May has been an AMAZING month for me. The most amazing thing though was by far my trip to the beautiful Italian town, Sorrento. Jake and I stayed in an AirBnB in the Comune called Sant’Agnello which is directly next to Sorrento and was only a 3 minute train ride or a half hour walk away from the centre of Sorrento. We always stay slightly out of the way because as much as we enjoy exploring, we can also both be extremely introverted and struggle with sleep so we need that quiet time.
We also always like to get an apartment rather than a hotel as it saves us budget travellers money, Jake loves cooking and my body just really doesn’t cope well constantly eating food out. In places like Italy, it also gives you a chance to cook with and try fresh, local and incredibly tasty produce as well as some of their sweet and savoury snacks (I love snacks). But anyway, onto our trip!
I’m ideally an early flyer. I like getting up and getting the travel out of the way in the early hours and having the rest of the day to explore the exciting new place. Our flight was at 6:40am and we arrived at Naples airport at 10:05am (Italy are an hour ahead of the UK). Once grabbing our luggage, we found our transfer provided by our AirBnB host (thanks Marco!). Unfortunately an hour drive to Sorrento turned into at least double that due to some lane closures resulting in a massive traffic jam.
We arrived at our AirBnB at around 1:30pm and decided after a little time getting our bearings, we’d head out to get some lunch as in all honesty, the hangry alarm was starting to ring in my head. But of course, it was siesta time so all of the restaurants and cafés in the area weren’t open. On that note, we headed to the supermarket to do a decent sized shop and stuffed our face with ham and tomato baguettes when we got back.
Jake and I are serial nappers, so guess what we did next. Once refreshed, we headed out to explore the area and found some incredibly beautiful plants, views and streets near where we were staying. Once we’d soaked it all in, we managed to find a restaurant to have our first meal in (which I cannot remember the name of). I had a selection of deep fried cheese for starters and a salami, ham, mozzarella and ricotta cheese calzone for a main and Jake had an aubergine and mozzarella tomato dish for starters and an Italian sausage pizza for mains.
After stuffing our faces and bringing half of our food back with us, we both fell asleep to the sound of Friends by 9pm, talk about wild in our early twenties.
Pompeii was the first excursion we did on our trip. We got up at 8am on the Wednesday, got ready and got the Circumvesuviana train from Sant Agnello to Pompeii Scavi which took around 50 minutes as it was rush hour. By the time we arrived, it was around 10am and despite all of the people trying to haggle us into buying Pompeii tickets from them and offering “skip the line” deals, we decided to just walk straight to the place itself so we could be sure our tickets were legitimate.
It was very lucky we did as upon arriving and queueing for around 5 minutes, we reached the desk to be told that entry to Pompeii was free on that day. Upon researching, it turns out that the 8th May (the day we went) is the day of the Feast of the Patron Saint of modern Pompeii meaning free entry. What a pleasant coincidence! Although it did cause some arguments from people who had pre-bought tickets who were unsuccessful in attempting to demand a refund.
After picking up a map from the information point, we moved swiftly on and into the ruins. The site was HUGE and there was so much land to cover. We decided to just wander a little bit and see where it took us but realised after half an hour that we’d probably seen about 1/30th of it by doing so. There was no way we were going to make it around the whole thing without collapsing from heat stroke, exhaustion or to be honest, just getting a bit bored.
We decided to take a steady stroll down to the ampitheatre which was right at the opposite end of the site that we entered. Walking down the main “street” of the site was really quite overwhelming due to the sheer volume of tourists, school trips and the cobbled streets (that we definitely DID NOT trip over at least 5 times). After stopping off at a few intriguing spots on the way, we made it to the ampitheatre.
It was hard to miss. No Colosseum but still pretty mighty and awe inspiring. I must say, upon walking inside it, I was a little disappointed as a lot of what once would’ve been the steps/seats were smothered in grass which I personally felt took away from it slightly. It was still crazy to stand there and imagine what life would’ve been like back then in that ampitheatre, though.
I wish I could tell you where we went next but as we didn’t have a tour, we literally just spent the following few hours wandering and finding fascinating things. On reflection, we probably should have invested in a tour but hey, it’s an excuse to return! After a stop off at a little sandwich place called “Little Paradise”, we hopped back onto the train for a rest back at the AirBnB before walking into Sorrento for the evening and returning to devour our leftover pizzas from the night before.
Rising early again, the plan was to get the Vesuvio express bus from Ercolano rather than Pompeii due to wanting to go to Herculaneum afterwards which is a 5 minute walk from the Ercolano station so it made much more sense. It took us around an hour and twenty minutes to get from Sant’Agnello to Ercolano on the Circumvesuviana train line and luckily we managed to slide in and get two seats from Pompeii onwards. It’s such a busy line that seats are few and far between at all times of the day.
As Thursday was going to be the coolest day of our trip, we thought it’d be a good day to take on Vesuvius then so it’d be a bit easier. We were wrong. The Vesuvio express coach takes you up the roads of Vesuvius and drops you off to walk a further half an hour or so up the volcano. Whilst driving up, it got more and more cloudy and even worse as we walked up to the point we could barely see 10 metres in front of us.
When we finally reached the crater, we couldn’t actually see it or anything for that matter. It was also absolutely freezing and we were really damp due to the clouds. Despite the lack of fascinating views and warmth, it still felt like a really cool achievement and one to tick off of the bucket list. We’ll definitely be returning to do it on a day where we can see the crater, though.
Being honest, we very nearly didn’t make it here. Our plan was to do Vesuvius in the morning and then Herculaneum in the afternoon. Once we’d made it back down from Vesuvius, we could barely keep our eyes open. Luckily, it was nothing a cappuccino or two and a half hour sit down couldn’t fix and on we went to explore some more.
The entrance to Herculaneum was pretty grand with a big walkway down to the ticket office where you could overlook the ruins. Herculaneum is much, much smaller than Pompeii so it was easy to see it all from a height. It was €13 per person to enter and the estimated time to get around it all was approximately 2 hours which is pretty much exactly the amount of time we spent there!
Herculaneum is much more intact, colourful and in my opinion was more interesting than Pompeii. You could get a much better feel for what life was like back then due to the degree of preservation. I also found it MUCH less overwhelming and easier to navigate due to the smaller size of it and how much less busy it was. We found SO many incredible and fascinating things in Herculaneum, If I wasn’t so exhausted, I genuinely would’ve happily walked around it again just to take it all in.
If you’re an anxious little being like me and you prefer colourful and funky sights, I’d definitely recommend Herculaneum over Pompeii if you’re deciding between the two.
It’s safe to say that after Vesuvius and Herculaneum in one day, we were EXHAUSTED. We headed back to our accommodation to chill out and Jake made us a lovely tomato and chicken linguine.
Have you ever been to any of these amazing places?
Part two of my Sorrento Travel and Photo Diary will be up soon! You can view my Sorrento travel vlog below, too!
’Til Next Time,