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Impressions of Italy
James Adkin is Explore product Excutive for South East Asia and Europe who has left his heart in Italy!There is little wonder than the Amalfi coast and Bay of Naples is world famous - it features in Greek mythology, was prized by the Romans and is now a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site. However, nothing prepares you for the dramatic beauty of the improbably steep mountains tumbling down into the turquoise seas; dotted with scenic villages that are surrounded by intensely farmed ancient terraces. Sounds improbable I know but it really is like that!
I absolutely loved my first visit to the Amalfi coast many years ago as a tour leader, so I jumped at the chance to return recently - and was not disappointed, it surpassed all memories. Within a few hours of leaving behind drab autumnal English weather and the hustle and bustle of Heathrow airport I was sitting on the terrace of our hotel, eating excellent homemade Italian food, supping local wine and enjoying some much needed sunshine. Perfect!
Walking and ice cream
Later that same afternoon I enjoyed a superb walk along the “path of the gods” in golden sunshine, finally descending endless flights of steps, past lemon groves to Positano for an ice cream on the beach. Even the return trip in the local bus was impressive, a bit different from my local 131 to Tooting, as the driver nonchalantly wove his way along the narrow corniche road winding its way back up into the hills to San Lazzaro village.
Staying in an Agriturismo was the icing on the cake. It was the first time I have stayed in one and it will certainly not be the last. A combination of the words for agriculture and tourism in Italian, an agriturismo offers an insight into local life, a rural setting and locally produced food. I was made to feel really welcome by our host family who have worked their small-holding for generations, only recently opening up to tourism with a modest number of rooms which retain its character. As with most Italians the kitchen was clearly the centre of their household as they proudly presented delicious locally produced dishes. The family’s locally made red wine is not so strong and slightly fizzy - which is apparently achieved by bottling on a full moon! Whatever they do, it’s a taste all too easily acquired.
Building an Explore tour
My experiences here inspired me to put together Explore’s Amalfi Coast Walking tour. Each of the day walks on the tour departs from the hotel and offers a different perspective, view and feeling from the day before. The journeys include some boat journeys, including one out to chic Capri island and time cruising along the Amalfi coast. The walks are all relatively easy - just enough to work up a hunger and justify the ice creams! Every day at the end of the walk, after some freetime for a coffee or walk around a historic town, the group will be returned by local bus weaving our way along with the locals.
The new Amalfi Coast Walking tour complements perfectly our other tour in the region the Bay of Naples and Amalfi Coast. This delightful 1 week tour spends time not only on the Amalfi coast, where the gentle walks are all optional but also on the beautiful Sorrento peninsular. From here we visit the incredible city of Pompeii, hike to the summit of Mt Vesuvius and take a boat to the idyllic island of Capri.
The only problem with this region is deciding which tour to do. To experience my favourite place for yourself, join our Bay of Naples and Amalfi Coast tour. The 30th April departure is currently reduced by £80 so book your place before it fills up!