The Amalfi Coast with One Traveller
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Bells, scooters and the Sleeping Giant
My fellow travellers visibly relax as we meander through the piazzas of Sorrento on a sunny Sunday morning. Church bells ring, Italian families with bright eyed ‘bambinos’ stroll along and scooters narrowly avoid tourists gazing at menus outside open air restaurants.
Layer upon layer of civilisation clings to the cliffs along the Amalfi Coast overlooking the Bay of Naples and the sleeping giant – Vesuvius. Dormant since 1944, this volcano towers over densely inhabited suburbs of fatalistic Italians who continue to grow their olives, vines and lemons below it. Our Italian guide lives in the Red Zone.
Lemons, mozzarella cheese, olives, fish and of course good wine are the region’s speciality. Our One Traveller guide, Richard, takes us on a walking tour of Sorrento and we visit a family run lemon grove to taste the essential Limoncello. Time to look at the designer shops along Corso Italia before we explore the cobbled old town with upmarket souvenir shops and see craftsmen working on beautiful inlaid wood items. Take a side street off the main shopping area and you can enjoy a cappuccino amongst animated Italians.
The excellent Grand Hotel Riviera, Sorrento is our base for this 7-night stay on the Amalfi Coast. The terrace transports us into Paradise with the magnificent vista of the Bay.
One fellow traveller tells me that she always travels with One Traveller “I know the hotel will be good, interesting and off the beaten track excursions are all included and we can count on Richard to make everything run smoothly, he is always there.” There are many loyal people in our small group of 25. Many repeat bookings too. “I feel secure with them” another tells me.
One Traveller cater well for the mature single traveller, the entire booking process has been easy and well thought out and Richard is very good at anticipating the group’s ability for access to sights and restaurants. Most meals are included in the One Traveller package and wine is included. The hotel food is fresh and the restaurant setting delightful, but a highlight was when we were taken out to dine in Sorrento at Ristorante o’Parruchiano dating back to 1868. This was a magical venue and much appreciated by those in the group who avoid going out a night at home.
Conversation flowed with good travel and life stories sprinkled with humour. A unique number system indicating our place settings for dinner in the hotel meant that we all had jolly good evenings with each other and met everyone in the group.
After a good night’s sleep each day begins with another delight to look forward to. Capri by boat, and luckily, we did not have to attempt the 900 steps up to Ana Capri, but took a drive up the ‘Mama Mia’ road which made us all whisper prayers. The gem, in this once isolated village, is the ‘Pavimento in maiolica’ in the church of San Michele. The tiled floor shows the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise and it is hard to believe that these vibrant tiles were laid in 1761.
Boat rides are popular and we were offered the chance of two. One around Capri to appreciate the stunning geology and another from Amalfi from which we spotted the villas of the stars.
Pompei is well publicised as an archaeological wonder but we were also taken to visit the remarkable sites at Pozzuoli and Paestrum, with a little imagination and I could visualise fishermen and bustling traders doing business, laughing with the ladies and listening to great speakers in the public squares after paying tribute to Poseidon in the Greek Temple.
An unusual excursion begins when we reach the organic Vannulo buffalo farm for lunch and a tour. Here are buffalo who listen to Mozart, go into the milking shed of their own accord, eat, snooze and rub up against a massage machine when the feeling takes them. A very content herd of 200 buffalo to be sure.
Think of Naples and think of a city with Godfather undercurrents, but here is a melting pot of people and history and colour. An espresso before we begin exploring is a must and a finer venue that the coffee club Gambriosa cannot be found. The historic part of town gives us a glimpse of past power and wealth in Castel dell’Ovo and Galleria Umberto.
Naples is now unforgettable for me due to a visit to Capella San Severo. In 1753 Giuseppe Sanmartino carved Jesus Christ in death covered by a transparent shroud out of one block of marble. It is the most remarkable sculpture I have ever seen – Giuseppe was paid 50 ducats.
No visit to Naples is complete without enjoying a leisurely lunch in a piazza eating pizza. Pizza Marguerita was invented here.
And so our time on the Amalfi Coast ends but the final cherry
on the cake for me is the fact that One Traveller promise that every time a
guest travels with them, they make a donation to the various charities they are
supporting. One Traveller says “that as a responsible travel company they want
to put something back into communities we visit and to help vulnerable people
enjoy a better quality of life” – now that gives me the feel-good factor too.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends One Traveller.
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