Pompei

We travelled to Pompei by train from Sorrento (Circumvesuviana train). It’s very cheap, although it is slightly more expensive than recent years. It’s still much, much cheaper than UK trains. It must have been no more than 5 Euro return. The train doesn’t take very long, and I think Pompei was the 11th (ish) stop along the line. You need to ensure you get off at Pompei Scavi and not Pompei, although I’m sure this is obvious with the number of tourists.

On getting off the train and exiting the train station, I was extremely disappointed and upset by the scammers that seemed to have appeared in recent years, guiding large numbers of tourists from the train into the opposite direction to Pompei Scavi (left instead of right) and saying ‘Pompei tickets this way!’. The scammers then force them into buying tour tickets with them for a price more expensive than entry on the actual gate. New tourists do not realise that this is wrong and is a scam.
My parents came with us this day (my dad visits Pompei every year to see new things they find, and he is an excellent guide!). My dad actually confronted the scammer and said ‘Pompei is not that way’ and the scammer kept insisting it was. It’s very frustrating and as a new tourist I think it’s important to be aware there may be people willing to take advantage of you.

Anyway *rant over* on exiting the station, we walked RIGHT. There are stalls selling icy bottles of water, and you will be thankful if you buy one of these now. Pompei can get very hot and is a large place. The actual entrance into Pompei Scavi is just a short walk down from the train station, and usually there are big queues to get tickets, although they go down relatively quick. There are guide books here and I think also audio guides. People usually walk around offering tours in your language, but they can be very slow to get around Pompei and can give facts you sometimes aren’t interested in (like the year things were built etc). My dad did an excellent job of being our guide as he told us what different things were used for and gave a good picture of actual life in Pompei before Vesuvius erupted.

Here are a few images of us exploring Pompei.

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In the forum area
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An ancient sign for a brothel
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Crossing one of the small roads
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Amazing mosaics that are preserved so well from one of the houses
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The colours and mosaics that have survived the years so well
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In the amphitheatre in Pompei, the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre.
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This image looks like a painting! Inside one of the Roman baths.

Pompei is an amazing place to visit, but if you are looking for a less popular alternative, Ercolano is a good option. Although I have never been myself, I have heard it is smaller and much better preserved than Pompei. I may take a trip there next time.

When we came out of Pompei, we discovered they now have exhibitions of some of the people of Pompei. I’m not sure if these are original or not as we say similar inside Pompei.

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This person was once a slave, you can see this from the belt around his waist.

It’s really interesting to me how much smaller people were back then, compared to today!

After we had finished with the ruins of Pompei, we started the walk into the modern Pompei of today, which few tourists venture into. It can be quite a walk but it is great to do. There is a massive church in the centre of the square, which we usually visit every year. It is beautiful and the corridors leading off from the church have pictures filling the walls of miracles that have happened to people. We did not get to go in this year as I wasn’t allowed in because I was wearing shorts, but I will insert pictures of inside the church from previous years.

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When I was younger I used to spend a long time looking at all of the miracles that had happened, despite the fact I’m not particularly religious. There is also an orphanage attached to the church, and there is a shop selling things like rosary beads where all of the proceeds go to the orphanage. My grandad back in the day used to go donate money to the orphanage and so each year I visit I make an effort to buy something from the shop.

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We then headed down one of the side streets to a cafe for a snack and a drink. It’s much cheaper than Sorrento and it was nice to not be surrounded by masses of tourists. Afterwards we began the long walk back to the train station.

Pompei is a great day out and if you don’t take a guided tour it’s definitely doable to fit in ‘modern Pompei’ too. Just ensure you wear appropriate clothing to enter the church as it’s definitely worth it. Also ensure you wear good shoes that you don’t mind possibly getting ruined. It’s something you definitely have to be fit for, but I think that’s the case with most sights in Italy. Pompei is a great bit of history in great travelling distance from Sorrento.

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Capri

Our first outing during our time in Sorrento was to Capri. We went with our parents as I thought this was a good all round trip for us all to enjoy together.

We got the boat from Marina Piccola in Sorrento, which we walked to from our hotel. I must say that the boat price has really increased since I last visited Capri (I’m sure it was more like 40-45 Euro each rather than the 30 euro it used to be only a few years ago!)

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The boat to Capri takes about 25 minutes. Unlike previous years, passengers now sit inside the boat and you cannot opt to sit outside. We waited for everyone to board the boat and we stood on the deck at the back to take in the views.

When we arrived in Capri, it was very busy and we took the funicular up to Capri Town, where we had a wander around the designer shops (walking past them that is!). You can see that Capri is great for the rich and famous. We then took a bus (which by future father in law LOVED! not.) to Ana Capri, further up the island. For those who are scared of crazy drivers and heights, I would not recommend this! But a great Italian experience all in all 😉 The busses on Capri are very cheap, and if you are doing lots of bus travel you can get a day pass for about 8 Euro.

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When we got off the bus at Ana Capri, we left our parents to have a wander around and to get the chairlift up Mount Solaro, where we would meet them later. Myself and Scott headed for another bus (Via Grotta Azzurra) to the Blue Grotto! I must admit, I was slightly apprehensive at first as to whether I was taking Scott in the right direction as this was my first time at the Blue Grotto, but it was all very simple!

The journey had no scary cliff edge views, and it was very straight forward. We got off at the last stop, which just looked like a cliff edge (seems to be a running theme in Capri!). We then had to walk down the steps of the cliff to queue up for the Blue Grotto boats. Travelling to the Blue Grotto this way was much simpler than going from Marina Grande and also much cheaper and less time consuming seen as we were in Ana Capri anyway. I’m so glad we did it this way and I would highly recommend.
All in all, I would say we queued for about half an hour, if that! Whereas there were numerous large boats in line letting only a few tourists off into row boats at a time. Perks of arriving by bus!
When it was our turn we shared a boat with another couple, who had one end of the boat and we had the other. We were taken to a little floating pay point in the sea, where we paid our fee (I think it was about 14 Euro each including boat hire). The guy rowing our boat suggested a tip to him is recommended if we felt he had provided a good service, so at the end we tipped him 5 Euro. It’s not the cheapest 10 minutes but it is definitely worth it as a one off experience.

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When it was finally our time to enter the cave through the little hole, we were told to lay right back and our boat guy pulled us through with a chain. When we got into the cave I initially thought ‘this isn’t blue!’ but when you sail further in and look back at the light from the entrance, it is sooo lit up and blue! It really looks like there are lights underwater. The boat men sing Italian songs in the cave and it all echoes, it’s lovely! He also explained to us why the water looks so blue in there. It was really pretty, and one to tick off my ’30 things to do before I’m 30′ list. Sad I know, especially considering the fact I’m only 24!

After we had been in the Grotto, we headed back up the cliff steps to catch a bus back. I would say we waited 10 minutes at the very most for the bus, they seem very frequent. We headed back to Ana Capri and went to meet our parents who had caught the chairlift up Mount Solaro. The chairlift is such a relaxing experience, and costs about 10 Euro return. You can also walk back a different route but we didn’t fancy a trek!

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On finding our parents at the little bar/cafe up there, our mothers appeared a little tipsy on all of they had drank in the time we were gone (my mum especially!) oh dear. They were having a lovely time! We joined them for a drink before taking photos of the stunning views that are up there and heading back down to Ana Capri.

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When back in Ana Capri, we weren’t short on places to eat, so we sat down and had lunch and relaxed whilst soaking in the atmosphere.
Realising the time, it was late afternoon so we grabbed a few souvenirs that we wanted to buy and got ready to head back down to the Marina Grande for our boat back to Sorrento.

My father in law (Papa Mills) however, had other ideas on our methods of transport after his first bus experience on Capri haha! We decided to get a taxi back down to the Marina Grande, which was a first experience for me and my family even! The taxis on Capri are open top and very different. We joked Papa Mills should get one to take home (he is a taxi driver). The drive back down was lovely and relaxing (if a little windswept and squashed in the back) and only cost us 30 Euro in total. We could really take in the views of Capri without being scared for your life!

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We had a lovely day in Capri, and although I have been many times I would still recommend it to those visiting the area. I am sure there is more to see and do on the island than what we did, but Capri can be what you make it. You just have to be aware of the price tag that comes with it or it can be a nasty shock.

Capri is such a beautiful Italian island, I can’t see how it would fail to impress anyone.

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Let the wedding planning begin!

We have been home from Italy a week tomorrow, it’s gone crazy fast. We had a lovely time but unfortunately the holiday went so fast too and we didn’t really spend much time relaxing.

Whilst we were there we visited Capri, Pompei and made an attempted visit to Naples! There was a fire on the track which meant we couldn’t get there, and it was our last day, so disappointing. We also went to Sorrento market, much to Scott’s despair. As well as getting out and about, we wondered around Sorrento, ate lots of amazing food and icecream and visited our beautiful ceremony venue (numerous times!).
In addition to all this, we met with our amazing wedding organisers and briefly met our wedding planner. We viewed three reception venues, and for quite a while we were stuck deciding between two.

I’m going to do blog posts on each venue and the trips we had on our holiday. There were a few things we missed that I would have liked to do, which we will have to do on our next trip over. For example, I didn’t get to take Scott to Portici (where my family are from). We also didn’t get to go into Pompei church because I had shorts on, it isn’t usually an issue, but a wedding arrived later on so I’m guessing thats why. Like I said, we also didn’t make it to Naples and we were going to do the underground tour there.

I’m so gutted to be home, and reality kicked in straight away the morning after getting home, when I had my induction for my new job. I’m pleased now though that the official wedding planning can begin, and it all feels so much more real. I’m also so pleased Scott likes Sorrento (hopefully he isn’t lying haha).

Next thing to do is pick our dates to pass on to our wedding planner, and these should be confirmed for us early next year!

 

Why a Sorrento Wedding?

I’m beginning to get so excited about being back in Sorrento this year. I’m counting down the days (there’s 91 to go!). So I thought I’d do a post on why we’re getting married in Sorrento, and just to remind myself on why I love it so much (as though I don’t know already).
The main reason I’m so attached to Sorrento is because my grandma was from a town near Naples. Although she died before I was born, my parents have always took me and my sister there to visit family. We always stayed in Sorrento and got the train over for our visits. I always felt so lucky growing up and being able to have these holidays and family visits. I will always have happy memories of sitting around my aunty’s table, chatting and eating endless amounts of food. We used to bring over gifts which always included boxes of tea for the whole family. We then had so many gifts to take back home for ourselves and the rest of the family, which one time included a massive stick of salami and a children’s tent! People wouldn’t believe the things we have put in our suitcases!

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Dad back in 2008 watching Formula One at my aunty’s house
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My sister on my aunty’s balcony 

My mums aunty, who I considered my second grandma, sadly passed away in 2009. Pictures such as these are special to me as it reminds me of all the happy memories in her flat.

I think having the wedding in Sorrento is really sentimental for me, it’s like a second home and it will always be special to me. I can’t imagine getting married anywhere else and I don’t think I’d even consider a wedding in England. I’m lucky Scott is happy to go with this! Although my family aren’t from Sorrento, I have lots of great memories staying there, and it’s a great tourist base for all of our guests

Sorrento
As well as my main reason, there’s really not anything to dislike about Sorrento. It is a town on the Bay of Naples, on a cliff edge. If you are a fan of beaches I wouldn’t really recommend Sorrento. Although it has had tourist influences, it is still massively Italian. On a night, the main road, Corso Italia, is shut off and Italian families and tourists go out for an evening stroll. Bars, restaurants and shops are open until late. It is not a rowdy area, so would be no good for a crazy hen or stag do. Drinks (and Sorrento in general) is quite expensive, so it’s something to keep in mind. It’s a great base for guests, with lots of hotels all in close proximity. If it’s all inclusive you are after though, this is not the place. There is a train station, busses and a port (Marina Piccola), which means tripping off is easy. I would highly recommend using the public transport as it’s really straight forward and cheap to do. From Sorrento you can go to Positano, Amalfi, Capri, Pompei, Ercolano, Naples, Vesuvius and probably more! So if guests want to come over for more than just the wedding, there is plenty to do.
Everyone I have spoken to (and the many people my family have taken to Italy over the years) have fell in love. Many people you meet in Sorrento have been before, because once you have been, I guarantee you will want to go back!

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The view from our balcony in 2013