Day trips to Capri, Pompeii and Naples
Guests of Feast on History's tours often come early and stay after our 8 days together to explore other sites in Campania. While we focus on truly local experiences that are enabled by our close relationships in the area, here is a guide to the other must-see sites in this rich region.
Guests leaving Borgo La Pietraia may take the ferry from Salerno (the Zaha Hadid terminal at the Molo Manfredi dock) to Capri. The island has inspired writers since Homer who places the mythical Sirens in the sea between Capri and Naples in "The Odyssey." Norman Douglas, Pablo Neruda Graham Greene, Shirley Hazard have all written prolifically from and about Capri.
Ferries arrive at the Marina Grande. From there you may take the funicular up to the town of Capri where you will find elegant restaurants, designer boutiques and 5-star hotels. (This is the part of Capri for celebrities and billionaires.)
I recommend taking one of the Capri busses to Anacapri, a distinctly more quiet and low key town above the rest of the island. In high season there will still be a lot of tourists, but it's possible to wander the labyrinthine alleys and find yourself around true locals. It's a romantic dream-come-true in the off-season.
Make sure to visit the Villa San Michele. Built by Dr. Axel Munthe from the ruins of the Tiberian villa, the views are among the very best on the island. Be sure to pick-up a copy of "The Story of San Michele", the doctors stirring memoir of building the villa in the early 1900s which captures a beautiful, now lost era on the island.
Now is one of the best times in history to visit Pompeii. Many of the villas have been newly restored and cleaning and study of the Villa of the Mysteries has revealed new insights. Pompeii is absolutely worth visiting, but it requires at least a full day and lots of walking as the site is truly enormous. If you are looking for a smaller, more concise experience visit the Villa Oplonti in Torre Annunziata. Once a seaside villa just outside the metropolis of Pompeii, the villa has relatively few tourists. Click here to read my guide about how to visit the Villa Oplonti.
After a week in the Cilento countryside, you may be ready for a more high energy visit to Naples. The city can be frenetic, but it is unlike any other city in Italy and holds many must-see sites including the Naples National Archaeological Museum and it's "secret cabinet."
Book a room in the elegant Chiaia district near Piazza dei Martiri and the Lungomare where you can enjoy a seaside passeggiata nightly. If you want to go far off the tourist grid, stay in the Vomero neighborhood, accessible by funicular from Piazza Amadeo. The combination of 19th century architecture and rich tropical vegetation makes it feel like a combination of Montmartre and Miami. Fans of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet will gain a new understanding from a Ferrante inspired tour of Naples.
Other sites to see include the Capodimonte Museum which has as many treasures as the Uffizi in Florence but with a fraction of the tourists, the majolica cloister of Santa Chiara and the Castel Nuovo also called Maschio Angoino which was once a medieval fortress.
Also near the Castel Nuovo is the port where you can get ferries for those who would like to make a day trip to Capri. Pompeii day trips from Naples depart from Napoli Centrale station on the Circumvesuviana line.