I had never seen colors so vivid. The blending of all the primary colors, blue, yellow, green and red, displayed in such a way that they enhanced one another so well. The reflection of the cerulean water, against the pastel yet somehow vibrant houses made for a picturesque setting as I treaded water in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was a moment so full of color that not even a 96 box of Crayola crayons could do it justice. Two weeks ago I traveled to the Amalfi Coast with the mob that is Gonzaga in Florence. While it was not a school sponsored trip, half the program went to Amalfi, half went to Croatia. The Amalfi Coast is roughly 6 hours away from Florence, and is on the south-western coast of Italy. It is a region notorious for their white wine, limoncello, homemade sandals and incredibly blue wafgkfgter. We left Florence at 8pm on Thursday and arrived at our hostel around 2:30. Since my friend Annalise and I booked the trip last-minute, we were unable to be in a hostel with all of our girlfriends, but we were together, so that was just fine. Our roommates were Sarah and Rachel, both were studying in Florence as well. Fun fact, Rachel attends Kansas State University and is studying bakery science, how cool is that!? We settled into the hotel after a quick round of meet and greet and then immediately went to bed to get a solid hours of sleep. Friday we got up and headed out for Capri, an island off the coast. We did a full boat cruise around the island, learning about fun facts and enjoying the incredible views. Our firsts stop was the Blue Grotto, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. It cost 12.50 to go on a boat to get inside and an extra 5 if you want to swim (don’t ask me why). So a max of four people get into a little row-boat, with an Italian dream boat, and head over to the narrow entrance. Everyone in the boat must lay down flat, and with careful timing (because of the tide) the guide pulls you into the grotto. Then he serenades you as he guides you around the grotto. It was an unbelievable moment, that while it only lasted 5 minutes, I can say I went in the Blue Grotto! Afterwards the tour continued: This is the second oldest lighthouse in all of Italy. The biggest champagne producer in France owns that white house in the distance there. And at one of his parties, he filled his entire pool with champagne and strawberries. The house at the top of the hill on the right belongs to the Gerber family. (You know, those people that make all the baby food?) The incredibly scandalous Dolce and Gabanna ad was filmed/photographed near that giant rock off to the left. The arch you see on the right is the arch of love. It is said that you must kiss someone as you pass thru the arch or you will have 7 years of bad sex. All of us girls kissed each other on the cheek, and one of the boat workers kissed me on the cheek ;). Eventually we made it back to the main port in Capri, and then hiked up to the city center. When I say hike I mean hike, we were dripping sweat by the end. After walking around for a few, we took a bus up to the top of the Island to Anacapri, where we got to sample limoncello (hated it) and check out the shops.
From here we were given free time until 5pm. We got lunch for a sweet deal, 7 people, 10 euro each and it included a drink of your choice, an entree and dessert. After lunch we decided to walk back down the mountain via the stairs. If you want you could take a gondola thing up to the very very top of the island to get an incredible view but we decided to save money. To get down the mountain you could also take a taxi (they’re convertibles) or you could take the tram. But we wanted to get some exercise and see some great views. On this little walk I oh so enjoyably learned that Italy has lizards, fast moving gecko-y things. WHICH I HATE. I screamed every time I saw one. After about 45 minutes we made it down to the water to go swimming and hang around town. By 330 I hit a wall, and while everyone was sitting on the pier watching the ships, I curled up and took a little cat nap, to then follow that up with a strong cappuccino.
Saturday we went to the city of Positano for an all day beach day. We had all day to lay on the beach, get lunch from the freshest panino shop in town, shop a little, and then go cave swimming and cliff jumping. It was one of the best days of my studying abroad experience thus far. The whole day felt like a dream I could only dream of having; swimming in the bluest of blue waters with all of my friends, floating effortlessly in the Tyrrhenian Sea. I could not have been more grateful.
That night instead of going out, the group of Zags staying at our hostel all went out to dinner, ironically at the same restaurant as Friday night, and then Annalise, Rachel (our roomie) and I walked around the beautiful city of Sorrento. I honestly cannot describe this city well enough, each time I try it fails to do it justice. The city is the perfect combination of glamour and serenity. While the streets are full of people, there is no overwhelming aspect about it because not only is every so relaxed and happy, but everyone is just so mesmerized. We walked around, Anna and I split some gelato and eventually meandered back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.
Sunday we bused out of Sorrento and headed to the city of Pompeii where we had roughly four hours to walk the grounds, and do a guided tour if we so chose. Since the tour was 20 euro and I was short on cash all weekend, we decided to guide ourselves through Pompeii, sneakishly meandering behind the tour groups.
In all the time that I have and will be abroad, my goal is to find the places that truly take my breath away. To find a place that I feel most at peace, relaxed and more blessed than ever before. The Amalfi Coast did exactly all of those things. So different from any other beach destination I have ever been too, the Amalfi Coast transcended the boundaries of beauty. I can sincerely guarantee, without a doubt, that I will return to this beautiful region at some point later in my life.