As you might have guessed from my overflowing Instagram feed, my husband and I were in Italy for our honeymoon last month. After narrowing down thousands of images, I’m so excited to finally be able to share my favorites with you!!
In the past we have tried and failed to be all-day beach people, but we both get restless and LOVE to explore and stay on our feet. So in true K & E fashion, we planned an ambitious trip covering 7 places: Amalfi, Capri, Rome, Orvieto, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice. We walked just under 200 miles in 3 weeks, which is almost the distance between Boston and New York. Crazy us!
I know people say to put away your camera and just enjoy the experience of traveling, but for me, photography WAS part of the experience. Taking pictures always helps me to become more observant and observe the beauty in my surroundings. The trip was such a whirlwind that I am still processing everything that we saw, felt, and ate, so I am beyond glad to have these images to bring it all back.
Although my camera had a permanent place on my shoulder, I did spend the trip without my laptop or a cell phone data plan, which felt like a huge accomplishment for this workaholic! I’m grateful to have had some time to just be a person and a wife, and I’m feeling more inspired than ever now that I’m back to work! Changing up my environment and taking time away from the computer always gives me clarity.
SO, I’ll get to the point: PICTURES! Here is our first week of the trip on the Amalfi Coast + the island of Capri. I’ll be sharing our trip in four parts, so look for part 2 later this week. Next up: Rome!
After a 21-hour journey (Boston –> Dublin –> Naples –> Sorrento –> Praiano), we arrived at the Amalfi Coast exhausted, sweaty, but so excited! After our months of anticipation, our honeymoon had finally begun!
Our base on the coast was a small town called Praiano (pronounced “Pr-eye-ahno”). We loved staying there because it was easy to access all of the bustling neighbor towns (Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello), but at night we had a quiet place to call home. The hot spot in town was Bar del Sole, a fluorescent-lit bar/grocery store where locals gathered to gossip, watch calcio (soccer), and eat gelato. We stopped by at least once a day.
Above is the view from our room balcony, and below is the main porch where we ate breakfast every morning. We had an absolute gem of an Airbnb for our first five days – only $50/night for each of us?! (ETA 2020: unfortunately it seems as if this B&B is no longer operating! The name is Casa Colomba in Praiano) Every day, we hiked up 234 stairs to get to the top (I counted to make it go faster). And every time we arrived, we were huffing and puffing like the Americans that we are. 😉 Instead of an elevator to the top, the locals use a pulley lift for the luggage, trash, etc. The stairs to the top were their own journey, since we passed charming homes, vegetable gardens, lemon trees, and even goats!
We spent our first full day in Positano, which I had dreamed of visiting for years. The city is built right into the cliff, with all of the stores and homes stacked vertically. As we walked into town from the bus stop, I gasped and squealed because I couldn’t believe how stunning it was in person. I felt like such a tourist on the first day because I kept stopping every two feet to take another photo. I alway thought that I had overly romanticized Italy in my head, based on what I had seen in movies and magazines. Surely no place could be THAT pretty, right?? But it was ACTUALLY that beautiful in real life. Italians pay attention to every aesthetic detail, down to the hand-painted ceramic street signs, to the flowers that grace every surface imaginable. Even the stairs looked like a painting, and the ice cream looked too pretty to be eaten (although I got over that very quickly!).
Like people warned us it would be, Italy was SO HOT in July (around 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit every day), so we always searched for a shady refuge in the sunniest hours of the afternoon. This usually meant taking a break for gelato, sometimes twice. Our favorite hours of the day were right after the sun had gone down, when the other tourists had gone to bed and the locals came out.
We ate lunch at an organic cafe and reveled not only in the delicious food, but in the charming atmosphere of the ceramics on display. It looked like something straight out of Better Homes & Gardens.
In the afternoon, we avoided melting in the heat by hanging out on the patio of Buca di Bacco, sharing some lemon sorbet, and watching the people on the beach. Since gelato and sorbet are such a huge part of the Italian experience, I made the decision to take a hiatus from my sugar-free lifestyle to indulge for a few weeks.
The colorful beach lounge chairs are laid out neatly into rows, adding to the picturesque beauty of Positano.
Our favorite view of Positano was from the five-star hotel Le Sirenuse. We pretended to be a guest and snuck out to the balcony, where we were greeted by the sight of hundreds of pastel-colored, gravity-defying buildings. We loved it so much that we eventually returned for drinks (a lemondrop martini for me — my favorite!)
(Even photographers take selfies! But it looks a whole lot more goofy with a huge black box in your hand!)
On our second day, we were completely worn out, having walked 20,000 steps all over Positano. We declared it a lazy day, slept in, and slowly sipped our breakfast cappuccino on the balcony of our room. We could have easily stayed at the Airbnb the whole trip and still have had an amazing time — nothing beats a view of the ocean and a breeze to match!
In the afternoon, we followed the advice of our host and ventured out to the local beach, La Gavitella. We didn’t realize exactly how far above the water our Airbnb was — it was a grand total of 676 stairs to get there! By the time we reached the bottom, we were ready to jump in the water. What we didn’t realize is that the beaches on the Amalfi Coast are super rocky! This seemed to make no difference to the locals, who skipped around on bare feet. However, Emmanuel and I were in pain, since we’re used to our sandy beaches! We enjoyed watching the (very tan) locals doing their thing…but from our shady perch on the side.;)
On the way back up the 676 stairs to the hotel, we passed a simple sign for a hotel called Casa Angelina. Not knowing where to eat, we called the hotel and asked for a dinner reservation. They simply told us “no swimsuits,” so we thought nothing of it. We didn’t realize that we had accidentally made a dinner reservation at a five-star hotel — oops! However, blowing our budget turned out to be the best accident ever, since we had one of the best meals of our lives at Un Piano Nel Cielo. That night, we decided to embrace spontaneous living, vowing to go wherever our journey led us…but hopefully with a smaller bill next time. 😉
The bus system, SITA, was the craziest transportation experience I’ve ever had. Most of the time the buses were standing room only, and the passengers were packed in like a bunch of sardines. I held onto the handles for dear life! But the bus itself was not the terrifying part — it was the view out the window! The one main road on the Amalfi Coast is perched precariously above the Mediterranean Sea, with only a thin concrete barrier preventing you from dropping hundreds of feet into the ocean. The bus drivers navigate the road expertly, sharing it with cars and more Vespas than I’ve ever seen in my life. By the end of the week, I had worked up enough courage to look out the window during the drive. It was worth it!
We intended to visit Ravello on our third day, but I made the terrible mistake of forgetting my glasses in the hotel. Armed with only my prescription sunglasses, we decided to stop halfway and hang out in the town of fishing town of Amalfi. We enjoyed the feel of the coast‘s namesake town — a little less resort and a little more flavorful.
This tiny handmade village is a perfect example of Italian creativity and attention to detail.
As we walked around Amalfi, we heard an Italian band start to play, and we chased them from restaurant to restaurant as they played for patrons and took requests. We danced in the square and locals laughed at us. We were having too much fun to care!
Lemons (or “Lemmons” – ha!) are serious business in the Amalfi Coast! The region’s economy largely depends on the lemon farmers who climb the cliffs. The fruit is unlike anything I’ve ever had in my life. They are incredibly sweet, juicy, and HUGE! We saw some lemons the size of grapefruits! Of course we ate and drank lemon-flavored everything — cake, sorbet, lemonade, and the native Limoncello! Luckily all those stairs kept some of the inches off of our waistline.
We had to adapt to the Italian way of dining! The biggest change for us was that water is not free like it is in America. The waiters don’t bring the check automatically; dinner is more of a recreational experience, and you take your time eating your meal. We also had to get used to the idea of tipping our waiters much less! It felt wrong to leave only a few Euro per meal, but apparently most Italians don’t tip at all. We did pay a “coperto” (cover charge) for most restaurants, which is basically a fee for sitting and bread service.
We had one of our favorite meals of the whole trip at a restaurant called La Taverna di Masaniello. The owner, Andrea, welcomed us with open arms and patiently listened to our broken Italian. I never knew that pizza could taste that good!
We practiced our Italian the whole trip, learning words like “prego” (not the American spaghetti sauce!), “il bagno” and “scuzi”. Emmanuel’s fluent Spanish proved to be really helpful, since many Italian words are similar. We stumbled our way through the new language as well as we could, since we found that Italian people were much warmer toward us when we made an effort to speak their language (even if we were really bad!)
After a long day of walking, we decided to have dinner back at the Airbnb (ETA 2020: unfortunately it seems as if this B&B is no longer operating! The name is Casa Colomba in Praiano). Our host served us a homemade caprese salad — hands-down the best one either of us had ever had! The tomatoes and herbs came straight from their own backyard garden. We savored every bite. I still dream about that salad.
On our last day on the mainland, we finally made it to Ravello! This quaint mountain town overlooks the Mediterranean Sea from a distance. We really enjoyed the breeze, which provided a welcome break from the stifling heat in the lower towns.
We ate lunch by the infinity pool at Hotel Caruso, an 11th-century palace-turned-luxury-hotel. We couldn’t resist breaking the rules and dipping our toes in!
After lunch, we discovered a little room off the beaten path with comfy chairs, the perfect breeze, and a million-dollar view. It was fun to pretend like we were guests for the day.
This was my favorite street in all of the Amalfi Coast! Look at those flowers! Since Emmanuel and I are both classical musicians, we loved that the street was named for the composer Richard Wagner.
Once the sun had dipped below the mountains, we ventured out into the town to buy a bottle of wine and a couple of handmade arancini (fried rice balls with cheese and tomato sauce), which we ate on the steps. In our opinion, this is the best way to do Italy!
On the way back to our Airbnb, we decided to skip the packed bus and take a little hike instead. The walk from Ravello to Amalfi was only supposed to be half an hour long, but we must have taken a wrong turn because it took us an hour and a half, and the 1,341 stairs spit us out in the wrong town! Thankfully we made it back to Amalfi just before the sun completely disappeared!
For our last leg of the Amalfi Coast, we took a ferry to the island of Capri. Lugging our suitcases up the hill was no joke!! The roads in Capri are mostly limited to pedestrians, although there were some motor-powered porters that zoomed by us on little carts. We almost gave up on the trek to our Airbnb, but we decided the experience would be more authentic if we did it the hard way. 😉
I always imagined little Vespas scooting all over Italy, and it was actually like that!! I’ve never seen so many scooters in one place!
Oh, the window-shopping in Capri! We strolled by Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Gucci, D&G, Prada…you name the designer, and Capri probably has it!
We decided to stay overnight in Capri because we heard that the island is very touristy and filled with day-trippers. We couldn’t have been more grateful for this decision, since the island completely transformed after sunset. The bustling activity settled down, the weather became cool and breezy, and the ritzy guests came out to play.
The best experience of our two days in Capri (and possibly the whole honeymoon) was a very lucky accident. In search of the famous Faraglioni rocks, we wandered down a hiking trail to the coast. When we arrived, we were the only people there except for some local workers who were delivering trash back to the main port. They offered us a free ride on their boat and took us through the natural opening known as the “Lover’s Arch.” You should have seen the stupid grins plastered on our faces the whole time…we just couldn’t believe our luck! We held each other tight and took in the sights as we rode around the island at sunset. Absolutely nothing compared to experiencing the island from the water, and we’ll remember it forever.
Our first night was one of my favorite experiences from our entire honeymoon. Rather than drop loads of money at an expensive bar, we opted to buy a bottle of wine and sit on the steps on the little town piazza. This was the probably the most fun people-watching of all time. We seemed to be invisible peasants while the rich, stylish, glamorous people strolled by on the way to their dinner destinations. I wish I could have photographed their outfits without being creepy! Oh my goodness, they were STUNNING!
This was the view from our Airbnb, complete with a private amphitheater and garden…say what?!
Our favorite restaurant in Capri was a little local place called Lo Sfizio (“the whim”). By the second day, we were already regulars, having visited three times! If you’re ever in Capri, make sure to get the gnocchi — ohmygoodness, words cannot describe how delicious it was!
When we first arrived in Italy, we kept searching for the wrong kind of gelato — colorful, sprinkled with lots of stuff, and shaped into picture-perfect mounds. We quickly learned that we made a huge mistake! The best gelato wasn’t vibrant or pretty, but it sure did taste incredible. The best advice we received was to look at the color of the pistachio gelato. If it’s a very pale color, you’re probably in the right place.
On our second day we took a chairlift to Monte Solaro, which is the highest point on the island. I was a little terrified at first, since you are basically floating through open air with the mountains below you! But after I got used to it, I enjoyed taking in the panoramic views of the island and the sea.
For our second and last night in Capri, we decided to have fun dressing up like the island residents. Emmanuel wore his wedding suit and pretended like it was his everyday attire. 😉