This is a journal of our 9 nights vacation to Italy and I have written exactly as we experienced it with the positives and the negatives. The point to remember is that rarely are vacations perfect. But that does not mean it cannot be a great memorable experience. To go with the flow and make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in will help you have a meaningful and rich travel experience. I like to do my research and plan ahead but am willing to accept that things may not always work out according to plan.
Our Itinerary was as follows:-
Sorrento – 2 nights
Rome – 2 nights
Florence – 2 nights
Venice – 2 nights
Milan – 1 night (overnight for early morning flight)
Our inter-city transfers were a combination of Trenitalia trains and pre-arranged car transfers.
Our flights from the US were booked via Lufthansa going through Frankfurt.
Planning our own vacation allowed us to save roughly 50% of the cost of tour packages since we were traveling as a family of four with our older children. This also gave us the flexibility to see the places we wanted to and visit those attractions that we were interested in at our own pace. Going on your own, does mean that at times you may get lost and lose time. But good preparation ahead of time can help you minimize this.
Hope you enjoy reading our adventures in Italy. We started in Naples, Italy. Read on to see how it went.
Amalfi Coast & Sorrento
With a short 9 night trip to Italy, our days in Italy were exhausting but richly rewarding. Flying from Houston to Frankfurt and then to Naples, we were scheduled to arrive at 12.30 pm at Naples. However due to a bird hit on our plane one engine failed and caused the plane to return to Frankfurt, thanks to God safely. Hats off to Lufthansa efficiency, we were on another flight not too much later and reached Naples only 2 hours late.
As soon as we exited the airport we found the Curreri bus to Sorrento town. At 10 Euro per person it was an economical way to get to Sorrento. The bus dropped passengers off at the station in Sorrento. It was a bit tricky finding the bus stop for the free shuttle which would take us to our hotel – the La Solara Best Western Sorrento. This is a lovely hotel on a hill overlooking the bay just outside of town. After settling into our comfortable family room for 4, we took the free hotel shuttle into Sorrento town and enjoyed roaming around and seeing the city. We went to Villa Communale, a park in Sorrento overlooking the Bay of Naples and then had a good Italian pasta dinner in town at Divina Sorrento, a very reasonably priced restaurant.
The next morning we overslept and woke up with a start at almost 9 am. We had scheduled an Amalfi Coast drive at 9 am. Fortunately for us, the driver was late so we scrambled to get ready and rushed through breakfast at the hotel while stressing over why the driver had not shown up yet. Since I had made arrangements from the States, we would not be able to see the Amafli Coast if he did not show up. The driver eventually showed up and we started off on our day trip. Traffic was bad I think partly because we started late. It took a while just getting out of Sorrento and pretty much the entire day we had to deal with crazy traffic. The issue is that the Amalfi coast drive is on a really narrow road and the combination of huge tour buses, the state transport SITA buses, and thousands of cars all are trying to go both ways on this narrow road makes it worse. When 2 buses turn a corner in opposite directions everyone gets stuck. Why the government cannot enforce some rules and improve this situation is beyond me.
But there is no better place to be stuck in traffic than the Amalfi Coast. The scenery all around was so beautiful, we just got out of the car and enjoyed the views. The Amalfi coast journey is spectacular and it’s not the destination here that matters. We drove past Positano and Amalfi and did not stop at either. Huge cruise ships drop off tourists at Amalfi in particular and we could see from the crowds that it was crazy.
Instead we kept going till Ravello and chose to spend some time there. The small family restaurant which our driver recommended and took us to turned out to be an expensive restaurant in a hotel. But anyway the view was nice and the surroundings great so we went with the flow and enjoyed the lunch. We bought tickets to Villa Cimbrone gardens but had to rush through walking it and enjoying the views since the driver would be picking us up in 1.5 hours. I wished we had more time to spend in Ravello. In hindsight maybe we should have planned to stay one night in the Amalfi coast itself. The cathedral in Ravello was closed for a private wedding so could not enter it. We did have time to buy our first gelato in Italy and yes gelato tastes way better than ice cream and we loved it.
We had the driver drop us at the Sorrento Cathedral so we could see it before heading back to the hotel on the shuttle. Dinner was at an excellent local restaurant Chantecler’s Trattoria, on the same alleyway as the back exit of the Sorrento Cathedral. 2 nights in Sorrento was over and this is a place I would love to return to. Next stop Pompeii and Rome.