A few insights based on our recent 18 day trip where we relied on Rick Steve’s book references.
We really liked Naples; well described by Rick as gritty, in your face and authentic. Kind of like NYC in Italy. We stayed in the Chiaia /San Lucia district which was lovely, and not covered in the book. It is near the bay and the beautiful boulevard along the sea. Our hotel was the Palazzo Alabardieri. A great location on a narrow quite street.
We hired Pina Esposito PhD , for a half day Naples walking tour with an emphasis of the Archaeological Museum and a brief walking overview of the city near that area. She is referenced in the book. She was excellent; a wealth of deep and broad historical and cultural knowledge who will taylor her tour based on specific interests. We thought it was very helpful to to visit the Archaeological Museum with her insight in advance to our Pompeii visit as most of the artifacts from Pompeii are there. So this sets up the Pompeii visit with more comprehensive insights into Roman day to day life, art and culture, all on display in the museum. The Greek and Roman Bronze sculptures are the most extensive in Italy and arguably anywhere as very few bronze statues have survived; most were melted down and repurposed. These remain as they were buried under the ash.
Pompeii- We leveraged Rick’s audio podcast which was very helpful. However in hindsight we both though we would have been better off with a tour or tour guide. The place is large and it took us some time to get oriented. Additionally two key highlights on Rick’s podcast were closed either due to COVID or for private filming. A tour guide would have been able to pivot and show something else that was close to or comparable. The place is large and we did not have enough time (3hours) to figure that out on the fly. It was still an amazing and unforgettable experience, and we saw the majority of the highlights. I think we could have been more efficient in doing so.
We opted for Rick’s suggestion ; full day tour boat by Mondo Guide. This is great way to visit Capri, combining a tour by sea with 4 hours on the Island, and a swim and beer/wine on the return. There are faster boats but this is a great option if you like a small group boat tour. On land The open air Taxis are a great way to see the island and to get up to or from Anacapri from the main town of Capri. We loved the Chair lift to to the top - worth it!
Too much to cover. Our first but not last visit to Rome Francesca Caruso ( she is in the book) was excellent. Her 1/2 day tour (and more importantly the related discussion) of the Colosseum, Forum, and Pantheon was a great way to get an initial grounding and orientation to ancient Rome. She applies a human, individual perspective and more complicate context of those times around the greater historical framework. I know she would be equally as effective in showing us more of Rome and we plan to work with her again in the future if she is available.
Italy is 80percent vaccinated. Masks are almost universal inside. Proof of vaccination is required on trains and museums and many restaurant inside. We felt safe and comfortable. There are little to no crowds. We hiked the Amalfi Coast and we never made a dinner reservation. it is a great time to visit !