Discover amazing Italy as you tour the ancient villas of Pompei, the romance and fashionable splendor of Capri and Amalfi, the ancient wonder of the Veiled Christ and the busy streets of Procida. This itinerary delves into Italy’s grand past while exploring the intricacies of its modern life.
Sacred and profane, Naples either fascinates or disgusts. Probably both in the same time. The colors, the light, the life and the food are bewitching. The disorganization and confusion much less so but in no other place on the Planet is disarray so fascinating. If you start your visit from Piazza del Plebiscito you might be fooled into searching the Tour Eiffel behind the corner. But a short walk down to the centre and reality will hit you unawares with its complex humanity, a fair of misery and glory that cannot be kept indoors, sweating out of both, hideous dwellings or magnificent palaces. The mishmash of glory and ignorance achieves such heights to hide jewels of incredible beauty even to the eyes of the natives. And statues like the Veiled Christ, probably the most beautiful ever created, are so well hidden to give you also the joy of discovery added to the shock of love at first sight with a marble miracle.
A bright morning and a walk around Piazza del Plebiscito after a gorgeous breakfast, then down to the port where a quick hydrofoil takes our guest aboard our sailboat, their home for the next days, moored in the fascinating Procida. Meet the skipper, have a drink and stroll around the tiny alleys of the island, the less touristic but most fascinating of the archipelago. Don’t be surprised to wonder in which continent you ended up in: you have European style, African sounds and Levantine colors. Italy will appear every time the bell tolls calling the natives to church, which happens to be full around here. Aperitivo aboard and dinner right by the water of the fishing haven of Corricella.
Join the cook after breakfast while he gets the fresh fish in the old harbor, then away with the land and sail towards Ventotene, but not before a lunch and a swim under the Aragorn Castle of Ischia. All of these islands were the private retreats of Roman emperors and senators, and Ventotene boasts the original Roman port, carved out of the local red stone. It’s a place for the few, for friends, intimate and romantic, with a splendid beach, barely a small hotel and a handful of restaurants. There are no roads, no buses, no tourists… just peace. All the waters around the island are pristine Wildlife refuge and you might indulge in a dive with the locals. The perfume of the island is wild fennel, present in some of the fish dishes and local sausages.
Apart from the mandatory village with romantic alleys and a long series of impressive white cliffs, and the ‘standard’ long lineage of british celebrities who fell in love with the island in days gone by, Ponza is the island of Chiaia di Luna, possibly the most beautiful beach in the Mediterranean, certainly in the best five. And you can only visit this beach from a boat. Al fresco sunset dinner with a view, seasoned by fresh swordfish and clams. If you never slept in a boat anchored in the middle of a huge swimming pool, this is your best chance. It means silence during the night, waking up at the smell of fresh coffee, and a distance to the water that cannot be shorter in any normal hotel.
Only five miles west of Ponza lies the incredible island of Palmarola, a marine park of rare beauty, basically a blade of white rock surrounded by green and blue swimming pools. Choose your private one and indulge in long swims. Get lost among the numberless caves, pinnacles, secluded beaches, rock walls, tiny coves and just rest to enjoy a glass of white wine. This is indeed a perfect place to enjoy the wide variety of the local whites like Greco di Tufo, Coda di Volpe and Falanghina, all designed to balance the aroma of fresh buffalo milk mozzarella. Evening sail towards Ventotene.
From the empire days of emperor Augustus to the stylish age of Jack Lemmon, this blue island of light has never ceased to charm even the most demanding taste. Nature in perfect combination with high life, Capri has it all, the wonderful Faraglioni and the Quisisana bar, and villas of any age and style, from Augustus private palace to the most classic downtown mansion. We can either join the party staying in the harbor or escape the rush after the aperitivo and dine on the boat just in front of the Faraglioni.
The Amalfi Coast certainly deserves its fame, but charme goes away quickly if you want to move around the area. Ghastly roads and pure italian disorganization are hard to stomach, so you will certainly love to move between Amalfi, Positano and the various beaches with your own private boat. Forget crammed buses, expensive taxis and long waits in restaurants. All your luggage is in your cabin and the chef is cooking your dinner while you walk among the local trendy shops and bars with the only load of your camera. Certainly this area is full of excellent restaurants but we suggest to enjoy those of the smaller islands (Procida and Ventotene) and then splurge in Massa Lubrense, rather than being skinned alive in Capri and Positano where our chef can easily match the best joint ashore.
Pompei and the northern coast – Massa Lubrense and Vico Equense
The cruise follows the Amalfi coast and reaches Sorrento or Castellammare di Stabia in time for a visit to the ruins of Pompei that needs no introduction. Lesser known are the culinary marvels of the area, far enough from the classic tourist routes. If you are seriously into Michelin stars, choose between Don Alfonso and Torre del Saracino. The visit of Castellammare and Don Alfonso in the same day can be really intriguing: a true fishing harbor where fishmongers still shout and their voice ricochets between tiny alleys and kids play bare feet under drying laundry, and the distilled luxury of the best restaurant in the south of Italy where the same ingredients and traditions of those streets are brought to perfection.