Rome & Amalfi Coast for an Unforgettable Italy Vacation
Contributed by Tia Meredith
Italy has been one of the top vacation destinations since I can remember. Its allure is overwhelming with its seamless blend of landscape, history and food. Everywhere you turn is an opportunity to see, smell and taste “la dolce vita.” So the choice for travelers never seems to be whether or not they are going to Italy, but rather WHERE they should go once they arrived.
With no shortage of Italy vacation packages in which to choose from, let’s focus on two destinations that bring forth adventure and relaxation in an eight night extravaganza: Rome and the Amalfi Coast. Starting off your vacation in the Eternal City can never be a disappointment. In arguably the most international city in Italy, it will dazzle you from walking its ancient ruins right down to its innocent decadence of sipping an espresso from a palazzo café.
In a place where there is so much to see and do, three nights can be the most fulfilling experience in the world when planned in a balance between your hotel and the top Rome tourist attractions. Ask yourself whether you are seeking luxury, simplicity, location or a combination of any of these experiences while in the city. For me among Rome hotels, the top two fitting my “ideal combo list” are the Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese and the Rose Garden Palace.
Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese
An enchanting boutique hotel, it rests in the heart of the city. A serene oasis with views of the Villa Borghese, it is set in an historic building dating back to the 1890s. It has a modern and neo-classic style and a romantic sun set view over the city from their rooftop La Terrasse Cuisine & Lounge. An evocative and charming hotel, it is one the top five star hotels of Rome.
Rose Garden Palace Hotel
A top four star choice due to its location off of the Via Veneto, it is in a beautifully restored historical building. It has an ideal blend of classical and contemporary design and from its doorstep you can enjoy the lushness of Rome at the Villa Borghese, the Spanish Steps, the Via Condotti or the fashionable Via Veneto. Its comfort and walk ability to the best tours of Rome provides an unforgettable experience in the city.
Of course there are other hotels to choose from based on personal taste but to me, the touring is the only way to really understand Rome. With a preference toward private touring, there are two that I would not want to miss:
Rome Walking Tours
A pedestrian city by nature, a private walking tour is ideal for spending half the day exploring the Roman Empire. Stroll through the Piazza Venezia to learn of its monuments and the Unknown Soldier. Continue to the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo and spend time by the Roman Forum. Ending the day at the legendary Coliseum, this tour is the best way to experience the history of the city.
A sovereign state resting in the middle of Rome, it holds some of the most significant Renaissance art in the world, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. It is a dazzling exposition of the various artistic mediums of Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini and Maderno. Also behind its walls is the Vatican Museum displaying artwork among its many galleries. Ending your private tour in St. Peter’s Square, you may even get the chance to see the Pope give a papal blessing.
With your vacation in Rome coming to a close in joyous indulgence, it is time to head to the lemon-scented coast of the Amalfi for the next five nights. However, maximize your time on the way down by adding a two hour private tour of Pompeii. A unique experience, walk the ancient streets of a city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D and preserved by volcanic ash.
With the last piece of history enjoyed, your Amalfi Coast vacation begins with the choice of Sorrento, Ravello, Amalfi and Positano all of which offer different experiences along this famous coastline. However, basing my top destinations from the luxury hotels Amalfi Coast offers, I would choose the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Sorrento or the Covo Dei Saraceni in Positano; both locations provide an ease in transportation by water taxi and breathtaking views along the coast.
Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria
A luxury experience in the heart of Sorrento, it sits on a cliff with five acres of lush Mediterranean gardens and overlooking the Bay of Naples. It is an exclusive chance to stroll through citrus groves or relax beneath olive trees in its private park. More traditional in feeling, it is decorated in lavish period furniture and is a picture of relaxation from its decadent swimming pool to its boutique spa treatments.
Covo Dei Saraceni
Sitting on the steep mountain slopes of Positano along the sea of the Spiaggia Grande, it is a nineteenth century residence converted to a five star hotel. Its private beach and fresh seawater pool provide prime opportunity for privately soaking up coastal sun. Its panoramic views are stunning and bring an air of romance to your time on the coast while its onsite Wine Cellar offers the opportunity to sample local Italian wines.
The Amalfi Coast is a vacation of relaxation with a backdrop of the sea, the aroma of luxuriant trees and chances to explore neighboring islands. It is a place covered in beaches, grottoes and unrivaled panoramic views from atop cliffs. From beaches to islands to scenery exploration, the Amalfi Coast has it all. Therefore, once you are settled into your accommodations explore the area and dig into the experience by trying:
Amalfi Coast Excursions
Beach time is idyllic when on the coast, so first try one of the most popular beaches, Arienzo, a few minutes outside of Positano. To those seeking some sights on the way to the beach, try Duorglio where you can see the hamlet of Lone along the way. However, for those wanting a private experience, try the secluded Fiumicello beach that is only reachable by boat.
If a touch more of history is desired, visit the Duomo in Amalfi Town. It controversially holds the remains of St. Andrew the Apostle from the time of the Crusades and its elaborate bronze doors are worth the trip.
To balance restful beach days with activity, hike the Sentierodegli Dei or “Path of the Gods.” This half day excursion begins in the mountains at Bomerano village between Sorrento and Amalfi and is a great way to see vineyards, caves, a gorge and spectacular views of the area.
When on the coast, a short ferry ride away to Capri is a must. Embark on a day trip to the “Island of Dreams” and visit its famous blue grotto as part of Amalfi Coast tours, view its Gardens of Augustus or Faraglioni rock formation. To settle shopping cravings, check out the Piazzetta at the heart of the island and its many designer boutiques.