Tired of your hectic busy schedule, the Indian summer heat, city traffic and the unending chatter in your mind?
Go to Europe. Travel to the coastal idyllic villages of Cinque Terre, enjoy the Mediterranean landscape of Amalfi (Sorrento + Positano) or gaze at the horizon from the Mt Solaro in the island of Capri, walk on the streets of the historic ruins of Pompeii, nibble the famous Neapolitan pizza (at Naples)or indulge in luxury shopping in Milan and Bellagio (Lake Como). If you have INR 0.25-0.3 million you can experience all these in 8 days, which means you need to take leave from your office for only 5 working days.
I took my flight for Milan on a Friday night (23rd Sep) and returned on a Monday morning (3rd Oct) from Naples.
Day 1-(24 Sep 2016): Milan
Landed in Milan. After checking in our hotel which was located near the central station (Centrale FS), we headed to the Duomo Square via a metro (yellow line). You will need to get down at Duomo station. Once you reach the square, every historic building is within 1 km radius v.i.z Milan Cathedral (II Duomo), Palazzo Marino (City Hall), Castello Sforzesco (Sforza castle), The Galleria (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II) and La Scale (opera house). Also do not miss out Corso di Porta Ticinese, a shopping street popular for its vintage stores, which ends at beautiful St Eustorgio Square.
Day 2 – (25 sep 2016): Lake Como + Milan
We had pre-booked a Lake Como tour. The tour included guided boat tour on Lake Como, Milan to Lake Como and back transport by air-conditioned coach and 2 hour transit for personal roaming in Bellagio. I strongly recommend the tour.
Back in Milan, we headed to the San Lorenzo square and then to Navigli district for drinks and dinner. Lots of trendy bars and restaurants are located. We observed an interesting tradition here. At our pub, we ordered 2 cocktails and was surprised with lots of FREE snacks. So, we ended up skipping dinner.
Day 3- (26 Sep 2016): Manarola
We took train Italia to reach Manarola. There is no direct train. Our stop was at La Spezia and from there we took a train to Manarola. Our hotel Ca’ de Baran was a 2 min walk from the station and 1 minute walk from the Mediterranean sea.The shore had a rocks enclosing a part where you can take a dip.
In the evening we headed out to Rio Maggiore, next train stop. You can either take the train or you can hike. In the evening, try to be back in Manarola by 7 pm and reserve yourself a table by the cliff in Ristorante Nessun Dorma to watch the sunset and also how the colourful houses by the cliff turns into a magical string of lights.
In the night, once you are out of this restaurant compulsorily sit in the dark for hours to enjoy the starry night while listening to the musical by the rocks and the sea, sipping your take away aperol spritz. You can also see Monterosso and Vernazza from this point. This is a safe place.
Must visit restaurants in Manarola are:
- For seafood (dinner): Ristorante Marina Piccolo
- For best view + cocktails in the evening: Nessun Dorma
Day 4- (27 Sep 2016): Corniglia – Vernazza- Monterosso Trek
10.9 kms. 5.5 hours. 135 floors climbed. (Source: iphone health app)
The track is called the ‘Blue Trail’ or Sentiero Azzurro, which follows the coast. This path starts from Corniglia, so we had to reach the place by Train to the city and then almost climbed at least 25 floors to reach the Blue path gate. You have to 7 Euro per person for one way. Do not lose the ticket because you need to show this at each check point. Though for most of us this sounds scary, but you must go for it. It is worthy. The 5.5 hours includes half an hour break in a quaint restaurant on the cliffs of Vernazza.
Please know that you can start from either direction (Monterosso, heading south, or Corniglia, heading north).
Tip: Start from Riomaggiore, where the paths are easier and paved, and work your way up to the more challenging trails which is closer to Monterosso. So, while you are closer to the north side you are climbing down the high step and not climbing up.
From Corniglia to Vernazza,this trail climbs up to the highest point of the Cinque Terre (and back down) so expect a fair amount of climbing and descending.
Must have essentials for the trek
- Wear trekking shoes/ comfortable sneaker
- Carry one and a half litres of water for one person (Hydration is extremely crucial)
- Carry food and candies (Sugar rush always helps)
- Sun glasses
- Hand towel
Since the recommended months for this hike are April, May, September and October, we were lucky to have survived the tolerable heat.
Once you reach the Monterosso chill in the first beach on your path. This is the free beach. Plus, it is quieter to doze off for 30 minutes with the warm pebbles/sand to take care of your body ache. You can also catch lunch and chilled beer before dozing off, like we did.
In the night we enjoyed a live performance at a joint, where the most of the locals come to chill after a hectic day. Click here to watch the video.
So much, and we are still discussing day 4.
Day 5- (28 Sep 2016)- Naples
We reached our Air BNB apartment in Naples by 9 pm, and we headed out to eat the best pizza of our life. You must remember the name of the place when you visit Naples, it is Gino Toto Sorbillo Pizzeria.
Day 6- (29 Sep 2016) – Naples – Pompeii – Sorrento
You can either take a cab/train/bus to Pompeii. After our breakfast in an iconic breakfast joint Naples, Gambrinus, we took the train as it is the fastest during peak traffic hours. Pompeii can be reached by train on Circumvesuviana. On the Naples – Sorrento line, use the Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri stop.
It will not be reasonable to describe the ‘Pompeii’ experience in this post, so I will soon be dedicating a detailed post on how to cover the ruins in 4 hours. If you are interested do keep visiting my blog.
After reaching our BnB den, we went out for dinner and selected a beautiful garden Ristorante – Parruchiano Favorita, where we were delighted by the warm service by our attendant – Mr. G.
Day 7- (30 Sep 2016)- Island of Capri: Capri town and Anacapri town
I have already written a post our tour. Read here. It definitely was the most highlighted experience of our trip.
In my Capri post I have captured the beauty of nature during our fun boat ride to the isle of Capri. Please keep in mind that most of the island’s sights are located near Anacapri: The Blue Grotto, Villa San Michele and the chairlift for Mount Solaro. Due to paucity of time, we did not visit the Villa as we got lost in the enchanting view of the blue horizon from Mt. Solaro. It felt like heaven. If I recall correctly, I had been magically stunned at similar levels in my trip to Cappadocia, Turkey.
Day 8- (1st Oct): Amalfi and Positano
Well, we have come to the last day of our itinerary. Honestly after Cinque Terre and Capri island, these coastal villages did not manage to impress me. Amalfi is very commercialized. The Positano beach was over crowded during our visit. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t a sunny one. Posting a few pics so that you can judge by yourself.
Next day, we took cab to airport for 80 Euros.
Taxi service contact: Antonio Criscuolo Transfers and Excursions,
+39 333 2656737, firstname.lastname@example.org