Ryder-Walker hiking guide Babsi Glanzing said she was dying to visit Capri and the Amalfi Coast. So when the time came to update route descriptions and maps for our self-guided Capri & the Amalfi Coast hiking tour, we knew right where to turn. We bought Babsi a round trip ticket to Italy!
We caught up with Babsi post-trip to see how she enjoyed the hike. She REALLY loved it, and her first impressions are well worth reading. So grab yourself a caffè and settle in. Here’s Babsi’s take on hiking Capri & the Amalfi Coast.
Ryder-Walker: When did you go to Capri and the Amalfi Coast?
Babsi: I was there during the first week of November 2017. Although this is already very late in the season, I got lucky with the weather and it was glorious and not very crowded.
RW: What was your official assignment while you were there?
Babsi: I was supposed to check hikes and hotels to make sure our hiking descriptions are accurate. As always, I tested some restaurants, checked out the areas and alternative hotel options.
RW: Had you ever been to Capri or the Amalfi Coast before?
Babsi: No, this was my very first time. But of course, I had heard about it all my life and I have been dying to visit.
RW: What was your reaction when you first arrived?
Babsi: Naples airport can be a little confusing – welcome to Italy. My flight was delayed by quite some time and it was already getting very dark and I was close to missing the last ferry to Capri. So I rushed to the ferry port, got ripped off by the taxi driver and was kinda in a funky mood. BUT once I hit Capri, my sentiment changed completely. It was quiet and, despite the darkness, simply stunning. All I could make out was this sea of lights in the middle of the ocean. It was really cool! And of course, once I woke up the next day, I thought I landed in paradise!
RW: What are the hiking trails like?
Babsi: I was pleasantly surprised by trails and options. The trek offers a mixture of cultural and real, mountainous hiking. By Italian standards, the trails are very well marked and well traveled. The vistas are mind blowing as you get a real feel for the contrast of ocean/mountains. Especially on Capri, the view across the Gulf of Sorrento, the pristine blue waters, and Mt. Vesuvius in the back left me breathless.
RW: Please tell us about the food.
Babsi: It is Italy at its best! The freshest ingredients one can hope for, the best limoncello I have ever tasted — apparently, what the rest of Italy sells is a cheap knockoff from the real deal they produce along the Amalfi Coast. They take great pride in their lemons and I have to agree with them. The Limoncello was superb! You will find the best seafood, delicious pasta dishes, and on Capri the Insalata Caprese (it originates on Capri) is a must have! The mouthwatering combination of ripe, juicy and sweet tomatoes paired with buffalo mozzarella, fresh olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar is so simple yet so delicious. All in all, the food is simply divine whether you hit a gourmet restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall type of place. Not to mention the cappuccinos and pastries on Capri – to die for!!!!
RW: How are the accommodations?
Babsi: As usual, Ryder Walker hand selected stunning hotels that kept their charm and did not grow too big. I love the architecture and views in all the places. It is a real Mediterranean treat!
RW: What was the most fascinating or interesting aspect of the trip? What surprised you the most?
Babsi: I was mostly fascinated by the clash of old and new world – I visited Pompeii at the end of my trip and I highly recommend a visit to the excavation sites! It is hard to believe how elaborately people lived in this area approximately 2,000 years ago. This part of Italy has really kept its culture alive and people take great pride in it. Also the combination of ocean, mountains, the flora and fauna is very interesting and adds to the charm. The architecture is stunning, and you can tell that the area is very wealthy – the villas are gorgeous and very well kept. I guess I was a little surprised by Naples—It is culturally very interesting and more beautiful than I could ever imagine. Again having Mt. Vesuvius as well as the ocean right there, adds to the beauty. The only downside is that you have to be a little extra careful in Naples because there are tons of pickpockets and unfortunately, I was ripped off by the taxi driver at the airport. So while in Naples, use common sense and just be a little extra alert. After the taxi incident, I was so happy to be with Salvatore, our ground operator/taxi driver. He is the nicest man, so helpful and it is safe to travel with him. You don’t have to worry at all. Salvatore will take great care of you!
RW: How were the locals?
Babsi: Another pleasant surprise! I figuered due the amount of tourists in the area, they would be fed up with visitors. On the contrary – they were incredibly friendly, forthcoming and helpful. I loved them.
RW: Did anybody invite you to go dancing? 🙂
Babsi: I hammered this trek out in three days total so I did not have time to dance. I usually did two of the suggested hikes in one day, so I was knackered by sunset, had a night cap of Limoncello and went to sleep.
RW: This trip has ferry transfers, correct? How easy was it to travel from one village to another by water?
Babsi: Yes, the logistics can be a little challenging. Guests will have to pay attention, but I thought it was all very streamlined and well organized. Most people speak English so asking for directions is not a problem. There are tourist information centers in all towns with super friendly staff.
RW: Do we use any taxi transfers on land?
Babsi: Yes, we have an amazing transfer connection! Salvatore of AmalfiCar is in charge of all taxi transfers on the mainland and I can’t praise him enough. He grew up in Ravello, a small and beautiful town just above Amalfi. He is a real local, knows his way around and is super helpful. He can also help with private guides for Pompeii and the Herculaneum, which is a MUST SEE!
RW: Do you have any advice for people that might want to go hiking in the area? Is there anything they should know in advance or bring along to ensure a successful trip?
Babsi: Simply enjoy! The scenery is divine, the food delicious, the people incredibly friendly. But of course, this is Italy and once on the the trail, you have to be a little more alert than in other parts of the world, i.e. Switzerland. Maps of this area are not that great and although I thought trails are generally well signed, it is not always blatantly obvious where to go. So use common sense, and keep an eye on the general surroundings.
RW: Where do you recommend guests fly into?
Babsi: Naples. It is the easiest and fastest access point. Then you hop on a ferry and you are on Capri and the holiday can begin.
If you want to visit Rome, you can add this destination at the end or beginning of your trek. The train connections between Naples and Rome are superb and it only takes a couple of hours to travel between the two cities.
RW: Are you available if someone wants to hire you for a private guided hike along the Amalfi Coast?
Babsi: Absolutely! I would be delighted to return to this area.
Chris: Lastly, if you were to compare this trip to an Italian ice cream cone, which flavor would it be and why?
Babsi: Limoncello – it is such a unique flavor of this part of Italy. The lemon groves really add to the charm of this area, their smell is divine and they are beautiful. Above all, I was surprised by the taste, it isn’t bitter but subtly sweet.
Photos by Barbara Glanznig