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Mother/Adult Daughter Italy Trip, Aug/Sept. 2022

Back in 2019, I asked our oldest adult daughter if she would like to take a trip to Europe with me in 2020. She excitedly
said “Yes!”, and I gave her the option to pick the country. She quickly decided on Italy, and we had wonderful conversations thinking about what she might like to see & do, and on the flipside, what wasn’t a priority to her. From those discussions I came up with nine different itineraries for her to select her favorite.

As we all know, 2020 didn’t happen, and I wouldn’t take her in 2021 because I didn’t want her first experience in Europe to feel like a Covid requirements recovery tour. So, this trip had been long anticipated! I voluntarily self-quarantined myself for a couple of weeks in August to avoid any possible illness, etc. that might halt her dream of finally going to Europe.

Preparation: She wanted to learn the methods how I travel, so we discussed packing light, the critical money belt (Rome Metro story included below!), speaking the local language, train travel, my criteria for selecting lodging, etc. I still did most of the research since I am retired.

We stayed in 6 cities in 15 nights with four day-trips. This was my 7th time to Italy, and my daughter’s first. Our locations were Venice, Ferrara (day trip to Ravenna), Florence, Salerno (day trip to Paestum), Amalfi (day trips to Positano & Ravello) & Rome.

I paid for our hotels; otherwise, we split everything else equally. For the 15-day trip, my expenses were $3660, and $1030 for my daughter, plus our airfare & trip insurance. These expenses included staying in nicer Italian-style hotels, B&B’s or small apartments in the center of the historic districts, riding the trains & ferries – just an occasional taxi, a variety of activities & meals, plus having the best gelato & tiramisu - yum! Thank you to the person who recommended the Splitwise app. It worked so well to just enter amounts at the end of the day, and the entries helped me remember some of our fun restaurants afterwards.

Advice – whenever I made a timed reservation, I always picked the first option of the day. This repeatedly gave us better experiences – sometimes unbelievably better!

Venice – 3 nights: Ahh, the magic of Venice….and she felt it, too! We took the handy Aliguna boat (10-minute wait) to the Santa Maria Giglio vaporetto stop to stay at Hotel Ala – my third time at that hotel. We checked in and immediately went out to explore the wonderful maze of Venice! What, we ended up at Suso Gelato? : ) During our three days, we participated in the Clock Tower tour, took a ferry from San Marco to Burano for colorful photos, visited St. Mark’s with the earliest timed entry (almost empty!), ate wonderful seafood and we ended our time in Venice sitting outdoors in the piazza at the Florian and enjoying the music & ambiance of Venice. (That unmistakable magic - she got teary a few times even mentioning Venice afterwards.)

Ferrara – 2 nights: I wanted her to experience at least one less touristy location in northern Italy, so we went to Ferrara. We had a large room in the very nice Maxxim Hotel, near the Jewish ghetto. Their breakfast area has an indoor and garden area.
After a local piadina lunch at Farina del Mio Sacco, we walked out to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Ferrara which contains many interesting artifacts from the Etruscan city of Spina – 3rd Century BC. Since we also went to Ravenna, we ran out of time to rent bikes in Ferrara, but we enjoyed going through Castelle Estense – especially the dungeon, and we had our best meal of our trip in Ferrara! I just looked up the name of the restaurant – Trattoria da Noemi, and now my mouth is watering – wow!

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Day-trip to Ravenna: We took the 8:27am train to arrive before 10am and be one of the first in the timed reservations for the gorgeous mosaics. Imagine gazing up at the spectacular mosaics in San Vitale, and this time it’s almost empty, quiet & peaceful! The rest were the normal level of activity. Even with a little sporadic rain, we thoroughly enjoyed our morning & early afternoon in Ravenna.

Florence – 2 nights: I booked a fantastic location for us at Relais Piazza Signora. Our room had the view of the outdoor statue of David and beautiful sunrises over the piazza. It also was extremely handy to be at the Uffizi Gallery for our timed entry. I typically prefer to visit art galleries in smaller cities because they’re usually almost empty, and the art can be enjoyed as intended. I will admit I wasn’t looking forward to clambering with the crowd with their selfie shots at the Uffizi, but our daughter needed the chance to see it. Imagine the joy of discovering that we were so early that no one was in most of the rooms, and we really could gaze at these priceless works of art with no interruptions or noise! It wasn’t until we circled back as we finished to see the Venus we somehow missed that we met the wave of people coming down the hall. Two other activities that we definitely recommend were a city bike tour with “I Bike Florence – Original City Bike Tour” and a cooking class, “Pasta Class Florence, The Art of Pasta – Authentic Recipes”. I have been to Florence a couple of times. The bike tour took us to some of the places I hadn’t seen previously, and it was an overall fun experience for both of us. We saw so much during the three hours! Our guide, Martina, was excellent with lots of info, too. The pasta class was excellent! Our chef taught us how to make three different filled pastas and three widths of straight pasta. He offered me a job after seeing my rectangle of pasta dough & shapes. Hmmm! ; ) (Probably from my experience of making lots of croissants after a class in Paris.) His sauces were wonderful – some new excitement added to traditional recipes. We will definitely be making these recipes at home! Two places across the Ponte Vecchio bridge to recommend: I found my favorite Florence gelato shop again – Gelato Mancuso on Via Guicciardini, the main street up from the bridge. Also, we ate dinner at Trattoria Vasari – same street, closer to the bridge. The staff there were very nice, and we liked the meals and the desserts.

Salerno – 2 nights: When I shared our experience of Salerno with my husband during a FaceTime call, he remarked, “You know, you’re having the Back Door experience that Rick Steves intended when he began his tours.” I do like to gravitate towards the lesser traveled routes, so Salerno was more appealing to me than Sorrento. Also, I really wanted to see Paestum after finding it during on-line research. I highly recommend Casa Santangelo, the former summer home of marquis Santangelo from Naples. I booked the family suite, so we could stretch out a bit at this location. Our two-room suite was perfect for our daughter to see the grand elegant past (my room is on their website - spectacular original gold walls & painted ceiling of pre-eruption Pompeii!) Our host commented that we chose wisely to be able to experience “authentic South Italy”, not just “tourist South Italy” on the Amalfi Coast. We walked down to the boardwalk and caught the end of a windsurfing competition in the bay, meandered along the old town lanes and dressed up for the Saturday night passeggiata that didn’t disappoint! Our last evening, we had reservations at the Osteria dei Mercanti restaurant in the old center and enjoyed both the food and the family running the restaurant. The owner told us a couple of times to be sure to go up to Ravello.

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Day-trip to Paestum: An easy 30-minute train ride from Salerno, and we were walking the well-marked lane to the Greek ruins of Paestum. What an amazing experience – first seeing these 500 BC temples in such great shape, and then being able to walk up to them & even climb up inside the Neptune Temple! They are mammoth in size and some of the best preserved in the world. As you would expect by now, we arrived when they were opening and enjoyed a leisurely lunch afterwards of the local Buffalo mozzarella topping a fresh salad and an appetizer charcuterie of Buffalo blue cheese, etc. – delicious!

Amalfi – 3 nights: We took the ferry from Salerno over to Amalfi. Amalfi surprised us. We were expecting cuteness and a lot of lanes, but it was mostly one main road up through the town. Unfortunately, it made for a very crowded main street beyond the piazza which included impatient cars & motorcycles vying for space, trying to get up the steep hill. Pedestrians don’t have the right-of-way here! We enjoyed restaurants further up the hill – one with a network of lemon trees as the shade cover – lovely! And we had the best pizza of our trip at one of the piazza restaurants, enjoying the evening view. We took the ferry over to Positano our second day and the bus up to Ravello for our third day. Our efficient apartment in Amalfi, Arco della Rua, was nicely located over a formal restaurant, just past the archway over the main street. The furnishings were nice, including fun bathroom tile choices.

Day-trip to Positano: We took the ferry over to Positano to enjoy wandering the town for a few hours. We preferred the layout of Positano, and there were nice shops and viewpoints. A pair of earrings came home with me for my souvenir!

Day-trip to Ravello: What a special day! We took an early bus up to Ravello and relaxed with our normal breakfast routine of espresso & a croissant crema in the quaint piazza, waiting for the gardens to open. As we lingered there, a truck drove over to the church with some beautiful bouquets of flowers, soon followed by a hearse with an extravagant flower-topped casket. We watched as the family gathered, and they respectfully waited until the service would begin. A moment to observe from a distance the reality of their daily life in this small village was touching. (We also saw several brides & grooms throughout the two weeks.) Since we were the first two people going into the Villa Rufolo gardens, we were able to enjoy those spectacular views & gardens privately. After enjoying all of it, we lingered at a bench for twenty minutes in the shade, overlooking the iconic dual spired building below us and the water far below. It was one of those snapshot-in-time mental pictures to enjoy. The Rufolo viewpoint was also set up with a stage for their recent annual music festival. I may be back!

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Rome – 3 nights: I switched our hotel a few days ahead over to Hotel Manfredi Suite near the Spanish Steps. The first hotel was close to the train station, but I read a recent post and wanted a safer neighborhood to walk in the evening. This hotel upgraded us to a nicely furnished room, and the breakfast was excellent. It is just two blocks from the Spagna Metro stop, near the Borghese Park. We did all of the normal tourist sites for a first-time to Rome, except we didn’t go to the Vatican. Instead, we stopped into any nearby open church as we were exploring, and we went through the beautiful San Giovanni di Laterano Basilica our second day.

During our last metro ride in Rome, our daughter learned why those clunky money belts are so valuable! Instead of a major issue of stolen credit cards, money or her passport, she now has an extra “travel story” to share. A girl was trying to prevent us from getting beyond the opening space of the metro door without first being robbed. She had my daughter’s purse zipper half open in the tight space, but there was nothing of value to her inside. Another woman started yelling at the pick pocketer, so she exited the metro car at the next stop.

I really enjoy food tours and have always recommended them for a chance to try several local foods & hear interesting stories of the area. Here’s one I do not recommend: “Rome Trastevere Food Tour – Do Eat Better Experience”. The guide barely shared any info walking us in circles and as a finale, she started walking away with gelato in hand without even giving us directions of how to get back to our meeting spot! I had to call out to her to find out which direction we should walk. The highlight was a great carbonara and white wine at a restaurant and a sample at a generational cheese shop; otherwise, it wasn’t memorable.

On the other hand, if you like food experiences and also tiramisu, be sure to stop into Mr. 100 Tiramisu near the Pantheon! The place is full of atmosphere, and good luck trying to decide which tiramisu to order from the huge list on the wall! We opted for the sample tray of three, selecting: a pistachio cream & crunchy coconut; a pumpkin with ginger & chocolate shavings; an intense dark, sour cherry with chocolate – all wonderful!

We slept later our last day in Rome, and our feet were still exhausted! For fun, we changed our method of transportation. We walked over to the nearby Borghese Park and rented a 2-seater covered “bike cart” from Bici Pincio for an hour. It was so fun to bike around the huge park with the pedal assist, and we were laughing the whole time. We even survived riding it through a bus/taxi/car traffic circle!

For our last night, we moved to the Hilton Rome airport hotel to catch our early flight the next morning.

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Coffee:
They pretty much default to thinking we want an Americano, so just say espresso if you want it. When the woman at the airport asked if I wanted an Americano, and I responded with, “No, espresso doppio, per favore”, she motioned with slapping her sides of her face to try to wake up! It was 3:30am.

Final comments:
I really wanted this to be a special time for my adult daughter and had posted a question for advice on the forum in 2020 and also this year. We traveled very well together – no personality issues, etc. We were both tired of walking at the same time and knew that a gelato break or tiramisu & aqua frizzante at an outdoor café was a great way to revive ourselves. From the comments you shared, I kept a mental awareness of my daughter’s reactions and adjusted some options accordingly. She loves personal photos where I usually only take 1-2 of myself per location, so we had some fun moments when I suggested some light-hearted memorable shots of her at various locations. I usually post a few photos each day on Facebook from friends' requests with some commentary, but this trip I let my daughter post the daily update. I enjoyed seeing the day's summary from her point of view!

During the trip, we shared humorous incidents, those “awe” moments, chances to interact with locals and those unexpected wonderful travel moments from exploring new cities together. She returned home with a love of Italy, the skills to travel as a thoughtful American and “the why” behind many things we forum participants do as we travel. This trip will always hold very special memories since I was able to spend significant time with my daughter. Thank you for all of the suggestions you provided during the planning stage!

Fun photos:
I captured a photo of a bride & groom eating gelato cones in the shade at a piazza restaurant in Amalfi. Gelato is even better than wedding cake!

My daughter’s linen striped dress was similar colors to our curtains in Amalfi, so we made a funny video mimicking Julie Andrews' Sound of Music lines, making clothes out of curtains, going everywhere, and having a marvelous time!

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423 posts

Another great trip and trip report. Glad you and your daughter had a wonderful time. Looking forward to hearing more in October.

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1292 posts

Great piece! I could visualize your trip with your colorful descriptions. La Dolce Vita!

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237 posts

What a wonderful adventure…just love your descriptions!

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3384 posts

What a lovely time with your daughter! I‘m so glad the two of you got to do this. Thanks for sharing your experience in this very special trip report.

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168 posts

Great report. I was at the Uffizi last Tuesday and also went for the 8:15am slot. It wasn’t super busy and it was great.

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2509 posts

As the mother of 2 daughters, I hope that we can travel this well together someday! Great report, thanks!

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1993 posts

How fun! Thanks for sharing! I very much enjoyed reading about your adventures.

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2904 posts

What a wonderful trip and a great itinerary. Going to bookmark this for a future trip.

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134 posts

This sounds so special! My Mom and I are travel buddies and every trip we take together I always feel so grateful for the time and memories we're making.

So glad you got to experience this together!

PQ

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3907 posts

Jean! Thanks so much for sharing your special memories with your daughter. I enjoyed every stop on your journey. I agree- Paestum is an amazing experience. Quite remarkable and amongst the best surviving examples of Greek architecture anywhere!

Glad you enjoyed wandering Positano. It does have a great layout. Fond memories of shopping with a gal from our tour whose luggage never made it to Italy! I recall the lovely shop called Brunella. It was inviting with apparel displayed outdoors. The kind owner picked a great outfit that was perfect to mix & match, & sink wash for the rest of our journey to Sicily.

As always- wonderful report! Bookmarking for a return!

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2415 posts

What a wonderful trip and trip report! I especially appreciate the mention of the Tiramisu place in Rome. I will be there in November (God willing) and hope to check it out.

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5171 posts

Carroll, check out the Mr. 100 Tiramisu Facebook page to start salivating over the video and photos of those scrumptious works-of-art!

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11117 posts

Jean! What a wonderful time you had! I'm so glad you and your daughter were able to enjoy Italy and have such a terrific time together.

Yum on Mr Tiramisu, lol!! Sounds delish!

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2491 posts

I am glad things went well and that both of you had a memorable trip! Trips like this can live in our mother hearts forever. :)

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This was an absolutely fabulous overview of your trip. I am taking my 17yo son to Italy next March, and I'm going to print out everything you recommended. It was SO helpful. We love art and architecture, so I particularly appreciate your recommendations. Thanks!!

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@Jennstec, I’m glad this trip report is helpful for your planning! Originally we were going for three weeks in 2020, but when it was postponed, my daughter could only go for two weeks because of her job. For the extra week, we had planned to fly into Milan and head to Stresa on Lake Maggiore, then Bergamo, and I think a short stay in Verona before being in Venice.

I took a separate trip in June to make up for lost time. This describes Bergamo, which I think you would also enjoy for both the architecture and an opportunity for a private art class with Martin:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/trip-report-please-do-not-comment-until-i-change-the-title-filling-in-the-report-thanks

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15330 posts

Jean, thank you for a well-written, informative and engaging trip report. I have been to nearly all the places you went and your descriptions brought back many wonderful memories.

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Hi Jean,
Thanks for sharing your wonderful mother/daughter trip with us!

It sure sounds like you enjoyed yourselves and made lasting memories!

I’m intrigued… Please let us know:

How did you find out about the Pasta class in Florence?

Where did you eat in Paestum?

Where did you eat the best pizza in Amalfi?

Can’t wait to try the Tiramisu place in Rome.

I must say, the best tiramisu I’ve tasted was in Sicily, at Sicilia in Tavola, my favorite restaurant in Ortigia. It was made with pistachio cream, yum!

Thanks!

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Hi Priscilla! I hope you are doing well!

I don’t remember where I first heard about the pasta class. It may have been just from searching on-line and reading stellar reviews. By the way, I just made the assortment of pasta this afternoon that we learned to make in the class! My husband is happy to be my taste tester here at home. ; ). Update: we just finished dinner, and it was wonderful! He loved it!

At Paestum, my daughter & I ate at La Bottega del Gusto. It’s near the exit point of the Greek ruins gate. At the time, we enjoyed the nice shady umbrellas almost as much as the meal!

I didn’t write down the restaurant in Amalfi where we had the exceptional pizza. It is very near the Amalfi Cathedral, and the bank ATM next to the cathedral is adjacent to the outdoor tables at this restaurant.

I haven’t been to Sicily, yet, but I hear great things about their food! And anything with pistachio cream is a “Si, per favore!”

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Jean, your trip sounds wonderful. I’m so glad you had such a great time! I can’t wait to hear more in October and boy am I jonesing for a return to Italy. My quick trip to Rome with my daughter was just enough to really whet my appetite and your report just fired it up big time!

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Jean, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful trip with all of us! I am going to Italy in October with my mother and sister, and I hope we have as much fun and bonding together as you and your daughter did!

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@K9Kelly, I hope you have a fantastic time traveling together! An afternoon treat of gelato or similar is a great pick-me-up for energy levels, and my advice is there are no “must sees”. Do & enjoy whatever you feel like doing when you are there! Treasured memories are the most important!

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768 posts

Just read this report Jean. What a lovely special time with your daughter. I hope I can do the same someday.

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Hi Jean!

Thanks for answering my questions!

Are you planning other upcoming trips?

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332 posts

What a fantastic trip and lovely trip report! Over the summer I took a tour with my mom and we had a great time and made some really special memories. I am glad to hear you both had fun and that your daughter loved her first trip to Italy. Now I want tiramisu, though!

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579 posts

Beautifully written report on what was obviously a fantastic trip for you and your daughter. Great way to finish up your trip by enjoying the best meal of all. Sounds like a wonderful trip that I'd love to duplicate. Bookmark!

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Wanderlust98, our favorite meal was the one in Ferrara, but we did have a lot of great food, especially tiramisu along the way. Our last meal just at the airport Hilton in Rome wasn’t special, but we were there our last night for an early flight out the next morning. ; )

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Priscilla, I usually have a couple of trip ideas rattling around in my brain. : )

Greece or England are both potentials if my husband gets excited to come since he hasn’t been to either, and I have only been around London and the nearby towns back in ‘75. France & Italy are always calling me back if traveling solo! Otherwise, I could join a RS tour, but I have been spoiled by my favorite method - independent train travel and attending local festivals. And now having my daughter or someone dear traveling with me opens up even more ideas!

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1468 posts

I just looked up Mr. 100 Tiramisu and have bookmarked, highlighted and underlined it for my upcoming trip. Oh, wow! 28 Nutella flavors alone.

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Roubrat, LOL! A reason to return to Rome! ; )

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Priscilla, well, the next trip is decided! Very exciting! My husband & I will go to England & Wales for two weeks. When he flies back home, I will continue east and after a couple of days in Ljubljana, join the RS Best of the Adriatic tour.

That will be his first time in England/Wales, and it will be my first time in Slovenia & Croatia.

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5020 posts

Jean,
Wow!
Your upcoming trips sound amazing!

I’m sure you will have fabulous trips and look forward to your trip reports!

Enjoy!

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2660 posts

I can't believe I missed your excellent trip report! We stayed in Salerno in April 2022, as a base for Paestum, the Amalfi Coast, and a few Operation Avalanche sites. We also enjoyed Salerno itself.

Our next trip will be to Scotland and England.

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8930 posts

If you return to the Amalfi Coast, would you stay in Ravello? We spent a day on the AC and it was our favorite. We found the town of Amalfi to be congested with buses and tours. Positano was fine but all of those starirs were hard to take.

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Hi Suki, I would stay overnight in Ravello, but that’s because I would like to attend their music festival. Otherwise, I think it would be too small & quiet for me in the evenings.

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Estimated Prophet, glad you enjoyed the trip report!

My husband & I will be going to England, too. He’s an excellent golfer, so we’re going to pick an itinerary where he can play his first European golf a few days on this trip.

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768 posts

Jean, did you go to Bologna?

Also, I wanted to ask about the difference between Ferrara and Ravenna -- do the towns have the same feel? Same size? Same charm? Or do you prefer one of the other?

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@CaliMom, we didn’t go to Bologna, but my husband & I have stayed there on a previous trip. Take this comment as each person has a different opinion (some people love it), but for me, it’s been my least favorite city out of thirty that I have stayed during seven trips to Italy. I’ve stayed in most of the surrounding ones and just preferred those more. Bologna is noted for their fantastic food, but I would say that applies across the Emilia-Romagna region.

Ferrara has a nice authentic feel to it with a castle in the center of the city. We also went to a nice museum but ran out of time to rent bikes which we had planned. From Ferrara, it’s a direct train to Ravenna. Look up Ravenna mosaics under Google images to see the amazing mosaics at about seven locations in Ravenna. I stayed there two nights on a previous trip and enjoyed also seeing the museum about mosaics and an underground mosaic floor that’s been discovered - all of this handy to walk in the city.

Ravenna is now becoming a port stop for cruise ships since they can’t dock at Venice. When we were there, the feel of the town was still quaint and lovely. But, just wondering when that will change (of if everyone will head to Venice for their beginning days).

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2415 posts

Hi Jean. Just reporting back that we did go to Mr Tiramisu and loved it. We also got the pistachio coconut (for my husband) and ginger pumpkin (for me). Or third choice was pistachio chocolate, which we split. Delicious! Thanks fo much for the recommendation.

I’m still working on my trip report. Tough to do when you have Christmas decorating and shopping to do.

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5171 posts

@Carroll, oh, you just brought me a delicious memory! : ). Looking forward to your trip report.

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1468 posts

I'm leaving for Rome tomorrow and will definitely go to Mr. Tiramisu! How on earth I'll choose which flavor(s) to try, I don't know!

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1719 posts

Roubrat, you’ll just have to try them all. There’s only 100. 😊

I’m headed to rome in march and can’t wait to go to Mr. Tiramisu based on all the recommendations here.

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1468 posts

I tried to go today but there was a wait for a table. I'll try again. I ended up getting tiramisu gelato nearby instead 😏