For the next part of my spring holiday, I traveled to Italy. Believe it or not, studying in London is actually quite hectic, and I was more than in need of a relaxing holiday away from the hustle and bustle of the city. So, I met up with Alex and Jessa in Sorrento, a lovely little vacation town about an hour and a half outside of Naples along the Amalfi Coast.
I was last in Sorrento in the summer of 2013, and that visit was jam packed with activities, so I was excited to return to the lovely home of Limoncello and Caprese salad with no planned itinerary.
I arrived in Sorrento on Friday afternoon, and while I waited for my friends to join me (they began their Italian adventure in Rome!), I took the time to enjoy a glass of Limoncello and a good book at Bar Enclavo, right in the main plaza of the city!
We chose the most adorable Air BNB located right on the Marina Grande, a gorgeous port area that is decorated with brightly colored buildings and embellished with stunning views of the nearby paradise island Capri. During the high tourism season (which begins in Sorrento in late March and continues throughout the summer), Marina Grande is packed with tourists, but since we visited on the off season, it was just us, the locals, and a family of stray cats. Our kitschy flat was a short 15 minute walk from the center of the city, which made it perfectly relaxing and accessible!
On our first evening, we had a delicious meal at Ristorante Furono. This classic Italian restaurant is owned by a family that also operates a cooking school and gelato shop down the street. Alex signed us up for a cooking class for Sunday evening, so we figured we'd better check out the food so we knew what we would be getting ourselves into!
Without a doubt, this was the best meal I've had abroad so far (I know I keep saying that but each place I visit seems to be even better than the previous!!). I had a savory and sweet homemade pasta dish garnished with shrimp and lemon sauce. Jessa and Alex both had different variations of homemade gnocchi, which were also fantastic! We finished off our meal with some fruity desserts: Alex and I shared a strawberry & creme dish and Jessa has a classic lemon cake (in case you haven't figured it out by now, Sorrento is quite famous for its lemons).
We devoted our second day in the area to a visit to the ancient city of Pompeii. In 79 AD, this bustling commercial district was destroyed by a massive eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the nearby volcano. The explosion buried the city in ash, killed all living creatures within its range, and pushed the nearby coastline back an entire 2 miles. Then, in the 1700s, as part of a project to develop a canal system, remains of the city were accidentally discovered while digging paths for the canals. I learned about Pompeii in school, but seeing it in person was quite unbelievable. For one, I had no idea the site was so massive!! It is also a bit misleading to label it as "ruins," because many of the cities structures still remain intact. We saw villas decorated in frescos, bath houses, the city square, theaters, shops, and even a not-so-tasteful red light district. Pompeii definitely surpassed the meager expectations I had in my head.
This is the land on which the remains of Pompeii were first uncovered, leading to the mass excavation of the city.
This theater was used for performances, and seats would be allocated based on social status. They continue to hold occasional theatrical performances in the summer here!
This is the inside of what was once a bakery. You can see the stove, which would have been used for baking bread, toward the back of the image.
This structure is part of one of the public baths of Pompeii.
The streets of Pompeii. You can see ropes and roofing, which were added in after the excavation of the city, but the stone walls and paths are mostly original.
The city center!
Our Pompeii tour guide! At Pompeii they don't have to walk backwards when giving tours... they have it so easy.
Our third day in Sorrento was dedicate to shopping and exploring. I found a lovely pair of metallic sneakers at a cute accessories boutique, as well as an adorable burgundy Furla bag!
That evening, we took our places in the kitchen at the Old Taverna Sorrentina Cooking School. Our head chef, William, and his wife, Mary, taught us how to make homemade pasta. I am still finding my place in the kitchen, as I've only just learned to operate a stovetop this year (and don't ask me how to work an oven because I'm still clueless!). But lucky for me, foodie Alex and master chef Jessa were perfect to be in the kitchen with! We made gnocchi in five different varieties: classic, squash, beetroot, chestnut, and spinach. We also made tricolor ravioli with a ricotta filling in tomato sauce. William and his wife were unbelievably kind, cordial, and all around hilarious. Honestly, I think they've redefined #relationshipgoals. When they're not teaching cooking classes, they cook dishes for Ristorante Fuorno, make gelato, grow and produce their own line of wine, and also make limoncello. William's family has been at this for years (he showed us pictures of his ancestor's lemon farm in Sorrento in 1880!!) At the end of the meal, we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor with a glass of homemade red wine. We also got a certificate (so there's proof that I've actually made homemade pasta!!!)
The cooking class was definitely the highlight of my trip. We just had so much fun playing around in the kitchen, and William and Mary were brilliant and welcoming! I highly HIGHLY recommend this fun excursion for anyone traveling to Sorrento in the near future!!
Today, I departed from Sorrento and made my way back to London. Tomorrow morning I leave for Paris, and I'll be there for about 10 days! I'm very much looking forward to returning to the city of love, reuniting with my wonderful family, and hopefully seeing some new Parisian sites (oh and of course, snacking on macarons and crepes!!)