"The largest town on Italy’s most breathtaking coastline."
Poised between the mountains and the sea, the narrow streets and passageways weave among monuments that testify to its former grandeur. The most important being the "Duomo" which dominates the central square, dedicated to Saint Andrew, originally founded in the 9th century, rebuilt in Romanesque style in the 11th century and then altered main times after. The façade and atrium date from the 1800s, but the carved bronze doors were cast in Constantinople around the year 1000. Escaping from the busy square filled with shops and cafes, you can stroll along the promenade looking down on to the pebble beach of Amalfi and across to the port.
One of the 'places to visit' along the Amalfi Coast is the Emerald Grotto. It is known for its natural "fireworks display" caused by light reflecting off its stalactites, and the jewel-like sheen of its green waters.
The cavern itself has an area of about 30 x 60 metres. At its highest point, its ceiling riches as high as 24 metres. From these heights hang Nature’s own "chandeliers": numerous stalactites, thin and delicate, catching the light. But the most unusual rock formations are the stalagmites, which seem to emerge from the sea, twisting upwards towards the ceiling. Some are over 10 metres high, and are so wide that it is impossible to encircle them with your arms. Beneath the water, covered by about four metres of water, is the original ceramic bed.
The Emerald Grotto’s key feature is its exquisitely brilliant blue and green waters, which were in fact the inspiration for its name. The colours of the water, reflecting of the ceilings and floors, cast a mysterious and almost holy glow on the walls of the cavern.
Address: Conca dei Marini
Cost of Entry: The average price of the boat ride is 5€.
Opening Hours: Daily from 9am – 4pm. However, tours may be cancelled in the event of bad weather
"An enchanting town unspoilt by tourism"
Ravello is for those who love peace and quiet and stupendous views. Strolling around the town enables you to witness the Moorish details evident in the buildings, inner courtyard, gardens and the many churches. The two main highlights of Ravello are Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone.
"Few places are as picturesque as Positano, a pyramid of whitewashed houses spilling down from the mountain to the sea"
Positano is reached by a one-way road, inaccessible to large local buses and coaches. Your smaller vehicle will take you right down to Piazza Mulino, from here begins the journey on foot through the traffic-free lanes of Positano. A pleasant gathering of shops selling souvenirs, pastries, local crafts and wines, and the world famous "Positano Moda". Finally finishing at the sea front, where you will find superb restaurants such as "Chez Black", "La Terrace", take a stroll to the waters edge and look back at the picturesque town you have just strolled through.
"Considered as one of the most important archaeological sites in the world."
Pompeii was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 62 A.D., and then totally in 79 A.D. by the first recorded eruption of Mount Vesuvius that engulfed the city and its inhabitants with a terrible storm of cinders and ash. Pompeii was once a thriving commercial centre with a large seaport. At the time of the disaster there were approximately 30,000 inhabitants, so as you can imagine the site is very large and unfortunately badly destroyed, because of this reason an official guide of Pompeii is necessary, so they can bring the ruins back to life for you.
During your time in Pompeii amongst many other things you can see the ruts made by the wheels of the Roman chariots, remains of villas once belonging to rich Roman merchants, temples, the market place, shops and bars all dating back to 79A.D.
"Destroyed along side Pompeii by the famous volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79A.D Herculaneum is now a famous archaeological site."
Much smaller than Pompeii, but unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum contains wonderfully preserved buildings. Swamped by a torrent of liquid mud and debris the once thriving residential seaside town soon had its beauty drowned. Occupied by the ‘aristocracy’ of Roman society drawn to the area by the splendid climate and desire to abandon the noise of large cities, Herculaneum was filled with elegantly villas. These buildings where not destroyed during the disaster, but instead when excavations started fantastic discoveries were made, the mud had actual helped preserve the town as a sort of enormous fossil, buildings indeed often kept intact. This is a splendid chance to see two storey Roman villas, beautiful mosaics, frescoes, pieces of carbonised furniture and other objects used by ancient Romans.
"Vesuvius is neither the highest nor the most dangerous volcano in the world, but the eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum has made it one of the most famous"
Vesuvius, mainland Europe’s only active volcano has erupted around a hundred times since the fateful morning in August 79AD; the last eruption was in 1944. The 1,281 metre summit of Vesuvius, can be reached after a 30 minute walk. Views into the crater, over Naples, and on the far end, over to Pompeii are breathtaking.
"Naples is a city that arouses fierce passions"
On the one hand its traffic, city centre and much of its bureaucracy can be chaotic. On the other hand it is the most Italian of all cities – the place where family, food, religion and other Latin passions reign as strong as ever; the place that gave birth to the pizza, Sophia Loren and O Sole Mio.
The National Archaeological Museum – one of Europe’s greatest museums, housing the finest artefacts and wall paintings from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The Cathedral of Naples and numerous churches.
San Carlo Opera House – one of Europe’s grandest, built in 1737
"Spaccanapoli" – the road that splits the city in half!
The Royal Palace and Piazza Plebiscito – the main town hall square
Finishing with a wonderful panoramic view of the city taking in Mount Vesuvius and the Island of Capri.
"Perched on tufa rock rising 50m above the sea, surrounded on one side by mountains and the other the Mediterranean, spritzed by lemon and olive groves, Sorrento is the perfect places for shopping, taking a walk, or just sitting in the main square people watching"
Situated in an area of singular beauty it is an enchanting place in all seasons. The locals have gone a long way to make visitors feel welcome and safe, the district is special noted for its oranges, lemons, nuts and the town for inlaid woodwork (intarsia), lace and local liquors (limoncello).
"Paestum is one of the best collections of Greek temples anywhere!"
South from Sorrento passing the famous beaches and buffalo farms we come to Paestum. The town was founded as Poseidon by Greeks in the 6th century and renamed Paestum when it became a Roman colony in 273 BC. The final conquerors were malaria–carrying mosquitoes, that killed of the population and kept the site wonderfully deserted for nearly a thousand years. Rediscovered in the 18th century, Paestum today offers the only well-preserved Greek ruins north of Sicily
"Italy’s largest Royal Palace"
Caserta, only one hour by road from Sorrento, is home to the largest Royal Palace in Italy.
Designed by the great architect Luigi Vanvitelli in the middle of the 18th Century for King Charles lll of Bourbon, this is a true masterpiece of its time. The Royal Palace has 1200 rooms, 1790 windows and 94 staircases and is nicknamed the" Versailles of Naples" because of its design. The breathtaking gardens at the back of the Palace stretch back for 3 Km and in true Royal style finish with a superb waterfall. The Royal Palace is open to the public and is a wonderful chance to visit not only Caserta but also a well-kept place of history.
Cassino the Abbey and War Cemetery
"The Abbey of Monte Cassino and its War cemeteries is often a day of remembrance for the many people who visit this area."
The Benedictine Abbey was rebuilt after it was bombed to the ground by the Allies during the last World War in a battle against German troops. It is superbly positioned on top of Monte Cassino. The Abbey is only opened to the public for half a day, and with its spectacular views, and priceless treasures this is a great opportunity to see the Benedictine order of monks going about their daily routines.
In this area, you can also find a Commonwealth War Cemetery as well as a Polish War Cemetery, in these, lies the bodies of young men who lost their lives to the battle of Monte Cassino, and anyone visiting will certainly have brought home to them the sadness as well as the futility of war.
The War Graves Commission looks after the Commonwealth War Cemetery, and anyone looking for a particular plot will find that it is very easy to track down names.