The drive down the Italian coast from Rome is a mixed bag.
After a scattering of fairly dull seaside places, we eventually got to Anzio where the allies landed in 1944. It is a fairly unmemorable town but there is the haunting Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial there which we visited.
It is also the jumping off point if you want to go to the glitz and glamor of Rome’s chic island, Ponza.
This is the Martha’s Vineyard of the Roman World. Ponza is one of six islands in an archipelago that sits a short distance from the Italian mainland. We carried on our journey and the landscape brightened up quite a bit.
We eventually ran into a lovely town called Sperlonga only about one hour outside of Rome. Sperlonga is probably the nicest, closest resort to Rome. There are lots of stabilimenti, beachside restaurants and cafes, and the climb up to the top of the town is lovely. It may not be a Greek village like Symi but after all, you are only an hour away from Rome.
We were halfway to Naples and after a delightful spaghetti alle vongole everything went downhill fast. Trash started to pop up everywhere. The trash collection services in most of these southern coastal towns gave up long ago. We were in Mafia country now. There are 4,000 deaths every year around this part of the world.
It’s like the Wild West – row upon row of crumbling tenement buildings and Vesuvius sticking out with its ominous cone top rumbling.
The traffic was starting to build up as we moved into Naples proper and we had some time to get off and head into the center. Many people get nervous about Naples but I actually love it. It has great restaurants, beautiful architecture, and with its location facing the island of Ischia and only 45 minutes’ drive from Sorrento, it becomes a tempting place to stay. However, you have to be careful and mindful of all of the usual city stuff in the evening. We were moving on pretty quickly and picked up the small road that takes you literally through the Bay of Naples and into the town of Sorrento. We were nearly there.