Amalfi

How to properly see Italy

I get asked all the time how to see Italy so you don’t miss anything? What should I see on my first trip? How is the food? Is it safe? So this BLOG is to answer these questions and state some rules:

  1. There are no rules
  2. I don’t believe in tours. They take you to the worst restaurants in Italy and move you along from site to site too fast. Most people take tours because they are afraid of getting lost, Can’t speak the language or don’t want to miss anything. Use your smart phones GPS to get around. Search on top things to see.
  3. The big cities are a must but the real Italy is in the small cities. Don’t miss these.
  4. Italy can’t be seen in one trip. Plan several trips and enjoy it more.
  5. If you are seeing 10 cities in 7 days, you have not visited or seen Italy.
  6. The food, outside touristy places is fantastic. Eat with the Italians in small Trattoria.
  7. Museums are important but the art in Italy is all around you everywhere you go.
  8. Stay in small hotels not big American ones. Don’t worry about your points, you are in Italy.
  9. Learn a few key phrases in Italian and use them.

OK you are on your first trip and don’t know where to go. Plan Naples and Rome or Florence and Venice. Spend time in each city. You win nothing by running from site to site and then moving to the next city. In fact you lose a lot! Italy is a country that moves slowly. Sit and observe it. Walk with the Italians at lunch time (la passeggiata). It is not enough to see the famous art and buildings but the people who live here. Communicate as best you can. Use simple 2-year old talk or charades.

Tours normally work against these goals. They force you to eat where they make the most money. They rush you from one site to the next. You see Italy through a bus window. This is not much better than seeing it on TV. If you must take a tour, find a small walking or biking tour. Find something in a van not a huge bus. Make sure you have a few days on your own to explore as you want to. Don’t be afraid to take trains between cities. They go almost everywhere. Within cities the metro is clean and efficient.

Rome is a city of architecture and history unlike any other in the world. Naples is old and many Americans came from this area of Italy. Florence is the capital of art and the Renaissance, Here you will find unbelievable art and the beginnings of modern thinking. Venice is the most unusual city in the world. Here you will explore a large city made up of sidewalks and canals. There are no roads or cars. Enjoy these cities but take time to understand the history, the people and the food.

Plan more trips to visit places like Verona, Bologna, Capri, Amalfi Coast and the millions of small wonderful sea port and mountain towns. We love driving south from Rome on the A1 to our home. We see an interesting town high up on a mountain side in the distance. We use our iPhones to identify it and plot a course to it. After exploring the town we have a café at a bar or lunch in a small local restaurant. This is enjoying Italy and getting to know it.

Food and wine are a national pastime in Italy. Everyone is an expert. The truth is most food comes from farms in the vicinity, wines and olive oil are made locally.  The food is made from ancient recipes handed down over time. No-one cooks pasta as good as an Italians mom!

Hotels are for sleeping after a long day touring. You don’t need a resort type hotel. Pick local small hotels. We always prefer a room with its own bath (not all come this way). These small hotels are often family run. You get to know them as friends if you take the time.

Learn how to say some Italian phrases like Buon Giorno (Good day), Buona Sera (Good Evening – at sunset and beyond). Arrivederci (Good Bye) and Ciao (Hello and Good Bye). You might also want to ask How much? (Quanta Costa?). Jo Anne’s favorite is Quanta costa le Scarpe? (How much are the shoes?). Simply saying Buon Giorno to someone you pass will bring a smile and a Buon Giorno in return. Italy is a friendly place.

This brings us to How safe is Italy? Italy is very safe. There is almost no violent crime. There are pick pockets in large cities. Beware of you purses and wallets. Italians drive very fast so beware of cars speeding by you. We are never fearful walking around large cities like Rome. You are in Italy to learn and enjoy life. Just do it and enjoy a gelato.

Italy is the most romantic place on Earth!

Ciao,

George

 

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, BLOG, Bologna, Cafè, Capri, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, GPS, Italian, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Metro Travel, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Pasta, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Towns, Trains, Traveling without a tour, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento is a popular tourist destination on Italy. Sorrento is on the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Naples. You can see the Isle of Capri looking south-west and Naples looking north. Mount Vesuvius, the famous volcano, can be seen to the north as well. Sorrento is the western gateway to the famous Amalfi Coast Road. Salerno is at the other end with great cities in between like Amalfi and Positano.

Sorrento has beaches at the bottom of cliffs, a seaport where you can catch a ferry to Capri, Naples, Positano and Amalfi and great shopping areas. There are great bars and restaurants around this city. So sit back and enjoy Sorrento in our video below:

-George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Naples, Positano, Ristorante, Romance, Salerno, sea, Shopping, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour, Tyrrhenian Sea, VLOG, Walking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Magnificent Views of Italy

It doesn’t matter where you are in Italy. There are views and eye-catching sights everywhere. You can be in a big city looking at a famous monument, on a small street, looking at a small city high up on a mountain, at the beach, climbing stairs or sitting at a small trattoria. Italy is all about its architecture. It has a personality all to itself. Here you stand on ancient roads, some dating pre-Roman. You feel and see its history. At the same time there is a modern culture all around you. iPhones, iPad and computers are everywhere. Most bars have free wi-fi service.

We come to Italy for the food, the people and these views. I love the feeling of being in an ancient place. Thinking about those ancient people and what they did, what they felt. Was their life that different from ours? These views can talk to you! Just listen and hear what they are saying. This is not a country to be rushed. Stop, relax and take in these views. Listen to them. Imaging yourself back in those times. Soon your modern problems give way to an appreciation of this great history.

My wish to all my readers is to be able to travel. experience another culture. Enjoy life more. There is so much to experience and learn. Pick a place you are passionate about and visit it. Put it on your bucket list. life is short but memories are forever.

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My passion is Italy, what is yours?

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino Marina, Coliseum, Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Greek Ruins, Italy, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Perugia, Planning a vacation, Ravello, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Siena, Small Towns, Smart Phones, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Spanish Steps, Stairs, Traveling without a tour, Tulli, Tuscany, Umbria, Velina, Venice, Villa Brunella, WiFi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Is it Time for you to Take a Trip to Italy?

Have you longed for a trip to romantic Italy? Have you dreamed about eating real Italian food? Do you long to see the museums or architecture? Maybe you have relatives there and just want to reunite old ties. What ever your reasons are, Italy is a great place to spend a vacation. After a week you are feeling relaxed and enjoying life. After two weeks you are totally relaxed, speaking some Italian words and loving the food. Longer periods in Italy will make you an Italian for life!

The northern lake Area offers beautiful scenery overlooking the Alps or maybe Tuscany with its wines and romantic scenery. The large cities of Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome or Naples are great places to see Italians being themselves. They also are great for seeing living history. Look at the buildings the architecture and envision the people that built these great cities. Maybe southern Italy with its Amalfi coast and Capri or farther south into the Cilento National Park. Beauty unspoiled by man and pristine beaches. What is stopping you?

If it’s being afraid of big tours or doing it on your own, we offer an alternative for the selective traveler to see what they want to see and spend as much time as the want. If you find a great Italian spot, the last thing you want is to be taken away by a tour bus. It would be wonderful to change your plans and just stay in your new found location. Italy is all about love, romance, beauty and spontanaeity.

Italy creates many wonderful memories and experiences but you have to touch it! Get away from the crowded tourists areas and meet real Italians. See places that will change you forever. Don’t eat in tourists restaurants. These will be memories you will never forget.

George

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Anacapri, Architecture, Beaches, Benvenuto al Sud, Blue Flag Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino, Casal Velino Marina, Castellabate, Cortona, Eating, Eating Italian, Fish, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Maratea, Matera, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Naples, Paestum, Pantheon, Pasta, Pastry, Perugia, Pizza, Pompeii, Positano, Romance, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Tuscany, Umbria, Vatican City, Venice, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why I love the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is a cliff side road that winds from Sorrento on the western side to Salerno on the eastern side. It is located in southern Italy in Campania south of Naples. As you drive this ancient Greet horse road, you feel exhilarated. Some places you are high up overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and other places you are close to the sea. The road is never empty but in the summer it can be a parking lot. Busses have a hard time navigating its tight curves. If you encounter a bus coming towards you on a turn, you must back up giving the bus room to make the turn. Busses always have the right of way.

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As you leave Sorrento you travel over the cliffs heading south and then east. as you turn east you can look out to your right a clear day and see the beautiful Island of Capri. As you head east you will twist and turn in and out of coves until you arrive high above the wonderful town of Positano. It is said this is a town of one road and a million steps. Bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to climb. The one road winds from the Amalfi Coast Highway (one way) down to the town and beach of Positano. It then climbs slightly and ends up again at the Amalfi Coast Highway.

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Positano is very romantic. Enjoy a week here if you can. There are wonderful restaurants and two beaches. At the large beach you can catch ferries to Amalfi, Salerno, Capri, Sorrento, Naples and many small towns. You can arrive by ferry but you will have missed that wonderful road. Parking can be a problem but there are two large parking garages on the one way road. Most hotels will take your car to one of these. Once you rid yourself of the car, you will not need it until you leave. Positano is a city you walk in or take the Ferry to nearby towns.

D-Positano ai D-Positano aea D-Positano drD-Positano hnAs you leave Positano you head farther east on the Amalfi Coast Highway through tunnels and many small coves. You can see many lemon groves and wine bushes high on the hills. Try the famous limoncello in this area. You will pass many small fishing towns that are worth a stop. Eventually you arrive in the town of Amalfi. There is parking at the port and you walk into the town arriving at the main piazza. Here you can have lunch or a drink and view the magnificent cathedral in front of you.

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Now we head farther east on the highway (not really a highway but a small two lane road) to Salerno. You will pass ceramic stores worth a stop. They can wrap things well for travel or ship them for you. Salerno is a major shipping port with cruise ships. High above the city is an ancient castle. Salerno is a large major city. Here you can find great high-speed trains with service back to Naples or Rome. You can also head south to Sicily.

This is a road trip you will never forget. Enjoy the many cities it has to offer and the people, food and wine. Be romantic and spontaneous. You are an adventurer in Italy.

 

George

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Campania, Ceramics, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Ferries, General Travel, Italy, Lemoncello, Mountain Towns, Naples, Parking Garage, Positano, Romance, Rome, Salerno, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Trains, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top Places to Visit in Southern Italy

Southern Italy has so much to offer. It is different from the north but has great places to see, great food to taste and wonderful people to meet. First let’s look at some of the differences:

  1. Fish – Is the main food in the south. There are meat dishes but great fresh fish is so prevalent.
  2. Language – Italy is barely 150 years old. It was formed by individual and warring states (small countries). As the Italian country was formed, Italian became the official language as it was spoken in Bologna. Each small state had their own languages and dialects. To this day the dialect is still spoken.
  3. Beaches – The south has many of its cities built on the coast. Beaches are important. Each seaport had a walled castle town in the mountains nearby. These would protect the people from pirates. These have become major resort areas for Italians and other Europeans.
  4. Wines – Wines and Olive Oil are a local made commodity throughout Italy. They differ by region and should be experienced as you travel. Always order the local wine.

The main places that should be on your bucket list are:

  1. Naples – Modern Naples is trying to clean up its act as a dangerous city. It is very old and poor but there is so much to see here. Most of what we think is Italian in America comes from the south and much of it from Naples. This is the birth place of Pizza and spaghetti with red sauce.
  2. Amalfi Coast – This very rich area is the vacation spot of the rich and famous. The island of Capri, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello are very beautiful. Each town is built on a mountain side and worth a visit. This is an area of ferries, steps and steep hills.
  3. Casal Velino Marina & Ascea – Two resort towns with beautiful sandy beaches. Ascea has a train station and Casal Velino Marina is very close to the north.
  4. Alberobello – A very unusual town with dome-shaped homes. You can not change the architecture of a building in this town. These homes are called Trulli.Alberobello
  5. Sicily – This is a beautiful island with many ruins, great cities and an active volcano. Many Italians argue it is not part of Italy.
  6. Ischia Island – This is a beautiful island off the coast of Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ischia is the name of the main port town on the island. The architecture is old and city is beautiful.
  7. Procida Island – Is another island between Ischia and Naples. The architecture is middle ages and a great place to explore.
  8. Matera – A town in the region of Basilicata southern Italy. The historical center is well-known and called the Sassi. Homes were built into the side of a mountain. This is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. It is dated from the Paleolithic Period.

There so many other small mountain and beach towns that are worth a mention but too numerous to list. Just get out and explore each region.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Alberobello, Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Beaches, Capri, Casal Velino Marina, Europe, Ferries, Food, General Travel, Italy, Matera, Mountain Towns, Naples, Pizza, Positano, Ravello, Sassi, Sicily, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Stairs, Trains, Traveling without a tour, Truilly, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ravello Pictorial

Yesterday we were in Amalfi and today we take a short bus ride (or taxi) up 3 miles of very narrow winding road to the town of Ravello. Ravello has a population of only about 2,500 people. This two towns are on the Amalfi Coast in Campania in southern Italy. Ravello was a refuse for the rich and famous. They could come here and relax without photographers or the public. The list included Richard Wagner and Greta Garbo.

Ravello has a Duomo (Cathedral) and two villas:

  1. Villa Cimbrone (both 11th century) and
  2. Villa Rufolo (13th century)

These are worth a visit. We loved Villa Cimbrone. It has wonderful gardens and old buildings. You can walk out to the edge of the cliff and see the sea far below. You can also see the mountain road you took up.

The square in town is a nice place to relax and have a drink or gelato. You will find a tourist information place just off the square. The bus stops outside the town. Walk through a small tunnel that takes you through the old wall to the city center.

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Villa Cimbrone

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Path at Villa Cimbrone

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The road up

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Edge of Villa Cimbrone with sea view

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Edge with sea view

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The view

If you are going to the Amalfi Coast, don’t miss Amalfi or Ravello. They are worth a day trip. Take the ferry from Sorrento, Positano or Salerno.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Campania, Duomo, Europe, Ferries, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Positano, Ravello, Salerno, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Taxi, Villa Cimbrone | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Amalfi Pictorial

Amalfi is a city on the Amalfi Coast between Positano and Salerno. It can be reached by car or SITA bus from Salerno or Sorrento. There is also good ferry service from other Amalfi Coast cities (Positano & Salerno) as well as Capri, Sorrento and Naples. Trains go to Salerno or Sorrento.

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Duomo in Amalfi

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Amalfi Harbor

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Beautiful Statues at the Duomo

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The Crypts at Duomo

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The Countryside

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Vineyards around the city

Amalfi is small but a good city to walk around. From the main piazza (just off the harbor) visit the duomo. Then shop the small stores off the piazza. Have lunch or a drink at one of the many restaurant/bars in the piazza in front of Duomo. Watch the Italians drinking from the fountain.

The busses stop in the harbor as do the ferries. Cross the road and enter Amalfi. In the harbor are busses that will take you up the mountain to Revino (see tomorrows BLOG).

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Bars, Duomo, Europe, Ferries, General Travel, Italy, Naples, Positano, Salerno, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Amazing & Beautiful Amalfi Coast

English: Amalfi with the gulf of Salerno Neder...

English: Amalfi with the gulf of Salerno Nederlands: Amalfi met de golf van Salerno (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This video below shows the coastline from Sorrento to Salerno, known as the Amalfi Coast in the Campania region of Italy. It is a beautiful drive with cities that will amaze you like Positano and Amalfi. The Amalfi Coast is a 28 mile coast road that is truly exhilarating. Most people start this journey from Naples, Italy. Drive south to Sorrento. Here you can get a ferry to the wonderful island of Capri. Just past Sorrento the Amalfi Coast Drive begins. It winds its way past Positano, Amalfi and ends at Salerno. From Salerno you can drive on the Autostrada back to Naples or farther north to Rome. The drive in the summer can be very crowded and take hours. Other times of the year it is a pleasant but hair-raising drive. Enjoy it and stop at its many cities along the way.

This area of Italy is rugged, beautiful and very romantic. Our favorite resort town is Positano. You have everything here:

  • Beaches
  • Ferries to Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Salerno and many smaller towns
  • Great restaurants
  • Sites like the cathedral
  • Great shops
  • Hotels and homes with a breathtaking view of the sea

Isn’t it time you went to the Amalfi Coast? Have a local lemoncello and enjoy life. You might just see Jo Anne at the table next to you with her lemoncello.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Campania, Capri, Europe, Ferries, Food, General Travel, Italy, Lemoncello, Naples, Positano, Romance, Rome, Salerno, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Why do Americans Love Italy?

Why do so many Americans vacation in Italy and buy homes there? There is a love affair going on between America and Italy. Maybe it’s that we have so many Italians in America and even more Italian restaurants that it feels familiar. I think it goes deeper than that. Italy has obvious charm:

  1. Old cities with buildings we can’t see in America
  2. Famous places we read about
  3. Clean beaches
  4. Majestic mountains
  5. Walled mountain top cities that are so unique to us
  6. Cities like Venice that are unbelievable
  7. Food that is so much better than anything we get back home
  8. Cheap table wine that rivals the best of wines
  9. Italians love for life
  10. Italians love for Americans

Is it any wonder we love Italy? Where else can you get people who love us, food that is the best, wine that is superb and views that rival any other place? Italy is unique. It was created by violent earthquakes and volcanoes millions of years ago. Today it is a pl;ace artist go to see the wonders of nature. Even places like Vesuvius, a still very active volcano, attracts us like a moth to the flame.

Is it any wonder we look to visits this country over and over again? The views take our breath away. We want a piece of it. If you haven’t yet been to Italy, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Go and see the major cities: Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice and Milan. See smaller cities like Capri, Positano, Amalfi, Verona (Romeo & Juliet). Get off the beaten path and see small walled cities with fantastic views. Experience chocolate in Perugia (home of Perugina chocolates – Baci). Go to Assisi and Siena and our favorite San Gimignano.  Don’t miss Tuscany, Orvieto and Pompeii.

Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclos...

Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclosed with walls, causing crowding and the building of tower houses. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy has so much to offer it would take a life time to see it all. So don’t wait, get started on your adventure. Be adventuresome, be romantic and enjoy your life.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Chocolate, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, General Travel, Italy, Milan, Mount Vesuvious, Mountain Towns, Naples, Owning a home in Italy, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Pompeii, Positano, Romance, Rome, San Gimignano, Small Towns, Tuscany, Venice, Verona, Vesuvius, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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