We did it!! We survived the worst train journey, or any journey for that matter, in Italy. From Napoli (aka The Crap Hole) to Sorrento (aka gateway to Paradise). It is a journey I have done before and have hated every moment of the 1 hour and 13 minute train ride, not to mention the waiting time at Napoli train station. In the past, it seems that those you would rather not be around catch that train – chronic drug addicts, alcoholics, old homeless people, the unwashed and highly pungent. It does not make for a pleasant journey for a number of reasons – firstly, their sight and smell is bordering repulsive, and you just never know how desperate these people are, or how they might react in their mind-altered state. Makes me very nervous given travellers are usually prime targets…
I’m delighted Zorba and I made to Sorrento without coming across any of the abovementioned. The only incident was that on the old rickety train with no aircon, I lumped my massive 18.5kg backpack on a spare seat and sat next to a Nonna with her grocery shopping. She gave me the evil eye and motioned for me to sit in another seat as her shopping was under the seat I sat in. No chance lady. I’m not moving further than arms reach from my backpack that contained my worldly possessions I would need for the next 6 months. So i say to her in Italian, I won’t touch your shopping. She kind of did a ‘humrph’ sound and sat quietly. When it was time for her to get off the train, she said sorry about the shopping misunderstanding, gave me a toothless smile and waved good bye. Ha! There you have it – there is a nice Nonna inside that nasty looking woman!
Our hotel in Sorrento, Settimocielo (Seventh Heaven), is built into the cliff face and has fantastic views over Sorrento. We had asked the taxi driver what the best restaurant in Sorrento was and he said Il Buco. After an hour lying in the splendid sun by the hotel pool, we got ready and walked into town.
That restaurant, Il Buco, was magnificent. Set in a what looked like a tunnel, the waiters wore tuxedos, there was soft lighting, expensive looking table clothes and silver cutlery. The setting was pure class. And the food - Buono Buono Buonissimo!! And VERY VERY expensive. Sensible Zorba kindly reminded me that we were still in week one of our six week Italian odyssey and that we couldn’t really afford to have $300 dinners every night. Yeah yeah yeah…. So after our complementary prosecco (sparkling) and h’ors douvres from the chef, I chose a sensible wine that was a local blended red with a high percentage of sangiovese. We ate five different kinds of bread before sharing the home made linguine with langoustine, white cheese sauce and white truffle oil. Oh. My. God. My mouth waters every time I think about that dish. It was perfect in every sense.
For main, we had a dish for two, boned flattened marinated chicken served with grilled vegetables and home made gnocchi – again, it was an ‘oh my God’ moment. The chef came out with a massive chopping board and cut the chicken up in front of our table and served up the vegetables for us. The aroma was mouth watering – in fact, the table next to us ordered the same thing after seeing what we got!
I couldn’t justify dessert, so settled for a coffee and hoped this smart restaurant would include some petti fours with coffee, which they did. Yay! I got a free sweet chocolate fix!
The next day in Sorrento we decided to have our first lazy day of our holiday. Neither of us could bare the thought of rushing to catch the ferry to Capri and walking around the island all day. Instead, we walked down the jetty and hired a ‘lettino’ or sunbed for the day (6 euro each) and lazed by sea, topping up our tans, snoozing, and generally relaxing. aaaahhhhhhhhh….. it was just what we both needed.
For lunch, we walked along the beach and carefully sussed out every restaurant – were there many people in there? are they foreigners or Italians? what is the menu like? We chose the furthest one away from the jetty that was packed full of Italians, Trattoria Da Emilia on via Marina Grande, 62, and both had Spaghetti Vongole and a salad. Mmm—mmmmm!!
With full tummies, we went back to our lettinos and snoozed the afternoon away. Joy! We decided to make the most of our balcony view and bought a few bits from the deli and had a light dinner, still fit for a King, with wine on our balcony. A great day.
On our last day in Sorrento, we checked out of the hotel and left our luggage there while we trekked to Capri by ferry with 40million other tourists, about 80% of them Americans. Urgh, it was torturous. Capri itself is very pretty and as soon as we were off the ferry, we booked into do a boat trip around the island – at 14 euro each it was quite reasonable.
The boat trip was pleasant enough, until we got to the Grotto Azzurre – the blue grotto. We waited for ages for a little row boat to take four of us at a time into the blue grotto, at an extra cost of 11.50 euro per person for four minutes inside this dark cave. What the…? The only remarkable thing about that cave was the colour of the water, it glowed blue due to the sun light somehow getting in under the cave. It looked quite cool, but was not worth 11.50 euro!!
We caught the feniculare up to the Capri town and walked and walked around until grumpy hungry Di cracked it and demanded we stop for lunch. The search for a good non touristy restaurant was on and I can’t believe we found one! A place tucked away – about a km from the main square, with only Italians inside, including men in business suits. Yay!! Ristorante Pizzeria Verginiello, via Lo Palazzo 25. There we had THE BEST spaghetti marinara we have had (besides one I had on the Sicilian island of Panarea with Donna back in 2008). Before the pasta, we had a caprese salad of buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil – sublime!
After lunch we headed back to Sorrento and made our way to perfect Positano.