Sailing the Amalfi Coast of Italy – Week 2

Rocky at the Helm

Sunday morning, August 4th began our second week of exploring the Gulf of Napoli and Amalfi Coast, and we set out on our 46’ Dufour Grand Liberty Sailboat from Marina Sud Cantieri in Pozzuoli and headed northwest into the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Isola di Ventotene, the largest of the Pontine Islands. The island was known in Roman times as a popular place to exile ex-wives and other important “undesirables”, and still hosts an abandoned penal settlement on nearby Isola di San Stefano.  Here, we tried to get a spot at Marina di Ventotene, but after initially claiming to be full, we were belatedly offered space for an exorbitant 250 euros per night.   We politely refused, and instead, dropped anchor in the channel and moored our stern to the free city wharf on the east side of the harbor.  Then, Nikki & Jordan immediately went shopping and exploring the city and overlooking bluffs, and secured dinner reservations for all of us at an excellent restaurant that was overlooking the harbor from high up in the city.

Ventotene Harbour with San Stefano in View
The Inner Harbour at Ventotene

The next morning, on Monday, August 5th, we made the short trip motoring back southeast to the Island of Ischia, but this time, we went to the western port city of Forio.  Forio is small town on the island but with a beauty and beaches that are now famous.  Here, history enthusiasts will find plenty of interesting sights such as the remains of the Aragonese Castle, the Villa Colombia and more. Once into the marina, Nikki & Jordan went ashore looking for places to visit and for dinner, and the rest of the girls went to the beach to swim.  That night, we ate ashore at a restaurant overlooking the shore watching a beautiful sunset.

The Beach at Forio on Ischia
Sunset at Forio

On Tuesday, August 6th we continued our travels southeast across the Gulf of Napoli to the Port of Cassano, located down the face of sheer cliffs below the town of Piano di Sorrento and about 1 mile east of Sorrento.  After getting showered and collecting some ice, we all took the elevator located inside the cliffs to the top of the bluff, where we walked about ½ mile to the town’s train station, bought tickets, and took the local metro-train two stops west to the center of Sorrento.  Here, everyone dispersed to change money, shop and enjoy the lovely views until we met up again at the top of Sorrento’s scenic viewpoint at a little café.  After drinks and nibbles, most of us headed back to the Sorrento train station, while Nikki, Peter and Rick walked the mile-plus back to Cassano.  We all arrived back at the marina at the same time, where we took seats at a local restaurant for dinner and drinks.

The Harbour at Cassano
Coastal view from Sorrento

After leaving Cassano on Wednesday morning, we rounded the Sorrento Peninsula and headed east-northeast down the coast to revisit the town of Amalfi.  Again, our favorite marina chief met us and expertly navigated us into position at the dock close to that place where we had been before.  This time, we explored the city more extensively, including hiking the local tunnels and switchback walkways weaving through local enclaves around the sides of the city’s steep cliffs.  After drinks and people watching, we gathered for dinner at a favorite Amalfi restaurant, and settled in for a windless, warm night nestled into the corner of the marina.

The East coast from Amalfi

The next morning, Thursday, August 8th, we again made a stop at the fuel dock to top off our diesel tanks, and then made the short trip back up the coast to Positano where we met our favorite “ormeggi” water-taxi-man, who connected us to a mooring ball and taxied us to shore. We set a time of 7:30pm for everyone to meet to return to the boat, and after a day of shopping, eating, drinking, and taking chairs and umbrellas at the beach, everyone except Nikki, Peter and Jordan met and ferried their way back to the boat.  While ashore, Rocky and Julie celebrated (a day late) their 46th Wedding Anniversary with a spectacular meal.  The three ashore made an attempt to gain entrance to a favorite haunt of celebrities, and after modest success, returned to the boat late at ~10:30pm.

The Amalfi coast from Positano
Anniversary Dinner

Friday morning, August 9th, we began our long trek back to base, initially motoring, but then sailing for 4 hours across the Gulf of Napoli to the Gulf of Pozzuoli.  After tacking back and forth in the Gulf of Pozzuoli enjoying the quiet sailing time and eating a late lunch, we finally headed in at ~3:30pm and took up our spot at the Marina Sud Cantieri Dream Yacht Base.  We “checked out” the boat, enjoyed the excellent facilities there, and then headed back to Un Pizzico Di for a final group dinner. That night, Nikki, Peter and Jordan packed for an early morning exit the next day while the others reminisced and shared stories.

On Saturday morning, August 10th, Nikki, Peter and Jordan left at 6:30am and headed to the train station for the next leg of their adventure in France and Hungary. The rest of us left in a taxi at 9:30am and headed to the center of Naples where everyone had arranged accommodations for 1 or 2 additional nights.  We (Julie and Rocky) upgraded our room at the Star Hotel and got immediate early entrance.  After a quick change, we headed over to the train station and caught the local metro-train to Pompeii, where we explored the ruins for ~3 hours.  Upon exiting the park, we grabbed a quick lunch before catching the express train to return to Naples and a relaxing late afternoon at the hotel.  That evening, we explored the center of town by foot, before grabbing a light dinner and a bottle of wine to enjoy back in our room.

The streets of Pompeii
The ruins of Pompeii
City Centre Naples

Then, the next morning, it was a taxi to the airport and a flight home to end a busy and beautiful visit to Italy’s Amalfi Coast.