with food the best places are those on the quaint little side streets and in the quieter areas, away from the throngs of tourists. We found a great local trattoria and pizzeria - Da Gigigno - where I had a delicious authentic southern pizza topped with olives, prosciutto cotto, anchovies, peppers and artichokes. It was very inexpensive too, costing just 10€ with free water and no cover charge.
We then had a short tour of the city, visiting some of Sorrento's key landmarks including the Cathedral of Sorrento. It was then time for another food break and we picked up a gelato at Antica Gelateria Sorrentina - Sorrento's oldest gelateria. Dating back to 1860, the gelateria is family-owned and all the ice cream is freshly made each morning. There aren't many words to describe how delicious this ice cream was; I would say it was probably the best I've ever tasted. If you are ever in Sorrento, you absolutely must visit!
We then headed to the beach. Unfortunately, the weather was not as good as we had hoped for and so it was a little too cold to swim, but it was great to unwind by the sea.
Day 3 was Capri! We took a boat across from Naples to Capri, arriving in just over an hour. Capri is a small but beautiful island, with the main part served only by boats. It is a popular tourist destination but also a popular summer hideout for a number of well-known figures including Giorgio Armani, Sophia Loren and, allegedly, Quentin Tarantino.
After taking a cable car up to the main area of the island, we had a look around the shops and local bakeries. There are lots of shops selling limoncello in Capri, and there are giant lemons EVERYWHERE. We then found a great spot by the coast for lunch.
After we were suitably full on a typical Italian picnic, we took a boat trip around the island that took us past the infamous Blue Grotto and White Grotto, as well as VIP villas in the hills and the stunning landscape.
We headed back to our hostel and spent our last (rather eventful) night at Arenile - Naples' famous beach club.
Our last day was spent visiting the city of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city destroyed by Mount Vesuvius' eruption in 79 AD. The ruins of the city have long been a popular tourist destination and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We had a very in-depth tour of the city, passing through ancient bakeries, shops, and even a brothel... The amazing thing about Pompeii is how well-preserved many parts are and it's fascinating to see how advanced the city was (i.e. zebra crossings were a thing!)
We ended the day with a pizza, of course, and begun the long journey back northwards. All in all, my 4 days in the South of Italy were wonderful. The food, the weather, the beautiful scenery, the people! I hope to go back this summer to make the most of the great beaches in the sun.
Words and Images by Olivia Odubanjo (@Oliviazao)
All photos were taken on an iPhone 6 and edited with VSCO. View Olivia's VSCO Grid here.