Footloose in Italy III
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Italy III" DVD
A comprehensive tour and walking travelogue of the fabulous Campania region. Runs 150 minutes!
FOLLOWING IN THE STEPS OF THE NEAPOLITAN GRAND
Footloose in Italy III
~ 4 chapters on one DVD
1. Neapolitan Riviera ~ Starts with a walking tour of historic Naples, probably the oldest continuously inhabited city on the Mediterranean. It's known for the massive Spanish fortresses which have protected the city for centuries. After a look at Castel Nuovo we begin our trail at the port and make our way along the elegant sea-front to Castel d'Ovo. From here our tour takes us to the magnificent pink Royal Palace and Piazza Plebicito. Nearby is the Galleria Umberto 1st and the Royal Opera House which give class to the shopping district. We take the funicular to gigantic Castel Sant' Elmo to end our trail high above the city.
Next morning we board a hydrofoil and speed across the bay of Naples to the volcanic island of Ischia to explore the landscape by bus and see the ancient Castello Aragonese.
Leaving Naples on the train we stop at Ercolano to see the Roman remains at Herculaneum and to take a historic ride up to the crater of the famous volcano, Vesuvius, following the steps of a Thomas Cook excursion well over a century ago. Next stop on the railway is atmospheric Pomeii where the massive eruption of Vesuvius in AD79 wiped out an entire Roman town. Our train journey terminates at Sorrento...
2. The Sorrentine Peninsula ~ Perhaps the best place to stay in Campania is Sorrento. For the sheer ease of travel and relaxed atmosphere you can't beat it. We made all our trips from here. In the film, our host is president of Sorrento tourism Nino Miniero who gives us plenty of advice and suggestions. A walking tour of Sorrento is easily done in an hour or two and there are two museums to look out for: the Correale and the Inlaid Wood, both give a wonderful insight into how important Sorrento was as an historic, cultural and romatic destination on the "Grand Tour" a century or two ago. We visit nearby Meta to look at an interesting collection of maritime antiques.You can't leave Sorrento without trying Limoncello and we sample different types and talk to the family at I Giardini Cataldo who have been growing lemons in the town and producing the delicious "nectar" for many years. We discover more of the peninsula on foot... see our Walk to Termini in the next column...
3.The Amalfi Coast ~ Value for money buses leave virtually every hour from Sorrento and travel the switchback Amalfi Drive or Nastro Azzurro along the famous dramatic coastline. We get off at Positano and step down into the lovely resort, made famous by the jet-set some fifty or sixty years ago. It has become fashionable to take a cookery masterclass whilst on holiday in Italy, and Debra joins a spirited lesson at Hotel Buca di Bacco (not to be missed!). With a take-away of the afternoon's delicious grub we take a coastal cruise to Amalfi, once the ancient maritime republic. After exploring the historic streets and cathedral we head up the gorge to the Valley of the Mills and Amalfi's fascinating Hand-Made Paper Museum, full of ancient working machinery. The third and last town we visit, perched high on the Amalfi Coast is Ravello. A shuttle bus whisks you up there and you have a choice of two fabulous gardens to see: Villa Rufolo the spectacular terrace which becomes the stage for a prestigious musical event every year; and Villa Cimbrone, home of an englishman who turned the near-ruin into an exquisite house and gardens, visited by the rich and famous.
4.The Isle of Capri ~ The finale of our "Grand Tour" of the Campania region of Italy. Regular ferries and jet-boats leave the pier at Sorrento and it takes about 20 minutes to reach the "Isle of Dreams". A funicular takes you from the port to Capri Town where crowds gather to take in the views and visit the exotic designer shops. With a bit of footwork you can soon leave the bustle behind and head up delightful bougainvillia-lined paths to places like Villa Jovis former palace of Roman Emporer Tiberius or Arco Naturale a breathtaking natural stone arch. See Walking tour on Capri in the next column.
A short little bus takes you on a hair-raising ride up to the other town of Anacapri where it is less busy, a bit cooler and, incidently, the shops and restaurants are better priced. You have a choice of villas and lovely churches to visit as well as another site of a Roman villa (Damecuta) and the Blue Grotto an amazing sea-cave, lit entirely with reflected underwater light from its narrow entrance.
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RUNNING TIME 150minutes!
Our 3rd visit to wonderful Italy has resulted in yet another feature length film of one of the longest-running holiday destinations in Europe! Our visit was in June, when it was beginning to get rather hot for walking long distances.
Our Footloose Walking Trails ~
1~ The Walk to Termini
The journey from Sorrento to the end of the peninsula (12km) Leaving Sorrento on the main road above Marina Grande, we climb up an old lane called Via Prioria which goes most of the way to Massa Lubrense. At first there are olive groves but as the journey progresses we are surrounded by lemon groves instead.
There are plenty of wild flowers in June, but although a little hot for walking, the lanes do offer quite a bit of shade. The trail is enhanced by some wonderful waymarkers, quite elaborate hand-painted signs on glazed tiles usually set into a wall. Massa Lubrense is the first stop, the town Centre is pleasant with a lovely church, cafes and bars, and bus stops. You can make a detour down to Massa's picturesque harbour, but it might limit your time getting to Termini.
Leaving Massa, you head on old roads and tracks to the next village of Santa Maria, beautifully unspoilt and crumbling. On the approach to the village you can see the Isle of Capri clearly ahead of you.
Taking a lane downwards to a stream you climb up slippery steps covered in moss to reach the next village of Schiazzano with a bar/restaurant and shop. From here it is up all the way to reach the backbone of the peninsula and you can see the coast on either side. You cross the main road here and up a concrete farm track to reach a viewpoint. You can see Termini your destination, from here. Then it's a simple walk down the hill to reach the village. To complete the trail to the very tip of the peninsula there is a walk to the Punta Campanella lighthouse. Bear in mind it's at least 2km further and uphill all the way back to Termini... Important to know if you are catching the last bus back to Sorrento!
2~ Walking tours on Capri
Capri Town - Villa Jovis & Arco Naturale (6km) ~You leave Capri Town on Via Longano which is an alley radiating from the main square. Climbing up flights of steps you leave people behind and walk gradually uphill on narrow paved roads frequented by electric carts. These roads are particularly pretty, lined with gateways to many luxurious villas, and draped with Bougainvillia much of the way. You reach a crossroads and turn left following the sign to Villa Jovis. About 1km on there is another junction clearly marked to the roman ruins, and a rare appearance of a public toilet! From here the path steepens with steps and eventually you pass a bar and arrive at the impressive Roman ruins of Villa Jovis, once the palace of Tiberius who ruled the empire from here. Dont leave your journey too late in the day, for the ruins close not that long after lunch.
After this you retrace your steps to the crossroads and take a left turn to Arco Naturale which is clearly marked with tiled sign. before long you make a right turn and descend through trees on a winding path until you arrive at this amazing rock formation. It does look as though the natural stone arch will fall any time soon! There is a bar close by and leading downwards from there is a substantial paved walkway & steps taking you to the panoramic coastal path to Capri Town. On the spectacular serpentine route you can see a sea grotto, a 1930's designer house on the cliffs, and the distinctive Faraglioni rock formation.
Anacapri-Villa Damecuta- Blue Grotto (2-3 km)
After catching a tiny bus up the hair-raising road that clings to the sheer cliff face, you alight at the centre of Anacapri close to the chairlift station. A pleasant walk with a bus back, can be made to the Blue Grotto. After seeing Anacapri's attractions and shops you walk through the pleasant outskirts of the town down narrow paved roads lined with moorish-inspired houses, hotels and villas. Eventually you reach the clifftop path and turn right past Capri's heliport and the weather station, to reach a popular site, Villa Damecuta, the atmospheric remains of another Roman Villa and medieval fortress. There are fine views from here and way below you can see many boats swarming around the famous Blue Grotto. Walking back along the cliff path you can find the zig-zag road down. We admit on such a hot day we caught the bus to the Blue Grotto! Here, if you dare, and for a price, you can board a little boat and be rowed into this amazing, cave through its tiny entrance. Bus back to Anacapri town.
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is best served by Naples airport which is an Easyjet
there is a shuttle bus from the airport to the City Centre and the main railway station (not the nicest of places).
Climate ~ Naples
Getting around the District
If you base yourself either in Naples (not recommended for long) or Sorrento there are frequent trains, buses and boats to reach most parts of the Bay of Naples,the Sorrentine peninsula and the Amalfi Coast. Many visitors don't hire a car here largely because of the serpentine, and sometimes narrow roads, this results in crowded buses during the holiday season, so get to the stop early! You buy timed tickets for the bus and train paying for a range of times rather than for a specific journey. Generally public transport in Italy is inexpensive.
Circumvesuviana rail line Connects Naples, Ercolano & Vesuvius tours, Pompeii and Sorrento
Sita Sud ~ Bus timetables (timetables are translated as Orari, Campania is bottom of the list)
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