A note from Ed – Il Mezzogiorno

We took a train from Rome to Sorrento on Thursday 12 September and were shown to our shuttle bus pickup point by a friendly non-English speaking local.

Our driver pointed out the main sights, lemon groves, olive trees and vineyards as we wound our way up the hill to Hotel Il Nido which sat high above the town. After checking in we sat out on the hotel balcony for a drink with beautiful views over Sorrento, Naples Bay, Mount Vesuvius and the Isle of Capri.

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We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant and ended the night with limoncello made by the owner’s Mamma. It was sweet, strong and finished the meal beautifully.

Friday 13 is deemed unlucky by some but this one was nothing but grand. The day started with one of the best breakfast spreads to date which we enjoyed thoroughly before heading out to Pompeii.

Our 69 year old tour guide had 43 years’ experience among the ruins so we figured we were in good hands. He led us around the fascinating and extremely well preserved 2,000 year old site, frozen in time when Mount Vesuvius erupted on 24 August AD79. It was a special place much like Ancient Rome and our guide added a lot to the experience with his stories and personality.

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Highlights included body casts made by injecting liquid plaster into the cavities left in the ash by decayed bodies, takeaway / fast food stores, Roman Baths and the Amphitheatre.

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We travelled back to Sorrento in the afternoon and headed straight to the gelato shop that had won Kate over on her last trip. A picture of the last Pope eating there confirmed its standing as the best in Sorrento. The only issue was choosing which flavours to try of the dozens on offer.

After a stroll around town we returned to our hotel for a drink on the balcony and were treated to the best sunset imaginable.

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It was truly spectacular and the sky continued to change for the best part of an hour.

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On Saturday we took a boat to the Isle of Capri where the rich and famous go to play.

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On arrival we boarded a smaller boat for a tour around the island.

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The White Grotto and Green Grotto showcased some of the island’s magnificent aqua blue waters and we decided to give the Blue Grotto a miss after finding out it was going to be a minimum two hour wait.

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Our guide pointed out the expensive houses and hotels on the island but his best description was of the cliff top restaurant where you eat for one and pay for ten.

After the tour we climbed up the hill to Capri and had lunch in a restaurant that boasted views of the Mediterranean. As we shared a pizza we also managed to eat for two and pay for one.

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We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the town centre and its chic cafés and shops, including a back to school Dolce & Gabbana store. An enormous ferry took us back to Sorrento and I made one more stop at the gelato shop before we returned to our hotel for our last limoncello on the balcony.

On Sunday morning we took a bus to Positano on a road that hugged the cliffs and overhung them at times. After missing our stop we contemplated walking but made the sensible decision to grab a passing taxi instead. We watched the fare on the meter rise faster than our car up the hill and at one point we thought we were headed for €100. Thankfully it stopped at €35.

Our room at Le Ghiande was really nice with a balcony overlooking the town and out to sea. Our host recommended a nearby restaurant for lunch and we enjoyed great food, service and complementary sorbet at the end of our meal.

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We met a honeymooning couple from Seattle in the evening and they joined us on our balcony for a few drinks. They were hilarious and had many similar travel experiences to us. We spent a few hours together before they left for dinner at Trattoria La Tagliata which came highly recommended. Still full from lunch, we stayed in for an easy dinner and enjoyed the view from our balcony until it disappeared into the night.

After breakfast on Monday we set off down the 1,656 steps from Montepertuso to Positano. Had we climbed them the previous day we would have climbed over 1,000 steps with our suitcases it was then I realised the taxi would have been good value at €200!

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We sat on the beach for a little while watching the waves crash against the black sand before browsing the shops in town. We covered the tiny town quickly and walked back up the hill in the afternoon to burn calories in advance of dinner.

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We dressed up for dinner at Trattoria La Tagliata and were greeted by the owner at the door. He welcomed us into his home, showed us to our seats and told us he loved us.

It was a set menu with six entrées, four pastas, eight cuts of meat with salad and fries, three desserts, all you could drink wine and limoncello. We put our best foot forward but were simply outplayed not able to finish the meat or desserts. The highlight was Mamma’s pasta!

Barely able to move we made our way back down the hill to our B&B and passed out in a food coma at the end of the night.

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