8 July 2018

Vegan in Amalfi, Pompeii and Naples

Being vegan in Amalfi, Pompeii and Naples, is very similar to Sorrento and Capri - covered in my last post, the options are pretty similar and the food is delicious. Have a read of what we did, what we ate and my top tips for picking the best restaurants whilst travelling.


You can get to Amalfi from Sorrento via ferry or via coach, the ferry is quicker and probably the most pleasant way to get there, but the last one back is around 4/5pm, so isn't ideal if you'd like to spend a bit more time exploring Amalfi. The ferry also stops at Positano on the way and runs twice a day from Sorrento, we also saw some other boats, which give you two hours in Positano before taking you to Amalfi. The town is just a few minutes from the port and beyond this is thousands of lemon trees, then 3KM uphill from the town is a lovely walk through the woods, via some ruins to a waterfall, with many little waterfalls along the way.

Head straight up through the main square and up the streets and follow the steps up to Valle delle Ferriere, at the top there's a little organic cafe/farm shop with lemonade slush (made with their own lemons), fresh fruit and veg and only biodegradable cups. Another 45 minutes or so uphill from here you'll reach the top of the waterfall - or as far as you can go; you'll see a gated off area with some steps across the waterfall and further up, but as this is part of the national park, it's closed for nature preservation. Our favourite site was about 20 minutes from the top, there was a little building in ruins, which we went into and under a little archway to reveal a stunning waterfall from a little viewpoint. 

The hike was certainly hard work but undoubtedly worth it, it felt almost magical and despite being so hot out, the temperature certainly dropped as we climbed higher. Even if you don't consider yourself super fit, this is 100% worth it, you can turn back at any point, having seen some beautiful sites along the way and get a lemon slush on the way back down. Just make sure that you're wearing comfy shoes and have a bottle of water with you.

We ate at a little restaurant in the town before the hike, the Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino certainly fuelled us for the walk and was super mellow and delicious. Last week I cooked up my favourite meal of the holiday - Spaghetti Aglio Olio Peperoncino e Noci and I'll be sharing the recipe next weekend - if you haven't experienced the magic of this dish yet, you're going to love it!

We got the coach back from Amalfi, which we had to queue to get onto for about 20 minutes (buy a ticket before boarding at the tabacco shop), but Amalfi being the first stop of the journey back to Sorrento via the Amalfi coast, meant we were able to sit down and weren't standing in the crowded aisles. Make sure to sit on the left side of the coach on the way back to Sorrento, for some incredible views out to sea and of the Amalfi coast, including the famous spot in Positano, of all the colourful houses - unfortunately there was advertising graphics on the outside of the window, so whilst we could see pretty well, it wasn't great to take pictures, but we got some great ones from the ferry on the way that morning. Amalfi was truly beautiful and a fantastic day that I would recommend to anyone.


Visiting the ruins of Pompeii is a must if visiting Naples or Sorrento, the train that runs between the two places stops off at Pompei (the village), and the ruins are two minutes from here. You can pay for a tour guide to take you around, but you will still have to pay for entry on top of this and the tours typically only last a couple of hours, so you're likely to miss out on seeing a lot of Pompeii. There's also an entry fee discount for 18-24 year olds, so make sure you have some ID on you if you can make use of this. You can also get a paper guide for free from the information office (just next to the ticket office) and you can also pay for an audio guide. With a lack of paper guides left in English, we downloaded ours onto our phone and used it for about 10 minutes, before opting to just walk around, snap some pictures and look up anything we were interested in later. Even without a guide, it took us a good 4-5 hours to see still only parts of it.

That's the one thing that really took me by surprise, how big the ruins really were. The village was absolutely huge, complete with the ruins of a bakery, shops, houses and theatres. We overheard some of the tour guides giving a bit of history about parts of it and the people who lived there, it was pretty fascinating and also heartbreaking, especially the castings of Pompeii residents.

Off to the side of the ruins, towards one of the exits is one of the best-preserved parts of Pompeii, with what's known as the 'red room', with the wall decoration still intact - you really have to see this and it's even better with a slightly longer exposure on your camera, revealing even more detail than you can see with your eyes.

I really didn't expect to be so fascinated by Pompeii, from the cobbled streets with the ingrained tracks from the carts being pulled over and over to the remnants of the bakery and the mosaic  marble countertop from the once thriving little shop.

Pompeii has also been modernised a little, with a cafe and toilets, so you can spend as long as you wish exploring. The most incredible thing about the cafe is that it had vegan carrot cake, croissants and a sandwich option too, as well as general snacks like crisps, dried fruit etc. We had a late-morning pit-stop and enjoyed the croissants and cake before carrying on, there's also some drinking-water taps to fill up bottles of water with around the ruins, so you don't need to worry too much about food or drink, but we did see some people enjoying a picnic under the shade of some trees.


Naples, the home of pizza Marinara, topped with a simple tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and olive oil, with a perfectly puffed up, bubbly and slightly chewy charred crust. Dating back to around 1875, they say it was made for sailors, due to the easily preservable ingredients.

You can't go to Naples and not try a Marinara (ok, we may have cheated slightly and asked for mushrooms on ours too), I love a good Marinara, but I love mushrooms on my pizza even more. We asked the locals where to get the best pizza and were directed to Via dei Tribunali, a street filled with incredible pizzerias. We passed L'antica Pizzeria Da Michele - the Pizza eaten by Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, but with the long queue outside, decided to pass, for something a little more relaxing.

I'd read online about how dirty Naples can seem, but if you explore further then you'll really just 'get it'. I did enjoy my time in Naples and the pizza was delicious, but I can't say that I 'got' Naples and that I'd want to spend any length of time there, we walked around the city for a good few hours and there was a lot of rubbish around, particularly by the train station and the port, where it had overtaken flowerbeds and paths. Naples made London look sparkly clean in comparison and rubbish really does make a huge impact on how you take in a place. It was a great pit stop for the day before a morning flight, but compared to places like Rome, Pisa, Lake Garda, Lake Como and now Sorrento, it was probably my least favourite place I've visited in Italy. 


How to pick the best restaurants when travelling in Italy: 

With hundreds of restaurants it can be hard to find the right one to eat at, here are a few things we used to help us to pick a restaurant to eat at. It may seem like a lot, but we used these tips as rough guidelines along with a bit of gut instinct and we definitely ate some fantastic food!
  • Eat a few streets away from tourist attractions - They're not just 'given' customers because of their location, so they'll have to ensure their food is top-notch. This is with the exception of Fauno bar in Sorrento, that actually had a delicious vegan menu!
  • Marinara price - You can base the value of the dishes served in the restaurant on the pizza - we found that restaurants with a Marinara around 6€ were pretty typically priced for the regions surrounding Naples and had some fantastic food!
  • Look at the pizza of people already eating - Even if you're not planning on eating pizza, it should be a good indication of the food quality. Whilst there's variation in the crust from region to region, if the pizza crust is pale, with no brown or slightly charred bits, we typically kept on walking.
  • Nowhere with a TV - So maybe this is just a rule for when the world cup is on, but we also avoided restaurants with a TV and went to ones that focused on the food and allowed us to enjoy a lovely meal without distractions from the TV. The one time we didn't see the TV until we sat down, the food was not quite as incredible as in other places. 
  • Atmosphere and decor - Use your gut on this one and go for one that you just feel is right.
  • Ask the locals - Go into a shop and ask the locals where to get the best pizza etc.
  • The menu - The most important thing is that you've had a look at the menu and you like the sound of the food - also look out that it has an authentic menu (no cheese toasties) and it doesn't have any pictures!
  • Service charge - if it doesn't have a service charge and advertises that fact, it's probably designed with tourists in mind, so you may miss out on some of the best food.

The whole trip was rejuvenating, filled with stunning scenery and will forever hold great memories, especially of my birthday celebrated in Italy. It's taught me that I can walk for miles and miles, the importance of simplicity, especially when using such great ingredients and an overwhelming gratefulness for all the opportunities my family have given me to travel, in particular. With my love for food, it's so incredible to experience so many different cuisines, from 21 countries in fact...so if you have any suggestions of where I have to visit next, leave a comment below!

Coming soon....a new recipe for Spaghetti Aglio Olio Peperoncino e Noci, subscribe to receive it straight into your inbox when it's posted!