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Italy Trip Report April-May 2019 Sorrento -Tropea - Naples - Rome

My wife and I departed our home on April 29th and flew to Charlotte to catch our overseas flight to Rome. Flight to Rome was late departing but we made it to Rome and through immigration in time to catch the Fiumicino Express Bus to Naples. Three hour bus trip to Naples was good and our hired car/driver Francesco del Pizzo (RS Book) was waiting to take us to our Airbnb in Sorrento. He took us on a short tour along the coast of Sorrento and we made it to our Airbnb around 4:30. Check in went smooth with the owner and we were off to explore the area and get something to eat. We found Pizzeria da Franco which was a couple of blocks from our apartment. The pizza was excellent. We walked around the area and being pretty tired returned to the apartment to get settled in for the night. Off to Capri tomorrow.

Wednesday May 1st - After a good nights sleep we had a boat reservation with Mondo Guides (RS Book) to go to Capri. We were picked up at 9:00 and taken to Marina Grande to catch the boat. There were 12 people on a very nice and spacious boat. The Captain didn’t speak much English but the First Mate was exceptional providing information about the coast of Sorrento and around the island of Capri. After the very informative boat ride around the island we were dropped off and spent about 4 hours on Capri. We just walked around and ended up just people watching for the last hour before the boat picked us up for ride back to Sorrento. We got back to our apartment at 5:30 and rested a bit before heading out for dinner. We had a nice dinner at Ristorante Leone Rosso which was 2-3 blocks from our apartment. Tomorrow it is off to tour the Amalfi Coast.

Thursday May 2nd - We arranged a private car tour with Monetti Taxi. Our driver - Jon Paul picked us up at 8:30 and we were off to see the beautiful Amalfi Coast. He was very knowledgeable of the areas and provided us with a lot of local information as we drove the coast. Even though it was not the peak summer time, the traffic and crowds were evident. I would not want to be here in the summer months. We spent over an hour exploring Positano. Jon Paul dropped us off in town and it was easy to walk around the beautiful town and beach area. Back on the road we stopped at a ceramic factory to look at the hand painted ceramic pieces. We decided not to stop at Amalfi and instead went on to Ravello as we wanted to spend time at Villa Cimbrone. Jon Paul made lunch reservations for us at Da Salvatore in Ravello with a table overlooking the sea. After lunch on to Villa Cimbrone which has a beautiful garden and breathtaking views of the sea and coast. Ravello is a very nice small town with a piazza and alley ways with stores and eatery’s. Jon Paul picked us up and drove us back to Sorrento. Excellent tour and would use Monetti Taxi again. Off to Pompeii tomorrow.

Friday May 3rd - We took the Circumvesuviana Train to Pompeii and toured the ruins on our own. It is an amazing place. We spent about 3 hours and walked most of the area. Took train back to Sorrento and found an exceptional restaurant for a late lunch. The name is AZZ! It is very small and you can watch the chef make the food. We would go back to eat there again but are leaving Sorrento in the morning.

This will be continued as we are off to Tropea tomorrow.

Posted by
3903 posts

i am loving this trip report. It makes me want to go back to Italy, which I last visited in 2014. I am looking forward to reading more!

Posted by
5147 posts

I will certainly Bookmark this for our spring 2020 trip to the area. It's sounds wonderful!

Did you have any of the bad weather northern Italy was experiencing in April-May? If so, what did you do on-the-less-than-ideal days?

Also-What was the cost of the private drivers you used?

Thanks so much for your very practical information and tips!.

Posted by
1 posts

Great report! We are also taking this trip next Spring and I am very interested in your review of the trip to Tropea as there is little information in most guidebooks south of the Amalfi Coast. We intend to rent a car in Sorrento to drive to Tropea. How are you getting from Sorrento to Tropea? And do you plan to travel back to Rome for return trip or leaving from the south?
Last question (for now), would there have been enough time to see Amalfi as well as Positano and Ravello?

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Response to Pat
The temperatures were unseasonably cool according to the locals. No rain in Sorrento until our departure on May 4th. Fortunately our tours in Sorrento and later in Rome were rain free and the high temps were low to high 60’s. Sometimes it seemed a little chilly but better than 80-90’s in the summer. Overall the weather had little impact on our trip. We are planning another trip for next April and early May. The car hire and driver from Naples to Sorrento was 100 euro and the Amalfi Coast Tour (8-9 hours) was 280 euro. We would use them again.

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Response to paul0721
More to come on Tropea and the rest of our trip.
Yes, we could have visited Amalfi but it was our choice to skip and spend more time in Ravello. There is a lot of ground to cover in 8-9 hours with the traffic and sometimes waiting on big buses to pass.

Posted by
329 posts

By the time we got to Sorrento last week, the temps kicked up. I was hesitant about the boat trip to Capri. We took the Mondo Tour trip. It was worth it. The boat was not too big and not too small (Wspecially compared to the yacht owned by Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner. The yacht was anchored off the back of Capri. He only paid $250 MILLION for it.)

The guides talked us out of the Blue Grotto - due to the apparent two-hour-ish wait to see it.

I could have passed on Capri. We did, in a sense, because we found a lovely place - Margherita - do have a leisurely lunch and then moseyed back to where the boat met us.

The good thing about Mondo tours... You get on the boat in Sorrento - no ferry ride over, no negotiation with guides in Capri. The deal is done before you leave the dock. And you get off in Sorrento... No hanging around Capri waiting to get onto another ferry with hundreds of people.

Oh, and we booked the night before online.

I recommend it.

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Saturday May 4th - Travel day to Naples and Tropea. It rained all day which is okay for a travel day.
We arranged a car transfer (100 euros) to pick us up at 10:00 to go to the Naples train station. Same company that met us in Naples when we arrived from Rome. We got to Naples around 11:00 for our 12:10 train to Lamezia, Italy. The train was a Frecciabianca and was comfortable for our three hour trip. We arrived at 3:15 and took a taxi to the Lamezia Airport to pick up our rental car. Taxi to airport cost 10 euros. We picked up our rental car (Renault Clio Diesel) that we booked for 4 days thru for $124.00. Thought that was a good price. We took off to Tropea which was about an hour and a half drive. Our hotel was in the historic center in Tropea and there is no parking. We made arrangements for parking with a hotel outside the drive restricted area (sister hotel to where we are staying). They arranged to pick us up in a tuk tuk (golf cart type vehicle) and take us to our hotel. We stayed at La Dolce Vita (222 euro/night) which was located on the rock cliffs overlooking the beach and the Santa Maria Monastery. Only 7 rooms and beautiful view of the sea. There are less expensive places but we liked this hotel and splurged a little for our 45 anniversary trip. It was worth it as the hosts and breakfast were exceptional. The rain stopped but was cool and windy. We ventured off to explore and had a nice meal at Ristorante La Villetta. Back to the hotel to settle in for the evening.
Sunday May 5th - We had a great breakfast at the hotel and ventured out to look for parking so we could move the car closer to the hotel. We found a free parking lot about a 15 minute walk from the hotel. It was raining most of the morning. We went and got the car and took a ride exploring the area. It is really a beautiful area with hills that have great views. We got back to Tropea in the early afternoon as some friends (locals that live in Zambrone) were coming to take us to visit Cativo Vaticano a very high area with beautiful views of the sea. On to dinner at Genius Loci which was exceptional. Another day comes to an end.
Monday May 6th - We have no tours for our time in Tropea so we are on our own to explore the area. It was raining again but that didn’t ruin our day. We drove to Pizzo to visit Murat Castello, a castle/fortress. It was raining very hard but we managed to park and get in the castle. Very interesting but not much to see as it was a fortress. We went to the piazza and found a bar for a snack. Pizzo is famous for a gelato treat call Tortufu. We had the one with vanilla gelato and chocolate syrup inside. It was rolled in crushed nuts. Yum! We left Pizzo in the rain and decided to drive on the auto strada to Reggie de Calabria (about 2 hours away). What a beautiful drive as the county side with farm land is amazing. On the way back to Tropea we stayed along the coast and went through several small towns with gorgeous views of the sea. We got back to Tropea and rested a bit before dinner. We ate at Genius Loci again and had another exceptional meal. It was very windy so we went back to our room to rest up for another day of exploring.
Tuesday May 7 - Beautiful sunny and blue sky day, 60 degrees. After another great breakfast off to the town of Zungri high in the mountains to see an archaeological site. It was very interesting as it dated back to the 10th century. Worth the trip to see and the views from the town were amazing. Spent most of day just driving around and exploring the area and back to Tropea to visit the Santa Maria Monastery which was amazing with a garden and views of the sea. Had a great dinner with our friends at Ristorante Pizzeria Forno a Legno. Back to room to pack for our departure tomorrow.
This will be continued as we are off to Naples tomorrow.

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Wednesday May 8th - Travel day to Naples. Weather is nice as we left Tropea at 7:00 headed to Lamezia Airport to return our rental car. When we exited the autostrada we missed the turn off to the airport and ended up on the autostrada headed back to where we came from. It was an error that cost us about 30 minutes We came back and took the correct exit to the airport, filled the car with fuel and made it to the rental office to drop the car in time to get a taxi to the train station (10 euro) which is about 10 minutes away. We made our train (Frecciabianca) at 9:56 to Naples. We arrived in Naples at 1:05 and a driver provided by the hotel met our train and off we were to discover Naples. The ride to the hotel took about 25 minutes and was very interesting. He parked about 2 blocks from the hotel and we walked down crowded side streets and made it to Dante Piazza. Our hotel was located overlooking the piazza. It was a good location with a Metro and bus station at the piazza. We checked in our hotel, The Dante House which was located behind a very large door that opened into a large open area. We walked up two flights of stairs to the entrance and were greeted two young ladies that checked us in to our room and provided us with transportation info to get around Naples. We had tickets to the Capodimonte Museum so off we went but first had a quick sandwich at a nearby bar. After a short bus ride and a short taxi ride (it was not that difficult to get to but we misunderstood the bus stop names) we made it to the Capodimonte Museum. We walked to the entrance and were told they were closed on Wednesday and we could come back tomorrow. I guess I missed that when I bought the tickets as I thought the web site said that they were closed on Tuesday. Anyway, the area around the museum is a beautiful park so we enjoyed that and the view overlooking Naples was excellent. We got on the correct bus and made it back to our room for a rest prior to dinner. We ventured out for dinner and found Ristorante Bellini and had a wonderful meal. We met a couple from our home state and they told us about Castle Elmo which has a great view overlooking Naples. We walked around after dinner and then headed back to our room to get rested for another adventure tomorrow.

Thursday May 9th - After a nice breakfast at the hotel we were off to explore Naples. We decided to get a Metro Pass for the day that included buses and the funicular. We had tickets to the Royal Palace of Naples which was walking distance from our hotel (about a mile). It was an amazing building with lots of relics. Next we headed to the funicular to ride up towards Castle Elmo. We had to walk about a half mile to the castle entrance and it was well worth the effort as the overlooking 360 degree view of Naples was great. Next we stopped at a bar for lunch prior to catching the Metro to the Archeological Museum of Naples for our 2:00 entry time. The museum was amazing with so many ancient sculptures, mosaics frescoes and relics from Pompeii. We took the Metro back to hotel for a short siesta prior to going out for pizza. We had a couple recommendations from the hotel staff so off we went to find that great pizza. The first choice was closed even though their website said they were open. We never found the second choice so we settled for a pizzeria that looked good. It was not very good. After the disappointing pizza we walked around the area and finished the evening with a great gelato. We had a busy day and went back to our room to rest and pack for our travel to Rome tomorrow morning.
Naples is a very interesting place and I am glad we experienced using the buses, metro and the funicular and just waking in the small alleyways as we explored the area.
This will be continued as we travel to Rome tomorrow morning. Rome is our final stop for this trip.

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Friday May 10th - Short travel day to Rome. Up and ready to have a quick breakfast at the hotel before catching the Metro to the train station. Breakfast at the hotel was not ready at their opening time due to prep employees not showing up for work and we did not have a lot of time so we checked out and headed to the Metro. We had ridden the Metro a few times and knew it would be crowded. We squeezed in the subway car with our luggage and off we were to the train station which was about a 30 minute ride. We were familiar with the train station and upon arrival went and had a pastry prior to boarding our train (Frecciarossa) at 10:05 to Rome. A little over an hour later we arrive (11:15) in Rome. The car/driver (40 euro) arranged by the hotel was waiting and off we went to our hotel. Our hotel - Sant Anna Hotel (180 euro/night) was about 10 minutes from the Vatican and located on a pedestrian only street (Borgo Pia). We thought it was a great location as we walked everywhere. The subway station was probably 15 minutes away as we only used it once on our return from the Colosseum. Once we checked into our room, which took about 10 minutes, we went in search for a place to have lunch. We found a small ristorante that did mostly take out of freshly prepared pasta. The name was E.G.G. and we opted for the daily special, taglioni pasta with mushrooms, sausage and parmigiana cheese. It was excellent and we would eat there one more time during our stay in Rome. There were two small tables for eating inside and we watched the chef make our meals. After the meal we were off to St Peters Square for a short visit. There were a lot of people in the square and in that area which we assumed is normal. We started walking away from the square and saw the Castel Sant Angelo which was about 3/4 of a mile from our hotel. The castle was very interesting and had great views of Rome. Next we headed back to our hotel for a rest prior to venturing out for dinner. We decided we would walk towards Piazza Navona (about a mile from hotel) and find a place for dinner. We walked around Piazza Navona and watched the people for a while and then went down a side street and found a place to eat and had a very good pizza. We walked back through the piazza and then back to our hotel after a short visit to St Peters Square. We had a very nice first day in Rome.

Saturday May 11th - Very quiet night and we are well rested for our tour today. We had an excellent breakfast at the hotel. The weather is very nice with comfortable temperatures in the low 60’s. We left the hotel around 9am to go to the meeting place to be picked up for our Palatine Hill and Colosseum Underground Tour with Through Eternity Tours. We made the reservations months ago through the Rome USO. Our tour started at 10:00 and our guide was exceptional. We started at Palatine Hill then the Roman Forum and after a break for lunch to the Colosseum. The tour lasted about 5 hours and we got our moneys worth. We were on our own for transportation back to our hotel so we took the subway. We rested for a while and had reservations for dinner at Arlu Ristorante which was next to our hotel. We sat outside and had an excellent meal. After dinner we walked around the area and stopped for a gelato prior to returning to the hotel to turn in for the night.

This will be continued for the remaining days in Rome.

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Sunday May 12th - No tours scheduled today. The weather is cloudy and a little drizzle of rain. We finished another wonderful breakfast at the hotel and then took off walking to visit several sites. We went to Piazza Navona and using my phone as a map got our bearings to walk to the Pantheon. Fortunately we got there before the Sunday services and were able to walk in and tour this beautiful Church. There is no charge to visit this site. We continued our walking tour to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Even though it was lightly raining on a Sunday morning there were several people at both sites. The rain stopped and we headed for the Borghese Gallery to walk around the park. What a beautiful site and was well worth the effort to get there. We started walking back towards the hotel and walking down from the Borghese park we were overlooking a fairly large piazza. We walked down to the piazza and discovered Piazza del Popolo which was a nice surprise. We left there and headed to our hotel neighborhood to have lunch. We ate at La Panicini Felice and had another great pasta meal. On our way back to our hotel it started pouring rain. We got a little wet but made it back before a strong thunderstorm started. We stayed at the hotel for the rest of the afternoon as the rain continued until early evening. Later we ventured out and walked around our neighborhood before stopping for pizza. After a little more exploring the area we returned to the hotel as we have an early Vatican Tour in the morning. We walked over 11 miles and really enjoyed seeing Rome on a Sunday morning.

Monday May 13th - We we’re up early for our 7am meeting time for the Vatican Tour. Weather was good with sunshine. The meeting point was about a 10 minute walk to the Vatican Museum and our tour actually started around 8am. We arranged this tour through the Rome USO and it was also with Through Eternity Tours. We entered the Vatican Museum and then to the Sistine Chapel and then to St Peter’s Basilica. The tour lasted about four hours and our guide was excellent. After leaving the Basilica we walked through St Peters Square in search for a place to have lunch. We ended up back at E.G.G. Pasta Fresco and had another delicious pasta dish. After lunch we walked around the area and then back to our hotel for a rest. We depart Rome for home tomorrow so we started packing. We made reservations for dinner at Ristorante Tre Pupazzi which was a short walk from our hotel. We had a very good meal and then went back to our hotel to finish packing for our departure tomorrow morning.

Tuesday May 14th - We were up early to get everything organized for our 7:30 departure to the airport. We had enough time for another wonderful breakfast at the hotel and headed outside at 7:20 and our driver was there to take us to the airport. The car and driver were arranged by the hotel and cost 50 euros. Well worth the cost as the driver was very nice and got us to the airport around 8am. Our flight to Charlotte was on time but our flight back to our home was 2 hours late so it was another long day. The customs cluster at Charlotte was horrible and then we had to go back through security which was also backed up. Anyway we made it back home.

We really enjoyed our 45th Anniversary trip to Italy. We did not think that we would get back to Italy as we lived on the island of Sardinia from 1985-1987 and had been to Rome during that time. Our favorite area this trip was the Calabria Region. We plan to return next spring and spend a week exploring the areas around Tropea, a week in Sicily and a week in Rome. The biggest surprise this trip was Rome as we did not expect to enjoy it so much because our last trip 30 plus years ago was not so great. We want to spend more time there to explore more areas and not be tied to specific tours.