Paestum & Ravello
When we started planning this trip, I knew really early on that Paestum was one of the sights I’d want to see the most. And not long after, I realized that Paestum was going to be one of the hardest things to fit in, given that it’s about a 2-3 hour trip from Amalfi and being based in Sorrento would add at least another hour to that. But we eventually decided to rent a car for just one day and Paestum got back in the itinerary
Paestum, or more accurately, the Archeological Park of Paestum has some of the best preserved Greek ruins in the world. It’s not part of the Amalfi coast but part of Cilento on the other side of Sorrento. We don’t have plans to come back to Italy in the next future and when we do, it’ll likely be to the north so that EDP can snowboard or somewhere along the east coast. So this seemed like my best chance to see Paestum. Because of it’s location, you can access it via the crazy Amalfi coast road or you can head north and take a major highway. Once we realized that, renting a car became much more feasible and we booked the only automatic car we could find in Sorrento.
This morning, we picked that car up and tried to start heading toward Paestum. Unfortunately, the cell strength isn’t great around here so we couldn’t get directions up on EDP’s phone. I knew we needed to head towards Salerno and the A3 so EDP made his best guess at what direction to go and off we went while I tried to get the directions. We did get them soon enough and after getting a bit turned around as to what way we were supposed to go, we were on our way. We were on a lot of city streets and back roads, though - it didn’t feel like we were quite on the right path. We made it into Pompei (or maybe only near Pompei?) without taking a highway. We then started seeing signs for the A3, but the map wasn’t sending us that way. That’s when EDP pulled over, fiddled with his phone for a few minutes and then handed back saying that we’d be good now because he had turned off the “avoid toll roads” option. Which explained a LOT.
It wasn’t long before we made it to Paestum, got the car parked, lathered on the sunscreen, armed ourselves with tickets & a little guide and headed into the ruins. Wandering through the ruins - the forum, the temples, the amphitheatre - was amazing, I loved every minute of it. The three temples are in amazing condition and with two of them, you could go right into the temple and see things right up close. I’m so happy we were able to fit it into our itinerary and I think EDP enjoyed it much more than he expected.
Then it was back into the car to make our way over to Ravello. Ravello wouldn’t have been overly difficult to reach by bus - it’s just past Amalfi so after the initial bus ride into Amalfi, it would have only been another half hour or so to get to Ravello. But with it being at the very end of the coast, it made sense to combine it with our Paestum day. We did have to drive along some hairpin turn roads but not on the crazy Amalfi coast road - I think I only worried about dying once and I didn’t even need an Ativan. We saw some sheep and some goats and a fair number of horses along the drive but not a lot of other cars or buses. Once in Ravello, we headed into Villa Rufolo, which is renowned for its garden & views out over the waters. The views were quite nice and I even managed to get up to the top of the tower for a very quick look from the highest point. Then it was on to Villa Cimbrone, also known for the gardens & views. Maybe it was just because it was so hot by that point but I wasn’t overly impressed with the garden but the views were quite nice. I certainly preferred Villa Rufolo.
Once we were done at Villa Cimbrone, we looked at the clock and thought it might be possible to get back to Sorrento and return the car before closing so that we didn’t have to find the drop-off location. Stopping for a quick lemon sorbet on the way back to the car - that I ended up drinking more than eating - we were back on the hairpin roads and heading for Sorrento. It was easy enough to start and for a few minutes, we thought we might make it back to the car rental place before it closed. Then we started hitting traffic and our ETA kept creeping up. It would have been faster to walk the last ten km or so - I joked with EDP that I’d get out of the car and start walking and we’d see who got there first. In the end, we didn’t get back anywhere near enough in time to return the car so we dropped it off at the drop-off lot and walked the rest of the way back into the old historic centre where we ended up having one of the best meals of our trip.
We had passed by this little restaurant called O’ Murzill a few times and there was always a crowd out front while the restaurant next door had literally no one in it. That seemed like a pretty good recommendation and we were fairly early in the evening so we figured we’d give it a shot and sure enough, we were able to get a table inside. There were so many things on the menu that looked fantastic so we ended up decided to share two pasta dishes and a chicken dish (along with a bottle of Prosecco.) One of the pasta dishes was oriechette with sausage and artichoke sauce, which was amazing and the other was a tagliatelle with bolognese, which was also fantastic. The chicken was roasted with tomatoes and mushrooms and was SOOOO good.
After the frustration of yesterday, it was nice that things went a bit smoother today. Tomorrow should be another smooth day. We’re heading off to Amalfi for the day, exploring Amalfi and Atrani in the morning and then hanging out on the beach for our last afternoon. The forecast is calling for another hot and sunny day so it sounds like the perfect day for the beach.