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AMALFI COAST

AMALFI COAST

SO MUCH TO SEE FROM THE BEAUTIFUL TUSCANY TO THE AMALFI COAST
#ROADTRIP #VANLIFE
We do not have our trip completely defined, we know some points that we want to visit, but in general everything is open and we decide day by day.
We were in Bologna and we knew that the next destination we had marked was the Amalfi Coast, but until then we had a lot of road to walk and so we could and should stop at some points.
We received a message from a follower telling us not to lose Val D'orcia, the Terme di Saturnia were also on the way, we looked at the map and Vesuvio and Pompeii volcano too.
Okay, we had found a cool route to the coast.
Val D'orcia is a valley crossed by Orcia River. It is a region of Tuscany, south of Siena, characterized by cultivated hills, picturesque towns and villages that arise from time to time. Making that road was beautiful, we were constantly stopping to enjoy the view.
Medieval villages with high towers, huge cypresses, vineyards, lots of vegetation, rural houses, but above all a wonderful peace and quiet.
Each landscape looked like an illustrated postcard to us.
We visited the picturesque and beautiful Capella della Madonna di Vitaleta, in San Quirico d'Orcia, which seems lost in the middle of the wheat fields.
It is well known in this area and lives up to its fame because it is really beautiful and its surroundings too.

Terme di Saturnia, we put it on the GPS and he sent us on a horrible path through the middle of the hill.
Holes and more holes, nothing we are not used to here in Italy.
Yes, because the access here is horrible, taking into account that we always walk on national roads.
 It's been a real adventure to drive here... but forward.
According to the GPS we had reached our destination, but we were in a parking lot with a building all exposed saying "Termas" (private) and it didn't look like that.
So we went to Mr. Google and found out that the baths we were looking for are called "Cascate del Mulino".
They're 1 min away, they're public, you don't pay anything and there's a parking lot, but ...with a barrier, which means Pingu didn't pass.
We drove around a few times, but we couldn't find a place to park, not because it was full of people, but because there is no parking.
About two miles ahead we found a campsite and decided we'd stay there. 
The weather was very uncertain, rain forecast so we preferred to stay in Pingu to rest and the next day very early to go to the baths.
And so it was, 7am we were on our bikes ready for a hot bath.
Along the way we felt the slight smell of sulphur.
When we got there it was very quiet, very few people, we could lift the drone and realize the size of it.
It's really a beautiful place, super natural, with turquoise water at 37 degrees, regardless of the time of year.
It's an open-air spa, with stone baths formed thousands of years ago by the deposition of limestone.
An inconvenience of this place, there are no trains there, only buses. And from what we're investigating, you have to take two buses.
The first of them is the 41P that leaves Grosseto and passes in Albinia towards Manciano. It costs 4,50 EUR per person. Then in Manciano you have to take another bus, 17P, to Saturnia which costs 2,60 EUR.



created by dji camera
We went out to the coast thinking it would be a wonderful walk and... it turned out to be a little nightmare.
We knew from what we read and from what they told us that the Naples area was dangerous to stay overnight, and even to visit with Pingu.
The people we spoke to advised us against it. But believe me, it's not just the Naples area, the whole coast that we travelled to Rome and then from Rome to Naples is ugly.
Let's be honest with you, after what we saw, the charm of Italy fell a bit to the ground. Everything very dirty, garbage on the ground from months and months ago, plastic bag towers left to fend for themselves, a lot of prostitution, horrible roads full of holes, infernal and confusing traffic, no one respects rules or signs, overly disordered cities, slums everywhere, very ugly and dirty buildings, in short...a disappointment. We can say that here we feel insecurity, yes! We always walked in Pingu with our doors closed and we didn't consider sleeping anywhere but on a camping site.
When we arrived in Pompeii, we went to look for the campsite we had seen in Park4night: Fortuna Village Pompei. The campsite was not only of campsite, but also of parking, even in the center of Pompeii, in front of the ruins. We started then to plan our visit to the volcano and the city. As a rule we followed the indications given in the parks where we stayed or if we stayed in wild spot we looked for the tourist office. We were advised not to climb the Vesuvio Volcano too early because the fog might not rise and the views would be compromised. We decided to leave the park in the middle of the morning, around 11am, and take the EAV public bus, near the train station (the ticket is bought on the bus itself). Each trip on this bus costs 3,10 EUR per person. However, there will be a lot of people from private companies there wanting to sell you trips at 10,- EUR.
In our opinion it is not worth it, neither for the quality of the buses, because it is exactly the same. The trip to the volcano lasts approximately 30 minutes.
The bus leaves us in a parking zone and the rest has to be done on foot. As soon as we arrived a lady got on the bus to sell us the tickets for the ascent of the volcano, 10,- EUR per person. Some people buy the ticket online, but when they get there they have to exchange that voucher for the ticket, and to do so they have to go down 300 meters. In other words, it's not worth it, the value is the same and they save their legs, because they will need them.
So we were ready to start climbing the volcano. It's a 30 to 40 minute walk, always going up, with land on dirt, with a lot of loose rocks, which tires a bit more, but slowly you do it well. There are lots of children and elderly people doing this walk, so... On arrival at the crater there is a meeting point where a person is informing that there are guides of different languages along the way.
We then join a guide who speaks English and learn a few things.
The Vesuvius Volcano is the only volcano in continental Europe to have come into activity in the last 100 years and at any time it can come back in.
Its eruption in 79 was one of the best known and most catastrophic volcanic eruptions of all time. It spread a deadly cloud of rock, ash and smoke at a height of over 30 kilometres, spitting out lava at a rate of 1.5 million tonnes per second and releasing in total thermal energy hundreds of thousands of times that of the Hiroshima bombing. It is estimated that 16,000 citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneus died due to pyroclasts with temperatures above 700º C.
Since 1860, when systematic excavations began in Pompeii, archaeologists have discovered the petrified shells of the decomposed bodies of 1044 victims.
And after we knew all this, there we were by the crater of the Vesuvius Volcano. It's a mixture of sensations. From dazzle to cold in the belly... of insecurity. Obviously it has a whole security system, which if the volcano remembers going into activity, it will know in advance. But being so close to one of those sleeping bugs imposes respect... because in some areas you can still see smoke coming out of the crater! The view of the city of Naples all the way up, as well as from up there, is brutal. We strongly recommend this experience, after all it is not every day that we have the opportunity to climb a volcano.
  
After we'd been to the volcano and heard everything it caused, we obviously had to take a closer look at the damage.
So we decided to visit the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii. We paid 15,- EUR per person and went to see the city that was rediscovered, under the thick layer of dust and debris, and that was apparently intact. The enclosure is really big, ask for a map at the entrance and bring water and food.
We walked for many hours there and with each step we were amazed at the state of things.
After all, the city is 2000 years old and has been completely destroyed by the volcano, but it is in an unbelievable state of conservation.
We saw from the houses, to the amphitheatres, to the shops, there are houses where you can even see paintings on the walls.
We walked on those streets and we could feel the life and daily life of the people 2000 years ago.
The most incredible thing about this visit was, without a doubt, to see the bodies of people who were taken by surprise by this disaster.
It's a very intense visit, but we loved to meet Pompeii.
  
To do Amalfi Coast we would have the same problem as to do Cinqueterre, so we chose the same solution: leave Pingu on a campsite.
From what we have investigated, Sorrento is the city with the most offer and the most affordable prices in the area. We researched some campsites and chose Santafortunata.
There would be our starting point. There are several ways to visit Amalfi: by car, which did not seem to us a good option for wasting time in traffic and we read that the roads are a bit narrow. By bus, but we are always dependent on the timetables and some are very crowded. By boat, but we become more dependent.
And by motorbike... it seemed to us the right option!
There is no traffic (because no bike in Italy waits in a queue), there are no timetables, stops wherever you want and very important yet, the parking.
We rent the bike at the campsite and pay 35,- EUR per day. We leave very early, as usual, to enjoy the day. It took us about 45 minutes to Positano, Amalfi's most popular village.
One morning in June and by that time we were already in line to go down to the village.
As there are no queues on a motorcycle, nor is it difficult to park, we just arrived and started walking to the center.
A very picturesque village, with all the colourful houses on a hillside facing the sea, narrow and steep streets with lots of shops, a very beautiful church, Chiesa Di Santa Maria Assunta, and we ended the walk on the beach seeing the village from another angle.
The beaches are private and we found out that we pay
15,- EUR per person to visit them.
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Praiano is a very small village, with a marina and a beach without sand, the access is made by a metal ladder.
It is here the only beach on the Amalfi Coast that is sunlit until the end of the afternoon. 
It has a church with a very beautiful dome, San Gennaro Church.
Fiordo di Furore, is the beach that is said to be the most photogenic of Amalfi.
Practically hidden on the road that connects Positano to Amalfi. You have to go carefully, otherwise you will pass by and you won't even notice, just like we did.
This small fjord is formed by a sea arm that enters through a canyon and above passes a bridge that is the cherry on top of the cake.
The color of the water is something between blue and green, beautiful! It's well worth the stop, for us by motorbike it was super easy, but for those who go by car or bus there is no place for stops.
Amalfi, the largest village on this coast and the one that gives it its name.
It has a beach area with bars and restaurants, but what impressed us most was the Cathedral Sant'Andrea.
Large, imposing, with a huge staircase and the facade full of beautiful patterns.
We then went to look for a restaurant to lunch: Pizzeria Donna Stella. We had to put it on the GPS, because otherwise we wouldn't get there. It's in a hidden street, in an alley, and as we walked up the stairs of the restaurant, we came across a charming scenery full of lemon trees. If you ever go to Amalfi, don't miss your chance to go to this wonderful restaurant.
A super familiar and cosy atmosphere, away from those tourist restaurants, very nice staff and the food... well, there are no words, divine indeed!
There you have lunch under lemon trees, so there are lots of dishes on the list with lemon as an ingredient. We picked a pizza and some lemon ravioli, and to finish a lemon tiramisu and a limoncello. What a wonderful lunch. We'll remember this lunch for a long time!
     
To get to Ravello, we still had to walk for a long time, about 20 minutes always going up, because the village is not near the sea, but on top of a hill.
That's why the views from there are spectacular.
They say that the most beautiful landscape is from the gardens of Villa Cimbrone, the entrance costs 7,- EUR per person, but we decided not to enter because the weather was overcast and we would not enjoy it.
However we took a walk around the village, we saw the Duomo de Ravello, which is in a very beautiful square and walked along that hillside loaded with lemon trees.
   
Minori and Maiori, are two small villages by the sea.
From what we realize in Minori the beach will be paid, but in Maiori the beach is public.
Here we take the opportunity to enjoy a terrace, drink a beer and enjoy the scarce sun.
In our opinion, this journey is a good one in just one day, but we have decided to do it in two in order to make the most of it.
As there was time left, so we took advantage that we had the bike and went for a ride to Sorrento.
This is a much bigger city, different from the typical villages of Amalfi coast, although it is also quite touristic.
People stay there in campsites, hotels, inns, to later visit Amalfi coast or even Capri.
It has a street with a lot of commerce and a big marina from where the boats leave to visit the surroundings.
It would be a shame to see Capri in front of us, literally, and not visit it.
From our campsite, the island of Capri was our morning view.
We decided then to research the prices at Sorrento marina and it seemed a good option. Note that buying the tickets online is more expensive than buying on site.We always do this to save a little, and until now, online is always more expensive. It's hard to understand!
So we buy the tickets at the cheapest company, Caremar, one way ticket 16,90 EUR
and return ticket 14,40 EUR (per person).
We went on the first boat in the morning and returned on the last one in the late afternoon.
The trip takes about 20 min. We got there very early and it was very foggy, so we decided to visit the island first and then later enjoy the beach when the weather opened.
It was once again the best option, that and rent a motorcycle!
The bus lines are endless and to visit everything, make the beach and go for a boat ride, was going to be tight.
We rented a motorcycle at Capri marina for 40,- EUR 3hrs.
A bit expensive, but believe me it was worth it.
If you could see the queues for the bus, you certainly wouldn't mind paying 40,- EUR , 3hrs is enough to go around the island and see everything.
At the place where we rented the motorcycle they gave us a leaflet indicating the main points to visit, how to get there, where to park the bike, etc.
Perfect... all done, just follow the directions and 3hrs later we were there with everything seen.
You can't venture to walk to Capri because the streets are really steep and it's still a bit far.
Then there is the option of a funicular that connects the marina to the center of the village.

Better than...

...waiting at bus stop!

 

Already ridden on the motorcycle, we stopped in the centre of Capri, visited Piazzeta (central square), passed Via Camerelle, the street of luxury shops and it is worth continuing along Via Tragara to the fantastic viewpoint overlooking the Faragalioni. From there we continue to Anacapri, a very beautiful village, from where some chairs (11,- EUR) come out to visit Monte Solano, from where you have the best views of the island.

Once again we didn't go up because the view was grey, so cloudy that it was.

We had lunch in Anacapri, a slice of pizza for 2,50 EUR, and we packed some potatoes and drinks bought at the supermarket in Sorrento. We visited the Lighthouse of Punta Carena, one of the most important in Italy because of its location.

The views from anywhere on the island are really beautiful, but we didn't have much luck with the weather.

 

After lunch, the weather started to open and we decided to go for a swim. But... we had to google the unpaid beaches.
We found one near the "Spiaggia di Cala Grande" marina. Turquoise blue water, quiet... we were fine.
But we thought that sun would be good for another view of the island, once we got to know it "dark".
So we bought boat tickets,
18,- EUR,
to go around the island.
This tour did not include a visit to the Blue Grotto, as the tide was full and one could not get into the grotto. We are sorry, of course, but we leave the tip here: if you want to visit the cave, when you arrive in Capri check the times of the cave and buy a ticket right away.
The price of the boat does not include the entrance to the cave, you have to pay 14,- EUR more per person to get there in a rowing boat.
The return by boat is well worth it, we have a completely different notion and perspective of the island.

 Capri sea view really has more charm, it's worth this tour!

 

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These days in Italy made us reach the limit of the monthly budget, with camping, motorbike rental, boat tickets, etc. We are very careful in our spending, we always take food with us, we try to see the best prices of everything, but everything together ends up weighing.

We believe that from now on we will balance everything, we will make a more "wild" trip in the south of Italy, there is not so much to visit and spend money and we will try to enjoy more the natural beauty and the beaches ... which they say are the most beautiful ... We are here to see, and you?
Be happy,

 

Mochileiros