top of page
  • Elaine Philbrick

The Amalfi Coast & Rome, Italy


Amalfi Coast Title

Reasons to Go

Rome is the Eternal City of cities, with the highest density of impressive ancient architecture, spectacular churches and incredible history. The Amalfi coast has stupendous views, beautiful weather year-round, and the best preserved ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculeum. All of Italy has warm friendly locals and wonderful food.



Hot Tips

- 01 -

Our group of four agreed that the highlight of our trip was the Amalfi cliff hike along the Path of the Gods with Paolo (Cartotrekking.com). You’ll enjoy jaw-dropping scenery for the entire two-hour hike, and if you’re lucky enough to have Paulo as your guide you will meet one of the most standup guys in Italy as well as the most knowledgeable of the route.


Hiking with jaw-dropping scenery along the Path of the Gods
Hiking with jaw-dropping scenery along the Path of the Gods


- 02 -



One of several wedding shoots along the Appian Way
One of several wedding shoots along the Appian Way

In Rome take an e-bike tour along the legendary Appian Way (topbikerental.com). It will be a welcome change from walking through the seemingly numberless art museums and churches in Rome, and you’ll enjoy the light exercise and taking in the scenery just outside the city walls. The ancient stone road passes through many of the famous highlights of Rome, and you’re likely to find yourself in the background of wedding photos!








- 03 -

For that ideal experience of dining in a bucolic vineyard with a backdrop of Mount Vesuvius you can’t do better than Cantina del Vesuvio. Naples is Italy’s second-largest city and much of its surrounding area is covered in urban sprawl, so this rural spot conveniently located near Pompeii with friendly prompt service and a traditional Italian lunch is justly popular. We were so impressed with the rich sweetness of their red wine vinegar we bought two bottles!


Vineyard lunch next to Mt. Vesuvius at Cantina del Vesuvio
Vineyard lunch next to Mt. Vesuvius at Cantina del Vesuvio


- 04 -


Phil by one of the interactive spaces at the Museum of Light
Museum of Light has fun interactive exhibits!

The Museum of Light which only opened in October 2023 is extremely well done and the best of its kind we’ve ever experienced. You will come away with lots of fun photos and a childlike sense of wonder at its many very clever optical illusions of different types. Not to be missed is the animated short that will delight and surprise you! Every exhibit is interactive and it provides a great break from Rome’s very serious art and history museums.









- 05 -

The Naples Pass is a great deal as it offers free or discounted entrance fees at the top tourist sites and free subway and train transportation to them. It also saves you from having to find a ticket office, try to navigate buying the right ticket, or wait in a line to get them – just swipe and go!




Your Itinerary


FRIDAY

Catch your flight from the U.S. to Naples, Italy.


SATURDAY

Sorbillo's is it - The Best Pizza In The World
Sorbillo's is it - The Best Pizza In The World

Arriving around midday, walk straight out of the airport and a little to the right to wait in the taxi line for the 15-minute trip from the airport to the city center. Have your phone ready to take a video, as you will want to capture the speed and hair-raising near misses of a Naples taxi ride! After checking into your hotel near the historic center to freshen up and drop your bags, immediately walk to the nearby ‘Centro Storico’ neighborhood in search of the best pizza in Italy from the city that claims to have invented pizza. The general consensus for best is Sorbillo’s (“Gino e Toto Sorbillo”) and we can’t disagree -the pizza had a fantastic fresh flavor as it had no salt, oregano, or other spices, but just pure ripe crushed tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and soft fluffy dough lightly grilled in their wood fire oven. Opposite Sorbillo’s is Vico del Fico Purgatorio (Alley of the Fig Tree in Purgatory) and the bust of the opera clown Pulcinella, a symbol of the city of Naples. It’s said that rubbing his nose will bring you good luck, and both Sorbillo’s and Pulcinella are likely to have a line for them. Walking through this oldest part of Naples through cobble-stoned streets with impossibly narrow alleys branching off them you will see many spectacular churches.


Interior view of the Cathedral of Naples
Italy's churches are spectacular (Cathedral of Naples)

Naples has the most churches of any city in the world with over 1,000 - even more than Rome! As you explore you’ll want to walk through Via San Gregorio Armeno, an alley that specializes in nativity figurines. The figurines sold are not in the more famous Fontanini style but are represented as 18th-century Neopolitans wearing actual cloth clothing. It’s a short walk further to go to Via La Pignasecca, the oldest street in Naples and a picturesque market. The largest and most visited church in Naples is the Naples Cathedral (Duomo di Napoli), and it is extremely impressive. Your feet will most likely be tired at this point, so heading to your hotel and having dinner there will be your best option. We recommend the Palazzo Caracciolo Napoli hotel for its location, history (16th-century palace and former home of the King of Naples), excellent restaurant, convenient standard

fee ATM, and cloud-like beds!


SUNDAY

After breakfast at your hotel or nearby café, a short walk will take you to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale which is free with your NaplesPass bought online prior to the trip. Prepare to be impressed – the 2nd floor holds all the best treasures from Pompeii and Herculeum, and they alone are worth the trip to Naples. Incredibly, the bronze and marble statues from Herculeum look brand new despite being from 1 AD, and depict many of the best known “celebrities” from the Roman Empire. Pompeii sustained more damage, so its relics aren’t in as good condition, but the delicate detail of its frescos are still vivid. The infamous erotica found in its houses of prostitution have only been on display since 2000, and you have to be over 18 to enter the “Secret Cabinet” as it’s listed on the museum map. Near the museum is the famous Veiled Christ statue in the Cappella Sansavero (discounted entrance fee with the NaplesPass). Then next door visit the Chiesa di San Domenico Maggiore (free with NaplesPass) completed in 1324 that has sarcophagi of nobles and an exhibit of some of their well-preserved clothes taken from them. There you can visit the former monastic cell of St. Thomas Aquinas, founder of the Dominican order, which was preserved from the time of his death, and which still has the bell he used to ring his students in the 13th century. Also in the church you can still see the Capellone del Crocifisso statue that was said to have miraculously spoken to him. If you have time, you can stop at what is arguably the most beautiful subway station in the world – the Toledo stop on the #1 subway line accessed through the Garibaldi main train station which is only a 1 km walk from the Palazzo Caracciolo hotel.


MONDAY

After breakfast, be ready around 9:00 am for the free car service that will pick you up at your hotel provided by Vesuvius Horseback Riding. You will be driven to their stables about 40 minutes away and they will guide you on a horseback ride up Mount Vesuvius, which is now a national park. It will be a quiet ride through vineyards and climbing up through forested old lava fields of Vesuvius until you reach an open small peak about out 3/4ths to the top of the crater. As you savor the view overlooking modern Naples, think about how Spartacus and his fellow slaves had a similar view when they camped here evading a siege of the Roman Army in 71 BC.


One of many grand gold rooms at Caserta Palace
One of many grand gold rooms at Caserta Palace

After the ride take your previously arranged car service – we recommend Roberto from the stables - to Caserta for lunch, and then tour the spectacular Caserta Palace (free with NaplesCard) which is the largest palace in the world. Caserta is a very tidy and pretty suburb of Naples, and a great restaurant that is popular and even open on Sundays is Antica Hostaria Massa. Reservations are recommended as it is beloved by locals and you’ll understand why with its great décor and atmosphere, especially in its greenery-covered “outdoor” room, paired with excellent food and warm service. Caserta Palace was built to outdo Versailles, and its grand staircase and Baroque rooms are certainly over-the top luxurious. The amount of wealth on display and sheer number of rooms is impressive and even overwhelming. Many Hollywood movies were filmed here including Mission Impossible and two Star Wars movies. To tour the gardens, rent a bike or buy a ticket for a golf cart ride as the grounds are that extensive. For dinner we recommend the rooftop balcony of Parker’s Grand Hotel overlooking the marina on the Bay of Naples and an illuminated castle for a romantic view and to see a different side of Naples.


TUESDAY

A car service is the most efficient and comfortable way to cover this much ground today. We recommend Raffaele Vespoli at www.sorrentocartransfer.com. Your first stop will be Herculeum (free with NaplesCard), the Roman Empire’s best preserved city. Not just complete buildings with roofs but also some of the original wooden doors and furniture were preserved in the muddy ash here. Fair warning: there is no signage and house numbers are repeated often, so you will want to pay for a guide here even with the free map provided and your own guide book. Don’t miss the Antiquarium which you pass before entering the town, as it displays jewelry and other interesting artifacts. A great lunch stop on the way to Pompeii is Cantina del Vesuvio, which is in a vineyard with Vesuvius as a backdrop. It serves a fixed 3-course lunch in a very charming setting, and the lunch is both delicious and prompt. At Pompeii (free with NaplesCard) we recommend a guide also, as it covers an enormous area and you’ll want to make sure to hit the highlights before your feet give out! Expect to spend 1.5 to 2 hours touring each place. You’ll be ready to go to your Sorrento hotel at that point, and we recommend the Hilton Sorrento Palace as it has superb views, several in-house restaurants, modern spacious rooms, is only a few minutes by taxi from the town center, and has the most romantic interconnecting pools.


Delizia al limone - my favorite dessert!
Delizia al limone - my favorite dessert!

For dinner consider one of the hotel restaurants or L’Antica Trattoria with its wonderful atmosphere and great food – their tagliolini pasta with lemon cream sauce, prawns, and lumpfish on creamed spinach is fantastic, and this was my first introduction to my favorite dessert the Delizia al Limone, a local specialty.











WEDNESDAY


Taking a well-deserved break on the Path of the Gods
Taking a well-deserved break on the Path of the Gods

Take your pre-arranged car service that comes with the tour from your hotel for the one hour drive to Agerola and the start of the il Sentiero degli Dei (“Path of the Gods”). We can’t recommend highly enough our guide Paolo at the Cartotrekking Company who is a deeply knowledgeable local, and we consider our morning with him to be the highlight of our trip. With sneakers or hiking boots (and good knees!) the hike is very doable and will take 2 hours. In summer there are over 1,000 people per day doing the hike, but in October you will pass very few people. The hike ends at Nocelle where a local shuttle bus will take you to Positano. A good restaurant with a great view of the Bay of Naples and Positano’s beach below is Ristorante Bruno on Via Cristoforo Colombo. Positano has many tourist shops, but you’ll find better selection and prices in Sorrento. To work off your lunch walk down to its famous black sand beach and take a photo with the iconic view of the cliffside town of Positano behind you. However, you’ll probably agree with us that Positano is best viewed from afar and its reputation is greater than the reality. Take a 20-minute taxi back to Sorrento and go for a swim to recover from hiking slopes all day! For dinner we recommend Ristorante L’Abate which is an upscale but comfortable restaurant on a piazza, which makes for great people-watching. Sitting outside you’ll feel part of the Sorrento scene, and the evening we went they had the perfect DJ playing current and retro popular songs at just the right volume that everyone was enjoying.


We survived the Path of the Gods thanks to Paolo!
We survived the Path of the Gods thanks to Paolo!

THURSDAY

Catch the first ferry you can to Capri (ferryhopper.com) as even by 9:00 am there will be long lines at the Sorrento ferry terminal and even longer lines upon arriving in Capri. At the Capri marina you’ll see signs announcing the boats that go to the Blue Grotto, and immediately buy tickets for a boat that will leave soon. Enjoy breakfast at one of the many cafes lining the marina while you wait for your boat. After your fun boat trip, go to the Marina Grande ticket office that is at the end of the wharf to the right of the white building. Buy tickets for the funicular to avoid 30-minutes of steep stairs and also buy a roundtrip bus ticket to Anacapri if you want to avoid taxi fare. Lines for buses are long and the taxis are long stylish convertibles or golf carts, so highly recommend taking taxis when it’s too far to walk. Upon arriving at the top of the funicular (where there are public bathrooms next to the station), walk straight ahead for a block to the main plaza of Capri (Piazza Umberto/Piazzetta).


Couple posing at the Capri's Garden of Augustus
Everyone's favorite photo spot in Capri's Garden of Augustus

From there it’s a 6-minute walk to the Garden of Augustus, and their €2 tickets can be bought online to avoid waiting (capriculturaeturismo.it) or at the ticket booth there. As you are walking to the Garden, and just behind the church, there is a shop that advertises sandals with your choice of jewels made to order in only 20 minutes! Don’t miss seeing the dramatic Via Krupp with its many hairpin turns down the cliff which is just past the ticket booth, though the best photo op is from the Garden which also has great views of the famous Faraglioni rocks. After touring the Garden walk back down to the Piazzetta and start hiking the most spectacular trail in Capri, the Passeggiata del Pizzolungo, which takes an hour. Take either Via Longano or Via Le Botteghe (the latter has the celebrity-favorite La Capannina restaurant) to reach the crossing with Via Tiberio. From here proceed along Via Matermania until you arrive at the natural arch of Piazzetta dell-Arco Naturale. Have lunch at Le Grottelle restaurant there which has a dramatic setting in a cave on a hillside terrace with sea views. They serve the local specialty, Ravioli de Capresi. On one side of the restaurant is a little track that leads down to the Arch, and just before the restaurant is another steep flight of stairs which leads down to the Grotta di Matermania where pagan rituals were performed. From that cave the path continues along the coast of Capri, passing by the occasional villa and various spurs of rock which provide unique views of the island and sea. The walk concludes at the Punta Tragara viewing point, from where you can take the little path which leads down to the foot of the Faraglioni Stacks. There are two beach clubs near the stacks, each of which has an excellent public restaurant. (Both beach clubs have a shuttle boat service to Marina Piccola.) From that Punta Tragara viewing point, you can quickly reach the Piazzetta walking along the Via Tragara, a romantic pathway lined with elegant villas which leads to Via Camerelle, the island’s famous luxury shopping street. Look for Carthusia I Profumi di Capri that sells Capri’s signature floral scent created in 1380, and La Parisienne clothing store from 1906 which introduced Capri pants in the 1960s and will even make you a made-to-order pair within a day! From the center take a taxi or bus to Anacapri and hop the chairlift (tickets sold at the lift base) to the summit of Monte Solaro and back down. Fair warning: we saw a few people having panic attacks on the lift, so it’s not for those with a fear of heights.


View from Anacapri's Mt. Solaro
View from Anacapri's Mt. Solaro



Beautiful view ruins and skyline
Caesar's view during the life of Jesus

If you have time, take a taxi or walk to Villa Jovis for the dramatic ruins of Emperor Tiberius’s favorite palace from where he ruled the known world during the life of Jesus. Then walk an hour downhill or take another taxi to the Marina to catch your ferry back to Sorrento. As an alternative to the Passeggiata del Pizzolungo walk, a boat tour around the island to learn about the cliffside villas and cruise through the Faraglioni Stacks is very fun. Back at the hotel enjoy a swim for your aching feet, and you’ll probably want to have dinner at one of the several restaurants at your hotel – or even order room service!


FRIDAY


Stunning view of Vesuvius from the Hilton Sorrento breakfast room
Stunning view of Vesuvius from the Hilton Sorrento breakfast room

After the hotel’s free wonderful breakfast spread with a breathtaking view of Mount Vesuvius, walk 15 minutes to the train station and take the train to Naples Central Train Station (Garibaldi), or use a car service for greater speed and comfort. At the station (being alert for pickpockets!) change to the 1.5 hour high speed train to Rome which is only 3 stops away. Upon arrival, walk to your hotel in this central area within walking distance of many key sights. We can highly recommend the DoubleTree Rome Mari which is only a 10 minute walk from the train station, has a great roof top bar with view, restaurants if you’re tired, extremely comfortable rooms, and a towel warmer for drying laundry.




Rooftop bar at the Doubletree Rome Monti
Rooftop bar at the Doubletree Rome Monti

Check in and drop your bags, and then start to explore the Eternal City. Head to the nearby Pantheon and admire this temple that is not only magnificent but is the best preserved. It was built to honor all the Roman/Greek gods and is a church today. Enjoy lunch at either the Minerva Roof Garden, Divinity, or Hey Guey. Then walk 15 minutes to the Spanish Steps and enjoy the beautiful church at the top and the scene by the fountain at its base which always has a crowd. From there it’s a 12-minute walk to the Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome’s Central Park, and while walking look for one of the ubiquitous Bird One e-scooters (Bird-Ride Electric app on App Store for iPhone) to rent and speed you on your way and through the large park. Sadly, the park is not well maintained and in many areas its lawns are more dirt than grass, but it’s still very fun to get a break from the congested city and watch Romans relaxing. Particularly pretty is the ‘larghetto,’ that has rowboats for rent in a heart-shaped pond overlooked by a picturesque Roman temple and lots of decorative waterfowl and turtles. The Borghese Museum in the park is excellent, but be sure to buy tickets in advance as they often sell out (viator or galleriaborghese.beniculturali.it). For dinner we greatly enjoyed La Fata Ignorante which is on a rooftop, has great service, and in particular has the most incredible braised beef cheek that had us all swooning.


SATURDAY

Today you will meet your guide (getyourguide) at 9:30 am for a tour of the Colosseum, including the underground staging area which opened to the public for the first time only after Covid. It’s a must-do and is fascinating and atmospheric. The tour will also include The Forum and the stories of its many buildings

and will take approximately 2.5 – 3 hours in total. In the afternoon use your tickets to the Vatican Museum and its justly famous Sistene Chapel. Be aware that the Vatican Museum is enormous in scale and a tour can take several hours and be somewhat exhausting to complete. If you want to see the entire museum in a reasonable time frame you will need to keep up a steady walk as you view.


Be sure to fit in a stop to view the site of Julius Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March 44 BC  which has only been open to the public since 2023. It’s free and accessible any time of day (or night). Look for the pine tree growing out of a small room by one of the glass walls that marks the spot where he was stabbed 23 times by a group of senators. His heir Caesar Augustus called it a ‘cursed place’ and sealed the site off, and today the ruins are used as a cat sanctuary.


Julius Caesar assassination site
Julius Caesar assassination site

For the full treatment of an upscale Roman dining experience, Ad Hoc Ristorante overlooks Circus maximus and its second floor dining room is a light-filled modern take on a wine cellar. Request the table with seating against the kitchen’s glass wall where you will have a front row seat of the chefs at work. The counter space is shockingly small, and you’ll learn their secrets on how they create their fantastic food presentations. The restaurant generously offers some free small courses and even gifted each guest with a bottle of Ad Hoc olive oil.


View of Ad Hoc's master chefs at work
View of Ad Hoc's master chefs at work

SUNDAY


The Appian Way today is quiet and perfect for bike riding
The Appian Way today is quiet and perfect for bike riding

Take a taxi to Top Bike Rental on Via Labicana and check in, and then grab a coffee and pastry at the bakery across the street. They will provide you with a bottle of water each and an excellent guide along with your comfortable e-bike. The tour will be along the ancient Appian Way, a 2,300-year old smooth stone road that is known as the “Regina Varium,” or Queen of Streets. Standing on the ancient paving stones, you can readily imagine legion after legion marching out to conquer more land for the Empire – and also tragically it was once lined with 6,000 crucified slaves. The first third of the ride is on city streets so is best on a quiet weekend morning, and there are tour stops at the Wall Museum, Catacombe San Callisto, Circus of Emperor Maxentius, Baths of Caracalla, and Aqueduct Park.


Phil and Elaine at Aqueduct Park
Aqueduct Park



The Aqueduct Park was beautiful and impressive. You’ll be biking through a wide green park with the Apennine mountain source visible on one end of the aqueduct and the dome of St. Peter’s on the other side.




A biking stop at Antica (_Ancient_) Way
A biking stop along the even older Antica (_Ancient_) Way





At one point in the park you’ll be riding between two aqueducts and beside the revealed stones of the Antica Way which is even much older than the Appian Way.












Worth a mention is the lunch stop at the truly excellent Pizza Gege which has several locations and has been serving the best pizza in Rome for 30 years. They cut their pizza with scissors(!) and sell it by weight, allowing you to try their many incredibly delicious and unusual toppings for a very reasonable price.


Pizza Gege lets you try a little of everything
Pizza Gege lets you try a little of everything

For your final evening in Rome visit the Trevi Fountain which is absolutely magical at night. You’ll want to join the happy buzzy crowd in sitting and taking in the truly impressive fountain, which creates a really charming and romantic atmosphere with its impressive water display and attractive lighting.


Trevi Fountain at night
Evening crowds at the enchanting Trevi Fountain

For dinner visit the Trastevere neighborhood which by reputation has the best nightlife in Rome. It epitomizes the Rome of narrow streets crowded with restaurants and shops and packed with happy crowds enjoying the evening until all hours. We can recommend Il Duca which is a charming traditional restaurant serving all the favorites a few short blocks from where your taxi or Uber will drop you off beside the Tiber River.


MONDAY

Check out of your hotel and take a taxi (same price as the train) to the Leonardo da Vinci Airport and catch your flight home. The Sophia Loren restaurant at the airport is the best food there and serves promptly so you won’t miss your flight.

49 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comentarios


bottom of page