Thursday, August 25, 2011


Day 1:

Fly to Rome. Arrive next morning.

Day 2:

Book a car service with ROME IN LIMO ahead of time to take you to hotel.
They will be waiting for you as you exit customs. Well-dressed driver with a fancy car (who knows some English) will have a sign with your name on it. Driver pointed out famous Roman landmarks along the way.
Cost was 70 Euros
Tip: cash only, so make sure you exchange some money before leaving baggage claim.


Hotel Artemide
Via Nazionale 22 Roma
+39 06 489911

Here’s part of my review:
We booked the 'Family Room' (Room 202) which has a balcony, 2 bedrooms and a large bathroom. Nice rooftop lounge for an evening drink and the free mini-fridge was a huge help. Air conditioning was great and strong water pressure in the shower. Just a few blocks from the metro station, but walking everywhere was easy too. We stayed in 4 hotels throughout our travels in Italy and the breakfast at Hotel Artemide was our favorite. Lots of choices. Front desk staff were extremely nice and helpful. We would stay here again.

Breakfast was included in our stay. Cost was 273 Euros per night. Great Hotel!
View from our room balcony

Had our first meal (lunch) just a block away at Il Barocco. Delicious pizza, great vegetable soup. Ate outside. 45/48 Via Napoli.

Day 3:

Private tour of Colosseum, Palentine Hill and Pantheon
Tour Guide: Sonia Tavoletta
Email 3-4 months in advance to reserve her, she's worth it! Lovely lady, knows everything about Rome!
Cost 50 Euro per hr. plus 12 euro ticket price for entrance into Colosseum (which she will buy ahead of time.) She also managed to jump to the front of every line with no problem! The length of the tour is usually 3 or 4 hours. You can decide the length of the tour while you are touring.
She will most likely request you meet her at the subway stop COLOSSEO.
Tip: We took the subway from Piazza Republicca which is super close to the hotel. The ticket machines have an English option. Take the train to Termini then transfer to Blue line to Colosseum.

Taking a break near The Forum with our tour guide, Sonia

After Sonia left us at the Pantheon, we had a fabulous lunch very close by at Ristorante La Sagrestia. Via del Seminario, 89.

The evening was spent wandering the streets around the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Had dinner at Ristorante Sacro & Profano. This was a Rick Steves recommendation and it was great! Tip: if you order fish, you will get a fish! Eyes, tail and all.
Don't forget to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain!

Day 4:
Bought a Tram bus 110 hop on-hop off ticket. Took us past all the major sights and attractions. We stopped at Vatican/St. Peter’s and spent a good part of the afternoon here.
Tip: take the elevator, not the stairs, to the top of the cupola.
Great way to see the whole city.
View from St. Peter's Cupola
Late afternoon was spent in the Borghese Gardens. Rent a bike at one of two rental stations and enjoy the park!
Try to pay attention when they teach you how to use the breaks.
Wish we had! 
Dinner that night was the best dinner we had in Rome:
La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali
via Madonna dei Monti n. 9

We each ordered one of the house 'Specials' YUM!
Day 5:
Take the high-speed train from the main Rome train station to Naples. Book tickets in advance at We took the 1:00 train (needed the morning for last minute shopping!) and arrived in Naples at 2:10. No need to book 1st class, the 2nd class still gives you a reserved seat in an air-conditioned car.

Arrange for a pick-up from Simply Amalfi (
We were greeted by Pepe who ended up being our tour guide for the next two days. We loved him, try to request him upon booking. First stop after we left the train station was Pompeii. Simply Amalfi arranged a private guide (Mena) who was fabulous. She took us on a 2 hour walking tour and the entire family found Pompeii amazing. It was one of our favorite stops on the trip.
Learning about Pompeii from our tour guide, Mena

Pepe then drove us to Sorrento to our hotel, where we stayed for the next few days.
Hotel Plaza Sorrento
Via Fuorimura, 3 80067 Sorrento

Here’s part of my review: We especially liked the rooftop infinity pool (and separate bar area) for the amazing views. I had requested a room with a balcony a few months prior to arrival, which they gave us. The room is clean and simple with nice amenities. Sleeping was a little tight for 4 people, but we managed with a queen size bed, a rollaway and a sofa that converted to a bed. The front desk staff were extremely helpful and nice. The location of this hotel could not be better, right in the heart of Sorrento. We'd stay here again in a heartbeat!

Again, like all our hotels, breakfast was included and the cost for 3 nights was 871 Euros.
Hotel Rooftop Infinity Pool
 Dinner that evening was fantastic. Made a reservation 2 weeks ahead of time online.
TavernAllegra Via della Pietà, 30 – Sorrento
Delicious clam sauce, risotto, sword fish. The owner is quite a character Fun night, great atmosphere.
Nothing like being serenaded during dinner!
Day 6:
This was 'Simply Amalfi's' full 8 hr. Coast tour. Pepe picked us up at 9:00 am and we were off. First stop, Ravello. Getting there through the mountains was amazing. I couldn’t believe the scenery. Pepe dropped us off near the town square and we had one hour to explore on our own. The most amazing view was from the stage in the Ravello gardens. 
This view alone was worth the 5 euro entrance fee
Next stop, Amalfi and then Praiano for lunch that the tour co. arranged. I can’t say enough about the restaurant. The views, the food, the lemoncello. Unbelieveable. Next stop Positano where we also had time to explore on our own. Loved it here, wish we had longer.
The beach in the town of Amalfi
Lunch overlooking the coast: Ristorante Costa Diva
Day 7:
Took the ferry to the Island of Capri (15 min walk to the port from hotel.) Once there caught a smaller boat to the Blue Grotto. Tourist trap and waste of time if you ask me, but kids liked it. Back to Capri main port and then a funicular to the top of the island. This is where the action is! Beautiful town and every high-end designer has a shop here. It was a Monday, so lots of restaurants were closed. We ended up having lunch pool side at the Best Western. This was not your typical Best Western! 
I would consider staying here if I ever return to Capri!
Took the ferry back to Sorrento around 6:00.

Dinner on this night was one of the absolute best experiences of my life. We had dinner at an agriturismo in the hills of Sorrento. Hotel arranged a driver to take us to and from.
If there is one thing I’d recommend above anything else on this trip, this is it. Don’t want to say too much. Just trust me. Book in advance.

Azienda Agricola Le Tore s.r.l.
via Pontone 43
80064 Massa Lubrense (NA)
0039 81     808 06 37
0039 333   98 666 91

Everything served at this dinner came from the fields around this working rustic farm.
The wine, the olive oil, the vegetables, the fresh lemon sorbet...

Day 8:
Shopping in the morning and then Pepe picked us up for a transfer to Naples airport. Next stop- Venice! Booked a one-way flight on EasyJet for $34 per person!

Reserved in advance a water taxi to take us from the airport to the hotel.
The price for 4 people with 4 bags is 110 Euro.

San Marco Mercerie, 760 30124 Venezia

We booked 2 Superior connecting rooms. Cost for 2 nights was 864 Euro.
Here’s my review
The 'connecting rooms' were really more like our own suite in a private wing at the end of a hall. We could leave our room doors open and just close the main door leading out to the hallway. One room had a great view of a canal while the other room had a walk-out balcony. The hotel is beautifully decorated with top-notch finishes. Feels like a high-end city condo in the bedrooms, and the old charm of Venice in the public spaces. Beds are extremely comfortable. Private water taxi from the airport dropped us off right at the front door. We were told the free wi-fi would only work in the lobby, but we were able to connect from our rooms. I'm sure there are cheaper hotels in Venice, but this one is worth the splurge!!”

In the evening we saw James Taylor in concert in St. Mark’s square. Check out for performance schedules in each city.

Day 9:
Went to the top of the bell tower in St. Mark’s Square. Amazing views of the city. Hopped on a water taxi and took it up the Grand Canal. We found a great restaurant for lunch with a quaint courtyard. All locals, no tourists. Santa Croce neighborhood.
Al Bacco Felice
Santa Croce 197\e | Nr Campo Tolentini, Venice, Italy

Took the rest of the day to explore Venice. Best thing to do is try and get as lost as possible. I mean, you’re on an island, so you really can’t get ‘lost!’
At dusk we took a private Gondola ride. Perfect time of night do to this! Be prepared to pay 100 euro.

Excellent dinner that evening near hotel at:
Da Mamo
Calle dei Stagner 5251, 30124 Venice, Italy

Day 10:
Water taxi to the island of Murano and more exploring on our own.
We stayed in Venice until 4:00. This is where I’d make the one and only change to our itinerary. If possible, stay in Venice an extra day (take a side trip to Verona) and fly back to the US from here. We tried to save a few hundred bucks by flying back to Rome, spending the night at the Rome airport Marriott, then flying back to the states the next morning.

Bottom line, this was the perfect family Italian vacation! I really had to pick and choose the cities based on what I thought the whole family would enjoy. Next trip to Italy will be Tuscany. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change one hotel, one restaurant, one tour guide, etc. Ciao!