After arriving at the Naples Airport, we head straight for our deluxe hotel in beautiful historic Naples, the vibrant heart of Southern Italy. After some free time to relax and get settled, we will meet our local guide for a private guided walking tour of the Centro Storico, or historic center, of this fascinating city. Perhaps you can even try what many believe to be the finest espresso in the world! Our welcome dinner tonight is at a wonderful ristorante featuring Neapolitan specialties.
Today is one you will never forget. We visit the most remarkable archeological discovery ever unearthed: Pompeii. The incredibly preserved houses, streets, shops, even brothels, present a fascinating chronicle of daily life in 79 A.D., when one fateful day the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius “froze” life in an instant. We stop at a local vineyard for a wine-tasting lunch, where we delight in the freshest pasta and cheeses, and, of course, several types of wine! At the end of a memorable day, we continue on to our seaside hotel in Amalfi, our home for the next five nights.
Little Amalfi, unbeknownst to most, was the first maritime republic in Italy. Although many people think only of the glamour and natural beauty that is the Amalfi Coast, this area is also rich in history: In 839, Amalfi gained its independence and became a flourishing city-state. For two centuries, this small hamlet, with a natural harbor and protection from the Monti Lattari, was a true maritime power. From the Middle Ages well into the Renaissance, paper production was one of Amalfi’s key industries, and its prolific shipyard fueled the town’s political and commercial power.
Our local guide will take us through the narrow alleyways on our walking tour, and we will visit a paper museum housed in an old mill, where you’ll see firsthand how the mill used water to power the machines to make paper from cotton fibers in the 13th century. We will also have the chance to go inside the Duomo of St. Andrew, a gorgeous example of Arab-Norman architecture, built in the 12th Century.
We will then have a free afternoon to explore on our own and will reconvene in the evening for a dinner at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Today is a “heavenly” day, as we will hike along the magnificent Sentiero degli Dei, the “Path of the Gods” – a must see on Amalfi Coast tours. We will take a private transfer to our starting point, the village of Bomerano. Done at a very leisurely pace, this moderate hike will take roughly 3.5 hours, with time to stop for pictures along the way. We walk along the mountainside, passing lemon and olive groves as well as vineyards delicately clinging to the cliffs beneath our path. The fragrances from the heather, rosemary and broom are intoxicating. We come to the tiny and “untouched” village of Montepertuso, where we have lunch at a family-run trattoria in the hills overlooking Positano. This casual luncheon is a multi-course affair with some of the most delicious homemade pastas and other specialties! Like magic, our private transportation picks us up and whisks us back to our hotel in Amalfi, for a free afternoon and evening.
Only in Italy is it perfectly acceptable to begin your day with wine! After a leisurely breakfast, we will depart for the award-winning Marisa Cuomo winery for a winery tour and gourmet wine-tasting lunch. It’s impressive to see how the vines literally grow into the mountain and how the cantina was carved by hand into the mountainside. After having our fill of food and wine, we head to what many consider to be the “jewel” of the coast: Positano. We have a free afternoon to browse the myriad shops, take a swim at the local beach, or simply sit at a beachside trattoria and watch the world go by. There’s no better place to enjoy a glass of prosecco and live la dolce vita. We reconvene at the hotel this evening for our transfer to a special concert performance in Ravello, part of the Ravello Music Festival.
This morning we will visit Ravello, a tiny village terraced high above the Tyrrhenian Sea that is known for music. Ravello has been a source of inspiration for poets and musicians for centuries, including the German composer Richard Wagner, whose second act of his opera Parsifal was set there. In honor of Wagner, the Villa Rufolo hosts the Ravello Music Festival, an annual music festival displaying the talents of numerous artists and musicians from around the world.
With our private local guide, we’ll visit the aforementioned Villa Rufolo, built for a wealthy Italian family between 1270 and 1280, and also the stunning gardens and grounds of the Villa Cimbrone, a 14th century villa offering incomparable views of the Amalfi Coast. We’ll have free time to explore this quaint village before returning to Amalfi. Tonight, we will have a fabulous gourmet dinner in town as a group.
It’s time to say arrivaderci to Amalfi and “ciao” to the enchanting Isle of Capri! We board a ferry and are transported to heaven. After checking into our dreamy hotel, which overlooks the ocean and Marina Piccola, we take a private guided walking tour of the quaint village of Capri, one of two villages on the island. Explore the famous Piazzetta and the awe-inspiring Gardens of Augustus. We then have a free afternoon to allow time to poke into the myriad shops that line the narrow streets or to simply lie by the hotel’s pool. Capri is best experienced after the day-trippers depart in the afternoon, so we are fortunate to be able to spend three nights here. Tonight, we have a gourmet dinner under a canopy of lemon trees…
Today, we explore Anacapri, the other village on this small island, accessed only by the “Oh, my goodness!” road (the reaction by many who have made this trip). We enjoy a private guided walking tour, which will include a visit to Villa San Michele, the former home of Swedish doctor and writer Axel Munthe. Those who wish may take the chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro, the highest point on the island, which affords gorgeous views to Capri village and of the Amalfi Coast. We then have a free afternoon and evening in which to enjoy the island.
If you like boating, today is the day for you! After a leisurely morning, we will make our way to the marina to meet our “capitano,” the boat captain for our private half-day boat tour around the island, complete with wine and snacks. We have the chance to boat among the iconic Faraglioni rock formations, swim off of private beaches and even go into the famous Blue Grotto, weather and seas dependent. Bring your bathing suit! Tonight you are free to enjoy the island at leisure.
This morning we depart Capri on the hydrofoil for Sorrento, our home for the last two nights of our tour. Sorrento is the legendary home of the sirens that attempted to lure Homer’s hero, Ulysses, to the dangerous rocky shore. The quaint streets are filled with wonderful ceramics and inlaid wood shops, and the scent of lemons permeates the air. We check into our 5-star hotel overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius, and then have plenty of free time to explore on our own. In the early evening, we go to a local working farm in the Sorrentine hills, where we will be treated to a mozzarella-making demonstration, followed by a light-hearted Neapolitan pizza-making lesson. We will then dine on the fruits of our labor accompanied by plenty of wine. After dessert, we sample the farm’s homemade limoncello! It’s then back to our hotel for a free evening.
After breakfast, we have an informal walking tour of Sorrento with a private guide, who will bring us to see the crypt of the patron saint of navigators as well as of Sorrento, Saint Anthony. The crypt that holds the tomb of the saint is found in the depths of the basilica, erected in his honor, and is adorned with thousands of votive offerings brought by sailors. We will also explore what remains of the Cloister of St. Francis, which dates back to the 13th century. Tonight, we will reconvene for a gourmet farewell dinner at a Michelin-star restaurant within walking distance from our hotel.
Today, sadly, we depart for the Naples Capodichino Airport for our return flights home.
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