My final day in San Lazzaro (Agerola), I decided not to get the bus anywhere but instead to spend the day exploring hikes around the local area. I started off with San Lazzaro towards Amalfi down the "ancient steps". The views were of course stunning, of course! It was early and misty and not too hot. Obviously I was expecting steps (clue is in the name) but not that the entire walk would be nothing but steps!! I persevered because the views were lovely and I didn't want to give up but my knees did not like so many steps. I made it 5km along before I encountered an overgrown pathway (which I don't like in shorts because I fear tics) so I turned back. I counted on the way back up- 1,882 steps. It was a fantastic workout and I'm glad I did it. It was also eye-opening because before transport existed, these steps were how people travelled between the towns and villages. Steps are essential because the gradient is too steep for a path. It was really interesting to see terraced areas growing fruit & veg and a strange thing like a bobsleigh on a track that I could only imagine was for ferrying luggage to and from hotels and B&Bs on the hillside.
Back in SL, I had a well deserved hours rest at a viewpoint in the town before heading off up another hike up steps (up is easier than down!) only to be again foiled by an overgrown path unfortunately. I didn't mind too much. It was frustrating to do only there-and-back walks rather than loops, but I still had a nice walk anyway. I had planned to do another walk in the afternoon, but I couldn't find the start of it and my feet were hurting so instead I had a gelato sitting in a cafe in the village square. Was thrilled to find vegan gelato in such a tiny place.
On Monday I left Agerola before 7am and got a bus to Castellamare, then a train to Sorrento (Agerola is not the most well-connected place, it took me over 2 hours to do 2 sides of the triangle to get to Sorrento, which is really not very far away, as the crow flies. The bus filled up really quickly with people standing all down the aisle and in the doorways (fuller than a bus would be allowed to be in the uk!) then sailed past large groups of teenagers waiting to get to college for their first day of the new school year, which was today. The next bus after 8 wasn't til 10am. Pretty s*** situation if they regularly miss the first lesson due to overcrowded buses, pretty stupid if the buses on such a popular route are 2 hours apart. I was glad I live in a city with regular public transport. This area is beautiful but few amenities, infrequent buses (no trains), I didn't see any gyms or swimming pools. I could never live in a village I don't think, no matter how peaceful and tranquil. I'd miss amenities too much.
I had around 4 hours in Sorrento, which was more than enough. I saw the main sights and view points, had a gelato, then spent the rest of the time trying to avoid the crowds of tourists. I ended up getting an earlier ferry to Capri as I'd had enough. It was a nice town, had a really laid back vibe, but too many people (as is so often the case). Ha. I seem to write this a lot, "l'enfer, c'est les autres".
I had one full day on Capri, which isn't long enough really but was limited by price- my Very basic single room in somebody's house Airbnb cost £40 per night compared to £25 per night in Naples for an entire apartment and £30 in San Lazzaro for B&B, I don't like Airbnbs generally because it feels too intimate and personal staying in somebody's home, but it was all I could afford here and worth it to see this famous island. I was met by the Airbnb host then escorted by her teenage son to the house. Poor boy! He was very nice but literally legged it as soon as I was shown the room. I reckon his mum makes him escort the guests to practice his English (he is learning it at school) and because it's good for him but he would probably rather be hanging out with his friends. I wasn't given a door key because in Anacapri nobody shuts their windows or locks their doors when they go out, because it's so calm and safe here. How lovely! The facilities were very basic- only two sockets in the room (not enough for all my things that require charging + a bedside light). The shower was sitting in a bath only not standing up. The kitchen was filthy and the appliances dated, the window didn't shut in my room. The boiler looked about 100 years old and was corroded all along one side. But the bed was large and comfortable, the bed linen was clean and I can cope with this for two nights so it was totally fine.
I slept well but awoke at 5am so I was up and out of the house by 7- with only one day here I had to make the most of it. I'd planned an early start as I wanted to see Capri town and suspected that once the tourist crowds arrived it would be vile. As the first two places I'd stayed provided breakfast, I sort of forgot that the last one didn't, which meant no coffee! I don't eat the provided breakfast anyway as I bring my own but I definitely do take advantage of provided free coffee. I managed this morning by drinking 2 peach juice when I awoke (sugar for energy) then getting coffee after I left the house. I'm really glad I was forced to do this as I wouldn't have spent money on it otherwise and drinking espresso standing up in a bar is one of the great experiences of Italy. Also the coffee is delicious so it was a good start to the day.
I wandered through the town of Capri and out along streets lined with million euro villas to do a walk along the coast "passeggiata del pizzolungo", which was breathtakingly beautiful and blessedly devoid of other humans at this early hour. The scenery here is so impressive because of the combination of high craggy cliffs, sparkling turquoise / blue sea, speed boats or yachts with white wakes behind then and landmasses in the distance, whether it's looking back to mainland Italy, over to Ischia and Procida or Mt Vesuvio on the skyline, it makes for really dramatic vistas. After the walk I had to go back through Capri, which was exactly as I'd expected! Once the masses were up and about, the town was thronged with shuffling tourists- my idea of hell.
Back up in Anacapri (less busy), I hiked up to Mt Solaro for more jaw dropping panoramic views. I'd realised that the thing I enjoy most is nature and scenery without other people, so I wanted this to form the bulk of my last day. It was a good challenging hike. I saw lizards and dragon flies and goats with long beards up among the rocks.
Afterwards i aimed for another "belvedere" or viewpoint at Miaglia, which was down a VERY LONG boring road, passing and popping into the tranquil parco filosofico, where philosophical quotes painted onto tiles are scattered amidst a landscaped area.
After this is where it went a bit wrong. I wanted to do some more walks so I headed in what I thought was the right direction for the next viewpoint but it took way longer than I'd expected, I was walking down a main road with buses and scooters thundering past me, it was far more out in the arse end of nowhere than I'd realised, my feet were hurting, I'd run out of water and the path when I came to it didn't look well used. If I had taken the path it would have lead me even further away from civilisation so I reckoned the signs were saying "no". Thankfully I'd passed some bus stops so there was a way out. After 30min sitting on a wall being barked at by badly behaved dogs in the garden opposite, a bus came and dropped me back to Anacapri.
Unfortunately I felt so rubbish that my plan had failed and my day wasn't going to end how I anticipated that I spent €4 on a mediocre gelato then immediately felt worse so spent €1.60 on a bar of chocolate, which didn't help either. Now sitting on a bench trying to pass the last hour til dinner, this isn't how I wanted my holiday to end but I had a lovely morning and things don't always work out how you expect them to and that's ok. Two hours on a Tuesday afternoon does not ruin the previous ten days of awesomeness.
Feeling sad about leaving tomorrow, but I've had such a lovely time here. Ten days is a really good length for a holiday so get away from everything and really explore an area. I love the format of staying in a few different places and obviously I love Italy so I think I've already decided on my next trip!
Next september I might go to Sicilia & Sardinia- one week on each, if flights allow. Or maybe Milan then the lakes. I also want to do Cinque Terre and I'd like to see Turin. So much to choose from, my wonderful favourite country. I had planned to go somewhere different next year but I love Italy so so much. Being here has reignited my passion and I want to learn more Italian over the next year so that when I return I can have proper conversations instead of the pigeon Italian I've been using this time round (some correct words but with a few Spanish & French words thrown in and incorrect tenses / verb endings so people often answer me back in English as they are more fluent in my language than I am in theirs). I need to re-learn all the conjugations, all the tenses and all the vocabulary that has dropped out the back of my mind. I can do this from my notes from last time I studied Italian but I might take a course too, I'm not quite decided. It helps having lessons to make me study but I've got a lot of re-learning to do that costs nothing first. Either way I love Italy and I love Italian and I will be back