Trip Report, Best of South Italy Tour, April/May 2022
- The Blue Grotto/Island of Capri
- The Water Buffalo Mozzarella Farm visit/lunch
- The town of Matera
- The hotel in Matera (Locanda di San Martino)
- The view from our hotel in Vieste
- Farewell Dinner in Naples
- Sorrento Family Dinner
- Gelato: Come il Latte (Rome), David (Sorrento), Casa Infante (Naples)
- Riding scooters and bikes in Rome (not a tour activity!)
- Pizza al taglio
We arrived in Rome 2 days before the start of the tour. At the end of the tour, we stayed in Naples 2 extra days before returning home. This was our 3rd Rick Steves tour (Best of Italy and Best of Sicily were the others) and this time I wanted some extra time both before and after the tour. It was nice to have a couple of days to get over jet lag at the beginning. I think if I were to plan this again, I would plan only one extra day in Naples at the end of the tour.
The hotels in Rome and Naples are fine. Locations were good, and they were comfortable. These are typical Rick Steves hotels. They didn’t stand out, but there were no problems.
The hotels in Vieste and Matera were great. The hotel in Vieste seems to have great views from every room (at least, all our tour mates raved about their views). The hotel in Matera, though only 3 stars, feels more like a 5 star hotel to me: very nice. Some tour mates didn’t like that hotel since no A/C (the hotels cannot turn it on before May 1/May 15? Not sure if that’s just an excuse.) but I thought this was the nicest hotel on a Rick Steves tour - and I fully expect, as Matera becomes more well known, it to be priced out of the Rick Steves tours; but wow, I liked it. This hotel is built into the caves and they did a really nice job of it.
The hotels on the Amalfi Coast (Maiori) and Sorrento were my least favorite. The hotel in Maiori is new to Rick Steves and it felt a bit odd to me (they hadn’t quite finished construction in the part of the hotel where we stayed), and the rooms were not quite so nice in those places. Nothing bad, just not as nice (IMO) as the other hotels on the tour. I’m not complaining - just saying that these hotels were fine, just not special. We did have a balcony in Sorrento, not much of a view but it was nice to sit out there and have a beer one evening.
I guess the tours used to stay in Amalfi town (Edit: I think they used to stay in Positano, not Amalfi) but that’s either too crowded or too expensive and so they moved to Maiori, which was an “ok” town. I would say that the day off while on the Amalfi coast was probably our weakest day on the tour; we took the boat to Amalfi, and then the bus to Ravello, and we walked the “lemon trail”, but we just didn’t have that much to see, or we didn’t know where to go when there. I’m not sure why this tour gives you two days off on your own; the day off while in Sorrento was great since it gave us a chance to visit Capri. I wondered if maybe there isn’t that much for the tour to do on the Amalfi coast, so they just give you a day off. I do not remember having 2 days off on either of our previous tours.
You probably noticed that many of my “favorites” are related to meals and/or gelato. Food is a reason to go to Italy, and there were many food “wow” moments on this trip. I especially like the group meals where there are a number of different things to try, but even the restaurant meal at the end of the trip (the farewell dinner) was spectacular, and partially because all of the courses were surprises to me: none were things I might eat on my own, but I liked each one.