Monday, July 18, 2011

Booked

I just bought two round-trip flights to ITALY for September!  

ITALY!!!!!!!

Holy moly!  

Ryan and I have been talking about Italy for years and years, but have never been able to pull the trigger on a trip across the pond.  Well, as of today, it's officially booked and we're going!  I'm so excited I could scream!

It was a tough decision on where we should go once we got there - there are so many choices and there's so much to do!  Rome is a must.  I've heard such amazing things about Florence.  Venice is so romantic and beautiful.  Lake Como is paradise.  Milan is a shopping Mecca.  Tuscany is gorgeous that time of year.  The Alps are calling our names.  Oh, the choices!  I'd love to spend a month there and do it all, but alas, that's not exactly practical.  So we had to narrow it down.  We'll be there for 10 days, which is a good amount of time, but I didn't want an itinerary that was jam-packed with traveling and train schedules and deadlines.  I want to relax, to enjoy, to take it slow, to savor my vacation.  So we picked one area of Italy and will cover it completely.  

So where are we going?

The Amalfi Coast!
Sorrento, Italy

Capri, Italy

We fly into Rome and will be spending a couple days there visiting the big must-see sites before taking the train down to Sorrento, on the Bay of Naples.  From Sorrento we plan on doing some day trips to Capri and Pompeii.  After a couple days there, we're heading over to Amalfi and spending the rest of the trip there.  Day trips from Amalifi to Ravello, Positano, Praiano, etc.  

Positano, Italy


So, I need help planning.  Have any of you been to the Amalfi Coast?  I'd love recommendations for hotels, restaurants, tours, hikes, activities, museums, etc.   Where should we go?  What should we do/see?  Where should we eat?  Anything we should skip?  What about the language barrier?  Should I look into Rosetta Stone Italian before we go?  Anyone tried that?  Any and all advice, ideas and recommendations are really really appreciated!

21 comments:

  1. That sounds like a wonderful trip! I've never been to Italy, so I can't suggest anything, but enjoy!

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  2. Stay away from Naples. It's dirty, crowded, and the people aren't friendly. Brush up on your Italian because there is a strong language barrier if you're trying to navigate buses, trains, etc on your own. Many of the Italians in Southern Italy don't know English and won't try to help you if it's clear you're an American only speaking English. Pompeii is amazing. Do the guided tour with the headphones. We skipped it and walked around without them, missing out on so much I think. Thought the map would explain but it was all in Italian, of course.

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  3. Sounds like an awesome vacation! We're planning on booking an Italy trip for next spring and will be there for about 10 days too - haven't decided yet which cities we're hitting, so I'll be really interested to hear about your experience in the Amalfi Coast!

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  4. My inlaws went to the Amalfi coast in May - I've never been!
    Doing Rome in two days might be really intense. If you can, I would make it three.

    We do know that Capri was worth seeing (the blue grotto) It's full of tourists, but really stunning.

    A lot of the people in Milan we stayed with were from this region and the food they served and stories they told were really fantastic. Here are some insights from Italians:

    You must obviously have lots of seafood and limoncello (which hails from Sorrento). The best is creme di limoncello. Also, Napoli style pizza, and pesto.

    The best recommendation I've heard is to rent an apartment for a week and travel around from there. (the couple we knew spent 2 weeks in Praiano)

    Finally - language. The most important thing for us with the language was to try to speak in Italian first, or say capiche l'inglese? or parla l'inglese? before assuming they speak English.
    A travel book is probably good enough (you have to be really committed for Rosetta Stone and it's a big investment for one trip). We studied with a free 10 lesson set from Pimsleur which was helpful for initial travel and the rest we got from Rick Steves.

    We love Tripadvisor for recs on things to do/see!

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  5. I'm SO jealous! I really wanted to get to Italy before having children and it just didn't happen. Maybe someday...

    As far as learning Italian, I highly recommend Pimsleur programs. They're on iTunes and so much more affordable than Rosetta Stone.

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  6. Wow. That sounds AMAZING! Once in a lifetime opportunity. I've never been to Italy so I'm no help with trip planning but I can't wait to hear all about it and see your pictures when you get back!

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  7. That sounds fabulous! I can't wait for you to go so I can see your pictures and live vicariously through you! :)

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  8. I went to Italy two years ago with my family! None of us speak Italian, and we didn't have any trouble with the language barrier - most everyone spoke English.

    You're going to have such a fabulous time. The food is WONDERFUL.

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  9. Oh my gosh, I'm so jealous! Those pictures are gorgeous, you're gonna have a blast!

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  10. So...this recommendation is for Tuscany and it comes secondhand. But, I'm guessing that you'll do a second trip sometime and I would hate for you to not have something to do on that trip. http://www.cretaiole.it/index.en.php A friend of mine did this and had a wonderful time. It sounds right up your alley - she learned to make pasta according to traditional recipes with local products.

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  11. I have never been but I am SO jealous of your trip! What an amazing thing to do. I can't wait to hear about your itinerary and see all the amazing pictures!

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  12. I was in Capri a few years back and definitely recommend one of the boat tours around the grotto's (mine didn't go into the Blue Grotto and I don't feel like I missed out that much) and we took this ski lift type thing up to Ana Capri and had lunch. Superb.

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  13. Can't wait to hear more! I initially planned our wedding for Positano! You are going to have a great time.

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  14. Hey! My hubby and I got married in Tuscany in 2008 -- if you can make it there (big area I know) I highly recommend it!

    If you're driving, make sure to take it slow along the Amalfi Coast -- my husband thinks he's a race car driver and it gets a bit tight! There are buses that go along there too. I too would steer clear of Naples -- a bit scary :(.

    When you go to Capri, go off the beaten path if you can. I found the regular areas way too congested with tourists and if you do some adventuring it will help you experience the real Capri. My hubby and I ended up walking and walking up the hill and we came to the area where a lot of people live. It was pretty cool. I'm from Toronto and the funniest thing we saw was that someone had a Toronto Blue Jays towel hanging over their porch!

    Anyway - there's so much to see and do it's hard to get it all in one comment! :) Happy travels -- you're going to love it.

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  15. Italy is so incredible. I went in 2004 with my dad and we spent 2.5 weeks driving all around. I loved that we got to see so much but I would love to go back and focus on one area. Eat lots of Gelato and don't worry about the calories. You will burn it off by walking around so much. After 16 days of pizza, pasta and gelato, I gained not a single pound. You guys are going to have the time of your lives!

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  16. Oh my gosh you will LOVE it!!!! On the Amalfi Coast, I only went to Sorrento (after a day trip to Pompei) and it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been! Sounds incredible!!

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  17. Oh man, that sounds AMAZING. So jealous - but excited for you!

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  18. My in-laws went in Feb. We were supposed to go too but decided to save the $$ for a down payment instead. Can't WAIT to see the pictures you take over there.

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  19. We were in the Amalfi coast just a month ago. We used Katharine at Simply Amalfi for tour. Could not sing her praises enough. Her tour gave us an opportunity to see and experience the tourist congested coast from afar, but let us experience some of the off beaten path that only locals would know, including a restaurant high up on the cliffs with stunning food and amazing slow cuisine, with home grown products. I think September will be less congested with with tourist. I know others have suggested to stay away, but Napoli is a must see for at least half a day. The Spanish quarter is a party for the senses, and the people are so amazingly sweet. My suggestion for Rome, read up on Rick Steve's suggestions for seeing the Colosseum and Forum, and make 3:45 reservations fornthe Vatican Museum, book directly, don't use a third party vendor. It will be the last set of reservations, the crowds will be gone and you will actually get to experience the Sistine Chapel without crowds. There is a 5:30 pm mass in St. Peter's, where you can end your Vaticano tour, and listen to the choir in the chapel. (follow RS suggestion for getting into the Basilica after the Sistine Chapel.) But the best advice I can give you for the whole trip is to enjoy Italia will ALL your senses!

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  20. This is so awesome, and I am so jealous! I definitely want to go to Italy (and France, and Greece, etc) some day! Can't wait to see your photos and hear about the trip!

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  21. Hotel Antiche Mura in Sorrento is fabulous - its a perfect "home base". Ravello is a sweet, adorable little town, as is Ana Capri (way up the tippy top of Capri - you have to take a funicular up). Food is wonderful everywhere. Eat gelato everyday. Shop alot. Drink wine outdoors.

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