Following on from Part 1, here’s the final part of my Italian road-trip covering the gorgeous town of Minori and Vesuvius / Ercolano.
Minori was my favourite town we found on the coast – it felt a lot more relaxed than Maiori. We stayed at Hotel Palazzo Vignus, which was high up in the cliffs overlooking the bay. The room was cosy and clean with a great sea view. The hotel had a small indoor dipping pool, and several little balconies with tables and chairs on – perfect for reading a book in the sun, or having breakfast over the sea. The only two problems I had with the place were:
- Parking was not free as I had previously thought. They had a system where you could pay €15 for a 24 hour parking permit in one of the public car parks in the town.
- Secondly, according to a booking error, we had to pay an extra €20 to have a second person in our double room, which made the total €85.
As this was the penultimate stop on the trip and we had been hemorrhaging money left, right and centre, these two problems particularly stung. However, after my mild tantrum about being poor, I pulled myself together and we began to explore the town. Its beach is quite small, and a part of it is sectioned off for people who want to pay to use it (cheek!), but if you bring a towel to lie on (probably not your hotel towel though, as the sand is dark) you can still find a spot to sunbathe for free. There is a small square just up from the beach flanked by three restaurants, which was a great place to relax in the day-time.
Where to eat:
My favourite restaurant was Bar Antares, which served a carafe of red wine for €5, and surprisingly – chips with currywurst, which was a really nice change from pizza. There is also a divine ice-cream and cake shop in the square called Sal De Riso, which you really must visit if you have a sweet tooth. Or even if you don’t – the cakes inside are genuine works of art, so go and just admire them!
As our final destination on the trip, we really wanted to tempt fate by climbing a large, active volcano. Luckily there were no eruptions while we visited and we escaped the ordeal with nothing more than a blister on my little toe. We stayed at my favourite accommodation of the whole trip here – La Mariposa de La Reina. I cannot recommend this place enough – it was nestled in a sleepy village at the foot of the volcano, with a tiny dipping pool, outside space to lounge and sunbathe, and a lovely little fully functioning (not exploding or gas-leaking.. see my previous post) kitchen. However, what really made this stay special were the owners; Emilia and Francesco. They couldn’t have done more for us if they tried, and even drove us around the village to pick up supplies for a barbecue – which they then helped us cook! It really is a great place to stay for Vesuvius, Herculaneum or Naples, as they are all within an easy driving distance.
As for Vesuvius itself, sadly the week before there had been some terrible forest fires which had damaged a lot of the vegetation on the side of the volcano. It cost €2.50 to park, and then we paid an extra €4 for a shuttle bus to the entrance of the volcano park where we parted with another €20. We were debating whether to pay the princely sum of €4 for a shuttle bus, when we threw caution to the wind and went for it. I would really recommend doing this, as even from the park entrance it was quite a lot of uphill walking, plus I don’t think the views or the route before the entrance are particularly worthwhile – unless you LOVE walking uphill, in which case – go for it. As we climbed higher to the top of Vesuvius, we were enveloped in a thick cloud and couldn’t actually see any views of the surrounding countryside, making the hike up seem slightly thankless. However, we were glad of the exercise after a week of pizza for almost every meal.
Top Tips for Vesuvius:
- Do not wear white shoes – the walk is really dusty and stained the soles of my new trainers.
- Bring snacks and water – there are shops at various intervals, but unsurprisingly, they are overpriced.
- Take the shuttle bus.
- Don’t plan it as a whole-day activity, we were up and down in about three hours, which left us with too much time on our hands!
So there you have it – my marathon blog about road-tripping along The Amalfi Coast. It was a wonderful trip, despite the hiccups along the way, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is planning their next holiday! If I were to plan the holiday again I would skip Maiori, spend longer at Minori and Ercolano, and maybe try Praiano again in a different hotel. Of course, if my budget allowed, I would love to visit Capri, Sorrento and Positano… Maybe one day! We went from the 8th – 14th September which meant that although the weather was slightly less reliable, we still had enough sun to top up the tan. As for food – Naples is famously home to the pizza, but most places offered gluten free alternatives, and of course being so close to the sea meant there was plenty of fresh seafood on offer too.
Despite the extra cost, stress and difficulty getting used to the other side of the road, I still think the hire car was the best way to get around the Amalfi Coast. It gave us the total flexibility of being able to stop when we wanted at pretty view-points (there were plenty), and we would not have been able to manage the busy schedule I designed had we been reliant on public transport.
Although we tried to stay on budget, it still ended up costing quite a lot due to extra charges from hotels and the car-hire, and just generally eating out and being on holiday. Therefore, if you are looking for a super cheap holiday, this is not it. However, it is possible to do without paying £300 a night for a hotel, so don’t let price put you off too much.
Have you been to the Amalfi Coast? What other places would you recommend? Would love to hear all about your trips! 🙂