I booked a cheap flight from Lisbon to Rome on a whim. I was at the tail end of a three-month rail journey through France, Spain, and Portugal, but a quick €20 flip across the Mediterranean to Italy was too good to refuse.
A few days later I was walking the streets of the movie set that is the Italian capital, in awe of the living history around every corner. But Rome, it turns out, is just a short train ride away from Naples. And Naples, it turns out, is the gateway to Pompeii, and temptingly close to perhaps Italy’s most revered destination — the Amalfi Coast.
I glanced around the empty gardens; it was a risk I was willing to take. I scaled the spiked gate as quickly as I could and made my way down the abandoned hairpin pathway towards the lapping waters. At the bottom, I watched a dramatic sunset without another person in sight. I couldn’t have wished for a better way to end a whirlwind trip along this idyllic stretch of the Italian coastline.