Travel Photography: Bella Italia

September 2013 saw Elaine, Karen and I embark on an Italian adventure… We wanted to see and do as much as possible… but with me only having a week’s holiday allowance left at work this was looking like a mission.
Good job I am obsessed with looking for holidays then!

Our plan consisted of Naples, Rome and Venice. With hopes of also seeing Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri Island. Not in a million years did we think we would manage this so effortlessly. 

Each city was completely different, and I fell in love with each of them for that exact reason. 

Not a tourist in site, and that’s what I loved. I’m not sure the people of Naples loved us though… at first. They were quite rude, very matter of fact and to be honest the first few days we found it very daunting and were itching to be on the train to Rome. But for me, once we had been to So
rrento and then back to Naples that is the exact reason I loved it. Because they didn’t care that you were there, and didn’t give you the whole fake “be nice they are tourists” routine. Obviously this is quite a sweeping statement, there were some Neapolitans that we became friendly with. Our receptionist in the hotel, the waiter at our local cafe and of course the owner of the pizzeria down the road. These were the only 3 Neapolitans we needed.

I think I also had a very soft spot for Naples because of how much it reminded me of Havana, the worn down buildings, the fact of no major tourist spots, the charm and the “malecon” esk wall with fort at the end of the bay…. definitely welcoming reminders of Havana. 
Another reason… the shopping! Oh my the shops were amazing, and super cheap… sitting on our suitcases (after only the first leg of our journey) was not a good sign! 
I would fly us back to Naples to sit on our balcony with a Pizza Margherita and bottle of lemoncello in a heart beat. Words can’t even describe how perfect that was… and nothing in the world will ever taste as good… I can confidently add FACT to that! 

Day trips from Napoli
Pompeii – Only a 15 minute train journey from Naples. We decided half a day was enough for us to see the ruins, you could probably spend a week in there and not see everything so we opted for a taster. Without a guide we worked our way around, with our brollies… I have never seen so much rain (and that is saying something coming from Manchester!) but it really didn’t effect us… especially while trying to do our jumping shots, and Karen hurling herself like a frog off a rock ha, thank god we didn’t fall! Not too sure Elaine’s shoes survived though. 
Sorrento – This was on the same trainline as Pompeii so was easy to see both in a day. Again another 15 minutes on the train from Pompeii. (Then back to Naples, about 30 minutes direct line) Sorrento is very picturesque, at the opposite end to Naples, the quaint buildings, the small alley ways with market stalls… very tourist orientated. The whole place was beautiful and Elaine much preferred it to Naples, but the thing that let it down for me was the fact a lot of things in the shops were exactly the same as in Naples… but with a more expensive price tag. Sorrento is on a cliff side, so be prepared for lots of steps down to the beach (or a short bus ride) The beaches are tiny coves, or most people choose to sunbathe on piers, with steps down into the sea….. we found a quiet little spot to eat our sandwiches, and get the sand on our toes… happy bunnies. Half a day was enough for me in Sorrento but it has made us want to do more of the Amalfi coast.
Capri Island – Possibly the most horrible journey ever… please may I never need to get on a hydrofoil ferry ever again… but it was most definitely worth it. Capri Island is stunning, we decided (probably stupidly) to climb to the top! Apparently there is a bus but we didn’t find it. We almost gave up half way, but we powered on thinking about how many pizza’s this would earn us… and because of the trek we appreciated the prize view at the top even more. Again a lot like Sorrento, the village is very much tourist led but beautifully picturesque but the views made it for me. 

Initially Rome was a stop off point to cut the journey from Naples and Venice down. We had all been before and all loved it so it was an easy place to stop off to see the things we loved but not feel pressured by them.

As everyone knows I am not the best at public transport when I am on holiday.. I like taxi’s dropping me off where I need to be with no fuss… Elaine however is amazing at public transport and decided to brave my wrath and stick us on a bus… the bus was great! Finding the apartment… not so great… I am truly thankful that both Elaine and Karen love me and understand my full on strops… with 5 seconds to spare we dumped our bags and headed for the Sistine Chapel. Over the next few days we managed to realise how easy it was to walk around Rome… and how much we didn’t care about rain! 
Quote of the holiday from Ilaria “It won’t rain until November”… less than 5 hours later… the heavens opened.
But what made this weekend so unbelievably special was our beautiful friends Ilaria and Ze, they truly made us feel loved. Taking us salsa dancing, out for breakfast and a home cooked meal. So lucky to have such amazing friends. 

I have to say I was slightly nervous about Venice. Everyone I know who has been before had talked so highly of it I was worried it would possibly have been built up in my mind too much, and turn out to be a let down… I was wrong. Stepping out of the train station straight onto the banks of the grand canal it was everything I had hoped it to be.

We were staying on a camp-site just a 10 minute drive off the island, Karen kindly suggested we treat ourselves to a taxi… more than likely to save themselves from my public transport cries. 
Venice was stunning, the tiny alleys, the gorgeous shops, the smell of real leather, the gondolas but most of all the gondola taxi rank just by Piazza San Marco… I could have stayed there for days. I have seen it on so many photos and thought I would know exactly how it looked… and I did… but in real life it was a million times better. 
In Venice you need to take a deep breath, head for an alley and know full well you are going to get lost along the way… embrace it! If you see a shop, or restaurant… go in, do it now! You may never see it again.
The only thing  I would dislike about Venice is that it is badly lit at night, and everything shuts early so as soon as it started to go dark I felt pretty claustrophobic. Which is why I loved our camp-site being off the island. 
Camp Jolly had a shuttle bus so the latest we could stay in Venice was 9.30pm and this was definitely late enough. 2 days in Venice gives you plenty of time to see everything.

Overall 10 days was just the perfect amount of time to see and do everything we needed… We would have only loved longer purely for the fact we fell in love with every city and experience and never wanted it to end. 
Here is to the next adventure for Golp, David and Butterquins 🙂

To see my favourite photos from our trip, please see my facebook page.

AccomodationNaples – Hotel Le Orchidee – booked through Travel Republic – A small hotel on a main street in Naples, close to the sites, and the train station. Only 4 or 5 rooms within a building of offices and residential flats. This was perfect for us, great location, big room with a balcony. And friendly and very helpful staff.Rome – Hotel Novana Nice Room – booked through – A flat that had been turned into 3 apartments, so no reception but friendly staff explained everything on arrival, and also came back daily to clean the room and deliver breakfast. Again the location was perfect – and within walking distance of all the major sites. Venice – camping village Jolly – booked through booking,com – A campsite just on the outside of Venice, we stayed in a caravan, staff were helpful and the site also had a swimming pool, restaurant, supermarket and wifi. For us the location was perfect and with the site shuttle bus option getting to and from Venice was so easy. Personally staying on Venice would have been too clostrophobic for me.TravelWe prebooked all of our major train journeys through Tren Italia before we arrived. We had been told that it was cheaper to do it this way. It also saved hassle once we were there.For the journey between Naples and Sorrento / Pompeii you can easily just but a ticket at the station and there are only 4-5 euros. The hydrofoil ferry was the same, you book it there – this was 20 euros each way.