Italy - South← Back to all destinations
“See Naples and Die” is more apposite now than ever. With manic traffic and a culture of total disregard for rules and regulations, just crossing the street in this fascinating city is as close to tempting the Grim Reaper as most of us will ever want.
A city of extraordinary contrasts, Naples never fails to surprise. On the Piazza Garibaldi you can buy roasted pig’s organ on a stick, served with a wedge of lemon, watch the eight year old scugnizzi, the street urchins, smoking contraband Marlboro’s whilst tossing firecrackers into the traffic and even get your pocket picked - but with typical Neapolitan panache.
This maniacal, anarchic city is as compulsive as it is unconventional but in complete contrast are the lovely islands of Capri, Iscia and, further south, some completely breathtaking treats – the hidden ancient city of Pæstum and the charming undiscovered Cilento coast. As a cruise of contrasts goes, it doesn’t get much better than this!
It is said that you have not seen Italy nor discovered the Mediterranean until you have visited Naples – a city that will win your heart whilst deranging your senses. Worth leaving the jewellery and Rolexes behind and venturing forth to sample the incomparable setting and unique insight into humanity that even a short wander around the streets will divulge. The cacophony of horns, buzzing of Vespas and the conversations conducted at a shout are ample reminder of why the Northern Italians roll their eyes and gesticulate when the “problem child of the South” is mentioned. As a complete contrast the noise fades as the yacht sails from the port to the island of Ischia for the night.
Guests awake at anchor off the stupendously pretty little town of Forio on the west coast. This delightful place with its small artists colony with a gallery in the C14th Torrione tower, merits a walk around the narrow streets. In total contrast the glitzy Giardini di Poseidon are a complex of fashionable pools and gardens whilst behind the town is the gem of the island, Sir William Walton’s beautiful garden of La Mortella. Heading south and west, San Angelo is a charming fishing port with the stump of the Torre St Angelo reaching out into the sea. Completing the circumnavigation of the island the yacht anchors on the unspoilt scented islet of Procida. This tiny island produces the finest lemons in Italy and an evening ashore sampling the divine granita is a treat. The yacht anchors in the roads off the charming fishing village of Corricella.
This morning it is a leisurely steam over breakfast to the Pontine islands of which Ponza is thought to be Aeaea in Homer’s Odyssey. Enroute the Captain calls in at the islet of Ventoténe where the emperor Augustus banished his daughter Julia in 2 BC for “excessive adultery”; this delightful little port has been the scene of many exiles and banishments over the centuries. Ponza is less than a two hour steam to the northwest and a lovely spot for a lunch ashore of the local speciality cacciatore. In the afternoon the yacht visits Isola Zannone, an uninhabited nature reserve for a gentle walk around its half a square kilometre area. Ten miles to the west is the island of Palmarola which although uninhabited, in the season a couple of bars spring up at Cala del Porto - a wonderfully remote place for an aperitif before dinner at anchor in the middle of the Tyrrhenian sea.
In the early hours the yacht slips out of Palmarola for the isle of Capri, a five hour steam. Arriving in time for breakfast, the island is bathed in a sparkling early morning light, underlying its claim to be the most beautiful island in the Mediterranean with eight hundred species of plants cascading over this chunk of limestone. Best visited out of season – its popularity emphasised by the word “trash” on the waste bins being in thirty different languages, Capri is a mecca for tourists the world over and worth a visit if only as a contrast to the wonderfully unspoilt places yet to come. Leaving the overdeveloped world of tourism behind, the yacht heads south in the afternoon for the undiscovered gem of this cruise, the Cilento coast.
Overnighting at a stunning bay in the lee of a small rocky island, the next morning the tenders take guests ashore to visit the extraordinary ruins of Paestum. This Greek city with still standing temples and basilicas was abandoned in the C9th and engulfed by the forest until discovered by Charles III’s road builders in a state of almost perfect preservation. This extraordinary site is inexplicably little-visited and a fabulous discovery. Heading south to Palinuro over lunch the yacht arrives in the afternoon in time to visit the spectacular grottos carved out of the limestone by the sea. The yacht drops anchor in this delightful small town.
An early start to steam north to the legendary Amalfi coast which until quite recently was inaccessible other than by boat; the road now snakes along what is dubbed the most beautiful coast in the Mediterranean, seemingly glued to the cliff face. This stunning vertical landscape, a mix of sharp crags and deep green forest has spawned three of the most beautiful Italian towns, Amalfi, Ravello and Positano. Positano appears to cling to the cliff edges and is worth exploring its vertical streets – terrific exercise for the legs. Next along is Amalfi and its Cloister of Paradise, a charming whitewashed quadrangle of interlinking arches with a distinctly African feel. Overnight off the coast nearby overlooked by the cliff-top town of Ravello which guests can explore by taxi in the morning
Ravello has a priceless location with stunning views over the Amalfi coast and long associations with artists and the English. One of its gems is the wonderful gardens of the Villa Cimbrone, laid out by Lord Grimthorpe who was responsible for the design of the Westminster tower that holds Big Ben. From here it is a delightful half hour’s walk to Scala, an extraordinary contrast to the bustle of the resorts; the smallest and oldest of the Amalfi towns it is a place of therapeutic peace and calm. In the late afternoon the yacht heads back around the Campania headland for Sorrento, with a charming location looking north over Naples and Mount Vesuvius for the final night of the cruise in its delightful old port.
It is barely a dozen miles to steam in the morning to take guests across the Bay of Naples prior to disembarking in the yacht port.
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