Ciao! I’m posting my very first travel blog … I’d like to share a bit about my recent trip to Italy. It had been two years since I had been there. Cancer treatments and recovery have kept me grounded in New York for a while, so I was thrilled to get an e-mail from my dear friend Jill asking if I’d go with her to the Amalfi Coast. I was to fill in for her husband who canceled at the last minute because of work. Sigh.
There really isn’t much better than going on a spontaneous trip anywhere with your best girlfriend. We had a ball. This was a trip sans children, which actually gave me a chance to observe and make mental notes of how many families were there, how they were traveling, what works, what doesn’t.
Bottom line is that the Amalfi Coast is better for older kids. I wouldn’t recommend this region if you need a stroller or flat space for active children to run around. Too many steps, the beaches are rocks, not sand, and transportation is tricky – buses, ferries, and taxis, unless you build into your budget a car and driver. You could rent a car if you were up for an adventure, but you shouldn’t drive that coastal road unless your family goes back 900 years in the area.
Here are a few highlights. I hope it inspires you to go to Italy soon, with or without your children!
Amalfi. There are a few ways to get to the Amalfi Coast (located south of Naples in the Campania region). This time, we took the train from Rome to Salerno, and then a ferry to the town of Amalfi. There is not much to this town. It consists of the beach area, main piazza with its cathedral perched up high, and a single pedestrian way lined with touristy shops. It is quiet and quaint, good for a relaxed afternoon and evening, but I wouldn’t stay here for more than a day or two.
Ravello. The world just looks more beautiful when viewed from Ravello: the green hills plunging into the lapis blue sea which in turn, blends with the pale blue sky. Villa Rufolo, Villa Cimbrone (love the terrace with statues), the main square, tranquil pedestrian streets, upscale shops, music festival, some of the most amazing hotels in the world make this my favorite small town in Italy. Whether you have a day or a week in this hilltop haven, you will leave feeling truly inspired.
Positano. Instead of risking car-sickness on the coastal road, we opted for the ferry from Amalfi to Positano. Our visit to this gorgeous, vertical village was about strolling, shopping (if you love lemons, this is your town), sunbathing and dining. The cathedral here is beautiful and the beach is good for children because the water is calm and mild, but it is rocky. Our strategy was to skimp on the hotel and treat ourselves to fabulous culinary experiences at Le Sirenuse and Il San Pietro. Places that are not really for children, unless you’re the stylish Italian couple we admired eating at 10pm with their fairy-like 2-year-old at Palazzo Murat (the only toddler we saw in Positano). Two of my favorite things about Positano are that it is noticeably clean, and the people are so warm, despite the high “touristy” factor.
Capri: Ah, Capri. First of all, our arrival was hilarious. The hotel mixed up our reservations and put us in a dark basement room that was 8’ x 10’ with a rusty metal bunk bed painted red. Traumatized, we checked out and marched straight to La Quisisana, the fabulous 5-star resort of the international jet-set scene. We lived like princesses for two days! The island of Capri is my cup of tea, a combination of breathtaking, rugged beauty (the Blue Grotto is a must-see) and cultural refinement. To me, everything about Capri is elegant, warm and relaxing. Like Positano, though, this is not a great destination for youngsters. Teenagers, si, si!
Naples: After saying arrivederci to the Quisi and Capri, we departed for Napoli. We were both interested in seeing Naples because not many travelers have good things to say about it, which made me want to see it more. A driver took us to Herculaneum and then around the city for a few hours. We barely scratched the surface of Naples, but I was stunned. The decay, the swarms of people, the soot and graffiti were overwhelming. The complexity, age, and layers of civilization in this city affected us deeply. If you do have a chance to visit Naples, don’t leave out a tour of Posillipo, a lovely residential neighborhood overlooking the Bay.
I’m thrilled to announce the re-launch of Ciao Bambino trip planning to Italy. Eventually I hope to offer assistance for France and the UK too. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are dreaming of your family’s next vacation!