When you end up getting the amazing opportunity to study abroad, one of the best things about it is making new friends.
I have been extremely lucky and thanks to my goofy, warm and ever loyal Italian friends, I have had the chance to visit the south of Italy in true Napolitan style. Starting off at the quaint coastal town of Castellammare di Stabia, visiting nearby Sorrento, saying a quick hi to some friends in Salerno, spending a day in Naples, squeezing in a quick jaunt in Pompeii and rounding it off in the idyllic Positano on the Costa di Amalfi. And all of this just days before starting our final year of classes! The perfect last-minute holiday before diving into the books.
Sunny days, narrow cobble-stoned alleys and the most lemony scent you can imagine. The home of limoncello offers a lot in the way of tourist traps but also in its charm and amazing sunsets with Mt Vesuvius in the backdrop.
Just going around the town and the Centro Storico will make up for all the Italian pastries you'll definitely end up eating along the way. Taking a seat at one of the many view-points atop the town will provide a magnificent view towards the Bay of Napoli.
So many Instagram-worthy photos!
From the little coastal town of Castellammare di Stabia, a train ride brought us straight into the bustling city of Napoli.
Drink in the sights, smells, sounds and the overall Italian atmosphere that is so much a part of the city that is the home of the pizza.
Apart from the miles and miles of walking, the food was definitely the highlight of this trip. Noisy, slight dirty and with that air of intrigue making you think of all those mafia movies you watched as a kid, Naples is definitely worth the trip!
Being students in a foreign country, plus in a city like Paris, can really put a damper on your purse strings. When trying to choose between Positano or Capri, the first is much healthier budget-wise.
For our trip to the Amalfi Coast, the bus was a truly harrowing, yet unique, experience. Recommended only for those with strong stomachs. Obviously coming from Seychelles, it was inevitable that I'd end up comparing the beaches so let's not go there. Instead, I can safely say that it is indeed breathtaking!
The minute we got off the plane, we could feel the change in the air and the slightly stifling humidity that was so completely different from Paris. Being in a car with Italians at the wheel was an experience...at least that's one word for it. Regardless of the state of the roads, whether there was that essential painted white line in the middle, or if there were any traffic lights at all, the Italians showed off their free spirit with every turn of the wheel they made. All the while, spouting good-natured insults at each other when someone else inevitably got the better of them on the road.
We were warmly welcomed at my friend's home in Castellammare and treated immediately to a typical home-cooked meal in the south of Italy. Some of the best seafood linguine I have ever had - nothing beats a mother's home-cooked meal! Bellies full, it was time to figure out where we would go and what we wanted to do during our few days in Italy. Having a local who knows the area practically on the back of her hand really helped us out.
Our first visit was to the lovely coastal town of Sorrento and where I got my first taste of true limoncello. Even for someone who enjoys a good cocktail and rum, I felt the burn after that one shot. Then again, what I got to taste was the limoncello cream, a bit more potent than the actual liquor but no less effective. A hike up and down the town gave us ample opportunity to find multiple view-points and photo-worthy spots. Arriving at a popular square overlooking the bay, with a view of Mt Vesuvius in the distance, we watched the sun set in a blaze of orange and yellow colours.
Napoli was a completely new kind of city for me. Whilst full of Italian charm and spirit, it was nevertheless a bit dirty and definitely not enough public bins to go around. You couldn't walk around the city without turning a corner and bumping into an old monument or church. Opt for a long stroll along the coastal promenade and pick a restaurant at random to try out the authentic Napolitan pizza. Safe to say, I have yet to discover a pizza that can rival the ones in Napoli.
Another day, another town. Pompeii is located right next to Castellammare and we got an in thanks to our contacts (*wink*). It's easy to get lost rambling about these iconic ruins. In fact, you could spend an entire day in there and never fully explore every inch. It may have something to do with the fact that there are sections that are forever under works, but that in no way detracts from its charm and mysterious air.
Finally, the highlight of the trip for me! Positano and the Costa di Amalfi was a great, big, beautiful tick off my bucket list. Obviously, I'll have to come back again just for Capri but who cares. Life is for the living - and I plan to spend mine traveling.