One of the best parts of studying abroad is having the opportunity to travel—even more than you ever anticipated. Different countries, different cities, there are no limits to where you can go if you can find the time. In Florence, there are several agencies to help plan weekend and day trips wherever you can imagine—in and outside the country. After one week in Florence and learning our way around our smaller city, seven of us (among like 100 total) took a three day trip to Amalfi Coast through Florence for Fun. If you’re in Italy and can only take one trip, this is the one I’d recommend.
After an eight hour bus trip from Florence (this part isn’t so fun, but sleep will make it go faster) and a short night in a hotel, we traveled to Capri via another short bus ride and a 45 minute long ferry. Once off one boat, we quickly got on another for an hour and a half long tour around the island. But at the beginning of our tour, we had the opportunity to enter the Blue Grotto. The grotto is famous for its crystal clear blue waters, made even more special with the boat guides singing opera that echoed off the small cave walls around us. If you’re claustrophobic and considering this trip, I’d carefully consider this part: to get into the grotto, you need to lie on your back or risk losing your head—seriously (well, sort of…it probably wouldn’t come off, but it wouldn’t be a fun injury!). Besides the Blue Grotto, tons of other grottos are around the island with many homes of the famous, like Armani, tucked into the hills. If you’re interested in shopping, walk around the designer stores, like Missoni and Chanel, for the season’s latest. And don’t forget a fantastic seafood lunch at Isidora’s—their spaghetti with clams is to die for.
The following day was all about the beach and Italian shoes! We drove down to Positano, about 45 minutes from our hotel in Sorrento. After trekking down thousands of stairs and all complaining about shaky legs, we immediately headed into La Botteguccia, famous for its beautiful handmade leather shoes. You can customize your shoes however you’d like, with a wide variety of colors and styles—it took forever for all of us to decide! The shoes are higher in price, starting at 45 euro for the most basic design, but it’s completely worth it: the shoes are fitted perfectly to your feet for ultimate comfort—a necessary when walking all over Florence. After an exhausting morning of shoe shopping, we headed to the free beach with black sand that turned into rocks—without our new sandals made yet, our feet got hot, hot, hot! But the Mediterranean has crystal blue water, tons of sea glass to collect, and a mild temperature perfectly suited to counteract the scorching sun.
To round out our long weekend, the group headed to Pompeii first for an intense history lesson. Reading about what happened at Pompeii is bizarre enough. Going there and trying to believe your eyes is even more difficult to grasp. So much, from the original marble floors, a mosaic in the entrance to a now mostly destroyed palace, pottery and even bodies have been completely preserved in almost perfect form. All the ruins were beautiful—even the brothels with strange frescoes of different sexual acts and the stone genitalia to signal these places of the night.
Topping off the amazing weekend, we traveled for another 45 minutes to Mount Vesuvius, or Mount Vesuvio as they call it here. The hike is only about 20 minutes all the way to the top, but what they don’t tell you is you need to make it up pretty steep, soft gravel—no matter what shoes you’re wearing, you’re going to slide a bit on the way up, and definitely on the way down! The views are so worth the effort though. Make sure you have plenty of water and take a bathroom trip before hand (they only have port-a-potties), to stay comfortable during your hike. And definitely don’t grab any of the rocks on your journey, unless you’re ready for some majorly bad juju.
All in all, the Amalfi Coast is a must-see when in Italy. You can’t go wrong with beach time and handmade shoes, that’s for sure!