From Vesuvius to the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and the Bay of Naples, can you fit it all in?
Nestled in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, Sorrento is a lively resort on the Bay of Naples. The volcano and the ruins of Pompeii will no doubt be high on any visitors checklist. Time in the city of Naples can be of value, as large cities go it's not a tourist mecca and whilst it is run down and a bit grubby in large parts, there are still plenty of attractions to see from the National Archaeological Museum, to a walk around the narrow streets of the historic old town.
A boat trip to the island of Capri can provide peace and bliss. Whilst in Sorrento, the stunning Amalfi coast and its picture postcard villages are within easy reach. And don't forget about the food! Neapolitan cuisine is world renowned so indulge in seafood, pasta and of course pizza and ice cream, though probably not best consumed together!
Delve into the past of ancient Herculaneum and Pompeii before the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 AD through a multisensory experience. The journey begins with visitors passing through plumes of smoke, a symbolic portal through Vesuvius’ eruption leading into the city of Herculaneum.
The journey continues through the stories of the people living in ancient Herculaneum through which visitors get a feel of what was like to be part of this ancient Roman community and learn about their way of living.museomav.it
March to May: 09.00 to 17.30
June to September: 10.00 to 18.30
October to February: 10.00 to 16.00
Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption from Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in AD 79.pompeiisites.org
1 April to 31 October: 09.00 to 19.30
1 November to 31 March: 09.00 to 17.00
The Villa Oplontis, located near the city of Naples and Pompeii, is thought to be the home that once belonged to Poppaea Sabina, who eventually became the wife of Emperor Nero.
It was originally built in the style of a Roman atrium house, but was extended during the reign of Nero to include a large outdoor swimming pool. It was still undergoing further developments when it was subsumed in lava during the Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD. Unlike Pompeii, excavations of Villa Oplontis did not begin in earnest until the 1960s.pompeiisites.org
1 April to 31 October: 08.30 to 19.30
1 November to 31 March: 08.30 to 17.00
Although not as big as its brother city Pompeii, Herculaneum is in far better condition because the structures were preserved in mud rather than volcanic ash, leaving the town in an even better state than Pompeii. For that reason, it is often the preferred choice for students and teachers.
A relatively recent excavation discovered a set of scrolls which could possibly tell us a great deal more about Herculaneum's history, but they are so delicate that they take four years to unroll!
Initially founded by Greek colonists, in 326BC, when the Romans claimed the city for themselves it became the St. Tropez of Italy amongst the most wealthy and noble Romans.
Visit the National Archaeological Museum which houses sculptures, mosaics and frescoes from Pompeii and Herculaneum and is the largest and most important archaeological museum in Europe. The centre of the attraction is the mosaic from Casa del Fauno which consists of an incredible 1.5 million pieces and depicts a battle between Alexander the Great and the Persian King Darius III.
The Old Town of Naples with its narrow streets is definitely worth a walk around. The Cathedral still performs traditional services with burning incense, led by monks. Generally known as the “Duomo” this 13th century Gothic cathedral dedicated to San Gennaro (Naples’ patron saint), is supposed to house the saint’s relics in the form of two vials of his coagulated blood. On one side of the cathedral is the 4th century Basilica Santa Restituta, the oldest church in Naples, with beautiful ceiling frescoes and columns believed to be from the Temple of Apollo.
Forty meters below the characteristic and lively streets of the Historic Center of Naples, you find a different world; unexplored and isolated by time, but deeply connected with the world above.
It’s the heart of Naples, and the place from which the city was born. To visit it is to travel to the past, a world 2400 years old. The tour includes a short video presentation of the undergrounds and a visit to the Greek tuff stone caves, the aqueduct, the Roman tunnels and the Greek-Roman Theatre. napolisotterranea.org
£50 per group with guide
2-hour visits available at: 10:00/12:00/14:00/16:00/18:00 and Thursday at 21.00
Designed by the Bourbons from 1738 onwards, the Royal Palace of Capodimonte is built around the Farnese collection, with extraordinary masterpieces by Titian, Parmigianino and Carracci and a sumptuous display of decorative arts.
Over the centuries the museum was enriched with major works of art from churches in Naples and Southern Italy (Simone Martini, Colantonio, Caravaggio) and prestigious acquisitions, sometimes of entire collections (Borgia, d’Avalos).
On the first floor, alongside the Farnese collection, you can see the Royal Apartments with an array of Bourbon craftsmanship, including the celebrated porcelain ware; on the second and third floors, there is the Neapolitan Gallery and displays of 19th century and contemporary art.museocapodimonte.beniculturali.it
08.30 to 19.30 daily
Closed on Wednesdays
Take a boat or a speedy hydrofoil over to the beautiful island of Capri, a great destination for shopping (or window shopping!) and Classicists can visit Villa Jovis and Certosa di San Giacomo.
Villa Jovis was the Emperor Tiberius’ most impressive island residence. At the end of the avenue is the infamous “Tiberius’ Leap,” where, according to legend, disobedient servants and others who displeased the Emperor, were pushed off the cliff! Too small to get lost in, yet big enough to spend a day there, the stunning island of Capri has something for everyone.
Mount Solaro is the highest place on the island of Capri (589 meters above sea level). You can either walk there (by taking the narrow street at the beginning of Viale Axel Munthe) or take the chairlift. The chairlift station is quite near Piazza Vittoria and allows you to reach the top quite quickly while you enjoy a splendid view of Anacapri and the Gulf of Naples. Once you arrive on top you will see a complex of belvederes (with bars and solariums) including the remains of the “Fortino di Bruto”, a blockhouse built in the early 19th century during the battles between England and France.
The undisputed protagonist of this place is the vast panoramic view going from the gulf of Naples to the gulf of Salerno, passing from the plain of Anacapri, the Sorrento peninsula, and Capri with its Faraglioni. The way back on foot is one of the most beautiful walks on the island. The quite smooth route allows also a visit to Cetrella, where you can admire the lonely church of S. Maria.
If you’ve only got a couple of hours to visit the island of Capri and want to take that classic shot of the sea and the Faraglioni before you leave, head to the Gardens of Augusts.
Close to the centre and only steps away from the Charterhouse of San Giacomo, the gardens of Augustus are comprised of a series of panoramic flower-decked terraces overlooking the Faraglioni on the one side and the bay of Marina Piccola and Via Krupp on the other.
The Amalfi coast offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Italy. Where mountains plunge into the sea, charming coves, deep fjords, natural bays and stone arches all come together to present you with one of UNESCO's most sought-after locations and is unsurprisingly connected with the land of the Sirens in Homer's "Odysseus." In Amalfi itself go to the Cathedral whose Arab-Norman facade dominates the Piazza Duomo. The highlight of a Cathedral visit is not inside, but rather in its Chiostro del Paradiso, a Moorish-style cloister with a lush tropical garden.
The 12th century Villa Rufulo in Ravello is also a popular visit along the Amalfi coast. It used to belong to the rich and powerful Rufolo family and has had numerous impressive guests, including Pope Adrian IV. The gardens are usually the most popular aspect of the destination and the architecture is always admired because of its interesting Arab influences.
In the cliffside village of Positano, you will find the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, housing the Black Madonna. According to local lore, the Madonna was pirate treasure stolen from Byzantium, unloaded in Positano after a storm forced pirates to anchor alongside the fishing village.
Atrani is situated on the Amalfi coast and is recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of Italy! With its typically medieval urban structure, stunning landscape and beach, you will find your time easily occupied in this small village.
Mount Vesuvius is the only Volcano on mainland Europe to have erupted in the past 100 years (1944), although at the moment it is currently dormant. In 1995 it was declared a National Park, and visitors are now welcome to walk up to the incredible crater and access beautiful views over the bay.
March and October: 09:00 to 16:00
April, May, June and September: 09:00 to 17:00
July and August: 09:00 to 18:00
November to January 09:00 to 15:00
Campi Flegrei, also known as the Phlegraean Fields is a 13km wide caldera, formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. It lies mostly under water and comprises 24 craters and volcanic edifices. Located to the West of Naples means this geographical wonder can be easily combined with a day in the city.
The city of Cuma is the most ancient Greek colony in the West and its great temples dedicated to Apollo and Jove, transformed into churches during the Middle Ages, preserve evidence of Greeks, Samnites, Romans and Early Christians. The northern necropolis, and the late 2nd century BC amphitheatre, which is one of the oldest in Campania, are outside the fortified city walls.
Lying on the Posillipo hill, where it extends from the Trentaremi promontory to Gaiola, the Pausilypon Archaeological- Environmental Park is of outstanding archaeological, landscape and naturalistic interest.
The park is accessed through the awe-inspiring Grotta di Seiano, a Roman-age tunnel more than 700 m long, and contains part of the ancient remains of the Pausilypon ‘villa otium’, a place of leisure built in the 1st century B.C. by the Roman equestrian Publius Vedius Pollio, and inherited by the Emperor on Pollio’s death. Guided tours allow visitors to discover one of the most delightful locations in the city of Naples.
Guided tour: £4
Monday to Saturday - From 09.30 to 11.45
Closing time: 13.00
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale is a wonderful Museum to wander through! This museum has a great Mosaic display, as well as a room dedicated to the brothel artwork found in Pompeii.
The Museum also features many of the original frescoes from Pompeii and many of the artifacts found at Pompeii and sister city Herculaneum. Also on permanent display are the Farnese Collection of Greek and Roman (mostly) statuary including the Farnese Bull and Farnese Hercules.
Under 18: Free
18 to 24: 6€
09.00 to 19.30
Arachnophobes have the coastal city of Taranto to thank for Tarantulas! The spiders commonly found in the area were widely believed to be highly poisonous, this misinformation led to a hysterical condition known as "Tarantism", where people believed breaking into frenzied dancing to rhythmic music spared them death if bitten. This dance became known as the Tarantella.
The Sorrento Musical featuring Tarantella is a 75 minute-long faithful reconstruction of the daily life of the inhabitants of this beautiful peninsula seen through the eyes of the fishermen, the gossip in the narrow streets of Sorrento’s historical centre and the dances of its people singing about the joys and strives of life.teatrotasso.it
£18pp for the show/ £38 show and dinner
21.30 every night
Pizza is a universal favourite, and while the exact origins of the dish are disputed, we do know that cooks in the Campanian capital of Naples have carved out their culinary niche in perfecting it! Learn the traditional way of making pizza or pasta at Lubra Casa country house, situated in a beautiful location on a quiet hill in Piano di Sorrento.
All ingredients will be provided by the country house staff and your pizza will be cooked in their traditional stone ovens. The workshop will be followed by a dinner where you will eat your own pizza or pasta!
When your friends come home from a trip to Italy, what do they rave about the most? Most likely it will be Italian ice cream, acknowledged by many experts in the subject to be the best ice cream in the world.
Come and get to know more about the making process of this iconic delicacy at the Bougainvillea’s café, whose main product is certainly been its ice cream which is daily handmade by Nino and Gianluca Cioffi, who still follow their three-generation family tradition.bougainvillea.it
Spectacular scenery and world-famous archaeology make the Bay of Naples...
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