Most cruise ships sailing the Mediterranean are only in port for a single day. The cities of Naples and Sorrento are the gateways to the Amalfi Coast. This beautiful stretch of coastline is classified as one of the world’s most scenic and picturesque drives. But there’s more than just beautiful scenery. The region is steeped in history, culture and fine cuisine. In order to make the most of your stay, I recommend you enjoy the Amalfi coast this way.
Begin your Day visiting Pompeii
An absolute highlight of the region is a visit to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Many do not realize that Pompeii is not a ruin, but an intact Roman city which was buried and preserved in ash when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. When the city was discovered by archeologists around 1750 it was like they had discovered a place suspended in time. Bodies were unearthed as if frozen at the moment of the cataclysmic eruption inside intact dwellings, surrounded by artworks, and the everyday objects of ancient Roman life. The experience is eerily mystical.
As a tour of Pompeii mainly involves walking outdoors, I recommend doing the tour early in the morning to avoid heat exhaustion caused by the strong effects of the Italian sun. Pompeii is a major tourist attraction, so another advantage of visiting in the morning is to avoid the large crowds. Even if you are not a history buff, it is well worth the visit. A short, two-hour tour accompanied by a professional guide, will provide a good overview and background to what life was like in ancient Rome.
Experience the thrill of driving along the Amalfi Coast
Having experienced the sobering history of Pompeii, it is time for a thrill ride along the world-famous Amalfi drive. Soaring high above the Mediterranean, this narrow two-lane road winds high along the mountain cliffs and offers both heart-stopping and breathtaking views. Unless you are a professional driver or are extremely familiar with the region, do yourself a huge favor and hire a chauffeur. Exchange the heart-pounding anxiety and white knuckles for a leisurely and pleasurable experience soaking up some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery from more than a thousand feet above the sea.
* Enjoy a delicious lunch and spectacular views at the Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello
After an amazing drive along one of the world’s most famous drives, it’s time to stop and enjoy some wonderful Italian cuisine. I highly recommend a stop in Ravello which won me over immediately. It is a beautiful town situated in the hills above the Amalfi Coast. The beauty of this place must be seen to be believed. My favorite place to dine is at the famous Belmond Hotel Caruso, a former 11th century palace perched between lush mountain peaks high above the azure waters of the sea. Make your way to the restaurant, pool side, for one of the most delicious meals of your life. During my visit, the cuisine was amazing, the service was flawless and the backdrop, simply gorgeous!
* Explore the quaint seaside towns of Amalfi, Sorrento and Positano
After lunch, relax, while your driver takes you along the coast for more spectacular views and an opportunity to visit the neighbouring towns of Amalfi and Positano. In Amalfi, visit the Duomo which dates back to a time when that city rivalled Venice and Genoa as a major maritime trading center. In Positano, step out and wonder through the winding alley ways, peek into some of the local shops and sample some of the world’s best Limoncello, which hails from the region. The scenery in both of these towns is beautiful. Do some shopping or walk along the streets lined with lemon and olive trees right down to the sea. Finally, finish off your day with a wonderful dinner al fresco in the beautiful town of Sorrento. Enjoy an aperitif on a patio while you look back and reflect on your perfect day.