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A Trip to Italy, including the home of Limoncello

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It’s all about the lemons. Who knew that there were huge lemons that you could slice and eat like you would an apple, rind and all? And anyone who has read my previous reports knows that I love Limoncello! :-d

I just returned from 15 wonderful nights in Italy, 3 in Capri, 5 in Sorrento and 7 in Rome. I had initially debated about whether to spend the first 3 days in Naples or Capri and had decided on Naples. With the garbage problem, I started to change my mind to Capri, then went back to Naples when I read reports that the garbage wasn’t really a big problem in the center of the city. Then I decided that if the garbage were a problem, it would certainly be worse in the heat of July, and decided to spend the time in Capri. While I’d still like to spend time in Naples, I don’t regret my final decision, as I loved Capri and definitely want to go back.

Of course, I realize that July isn’t the best time to go to Italy, but I work in a school and have to take the bulk of my vacation in the summer. I normally don’t do that well in the heat and humidity. While it is very hot the entire time, I do OK. I think this is partially due to mind over matter...I have firmly decided that the heat and humidity will not stop me. I would rather have Italy in July than not have it at all. Carry water with you at all times!

I’m a bit worried about my flight, as I had booked with Alitalia and hoped they wouldn’t go under before my trip. Should I even dare admit that everything goes fine with the flight? We leave exactly on time, there’s a slight delay in my layover in Rome (which was long to start with) before going on to Naples, and they don’t lose my luggage. OK, so the food (and I never expect good food on an airplane) is the worst I have ever experienced. The broccoli is so overcooked that it’s soggy, and the rest of the meal isn’t much better. But that’s a minor thing.

Once in Naples, I had originally figured that I would take a taxi to the port, but thanks to some last-minute advice here on Fodors, I learn about the Alibus. Thank you to those who gave this information! Naples is a small airport. Walk outside, and the bus is right there. Instead of paying around 25€ for a taxi, I am delighted to pay 3€ for a clean, air-conditioned bus with plenty of room for luggage to get to the port. There is a bit of a walk after you get off the bus, plus crossing a busy street (but it’s no worse than crossing the street in Rome) to get to the port. If you want to be dropped off right at the ticket offices, then take a taxi.

I buy my ticket for the hydrofoil to Capri, very easy, and wait for the boat. It takes me to the Marina Grande port on Capri, where I leave my luggage with the porter and take the funicolare up to the Piazzetta. My hotel had offered a service where they meet you at the airport in Naples, drive you to the port, buy your ticket for the hydrofoil, meet you at the port in Capri, and escort you to the hotel. It cost 150€. I just couldn’t justify that expense (over $230). Instead it costs me 3€ for the Alibus, 17€ for the hydrofoil, 20€ for the porter (only because I gave him both my bags, when I probably could have taken one of them) and 1.40€ for the funicolare, or a total of 41.40€. Quite a difference!

I’m staying at La Minerva Hotel, much recommended here. I’ve reserved a single room which I know will be small, because the hotel itself describes it as small, with no view, but it’s only 100€ per night, a good price for Capri. (When I check out later, they only charge me 80€ per night. I don’t know why, but I don’t question such things!) Everything in the room is white, which gives it an airy feeling even though it’s so small. There’s a minibar that actually has reasonable prices. My main complaint about the room is that there isn’t even a chair (and no room to put one), so the only place to sit is on the bed. Oh well, I won’t be spending that much time in the room, so I’ll be OK, but I would really like a chair! Now, I know that Europe is known for small bathrooms, but this has to be the smallest! The shower is so small that it’s difficult to turn around. I can deal with a small shower, but what bothers me more is the water pressure. You turn on the water and it’s OK for a minute, then it drops. You have to keep turning it up to get any water. It’s the first bathroom I’ve ever had in Italy that doesn’t have a bidet, but there’s certainly no room for one!

Still, the hotel has great service. The toilet seat is loose when I arrive, and when it breaks a couple days later and I notify the desk, it is fixed immediately. A nice buffet breakfast is included. It’s a good walk from where you get off the funicolare. I might like to be closer to the Piazzetta next time (mainly due to my arthritic knees) if I could find a good price. A lovely hotel, though, and it has a pool. By the time I get there, it’s around 3:00 pm, and I got up in New York around 26-27 hours earlier. I’m very tired (even though I slept a little on the plane) and hot and decide that the pool sounds really nice. That’s where I spend the next couple of hours, until I want to get ready for dinner. It’s a lovely pool with nice views.

This is just a start...much more to come!

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    Thanks, everybody. My weekend was busier than expected, but here's some more. I forgot to mention that I didn't see much garbage in Naples. At the beginning of the ride from the airport, there were a few cans that had a small pile next to them, but as you got into the center (the bus stops at Piazza Garibaldi before the port), there was none at all.

    On to more about Capri:

    I don’t have a map of Capri, except a very general one, but I don’t seem to need one. I had printed out the directions to the hotel but then forgot them. Fortunately, I had read them a couple of times and had a general idea of which way to go, then just asked a couple of times to make sure I was going in the right direction. There are a few signs along the way for La Minerva, so it’s not difficult to find. I wander back into Capri Town for dinner along the streets filled with designer shops. Nice to look at, but definitely out of my price range! Of course, the view from just off the Piazzaetta is gorgeous. All the views on Capri are gorgeous. It’s a great place for relaxing and just enjoying views. There are those decorated cows all over the place, which of course I have to take pictures of. I think I have around a dozen.

    For dinner, I decide on Isidoro on Via Roma, just off the Piazzetta. I didn’t have a lot of recommendations for restaurants on Capri and never do find the few I had. (Guess a map would have helped here!) It turns out to be a very expensive meal, really my own fault. I order the Saute of Clams Crostini, which is absolutely wonderful, and the local fresh fish simply grilled with lemon, also delicious. Here’s where the problem is, it’s one of those things priced by the gram. I guess you can chalk it up to jet lag or just being tired, but I wasn’t paying attention. I also find that wine is more expensive on Capri, and they don’t have a house wine when I ask but offer a wine from the area. I do really like the Taburno Falllenghina. With water, wine and dessert of Caprese Cake (chocolate surrounded by nuts), it’s 79.52€, much more than I would normally spend. I do see by my notes now, that price also included Limoncello. Well, I have to have that, right? :-d

    One other thing...everybody always talks about how all the Italians go on vacation in August, but there were plenty of Italians on vacation on Capri in early July. I walk back to the hotel and actually set my alarm. I’m very tired and perfectly capable of sleeping past 10:00 tomorrow morning, and I don’t want to miss breakfast. It’s served on the terrace with great views and includes yogurt, cereal, croissants, bacon or prosciutto, fruit, cakes and of course coffee and juice. Very good.

    Mt. Solaro is in the clouds, so I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to go up to Anacapri and take the chairlift. I start out back towards the center, taking a different street this time and end up at Giardini Augusto, at the beginning of Via Krupp. It’s a beautiful small garden with benches where you can just sit and be happy that you’re on the Isle of Capri in Italy! Beautiful weather and surroundings. From the garden, there are stairs that take you up to an overlook with more amazing views that include I Faraglioni. There is an American tour group up there, and the leader asks me to take a picture of the whole group. Of course, I’m happy to do so and then ask him to take one of me with Faraglioni in the background. Sometimes I forget to have people take pictures of me and wish I had more from trips, but I always manage to get some along the way.

    I’m looking down at Via Krupp from the other side of the lookout, and it’s a long way with lots of switchbacks down to Marina Piccolo. OK, walking downhill is actually worse for arthritic knees than uphill, but I’d really like to walk down there. I can see where it ends, or so I think, and decide to go for it. Definitely don’t start this walk without water! It’s very hot, and the walk is mostly in the sun. However, at the end of some of the turns, there is a stone bench in the wall where you can sit down for a few minutes in the shade. Of course, I sometimes sit down for more than a few minutes! I’m not sure how long it took me, but quite a while, surely much longer than it would take most people, because I just take my time and rest often.

    I get to where I thought it would end from up above, but guess what...naturally, it’s a ways further. I pass a British couple who are about to go down a long flight of stairs to a beach, so I ask them if that’s the Marina down there. They say no, it’s quite a bit further along the road, but if I go around the next corner and take the stairs that are there, it will be shorter than going all the way by the road. OK, onward and upward, or in this case, downward! It turns out to be not as far as I expected to the stairs, and I slowly go down, and down, and down...I get to a restaurant just above the bus station and decide I can’t go any further without more water and a restroom, so this is where I’ll have lunch. This is actually how I usually choose a restaurant for lunch, if I’m going to have a sit-down lunch. If I’m hot and tired and hungry, I’ll eat wherever I happen to be. I have to admit that if I had realized how long the walk was, I probably wouldn’t have done it. However, as is usually the case, whenever I walk longer than I really want to, it’s worth it. The views on the walk down were wonderful, and I wouldn’t have seen them from the bus.

    The restaurant is called Ristorante la Piazzetta. When I sit down and the waiter comes over, I just say acqua, still. I think he realizes I need it right now! He brings me a big bottle, which I dive right into, and then start looking at the menu. I have the Seafood Salad, which has octopus, squid, clams, mussels, shrimp and tomatoes. With water and 3€ cover, it’s 18€, which is also more than I would usually spend for lunch. But it’s very good, and I needed food and water.

    After a leisurely lunch, I’m tempted to just take the bus back up to Capri Town, but after coming all this way, I decide I have to go the rest of the way down to Marina Piccolo. It’s more stairs, but again I’m glad I do it. The beach is all large pebbles. I just have to cool off my feet in the water. It’s quite warm, and my feet sink way down in. Oops, I better pull back out before I’m completely in! I buy more water and just sit and watch the swimmers for a little while, then go back up the stairs to the bus. Fortunately, I’m at the beginning of the line and get a seat. It’s packed, with most of the people standing. There aren’t very many seats on those buses. You can buy your ticket on the bus from the driver. Back to the hotel, and all I want to do is get in the pool. I do wish there weren’t 36 steps down to the pool! But that’s not enough to stop me. It feels wonderful, as this pool has nice cool water. I can’t stand it when it feels like bath water, I want to be refreshed.

    I walk back into town for dinner and try Ristorante da Giorgio, also on Via Roma, but they are full, so I go one down to Capri’s Ristorante. I have the Beef Carpaccio and Pizza Capri, which has tomato, smoked cheese, basil and Parmigiano. I probably could have gone with just the pizza and had enough to eat. With water and ½ bottle wine (again more expensive than elsewhere in Italy), 56.35€. The wine was again very good, Aglianico del Taburno Fontan Avecchia. The price also includes Crema Melone, which I had been wanting to try. Very tasty, but I still like Limoncello better!

    More to come.

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    Here's a little more. I'll try to do more tomorrow:

    The next morning, Mt. Solaro is again in the clouds, but since this is my last day, I decide I’ll go up to Anacapri anyway. I can still see Villa San Michele and everything along the way. After breakfast, I walk into town to catch the bus. Hmmm...I’m the only one in line for the bus, which seems strange. After I wait a short time, I see a man taping a sign on the ticket office (which was closed), so I go over to see what’s up. The buses are on strike. In all my trips to Italy, this is the first time a strike has affected my plans (guess I’ve been lucky!). He tells me that they will start running again at 5:00 pm. OK, so maybe I’ll go up a little later this afternoon. That way, I’ll only have to pay for the taxi to get up there and can take the bus back down. I wouldn’t mind having a swim first!

    So I do a little shopping first. I love the coral jewelry, and I’m actually surprised that the prices aren’t quite as high as I expected, especially if you look at the coral set in Sterling Silver. The gold is much more expensive. Fortunately for me, I love Sterling Silver and find a great ring and pair of earrings that I love. I also have to buy some Limoncello. Now, it would be smarter to wait until I’m in Rome, but I want one of those bottles that has Capri on it along with little pictures. I also get a small bottle of Crema Melone, also with Capri on it.

    On to the hotel for my swim. As soon as I’m in the pool, I know I’m in trouble. I’m not going to want to leave! After all that walking yesterday, it doesn’t really take too much for me to decide to spend the afternoon at the pool. I suppose lots of Fodorites would be horrified to learn that I spend most of a day in Capri this way when I could have been out “doing something,” but I thoroughly enjoy it. And I can see Mt. Solaro from the pool (at least the part not covered by clouds). Isn’t that enough? :-d Of course, it isn’t, but I’m definitely coming back, and now I have even more of a reason…I didn’t see Villa San Michele, or the view from Mt. Solaro, or the Blue Grotto, or a few other things. I guess that in 2½ days on Capri, I do less than a lot of people do in a daytrip, but that’s OK, because I have a great time. That’s probably the biggest benefit to traveling alone…you can do whatever you want whenever you want, without worrying about someone else’s goals.

    I walk back into town for dinner to try Ristorante da Giorgio again. This time, they have a table. (Note that the buses were still not running. I think it’s unusual for a strike not to end when they say it’s going to end.) I have the Prosciutto with Figs (delicious) and Pizza Margherita with Artichokes, good but not great. With water and ½ carafe of house wine, 42€. Still more than I usually spend for dinner. Capri food and wine are definitely more expensive than Rome. I go back to the Piazzetta to have my Limoncello at one of the cafes on the square and just enjoy the lovely, warm evening with a slight breeze. I’ve really enjoyed my time on Capri. I realize that it’s much different than the time I would have spent in Naples if I had gone there for the first three nights but have no regrets. I guess I just like both things, churches and art and history on the one hand, and beautiful views and swimming and relaxing on the other. This trip combined both, a very good thing!

    The next morning after breakfast, I’m off to Sorrento. I had made arrangements the night before to have the porters take one bag down to the port for me. I took my smaller one. So you just reverse the order: walk into town, take the funicolare down to the port, buy your ticket for the hydrofoil and sail off to Sorrento. Note that you want to leave perhaps a little more time than you think. I think I have plenty of time, but my boat leaves from the farthest gate, a bit of a hike from the ticket offices. I make it, but not with much time to spare, and I’m the last one to get my suitcase from the porter. Not to worry, I’m on the boat, that’s all that is important.

    In Sorrento, I have no intention of fighting to get on a bus (and I confirm later that all the buses from the Marina Piccolo in Sorrento are packed, difficult to do with luggage) and take a taxi. I’m staying at the Hilton. Now, I know lots of people think you should stay in Positano, but with Positano’s vertical landscape, Sorrento is probably better for me anyway. The main thing is, the Hilton would not be my first choice (mainly due to the location), but I have Hilton Honors Points and my five nights here are free. Hard to beat! It’s the only reason I can afford to come to Italy for over two weeks. I’m figuring I’ll have to take a few more taxis than usual, but this will be far less than paying for a room for five nights. The hotel is beautiful, all the usual amenities you expect from a large chain, gorgeous pool. My reservation was for two people, not because I thought anyone was coming with me, more because when I booked it, it comes up for two people and it’s no more points to book for two people. So I tell the desk clerk that it’s just me. He says, well, due to that, I can upgrade you to a single room with a view, plus I’ll throw in breakfast (normally not included). Sounds good to me! I have a slight view from my large room with the King-size bed and big bathroom (a pleasure after the tiny one in Capri).

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    Recently, someone posted a trip report where they said they arrived in Sorrento, basically hated it, and spent the next several days doing daytrips, leaving with the same impression they got on arrival. I can see why this might happen. On the taxi ride from the port to the Hilton, I’m not overly impressed with Sorrento, either. However, I do find that it has more to offer than first meets the eye. You have to get off the main drag and explore some of the smaller side streets. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite place, but I enjoy it.

    I knew the location of the Hilton wasn’t good. And that part about Sorrento being fairly flat doesn’t apply to the walk from Piazza Tasso to the hotel! I head out to look around and walk down into town. It’s all downhill, which of course means a good climb to come back. I stop and have the most wonderful gelato...just love that Baccio (chocolate with nuts and chocolate coating, the kind you get if you get a cone dipped in the US) and the Sorrento Limone. So good! I mean to write down the name of the place but never get around to it, but it’s on Corso Italia not far from Piazza Tasso, and the walls are covered by pictures of, I assume, Italian celebrities, including a couple gorgeous model types having a gelato bath...you know, like a mud bath. A little strange. I go and sit in the Piazza, enjoying the gelato and watching the people, one of my favorite pastimes.

    I go in A. Gargiulo & Jannuzzi, which is right on the Piazza (they provided the map I got at the hotel), known for their inlaid wood items and linens. A woman follows me around, two steps behind me, even though I had told her that I was just looking. I really hate that. Does she think I’m going to make off with something? I don’t stay long and go across the street instead, where the guy tells me I can pick up whatever I like to have a closer look after I ask about a music box. Much more pleasant place to shop, and I find one I love. I meander back up Via San Cesareo and stop in at Ristorante La Lanterna to make a dinner reservation for later and then head back to the hotel. Via San Cesareo has lots of shops of all sorts if you like to shop.

    Later, I head back down for dinner. On the way, I can see the men playing bocce ball and the kids playing basketball, something I wouldn’t have encountered if I had stayed down in town. So you see, as usual, there are benefits to walking more than you planned in different areas. I also pass Parco Ibsen, which is just outside the Antiche Mura (the old arch leading into town), another thing I probably wouldn’t have seen if I had stayed in town. I see that there is a schedule of concerts, and a jazz duo (piano and guitar) for the next night sounds good. I go in to see if I can buy a ticket at the café, but the waiter says they are not available ahead of time and assures me that I don’t have to worry about getting a seat.

    I continue on to dinner and have complimentary Foccacia with cherry tomatoes, Salmone Afumicato, and then Mussels in Tomato Sauce. Delicious! With ½ bottle of wine and water, it’s 38€. They offer complimentary cookies and Limoncello to finish off the meal. I still want to go a little further to Piazza Tasso and enjoy a Limoncello at one of the cafes. Ercolana is dark with a few old men sitting there, not exactly inviting, so I go to Fauno Bar, which is bright and cheery. They look full, but just as I come up, a couple leaves a table, so I get the waiter's attention and point to it. He asks if it's just one, and I say yes. He grabs my hand and puts it through his arm and escorts me to the table, to the amusement of the adjoining tables. I enjoy fun waiters! :-d I just relax and do more of my favorite people watching. Then, I’m too tired for the walk back to the Hilton, so I take a taxi.

    I learn later that there is a bus that goes right up to the Hilton. Gee, why didn’t the clerk at the hotel mention that when I asked him about buses? The next morning, I go to the desk to ask about it, and then see, way over on one side, a sign about the bus. They have schedules and also can sell you tickets right at the hotel. Good news! Except I find over the next few days that this one bus is not exactly reliable for times. All the others seem to run right on time, but not this one, and the last one from Piazza Tasso is at 9:00 pm. It would be nice if it ran later. I’m also really surprised that the Hilton doesn’t have a shuttle. I see lots of them around town from other hotels.

    After checking out the bus schedules, I go check out the buffet breakfast. Let’s just say that it has everything you could possibly want! An amazing selection. Although I don’t ask, I have a feeling it’s pretty expensive, so it’s great to have it included. I love smoked salmon, and that was just one of many selections.

    I’m off to Positano, so I go out and get the bus to the Circumvesuviana Station and buy a bus ticket to get there. Now, I’m not an early riser, not a morning person at all. Sometimes this is an advantage. As I’m waiting to get the bus, I talk to a woman who is on her way to Amalfi and Ravello. She tells me that the day before, she and her husband were there early to get a bus to Positano and encountered a crowd pushing and shoving to get on the bus. I don’t remember what time we were there, but I think probably around 10:30 or so. There’s no crowd, the bus is half empty, and I have no problem getting a seat on the right side for the view. So we’re driving along, and after a while, I’m wondering where the view is! Just so you know, the really great views don’t show up until about 5-7 miles from Positano. Then, there they are. OK, this is what I was expecting. Gorgeous!

    Also, fortunately a woman tells us all that we really don’t want to get off at the first stop where the driver announces Positano. You would be WAY up, a long way from where you really want to get off. I think it’s the third stop where we get off. Of course, you’re still up a long way from the beach, but I expected that.

    I start walking down, stopping to take some pictures at spots that have a great view. Villa Rosa, often recommended here, is very close to this bus stop. Wow, they really have a LONG flight of stairs to get up to the hotel! I think I had considered staying there at one time, but that’s more stairs than I would want. A short distance away is the Sirenuse. No stairs at all to get into the hotel. My kind of place. Too bad it’s way out of my price range!

    As I’m walking down, I check out the shops and buy a couple small things. I get to the point where I’m hungry and thirsty, so I stop for lunch at La Zagara. I can’t tell you the street, it’s just on the meandering path down towards the beach. It’s a nice setting. I have Piadina, which is arugula, mozzarella and ricotta in sort of a calzone-type thing, only thinner crust. It’s not very good, very bland. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen too often to me in Italy! With a glass of wine, 9€.

    I continue on down, because my ultimate goal is to find Gennaro & Salvatore so I can reserve their Amalfi Coast Tour for Friday. On the way, totally by chance, I find their office, but it’s closed. However, it says that they have a booth down on the jetty, so that’s where I’m headed. I reserve the tour and then try to buy a ticket for the hydrofoil back to Sorrento. The lady tells me (I think) that I have to go to the booth at the end of the row for the time I want. I go down to that booth (a different company), and the lady there tells me that they don’t offer that time. Hmmm...so I go back to the first booth. Turns out that I misunderstood the first lady. She was trying to tell me that, although they usually have a boat at that time, it’s not offered today. OK, now I get it! I go back to the other booth and buy a ticket for their next one, which is about 15 minutes later than the other company’s (that’s not offered today!). You gotta love Italy...and I do! :-d

    I find that on the hydrofoils, you can certainly see some out the windows, but on almost all the ones I take, they have the stairs going up on top closed off, which is where you could see more. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have gone up there anyway. I either have luggage or have already done more than enough stairs/hills for the day! The boat takes me back to Marina Piccolo in Sorrento, where I get on a very crowded bus to Piazza Tasso, where I get lucky and catch the bus up to the Hilton. Then I crash for a while!

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    I finally got some more written...

    The Hilton has left a complimentary bottle of Limoncello, as well as two of mineral water, in my room. Very nice. If I had known that was going to happen, I wouldn’t have bought the bottle in Capri! I probably would have still bought a very small one that said Capri, but not the larger one. Now I have two large ones, plus the small one of Crema Melone, to fit in my suitcase. Naturally, I can’t leave a free bottle of Limoncello behind! :-d Somehow I’ll manage.

    That night, I head down to Parco Ibsen, Piazza Antiche Mura, for the jazz concert (walking, because the Hilton bus wouldn’t stop there). As I walk in, they are selling tickets for 15€, or 25€ if I want food. They’re offering rice with tomato sauce, a typical regional dish, and a glass of wine. Hmmm...doesn’t sound very appetizing, but I agree, and they say you eat after the concert, which starts at 9:00 (or is supposed to start at 9:00). When I get further into the park, the maitre d’ says I can eat now if I like, but the dish takes a while. I’m OK with this, so he leads me to the restaurant. You don’t even realize it’s there. There is a café, which I think only serves drinks and food to nibble on while drinking, but he leads me down a long flight of stairs to the actual restaurant, which sits below the stage. It’s lovely, with a high stone wall and a waterfall/fountain. Beautiful candles on all the tables. I’m thinking that maybe I should have asked if I could just order off the menu instead of taking the included dish. Now comes the rice dish, something I probably would never have ordered. It’s actually like a fried rice timbale, with mozzarella, peas, and sausage in it and fresh tomato sauce on top. It is to die for! Not really enough for a meal, but it’s so good. I want this recipe!

    I go back up to street level, where the stage is. It’s a small stage with semicircular benches in tiers. A beautiful setting outdoors for a concert. They say the concert will start around 9:15. It’s actually 9:45 before they come on stage. The performance is by the Francesco Nastro duo, with him on piano and Pietro Condorelli on guitar. They are fantastic! I’m sitting there thinking that you’d never get this kind of jazz concert for $15 in the US, and the audience would be packed. Here, more than half the seats are empty. Most of the people seem to be locals. A lovely evening and wonderful concert, so see again, something good has come from my walking from the Hilton. I walk back up to the hotel and find delicious chocolates on my pillow. Mmmm...just what I needed!

    The next day, I suppose I should be going off to Naples and/or Pompeii, but it’s very hot and I have done a LOT of walking the past couple of days. My knees really need a break. After breakfast, I decide to spend the day swimming and laying the in the sun. Delightful! It’s a beautiful pool. I enjoy watching the kids, as they’re having such a great time. I have to say that they seem a lot happier than the ones I see being dragged around sightseeing in the heat. I decide I need some lunch and order the Grilled Mozarella on Lemon Leaves with Grilled Prosciutto and a glass of wine. It’s not cheap, 18€, but is very good. The only thing is, it’s huge, definitely enough for two people, so I can’t finish it all. A beautiful, relaxing day.

    For dinner, I go to Inn Bufalito, Vico 1 Fuoro, which someone here recommended. Of course the specialty is Buffalo Mozarella, so I order the Bocconcini, small balls, which is served simply with tomatoes, arugula and olive oil. It’s delicious, but again too much. This would be a good appetizer to split between two people. The waiter had explained the specials to me, and the peppers stuffed with capers, bread, sausage, onion, and a few other things, a very traditional dish, sounds good. It is! With ½ bottle of wine, 21€. I head over to the Fauno Bar for a Limoncello and people-watching, then take a taxi back to the hotel.

    The next morning after breakfast, I take the bus from the Hilton to Piazza Tasso, then another one down to Marina Piccolo and buy my ticket for the hydrofoil to Positano (9€). I had allowed plenty of time, since I had to catch a specific boat in order to be there in time for the Amalfi Coast boat tour. I had actually tried to buy the ticket two days earlier when I came back from Positano, but you can’t buy them ahead of time. Since I have a while to wait, I sit down on a low stone wall to wait instead of walking out to the gate, where there’s nowhere to sit.

    Some Americans sit down next to me. After a few minutes, a guy comes over and says that he can see by their tickets that they’re going on the same boat he will be on to Capri. He offers them a deal for transportation on the island (not a guided tour), a van from the port up to Anacapri, time there, a ride back down to Capri Town, time there, and a ride back to the port for 15€ per person. He admits right upfront that this is about double what the funicolare and bus would cost, but you’re paying for the convenience. He points out that it would be a comfortable ride in and air-conditioned van vs. the absolutely packed buses, which have no AC and have few seats so most people have to stand. I realize that he’s telling the truth about everything. I think it’s a small price to pay for such convenience, so I lean over and tell them that it is a good deal. One of the guys asks me if I’m the guy’s wife! I laugh and say no, I’m from Upstate New York but just spent 3 nights on Capri, and the guy is right about everything he has told them, so that if they think the convenience is worth it, they aren’t being scammed. They agree that it’s a small price to pay for the convenience. Turns out that the other guy went to college about 20 miles from where I live, and we chat for a while until it’s time to go catch the boats.

    When I get to Positano, I have a while to wait for the tour, so I get a gelato and sit on a stone bench near the water. I realize I’m looking up at the Covo dei Saraceni Restaurant, the one featured in the movie “Only You,” where Faith goes to dinner with the fake Damon Bradley. I love that movie, so I have to take a couple pictures. I even figure out where Peter was sitting, watching them with binoculars!

    I had read a lot about Gennaro & Salvatore’s tours on the Amalfi Coast. Salvatore is leading this one, which stops at a few places to swim and includes lunch, beverages on board (water and soda) and use of towels and runs from 11:00 am until 5:30-6:00 pm at a cost of 80€. It’s worth every penny. We start out driving straight out from shore. I’m a little surprised how far out we go before he stops and wonder if that will bother anyone. I’m a pretty good swimmer (not fast) and learned to swim in the Niagara River, which of course has unbelievably strong current on its way to Niagara Falls, so it doesn’t concern me. A couple of the kids and a few adults do wear life preservers, so they’re available if you want them. Most of us just jump or dive off the side of the boat, or you can go down a ladder at the back of the boat. The water is heavenly. There we are, just lazily swimming in the ocean on a gorgeous, sunny, hot day. What more could you want?

    When we’re all back in the boat after the swim, Salvatore says we should all be quiet for a minute and just listen to the sea. A great idea! We continue on down the coast, into the Cave of Pandora, which is pretty cool, and on to a waterfall where we stop to swim again. Salvatore can’t get in very close to the waterfall, and it’s quite a ways. Some people do swim in to go under it, but I decide to stay closer to the boat. I’m quite sure I could make it, but wouldn’t look forward to the swim back out to the boat against the waves. No matter, I like just being in the water. There are about 30 people on the tour, I think about their maximum, and they are from all over…the US, Australia, England, Germany, plus some Italians.

    Back in the boat, we go on to a restaurant for the included lunch. I don’t seem to have the name of the restaurant. There is a woman on the tour, Gloria, who has lived in Positano for 20 years, is a friend and apparently helps them with tours, especially when they have a lot of people. Her daughter and granddaughter are visiting. On the boat, she has been helping to tell people what’s going on. I had been sitting next to her in the back section of the boat. In the restaurant, she takes over assigning everyone their seats. I have to smile to myself, it’s sort of like being in 3rd grade with the teacher telling you where to sit. She puts me next to Salvatore and across from herself. She starts slicing the huge lemons that are on the table, and this is when I learn that you can eat them like you would any fruit, rind and all. Amazing! The flavor is wonderful and the rind is not the least bit bitter. They put them in their wine as well.

    Lunch is delicious. Of course, it’s a lot of seafood. They just keep bringing course after course and offer as much wine as you want. I can’t even remember everything we eat, but it includes marinated eggplant. I’m drawing a blank on what all the courses were. I can’t explain why that’s the one thing that comes to mind right now! We also have some delicious local fish that Salvatore had caught that morning. He shows me how to get all the bones out in a couple of easy moves. Very cool. I proceed to do it perfectly, which makes him pick up his glass of wine to have a toast. He says, you’ve done this before, but I assure him I haven’t. He’s off for a while talking to everyone. They bring out fruit, which Gloria says you have to put in your wine. I try it but am not crazy about this idea, so I take it out. When Salvatore comes back, he asks me if I want some fruit in my wine, but I say no, I like the wine in the fruit but not the fruit in the wine. He gives me a skeptical look, then says you are a complicated woman…I like that, and we have another toast. He’s a lot of fun to have around.

    They bring out dessert, bon bons, and Limoncello. They have brought out several liqueurs, not just Limoncello, so I decide to try the chocolate one. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s too sweet. Like syrup. I rinse out my glass and replace it with Limoncello…much better! :-d We have asked Salvatore if we can swim again, so back on the boat, he does stop for another swim. Lovely! We get back to Positano around 6:30. An absolutely wonderful day!

    I get the hydrofoil back to Sorrento and take the bus up to Piazza Tasso. I’m waiting for the bus up to the Hilton, but this is one of those times when it just doesn’t come. I finally decide to take a taxi. I’m so full after that huge lunch that I don’t need dinner. I’m also pooped, so I go to bed early and am asleep in no time.

    The next day, I want to go to Amalfi and Ravello. I take the bus to the Circumvesuviana Station and buy a bus ticket to Amalfi (6€). Again, it probably pays to not be there really early. The bus isn’t crowded, although it does make a couple more stops and picks up a few more people. Once in Amalfi, I get the bus up to Ravello (2€). While the bus isn’t exactly packed, there are a couple of people standing. I get on early enough to get a seat. I walk up to Villa Rufolo and go in (5€). Lots of interesting architecture and beautiful gardens. Of course, it’s here where you get that quintessential view under the umbrella pine down to the water. Gorgeous! I ask a couple of ladies to take my picture at this spot. This is where they have the concert series. I’d like to go to one, but it would be a long way back to Sorrento afterwards.

    I briefly do a little shopping. Of course, you could spend a fortune here on ceramics, but that’s not in my budget. A clerk at one of the stores shows me all the dinnerware they have that is exclusive to their shop. She says I can have it shipped to the US for only 60€, including customs and tax (I think for 40 pounds, but I might not be correct on that weight). It actually sounds pretty reasonable for shipping, but it’s the cost of the ceramics that still isn’t in my budget! I just buy an inexpensive tile with that scene from Ravello.

    I want to go to the Duomo next. I’m surprised to find it closed. I thought I had read that both Villa Rufolo and the Duomo were open all day. I realize later that I had it confused with the Duomo in Amalfi, which IS open all day. Drat! Oh well, a good reason to come back to Ravello, in addition to other things that are there that I didn’t get to, but I do also want to get to the Duomo in Amalfi. I take the bus back down and get over to the Duomo. Hmmm…look at all those stairs! As usual, I have to count them. Just in case you’re interested, there are 62 steps up to the Amalfi Duomo. Once again, I’m glad I climb the stairs. It’s 2.50€ for the Cloister of Paradise, the Basilica of the Crucifix, the Crypt (with a great sculpture of St. Andrew) and the Cathedral. Well worth it. An interesting quote from the brochure they give you…”Jesus is waiting for you in the Chapel of the Eucharist in the left transept. If possible, search for the silence and listen to IT!”

    After the Duomo, I look around a little in the shops and go over to buy a ticket for the hydrofoil back to Sorrento (11€). I don’t have much time. Good thing I ask the clerk if the gate is the one right there, because she informs me that it’s the one over on the other side. I race over there and just make it on the boat with a few minutes to spare. In Sorrento, I get the bus up to Piazza Tasso and this time get lucky and catch the one up to the Hilton. Success on that for a change!

    Later I wait for the bus back down into town for dinner. It’s not on time. I’m not sure if they skipped one, or if it came really late, or it might be the next one coming really early! Oh well, I get one. Dinner is at Pizzaria Aurora, right on Piazza Tasso. I have Mussels with Black Pepper and Risotto with Seafood (clams, mussels, crayfish, octopus, squid). Everything is great. With ½ bottle of wine, 41€. I end the evening at Fauno Bar again for my Limoncello and as usual enjoy watching everything go by.

    I really enjoyed my time in Capri and Sorrento. I’d like to go back and spend a few nights on Capri, then maybe a few in Amalfi, which would be convenient to go back to Positano for another tour with Gennaro & Salvatore as well as going back to Ravello. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a few days on Ischia, too!

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    Susan,

    Still enjoying the trip report! Glad you made it to the Amalfi Coast and that you like Capri. Did you not make it to Pompeii? Next trip!

    For someone with bad knees, you don't slow down much. Good for you.

    I wonder if the lack of crowded SIT buses is due to month? Or, less tourists? When I arrived at the Sorrento train station, I had to wait an hour for the next bus because the first one filled up completely. No one else could even squeeze on. The bus up and back for Ravello was really bad. This was mid Sept.

    Do continue!

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    Hi Dayle, no I didn't make it to Pompeii. I think for me I need to go down there sometime when I can do it other than in the summer. Too hot to go there in July!

    I just can't let my knees prevent me from going to these places! I just go slow and rest when I need to.

    I did expect crowds to be a lot worse on the Amalfi Coast in July. Even aside from the buses, I can't think of anytime that I felt mobbed, other than the one bus I took from Marina Piccola to Capri Town. I did run into a couple of tour groups on Capri, but only two or three, and they weren't a problem.

    And I will continue!

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    Hello SusanP, I lost track of your trip report and am so glad it was brought up to the top..I have been enjoying a glass of wine and also enjoying the next installments of your trip. A beautiful and informative report and happily you had a wonderful trip. Like our TRSW (Tom) I knew the moment I saw the title of thread again it was YOUR thread. Signed: Another lover of Limoncello!

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    I’m going to Rome the next day, but I’m taking the bus, and it doesn’t leave until 5:00 pm, so after breakfast I have the hotel store my luggage and catch the bus into town for awhile. I want some gelato and go back to the same place on Corso Italia. They don’t have the Baccio, but do have “Il Mia Magnum,” which is very similar. One scoop of that and one of the Sorrento Limone...Mmmm! I sit in Piazza Tasso a while, enjoying my gelato and watching the activity on the square. I do a little shopping and wander the side streets a bit and come across Dominova Seat, an ancient Seat of Nobility from the 2nd half of the 14th Century with nice frescoes. Back on Piazza Tasso, I go in Santa Maria in Carmine, but just inside the door for a quick look, as the Sunday morning services are going on. It seems as though every church in Italy is worth looking inside.

    I need to find an ATM, since my apartment in Rome requires cash on arrival, as they all do. I had planned to use the one in the Hilton, but it was out of order. I go to two different banks and can’t get any Euro. I start wondering if I’m running into that thing I’ve read about where you can’t get money on Sunday because, due to the time difference, the US banks are doing their compiling. I remember passing a couple on Corso Italia leading away from Piazza Tasso in the opposite direction of the Hilton, since that’s the way the taxi has to go at night (the other way was blocked off for pedestrians, I think after 10 pm). I find one and am able to get the amount I need.

    I hadn’t brought my water bottle along this time and was thirsty, plus thought maybe I should eat a little something, since I wouldn’t be having dinner until very late in Rome. Right next to the ATM is Kontatto Snack Bar. I don’t really want a big meal, so I just order the Bruschetta Pomodoro and water, 8€. So much for thinking I’m getting a snack. The Bruschetta is huge! Looks like they took a large oval loaf of bread and cut a piece the long way. It’s delicious, but once again, I can’t finish it. Another example of something that would be good to split between two people. I get lucky again and catch the bus back to the Hilton.

    I collect my luggage and go out to wait for the bus again. The one bus would get me there about ½ hour ahead of the departure time for my bus to Rome, but due to my experience with the bus to and from the Hilton, I’m a little worried that it would be very late, or not come at all. I decide to be out there to catch the previous one. That way, the earlier one will certainly come on time. Of course, it does! :-d So I’m at the Circumvesuviana Station more than an hour before my bus leaves. Not necessary, but I figure it’s better than being late, since this is the only bus today. On weekdays, there are two, one very early in the morning (I think maybe 6:30) and then the 5:00 pm one.

    I have a reservation on the Marozzi bus. Here’s an alert for those people who always say you can wait and get your tickets for in-Italy transportation a day ahead, or even when you get to the station to leave. Maybe they’ve only been talking about trains, but don’t plan to do that for the Marozzi bus! There were at least six people who wanted to buy a ticket and couldn’t get one. When the bus pulls in, two Italian ladies who were also waiting for it have their suitcases loaded under the bus by the driver. I can’t understand everything that’s being said, but it’s obvious they are asking him about buying a ticket and he’s telling them that there aren’t any. The bus is fully booked. I’m right behind them and he says, Prenotazione? I can see that he is thinking, OK, here’s another one who doesn’t have a clue and thinks she can just walk up and buy a ticket. But I nod my head and pull my reservation confirmation out of my tote bag. He nods OK and proceeds to drag the other ladies’ bags off the bus and put mine on. I made my reservation around three weeks ahead, and at that time there were plenty of seats left, so I’m not sure how far ahead they were all sold out.

    When I’m on the bus, there are four Americans who also want to buy tickets from the driver. I hear one of the women say that they’ve been all over, including to a travel agent, trying to get tickets. They’ve obviously had a very frustrating day and wasted a lot of time and still can’t get on the bus, because it’s ALL SOLD OUT! This is why I’m very glad that I always do this kind of thing ahead of time. I’m one of those who always gets my train tickets ahead of time and am one of the few lucky ones, I guess, who has never had trouble with the Trenitalia website. I don’t take any trains on this trip (only planes, boats, funicolares and buses!), but if I had, I would have had my tickets ahead of time.

    I chose the bus because I couldn’t really afford the private driver from Sorrento the Naples (100€), and if I took the Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Naples and changed there to the train to Rome, I would have to get my luggage onto one train, off of it, and on to another, probably with stairs in between (although I will note here that the Circumvesuviana station in Sorrento does have an elevator up to the train platforms). With the bus, the driver puts the bags onto the bus and you get them off in Rome. It seemed much easier to me and was certainly inexpensive, 17.50€. The bus takes four hours, which probably isn’t that much different than the two trains when you figure the time of each train plus time in between. The disadvantage of the bus is the small seats. It’s like being on an airplane. Not much room.

    OK, there’s another disadvantage to the bus...traffic! The traffic is horrendous up to Naples. It takes almost and hour and a half to go 11 miles. I’m thinking that they probably plan for heavy traffic in the 4-hour timeframe, but I wonder just how much time they allow for that. There is gorgeous scenery around the Bay of Naples, and lots of olive trees along the road. You can see the nets rolled up and hung between the trees. Some of the branches hang over the road, and I wonder how they harvest those. You’d have to stop traffic to get those olives! We finally get past the very slow traffic and start moving, but around quarter to 9:00 (which is when we were supposed to arrive in Rome), the driver announces that he is going to stop at the Autogrill and we will be late. I ask him how late, and he says we will arrive a little after 10:00 pm.

    I call the apartment owner, since you have to have an appointment to get in, and tell him I’ll be about an hour late. He says he doesn’t speak much English and asks me to speak slowly. I’m pretty sure he says he’s in the apartment. Hmmm...why is he there before 9:00, when my appointment to meet him there is for 9:30-9:45? I slowly tell him that my bus is very late and I will be there around 10:30. I can only hope he knows what I’m saying and will be there!

    It’s almost 10:15 by the time the bus comes into Tiburtina. Maybe I should have told the apartment owner 10:45. I have a few could-have-been-disasters in Rome. The first is about to happen. I get my luggage and start out looking for the taxi stand. Now, when walking in Rome, it’s a good idea to look down frequently due to the cobblestones and uneven sidewalks. However, I’m walking across smooth pavement, plus I’m looking for the taxis, so I’m not looking down. Bad idea! There is a metal strip with a groove across the pavement, the kind a tram runs on (although there is only one). You can probably see where this is going. I trip on the metal strip and fall down flat. A man immediately is there trying to help me. I don’t understand everything, but it’s obvious that he’s asking me if I’m all right and offering to help me up. I sit up but hesitate a minute. It sort of knocked the wind out of me! Another man comes over, and the two of them help me up and pick up my luggage for me.

    By some miracle, I only end up with a few scratches on my hands and left elbow, and I later find a few bruises on my stomach. My left thumb joint is bruised and very sore (in fact it’s still just a little sore now, three weeks later), but it’s amazing that I didn’t break my hand or wrist, or even my arm. Fortunately, I only go a few more steps before I’m at the taxi stand. OK, so arriving in Rome isn’t going very well, but I get in the taxi, and as we drive towards the apartment, it doesn’t matter…because I’m back in Rome, my favorite place! I’ve said this before, but Rome has its own energy, and as usual I can feel it. :-d

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    Great report Susan. I admire your courage in doing all the traveling alone. I think I could manage a trip to Paris by myself but would have to stay put most of the time not go from place to place the way you did. Can't wait to hear about Rome.

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    Hi Susan!

    I am enjoying your report, and am anxious to hear about your time in Rome. I got back to Italy this year, also, but Rome wasn't on the itenerary this time, so I'll have to live vicariously through you. :)

    Sorry to hear about your tumble. I did the same thing in Venice, I wasn't paying attention and tripped on the pavement. Fortunately I made a good save. Glad to hear you didn't hurt yourself too badly.

    Johanna

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    Leely, yes, the fall could have resulted in far worse injuries. I was lucky.
    Sharon, I only have two friends who I think I could happily and successfully travel with. One can't afford it right now and the other won't leave the country. So...it's either go alone or not go. Obviously, my choice is to go alone! And while I could be happy just staying in Rome, I want to see other areas, too.
    Johanna, Rome always has to be somewhere on my itinerary!

    I'll do some more tomorrow.

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    Yikes Susan, I am so glad you didn't have any serious injuries or any broken bones! I have tumbled to the sidewalk in Milan (that only caused a swollen knee and one cut) but the handsome young Milanese fellows in the the black car screeched to a halt and came to my rescue..mama mia they were handsome and charming, lol. And in Bologna my Italian friend for some reason grabbed my arm right when I was going to step off of the high curb and again thanks to her pullig on me I flopped on the street, same swollen right knee but no handsome Italian men to assist me that time except for my friend's handsome Italian husband but that doesn't count lol.

    Ok, on to the next part of your adventure..hopefully the landlord was at the apartment when you arrived. Hugs!

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    LoveItaly, well, it's always nice to have handsome Italians helping you! :-d To tell you the truth, I was a bit stunned and didn't even notice if the two who helped me were handsome! Here's some more:

    With light traffic, the trip is under 20 minutes. The driver drops me off as close as possible, and I walk over to the apartment, which is on Vicolo Montevecchio. The owner sticks his head out the window and says he’ll be right down. OK, this is good, he’s here! I find out that the reason he had said he was in the apartment when I called is that he lives right there in the building, in the apartment next door. I rented it through Sleep in Italy (the 5th time I’ve used them) with the usual good service and communication. It’s on the first floor with an elevator and is a two-story apartment with a curving staircase up to the master bedroom and bath. I’ve never seen so much storage space in an apartment. Huge closets, plus other storage areas here and there. It’s a great apartment and has a second ½ bath and sofa bed downstairs, kitchen with an oven (often they just have a stovetop). A fabulous location, literally a couple minutes to the Piazza Navona.

    One thing that might bother some people is that there is no natural light. The only window is over the door, and that looks out on the inner square of the building (not really a courtyard, it’s just the hall and stairwell). And when I say it looks out, you wouldn’t be able to actually look out unless you’re about 8’ tall. It really lets in almost no outside light. Even in the morning, it’s difficult to tell it’s daytime.

    The owner shows me around. I start to get out the money to pay him, and he says, it’s late, it’s OK if I want to pay tomorrow. Well, I have the cash and would just as soon get rid of it now. There’s a 25€ extra charge for checking in after 9:00 pm (this is with all Sleep in Italy apartments), but he refuses to take it, saying he lives right there and doesn’t have to come from somewhere else, so he won’t charge me. I like the way he thinks! He tells me several times to knock on his door or leave him a note if I need anything. He doesn’t speak a lot of English but has obviously learned what he needs to say to his tenants.

    By this time, it’s around 10:30. I’m really not that tired, because I just sat on the bus all that time, and I really don’t intend to go to sleep without seeing the Piazza Navona! Plus, although I don’t want a big dinner, I do need a little something to eat. I get a quick shower and walk over to Café Barroca, where I usually have my Limoncello after dinner, and ask if they’re still serving food. They are telling me that the kitchen is closed, but then one of the waiters who I know from previous trips turns and sees who it is. He says, oh, hello madam. The kitchen is closed, but we do have some sandwiches. I really didn’t feel like going somewhere else, although some of the restaurants just off the Piazza were still open, so I thank him and say I’ll have that. I have a panini with mozzarella and tomato and a glass of wine. Of course, I have to end with my Limoncello, which I enjoy sipping while doing one of my favorite things in Rome, just relaxing and watching the people, artists and performers in the Piazza Navona. My hand hurts, but somehow I don’t really notice!

    Well, I guess I’m more tired than I thought. The next morning, I wake up around 7:30 but go right back to sleep. When I wake up again, it’s 11:30. I can’t believe I slept that long! I think no daylight coming into the apartment probably helped. Another advantage of traveling alone...I don’t have to worry about a traveling companion being really irritated that I’ve slept half the day! I don’t worry too much about it. I’m lucky enough to have spent a lot of time in Rome, so I always take my time and do what I feel like doing. I no longer have a specific itinerary for Rome. I always have a list of things I’d like to see, along with the times they are closed, and decide what to do as I go along. I never get to everything on the list, plus I’m always adding things, so I don’t need to worry about running out of things to see!

    Just around the corner from the apartment, there is a small market. They have beautiful strawberries, so that’s my very late breakfast. I munch on them while walking over to catch a bus to go to Sant’ Andrea della Fratte on Via Capo le Case. I get off at Piazza Barberini, because the strawberries weren’t enough and I want to go to La Rupa Tarpea Restaurant for lunch (recommended by someone here) on Via Veneto right next to Santa Maria Concezione. I’ve already seen the Capuchin Monk bones, so I’m not going to go there.

    I order the salad of arugula, pear and Parmigiano and a glass of wine. He brings me ½ bottle, saying they don’t have wine by the glass. Hmmm...that Frascati is really going to go well with the salad, so I decide to have it anyway. :-d After the salad, I’m still hungry (remember, I had very little dinner last night, and it’s now probably at least 1:00), plus I have wine left, so I order some bruschetta. Both are very good, 24€. More than I usually spend for lunch, but I enjoy sitting there awhile. It’s very hot, and there is a nice breeze.

    On to Sant’ Andrea della Fratte. On the way, as I’m walking along, all of a sudden I see stained glass window pictures of The Beatles, Elvis & Jimmy Hendrix. Huh? I look up, and it’s the Hard Rock Café. That explains the pictures. I take a couple of pictures, but there are a couple of young guys sitting in front of Elvis. Well, I have to have that one, since I saw Elvis in person in Las Vegas in 1973! I ask them if they would move for a minute, which they graciously do so I can get my picture.

    OK, now on to the church. I wanted to go here to see the only two angels from Ponte Sant’ Angelo that Bernini actually carved. I just love Bernini and go see his sculpture whenever possible. I am not disappointed. The Angel with the Crown of Thorns and Angel with the Inscription of the Cross are beautiful. I meant to read The Genius in the Design about the Borromini/Bernini rivalry before this trip but didn’t get to it. I definitely will read it before I return to Rome. I catch a bus back to the apartment.

    Later, I walk over to the Pantheon on my way to dinner at Rotondo on Via dei Pastini. Of course, you can never get tired of looking at the Pantheon, and tonight there is a full moon hanging in the sky just above it. Beautiful! I’ve been to Rotondo before and have to order the Polipetti all Luciana (octopus with capers, olives and tomato). It is soooo good! Then I have the Spaghetti Carbonara, which is also outstanding. Hmmm...I might have to come back for more of this. With ½ bottle of Frascati, 34€. A wonderful dinner, and they offer complimentary Limoncello at the end. Naturally, I accept! Walking back, I’m very close to Armando al Pantheon, so I stop in and make a reservation for Thursday, which is when they make the Coda alla Vaccinara, which you also have to reserve. The waiter seems a little surprised that I know this, but marks it down for me. I still want my time in the Piazza Navona, so I go back there to end the evening.

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    The next morning, after again getting some delicious strawberries, I take the bus to S. Pudenziana on Via Urbana. It’s just west of Santa Maria Maggiore, so I take that bus but get off a stop or two before Maggiore, as I see that it will be closer. This turns out to be a real highlight. The church has the oldest Christian mosaics that survive from a place of worship, dated around 400, of Jesus and the Apostles. I love mosaics, and as I’m enjoying them, I see a sign that says you can ask about a tour conducted by a volunteer. They only ask that you give at least 1€ for the tour. Anybody who gives only 1€ for this doesn’t deserve the tour! I go and ask about it, and the girl goes and brings out a young man, Salvatore, who speaks good English. He gives me a fascinating tour, into the Mariana Oratory to see some frescoes and then up some stairs which take you up by the organ, where you’re much closer to the mosaics and get a wonderful view of them.

    S. Pudente was the sister of S. Prassede, where of course there are also wonderful mosaics, but these are not only older, they’re quite different. These are more 3D, not static, so the later mosaics did not follow their style. The Apostles are dressed like Roman Senators, and the buildings in back of them are the new Jerusalem, but are styled like ancient Rome. Two of the Apostles were cut off when they renovated centuries ago. Can you imagine that happening today? It’s sort of like San Clemente. The first layer is Pudente’s house, 10 metres down, then above that is a 2nd Century Roman bath. They converted the baths into the current church. You can’t go down to the other levels now, as it’s not safe, but they are working on it so it can be open for tours. Don’t hold your breath…it will probably be at least two years, and knowing how these things usually go, probably longer!

    A couple other interesting tidbits: St. Paul converted Pudente, and St. Peter also stayed with them, when church services were held in people’s homes due to persecution. Some people believe that the two sisters’ brother, Timothy, is the Timothy in the Bible, since Paul obviously knew them and Pudente’s name appears at the end of Timothy I. There was a lot more information as well. Really fascinating. Anyone who loves mosaics and history should definitely go here. I was the only one in the church, and thus had a private tour.

    I start over toward Piazza Venezia and stop for lunch at Ristorante da Robertina on Via Panisperna, mainly because it’s there and I’m hungry, and the restaurant before this one that I thought I would go to wasn’t open. Not a bad choice. The Carpaccio Bresaola is very good. With a glass of wine, 13.85€. I’m looking for Torre delle Milizie, which is supposed to tilt, and was incorporated into the Domenican Convent of S. Caterina a Magnanapoli. There is a legend that says Nero watched Rome burn from the tower, but it’s actually 13th Century, so that doesn’t work. It doesn’t tilt as much as I thought it would.

    Just past the tower is the Museo dei Fiori Imperiali. It’s not on my list, but I don’t see any reason not to go in (6.50€). Lots of ancient statues, or parts of them, some interesting and some not so interesting. You can walk out the back, both on the ground floor and first floor, and see nice views of the Forum and Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. From a practical standpoint, there is a nice restroom on the first floor. After that, I go look at a couple of churches just across from the Monument, but they are closed, so instead I go over to House & Kitchen, a store I like on Via d. Plebiscito. I don’t shop too long, though, as I’ve come a long way and am tired, so I catch a bus back to the apartment to rest.

    For dinner, I go to Antica Taverna, Via Monte Giordano 12. It’s near Piazza Fico and not too far from my apartment. Good thing...I don’t want to walk too far! I had eaten here before, but they must have a different menu in the summer. I have the Crostini with Mozarella and Prosciutto, Saltimbocca alla Romano and a salad (which I thought would be a small side salad) of tomato, arugula, Parmigiana, walnuts, and corn. OK, I’ve ordered way too much food. I never imagined that each course would be so big! It’s all very good, but I can’t eat it all. With ½ litre of wine, 28€, so I could have eaten cheaper here and had plenty to eat. They also offer complimentary Limoncello. As usual, I spend time in the Piazza Navona before bed.

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    Hi Susan,

    Honestly, you and I are going to have to be in Rome sometime at the same time - although, you have spent much more time there than I have. I'm envious of you to be able to go so often.

    I've just listed my home on the HomeExchange web site, so we'll see what happens!

    Ciao

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    Hi Susan,

    I am really enjoying tour report. How nice of the landlord to waive the late arrival fee. And how cool the waiter remembered you and was able to you a sandwich even though the kitchen was closed.

    And I agree with Dayle, I would love to meet up with you in Rome some day.

    Tom

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    I'm seriously thinking of putting together a Fodorites trip to Italy like Rex Bickers did a few years ago. Rent a huge villa in Tuscany, everyone get their own cars, plan a couple of activities, and let live.

    Anyone in?

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    lifeofmytime, enjoy the Limoncello. I always do! :-d

    Dayle, I know I've been lucky to go as often as I have. The last few trips have been made possible by selling a time share, points to make the Hilton stay free, and a small windfall. I'm currently figuring out how I can afford to go twice next year! If I can use my Capital One miles for a trip in Feb, I might be able to manage it (along with some overtime next month!). I'd love to meet up with both you and Tom in Rome. I'm sure we'd have a good time at dinner!

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    Susan, As always, I'm thoroughly enjoying your trip report.

    Could you post a link to the apartment in Rome? I looked on the Sleep in Italy website, but couldn't find one on that street.

    One more question - was it hard for you to learn which bus you needed to take?

    I'm looking forward to the rest of your report!

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    Dayle, I guess you were posting that last message at the same time I was posting. Hmmm...that sounds like it could be fun! However, I would need to go in early July, probably not when most people would prefer to go. I'm limited by my job as to when I can go. February (the week of the President's Day Holiday) and early July.

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    JJ127, here is the link for the apartment:
    http://www.sleepinitaly.com/files/apt_montevecchio2.html

    As far as the buses, I started on my first trip, when I stayed at a convent. Every time I wanted to go somewhere, I asked the nuns which bus to take. They always knew. I had a feeling that if I returned to Rome, I would want to stay in the same area (and I always have, near Piazza Navona), so I wrote down every bus I took, which stop it left from and where it went. This got me started.

    You can buy a bus map at the newsstands, although I never have. At each bus stop, there are signs that show each bus that stops there and all the stops that it makes. The only thing is, it won't say "Piazza Navona" or "Galleria Borghese," etc. It will give the street name, except for a couple of things like the Colosseum. So you need a good map. I use Streetwise Rome.

    The other thing you can do is go to the tourist information stand. There is one at the northern end of the Piazza Navona, just outside the piazza to the right. They can tell you which bus you need. I admit that it's easier if you spend more time in Rome. It does take a little time, but it's so worth it! They go everywhere and are obviously a lot cheaper than taking a lot of taxis. I've never really wanted to take the Metro, plus it doesn't go a lot of places. It doesn't come near the historic center. Every time they try to dig more Metro lines, they run into archeological finds and have to stop.

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    Susan, reading this is getting me so excited for my next trip to Rome. I changed careers last year and have not traveled as much as I used to, so wonderful reports like yours are sustaining me. Many thanks for all the details!

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    Leely2, glad you're enjoying it.

    JJ127, I haven't updated it yet from this most recent trip, but if you want to give your email, I could send it to you when I get that done. I'm afraid it will be most helpful to someone who is staying near Piazza Navona/Campo de' Fiori, probably not so much if you're staying in a different area.

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    Susan, I'd love to have the list when you're finished. My email is valor.1062@yahoo(dot)com.

    Thanks!

    And one last question, do you use the Roma Pass or buy tickets as you need them?

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    What a report!!! And extremely timely for those of us brain cramped folks who can't decide whether 8-9 days in Capri and Positano is overkill. Thanks to you, I'm thinking that amount of time would be just fine. Lots to do, or not do, as you found out in Capri. Thanks for your advice!

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    JJ, no, I've never purchased the Roma Pass. I've probably been to most of the places covered by it, so it wouldn't be cost effective. I've never even bought a weekly bus pass. I think it's 16€, and even though I use the bus a lot, that's more than twice a day. I just buy the 1€ tickets as I need them.

    dcd, I don't think that's too long at all. I would have had no trouble staying 4 or 5 nights on Capri. And as you see, I didn't make it to Pompeii or Naples from Sorrento, and would like to go back to Ravello, so I could easily spend the same amount of time, or more, in the area again.

    Tom, I've misplaced the cord that downloads the pictures onto the computer. Plus, I've never done it (the ones I have on my own computer were put there by my son), so it may take me a while to figure out one of those photo sites. Maybe!

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    I meant to add, I have to go play in a concert tonight, but should be able to get more written tomorrow. I don't think it's ever taken me this long to get a report written!

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    SusanP
    This is the first of your trip reports I've had the pleasure of seeing. What an awesome and inspiring read! I, too, have arthritic knees and have made no plans to travel until replacement surgeries (date unknown). Maybe I could do a trip or two on my own, stopping and starting as you did, before I go ahead with the big ops. Thanks for such a fun, informative and carefree report. You are amazing!
    Travelchat

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    Hi Susan,

    As always I love following you around Roma. Great report. I long to be in Rome again. Maybe I can somehow manage it next year combined with Dubrovnik. Looking forward to your next installments.

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    I'm finally getting back to this.

    travelchat, how bad is your arthritis? I'm not to the point of needed replacement surgery (although I suppose that's somewhere in my future). I can't put off Italy until after that! I don't have excruciating pain, but enough that it does affect what I do. If you think you can do it, go for it! And the advantage of traveling alone is that you don't have to worry about holding somebody else back, or frustrating them because of having to slow down for you.

    Hi Barb, nice to hear from you. You need to join Dayle & Tom & me for dinner in Rome!

    Here's a little more:

    The next day, my main thing is to go to Hadrian’s Villa and Tivoli for Villa d’Este. I had debated about whether to go by myself or take a tour. Generally, I prefer to go by myself, and I have Walter’s excellent, detailed directions on how to do so. I had also read here about someone’s good experience with Vastours. I decided to take the tour and had called yesterday to reserve the tour. It doesn’t leave until late afternoon, so I have some time. I stroll around for a while with my breakfast of strawberries and go see if Santa Maria della Pace is open. It’s just around the corner from my apartment. I’ve tried to go here numerous times on previous trips, but it’s never open, even when it’s supposed to be open. As usual, it’s closed, even though it should be open!

    However, nearby is Santa Maria dell’Anima, and it’s open. No surprise, here is another good one. Gorgeous blue and gold ceiling, great stained glass window, beautiful design in the dome, not to mention the paintings. As I say, you can go into any church that you happen to pass in Rome and not be disappointed. I meander down Via Coronari, doing a little window shopping and just enjoying the area. Later, I decide I want a late lunch before my tour and get some pizza from Antica Rosticceria Mangia Bene, again just around the corner from my apartment, I think on Via d. Tor Millina, 4€ for what I would call two pieces of pizza and a bottle of water. I take it over to the Piazza Navona to enjoy my lunch in my favorite place. I guess, from what I’ve read here on Fodor’s since my return, that I’m breaking the law. I knew there was a law against eating in Piazza San Marco in Venice, but I didn’t realize that it was also the case in Rome. I can’t say for sure, but I think a police officer might have seen me doing this, either today or when I do it later in the week, but thankfully I don’t get arrested! :-d Or have to throw away my pizza! It is very good, so I wouldn’t have liked that!

    After finishing my pizza, I walk over and get a bus to the tour office on Via Piemonte. I had read that they pick you up at your hotel, but when I called yesterday for the reservation, the guy didn’t speak the best English and just wanted to know which hotel I was staying at. When I said I was in an apartment, he said I would need to come there. It was no big problem, but I wonder if the apartment was the problem. Other people had been picked up at their hotel. Anyway, I take the bus and walk the fairly short distance to their office. I would have probably been OK without a reservation, as the bus isn’t full (maybe between ½ and ¾ full). I guess the main reason I decided to take the tour was, I had this silly idea that you would be dropped off right at the door, and this would decrease the amount of walking/climbing. This turns out to be only partially true!

    The guide on the bus gives lots of good information on the way, and we get to Hadrian’s Villa, and they do drop us off right at the gate. The 53€ price for the tour includes the entry fees, so the guide buys the tickets and we go in. I decide that maybe I should get a fresh bottle of water, as it’s very hot and is going to be a lot of walking. The guide informs us that it starts with a 300-metre (I think I’m remembering this right) walk up a fairly steep hill. Oh great, now I remember why I don’t take tours. I will always be behind the rest of the group and don’t want to hold them up! I try to offset this by being right at the head of the group when we start, so by the time we get to the top of the hill, I will be last, but won’t be TOO far behind! This tactic does actually work. I start out at the head and end up at the end of the line, but since the restroom is at the top of the hill (the one at the bottom where you could buy snacks/water was closed), while some people are using those, I have time to catch up!

    I realize that this is a fairly abbreviated visit to Hadrian’s Villa. You could certainly spend much more time there, but the tour takes us to the best-preserved parts, and our guide gives us a lot of history behind everything, so it’s enough for me. Throughout the tour, whenever we stop for her to give more information, I move to the front of the line again. While this helps, I realize that if I had been there by myself, I could have decided when I wanted to sit down and give my knees a rest (there are benches placed around at various spots). I do enjoy Hadrian’s Villa, but it’s not my favorite experience. I’m interested in the history as well, so I’m very glad I went. I didn’t realize he had a young boy as a lover for 9 years who tragically died by drowning in the Nile on a trip to Egypt. There is a huge pool with statues that was in his memory.

    When we get back to the bus, the guide says that the hardest part is over, there isn’t much walking/climbing from now on. This is a blatant lie!!! :-d

    We drive on to Villa d’Este. OK, here is the part where my idea of being dropped off at the door proves to be totally inaccurate. The bus drops us off and we walk to Villa d’Este. It’s not a terribly long walk, but it’s far enough, and it’s all downhill…which means all uphill on the way back. And I’m pretty sure there are lots of stairs involved once we get there. I’m right about that. However, I really enjoy Villa d’Este. What’s not to enjoy? Gorgeous gardens and grounds, amazing fountains, and I don’t even go all the way down. I know I can’t do that, both because of the amount of walking we have already done, and because of the time we have here. If I were to go all the way down, I would never make it back up in time to get back to the bus!

    That said, again, I’m very glad I went. I would actually like to go back just to Villa d’Este on my own, take my time and go all the way down, and I could also take my time coming back up. Actually there is an elevator to go down the first section of stairs. It takes you down to the cafeteria, and I did take it back up from that point. But it’s a lot further down to go all the way down. I think I could do it if I took my time and if that were the only thing I had planned for the day!

    There is an optional offer to go to a cameo shop. There is absolutely no pressure to do so, but it’s just around the corner from the entrance to Villa d’Este, so I do go over and see the demonstration. I actually know pretty much everything he says, but it’s interesting. I have to say, there is no pressure to buy something. I go back out to sit on some steps until it’s time to walk back to the bus, and a teenage girl comes out with her mother and grandmother (her father is sitting next to me on the stairs). Her mother says she has bought an angel cameo for their daughter, and it was expensive, but it’s something she’ll have all her life. I have to agree with this. So much better to buy something that you WILL have all your life and enjoy all your life than some cheap souvenir that will get stuck in a drawer and never be looked at again.

    On the way back, the bus does take everybody to their hotel. I just say the Piazza Navona. He actually drops me off at Torre Argentina and starts to tell me where the Piazza Navona is, but I say, I know where it is. At first I wonder why he has dropped me off short of my destination, but then see that he needs to turn the other way there.

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    Hi Susan, glad you are back. I'm glad to hear your opinion of Villa d'Este since it is high on our list for our next trip to Rome. You mentioned having "Walter's directions" - is there a link to that or are they something you found personally? Would you mind sharing? Thank you.

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    Dinner that evening is at another favorite, DaFrancesca, Piazza Fico, just west of the Piazza Navona. They have wonderful Pizza Margherita with Prosciutto, so that’s what I order. Delicious! With ½ bottle of the house wine, 14€. The table next to me is flush with mine, so it’s like one table. There is a couple sitting there, and the woman has a magazine, and with wine and water and plates, it starts to spread over on to my table. She starts to apologize and take the water back, but I assure her that it’s OK, it’s not in my way. This is mostly done by pointing, as I don’t think either of them spoke English. Naturally, I go over to the Piazza Navona for my Limoncello.

    On Thursday, I’m thinking that once again I’ve done a great deal of walking/climbing the past couple of days and my knees need a break. I decide it would be a good time to go to Volpetti’s, because that wouldn’t take much walking. As I come around the corner from my apartment, though, I look to my left and see that Santa Maria della Pace is actually open. Obviously, I have plenty of time, so I finally get to go inside. There are several cleaning women/nuns dusting and polishing everything. Another church worth seeing, although I’m not sure I’ve seen any that aren’t worth the time!

    I leave the church and walk over to get the bus to Volpetti’s on Via Marmorata. I can’t go home without some of their great cheese. I’m a Pecorino lover and get a couple kinds of that, plus some Parmigiana Reggiano, both for myself and some for my son, who is a major cheese-lover. I decide to get some of their Pizza Bianca as well for lunch. After taking the bus back and dropping off the cheese, I get a gelato and go sit in the Piazza Navona to enjoy it in the sun and watch the people, a perfect thing to do on a lazy afternoon! :-d Later I do a little shopping not far from my apartment, including the Supermercato. I always have to get some Fiesta chocolate-covered orange cakes to bring home. Think Italian Twinkies! They have a bit of a kick to them. I had planned to get some Balsamic Vinegar but don’t think I can put any more bottles in my suitcase. I take it easy after that and give my knees a good rest.

    I’m off to Armando al Pantheon for dinner. As I come into the Piazza della Rotonda, there is a gorgeous full moon hanging in the sky just above the Pantheon. Wonderful! I’ve reserved the Coda alla Vaccinara at Armando al Pantheon and also order the Bruschetta Pomodoro to start. They really have delicious bruschetta. The oxtail is also delicious, in a very thick, flavorful tomato sauce. With water and ½ bottle wine, 29€. You know what I did after dinner! :-d

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    Reallying enjoying your report as always. Can't believe my trip to Greece and Rome is only 2 1/2 weeks away! Taking note of your restaurant suggestions in case we happen to be nearby when hunger strikes!

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    OK, I'm finally getting back to this! It's been very busy at work, lots of overtime. I forgot to tell what happened Wed night after the tour to Hadrian's Villa:

    The tour ran longer than advertised, and it’s close to 8:00 pm when I get back to the apartment. I have to put up my feet for a little while, so after that and getting a shower and changing for dinner, it’s after 9:00 before I leave to go to dinner. Anyone who has stayed in an apartment in Italy knows that there are not lights on in the hall all the time. However, there are light switches with little lights on them so you can see them in the dark and turn the lights on when you need them. No problem, I know this. I’m about to have my second of the could-have-been-disasters.

    I leave the apartment, and it’s totally dark, but I can see the lighted switch on the wall to turn the light on. It’s just to the left when I come out the door. Unfortunately, I forget that there is a step there, and it’s too dark to see it. Yes, once again you can see what’s coming, I trip on the step and go right down on my knees, plus my hands hit again. It’s three nights since my first fall. I immediately think, OMG, tomorrow I’m not even going to be able to walk! And my left hand especially isn’t helped! I’m really not a clumsy person, I don’t go around falling. I’ve never fallen in Italy and can’t remember the last time I fell anywhere! Two totally freaky falls. Much to my surprise, the next morning, although the bruises on my knees from the fall are sore, my joints are no worse than they usually are after all that walking and climbing. I have no explanation for this! Once again, although my hand is even more sore now, it could have been a lot worse. It could have been broken!

    Now on to Friday: The next day, I want to go to Santo Stefano Rotundo and Santa Maria in Dominica, which are close to each other, so after I get some strawberries, I head over to get the bus. This is one time when I have a little trouble with the buses. Really my own fault. Without going into a lot of detail about that, I don’t get to those places and end up at the Fiori Imperiali stop and see that side of the Forum. No problem, I’m coming back here tonight, so at least I know exactly where I’ll be going! I go the back way up to the Campodoglio, and this is good. I sit in the sun for a while on the ledge in front of the Senate building, then go around the back to see one of my favorite views. If you are facing the Senate building and go to the right around the back of the building, there is this fabulous view of the Forum and part of the Colosseum. I love this view, and if I didn’t make it to my original destination, that’s OK, because I’m seeing one of my favorite things. :-d I realize that, although I’ve been in this spot a few times, I don’t have a picture of myself here, so I ask a lady to take my picture.

    I walk back out past the statues of Castor & Pollux, down the stairs to Via d. Teatro, and want some lunch. As usual, I pick the first convenient place and have a sandwich and glass of wine at Caffee del Teatro, 9€. This is one of those places where the same meal would have been cheaper if I hadn’t sat down at a table, but I want to sit down. Actually, I need to sit down! It’s worth it to me to spend a few extra Euro to sit and relax with my lunch.

    I decide to walk back through Trastavere, something I always enjoy, so I walk down past the Theater of Marcellus and over Ponte Fabricio on my way there. On the Isolo Tiberna, I stop at a tiny gelato shop and have the most amazing gelato, a scoop of cinnamon and a scoop of Pinolata (pine nuts). Mmmm...has to be among the best gelato I’ve ever had! I continue on over Ponte Cestio and wander back through Trastavere. Usually, I stop to sit in Piazza S. Sonnino, but there is some sort of art or craft show set up. I can’t really tell, because the booths aren’t open, but on the other side of the booths are chairs set up for a concert, so I can sit there instead. I just relax and then wander on down Via d. Lungaretta to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastavere and eventually back through Campo de’ Fiori towards my apartment. There’s a small shop in Via d. Giubbonari that I’ve been to before and I find a top I like there.

    After putting my feet up for a while and then changing for dinner, I catch the bus back over to the Mamertine Prison to see “The History of Rome – Part I,” which is performed by the Miracle Players. It’s a very informal setup, sort of a slapstick, funny version of Rome’s history. Very fun. The steps facing the performance are full. While waiting for the show to start, there is a bride & groom having their pictures taken with the Forum in the background. What a great backdrop, but she’s going back and forth, and the bottom of her wedding dress and the train are filthy. She doesn’t seem the least bit concerned about it, though, so I guess it’s OK!

    I enjoy the show very much, and what a great way to introduce history to kids. There are just five performers, so they each play many parts. Lots of murder and mayhem, :-d but it’s definitely a comedy! It’s performed at 7:30 pm every Friday from June 20 to August 8 and is free. They do take donations. Another interesting thing...in order to get permission from the city to perform, they had to prove that they had a membership, so they pass around sheets for people to sign up with their email. Membership is free, because they’re really doing it to comply with the law.

    I take the bus back and decide to return to Rotondo for dinner. I’ve been thinking about that Spaghetti Carbonara all week! I order that again, and it’s delicious. With water and ½ bottle of Frascati, it’s 22€. Time for my Limoncello in the Piazza Navona! Also, I have a friend who is an artist there. When I was there in February, I asked him to do a painting for me of the Neptune Fountain at the northern end of the Piazza Navona with the square behind it, and he’s bringing it tonight. It’s wonderful! Just what I wanted, with beautiful detailed sculptures and the great shades of terra cotta on the buildings behind it. Of course, I have a lot of his paintings, so he knows what I like. I can’t believe I only have one more day in Rome!

    Almost done...I'll finish later!

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    You make me want to travel alone! You are free to do so much more. Will be in Rome in October--can hardly wait. Of course, I do not know most of the places you mentioned, but I will love Rome. It is our 4th time to go there, but we focus on other places. This year we will go to Sicily first, then work our way back up to Naples, Capri, AC, and other areas before returning to Rome. You make it sound so lovely. Wish we had more time there.

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    SusanP:
    Thank you for inquiring about my arthritis. The beginning of the marked deterioration happened when I was on a 2005 trip to Rome with my daughter - my 2nd, her 1st - and the first day tore the cartilage in my right knee. (Surgery fixed the pain but the osteoarthritis worsened pretty quickly after that.)

    I bought a cane at the pharmacy on Piazza Barbarini and limped around for the week. But what a week we had; Piazza Navona played a large part in it (meals, gelato, prosecco).

    Still very much enjoying your solo Italian adventure -- keep it coming!
    Travelchat

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    I've finally finished. ljc, glad you've enjoyed it. mhyde, as WebVisionItaly said, the lemons are all over on the Amalfi Coast and Capri. You will find Buffalo Mozzarella on a lot of menus.

    Travelchat, ouch! Torn cartilage sounds painful. Glad it didn't ruin your trip!
    Here's the rest:

    The next morning, I do some packing, then get some pizza at the same shop around the corner from my apartment (tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella and basil, delicious). I’m on my way to the Baths of Caracalla. I had read that Bus 118 goes there, but that bus doesn’t leave from any of the nearby stops, so yesterday I had stopped in the Tourist Information Booth just outside the northern end of the Piazza Navona to find out which one I wanted. It did require a change of bus, but no big deal. The entrance is on Via Antonina, but you can’t see it from where you get off the bus. If I had been paying attention, I would have seen that we had passed it and I needed to go to the right off the bus. But I didn’t see it, and naturally I go to the left off the bus and walk down to the corner.

    Once again, this is OK, because I come upon a small church that is only open because they are setting up for a wedding. It says:
    SS Martyrvm Nerei
    Etachillei
    TITVLVS FASCIOLAE

    I figure the guys setting up won’t mind if I go in and look around. The church is small, but the walls are covered with frescoes...very violent frescoes! Lots of people getting murdered, heads cut off, etc. Very interesting, and the frescoes are in very good condition. I haven’t gotten around to looking for more information, but one of these days I will. Another example of how you just never know what you’re going to come across in Rome.

    I walk back down to the entrance to the baths and go in (6€). Looking at the large map they have of the grounds, it appears that a lot of the most interesting sections aren’t open to the public. The grounds are beautiful (I love those umbrella pines!) and, of course, large. It’s a very hot day, so I take my time and wander all around. There are placards at various places that give the history, which is very interesting. I like the mosaics in one section (I’m afraid I didn’t write down which section it was). There are very few people here. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

    When I go to get the bus back, I realize that some temporary plastic fences that are up across the street for some kind of art show, I think, have been set up right up to the street, covering the sidewalk. Hmmm...where do I get the bus? I start walking the way I think I need to go and this time am going in the right direction. There’s a small section, just big enough for a few people to wait for the bus, that was left open. I’m pretty sure it’s down the street from where the regular bus stop is, as the bus number is just on a circle attached to a streetlight.

    For dinner, I go to La Zucca Gialla on Via del Governo Vecchio, a place I’ve been to a couple of times. The Beef Carpaccio and Rissoto alla Minno (lots of different seafood) are great. With water and ½ bottle of Montelpuciano d’Abruzzo, 31€. I wander back over to the Piazza Navona for my last Limoncello, as usual already thinking about coming back to Italy!

    I do have one more could-have-been-disaster on the way home. I booked www.airportshuttle.it for the trip back to the airport. He has a little trouble getting his big van out of the small space he left it in while coming over to my apartment, but there are a couple of young guys in the van, and one gets out to direct him. He drops us off at the airport, I stop at the Information Desk just to check which direction I want, even though I’m pretty sure I already know, and go get in line to check in. There’s only one person ahead of me. I’m standing there waiting and suddenly realize I don’t have my painting. You know, the one my friend did especially for me. Horrors! What could I have done with it? I’m thinking I must have left it in the van, even though I can’t believe I did that. OK, this is the time you’re really glad to have a cell phone! I call the shuttle company and tell them what happened. They get on the phone to the driver and let me know that he’s going to come back to where he dropped me off.

    Since there’s only one person in front of me, I’m able to go ahead and check in and then walk back out to the sidewalk. The driver comes up and says, no, there’s no painting in the van. He says he’s sure that I had it when he gave me my luggage. For a minute I can’t imagine where it went. Then it dawns on me that I stopped at the Information Desk. He goes over to that with me, and thank heaven, it is there! What a relief. Disaster averted! The rest of the trip went smoothly. However, I’m not glad to be home. I want to be back in Rome! :-d

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    ellenem, thank you! I've been very busy since I got back, working a lot of overtime, so had not had a chance to look for this. Yes, that's it, "a lot of gruesome details and blood all over the walls"! Interesting to read the history behind it. Glad you enjoyed the report!

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    JJ127, if I figure out how to do that, maybe you will. I'm sure my son could show me how!

    ellen, hmmm...that might be interesting! :-d Although I do love Bernini as well! I need to go to bed now, but will look at that link tomorrow. Thanks.

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    OK, I've just got to know. What the heck is Limoncello? I'm going to Rome in March, can I get it there? Is it alcoholic? Is it sweet? Is it only found in one place?
    Your trip report is GREAT! Thanks so much.

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    Challiman - We love it so much we make our own! You can find it a the liquor store, but it's cloudy and not really like the limoncello we've had in restaurants in Amalfi. So, one shared his recipe with us.

    Think this way:

    Take a bottle of vodka, rum or grain alcohol. (Ewww on the grain alcohol.)

    Huge lemons the size of footballs that give up their yellow peel (no pith or it will get bitter!) to be steeped in the liquor in a cool dark place for a minimum of 90 days. I tried several potato peelers to peel the lemons without getting the pith and settled on a Kitchenaid peeler for the best results. We use a huge antique mason jar for the steeping.

    Add super syrup (bartender's syrup - 1/2 h2o and 1/2 sugar heated to smooth and then cooled) to taste. Then it goes back in the cool dark for another 60 to 90 days.

    We serve it in double shot glasses chilled. Caution - it goes very fast!

    We make our batches twice a year and while I prefer the rum version with a vanilla bean in the bottle, my hubby likes the vodka, no vanilla bean.

    Let us know how yours turns out!

    Enjoy!

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    Oh my, that sounds just wonderful.
    Questions: Will I be able to walk after one drink?
    Are these lemons found anywhere besides Amalfi? Like in the US?
    I am definitely interested but know I won't find those lemons now. Maybe when I go to California I might.
    Thanks a bunch!

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    Leely, have a great time!

    Challiman, Limoncello can be found all over Italy, although Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are particularly known for it. It's really an after-dinner drink. Quite strong, but you should be able to walk after a glass! :-d

    I often bring it back, but you can buy it in the US. Just look for the stuff that just has alcohol, sugar and lemons for the ingredients, no other junk added. Keep it in the freezer (the alcohol content is around 30%, so it won't freeze, it will just be very cold, which is what you want).

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    Barb, if you're still reading, I'm actually thinking of combining Dubrovnik (and possibly Split) with Rome next year. I have Hilton Honor Points, and from what I've been reading, the Hilton in Dubrovnik has a great location (unlike many European Hiltons). You can fly from either Dubrovnik or Split to Rome for less than 100€ in July.

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    Susan, I just checked with my Rome 2009 traveling buddy, who has been before, and she says she loves lemoncello! We were in Venice in 2007, never heard of it, mainly focused on gelato! Oh well, I'm sure we'll have it there. And I'm giving thought to the recipe, but may try the bottled version if I can find it. Sounds like a winner! Thanks for the help.

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    Hello SusanP,

    Thanks for an excellent(as always) trip report which I greatly enjoyed! You may well be the only person who likes Piazza Navona even more than I do; and I hope you get back there soon. My Roma-therapy 2008 comes in early November, and I can't wait to try the places you mentioned that I don't already know. Ciao and best wishes, Gianni

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    Gianni, yes, I guess it's pretty obvious that the Piazza Navona is my favorite spot in my favorite city! Have a good time in November. Wish I were going back that soon! I'm hoping to go in February, if I can get a flight where I can use my Capital One miles.

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    SusanP You may well know this, but sometimes there are fantastic deals for those who can wait until the last minute to book Feb. travel to Europe. One friend booked DL MCO-FCO for $550 last Feb. another booked DL MCO-Frankfort for $350. Both got good hotels at last minute rates of less than half the high season rates.

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    Gianni, thanks, yes, I do realize that. When I went in March of 2006, it was very spur of the moment (I booked both flight and apartment less than a week before I left). I keep watching the flights daily, but if I need to do it last minute, I will!

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    Hi Susan,
    I have also enjoyed your trip reports the past few years. I am also a Romaholic and try to go twice
    a year. I got a flight last Feb.,
    Orlando to Rome for $550. My favorite place so far where I have stayed is Hotel Genio, I know it has received bad reviews in the past, but I loved it, mainly because I could walk so easily to Piazza Navona 3-4 times daily. The rooftop terrace is lovely with lemon trees and flowers. I got a good rate in Feb. When are you planning your '09 Feb. trip? We could have our own little GTG in
    P.Navona sipping Limoncello (: Genie

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    RE: Where to find the lemons?

    You won't find the football sized ones here in the US. We use the largest we can find that are ripe - no green. Typically, we find the largest ones at Costco, Sams or BJs.

    Whole Foods ordered some enormous ones for us one time, but it was pricey and we didn't think the limoncello was that much better, so we've stuck to the big (not so huge) Costco ones.

    You will be able to walk, just don't overdo... Think of it as a sweet lemony martini.

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    Susan, I will go around the 22nd
    also (birthday present), but it will be a last minute reservation
    to get the best air/hotel deal, like last year. I'm leaving in a few weeks for Sicily (first time) and of course Rome. If you would like to continue with this later,
    my e-mail is hookawahoo at yahoo dot com. I think it would be fun to
    get together while there. Bye (:

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    A lovely trip report as usual Susan, thank you for taking the time to post your wonderful travel experiences.

    I'm meeting up with Barb in Dubrovnik for the second time this October - hey, this could become an annual tradition! And I'd love to meet with you as well if we're both back in Dubrovnik at the same time in 2009! Though it won't be July for me, too hot and too many people.

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    Genie, I'll keep that in mind. I would be coming home on the 22nd, though, so if that's when you're leaving, we won't be there at the same time.

    julia, have fun! Barb and I were supposed to meet for dinner on a previous trip to Rome, but it didn't work out. For me, Dubrovnik will be in July. That and a week in February are the only times I can take off.

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    SusanP,

    Sorry I missed your post about Dubrovnik. I just got back a couple of weeks ago. It is still heaven on earth for me. I stay in an apt., but I have talked to many people who have stayed at the Hilton and they were all very happy with it. The location is good, just a very short walk to the Old Town. I will be very interested in what flights you get from Rome to Dubrovnik. I've flown Split to Rome, but I'm having a really difficult time finding flights from Rome direct to Dubrovnik. I am having serious Rome withdrawals, so I'm thinking maybe next year adding a few days in Rome to my Dubrovnik plans if I can find a cheap direct flight. I might fly to London on the way over to see JuliaT. We had SUCH a good time in Dubrovnik.

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    Hi Barb, when I was looking a couple of months ago, AirOne had direct flights from either Split or Dubrovnik to Rome, so it seems like they would have them going in the opposite direction, although I can't swear to that.

    JJ, sorry, I haven't managed to get the bus list updated yet. I'll try to do that soon.

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    Susan P
    Loved your report.
    We will be heading to Sorrento for the last four nights of a 16 day trip in August.
    Question- you mentioned the Antice Mura- did you happen to check it out? I am deciding between 4 nights there or the Excelsior Vittoria. The AM is highly rated on Trip Advisor but I havent found too much personal experience with it here.

    Anut thoughts? I know the EV reputation is stellar.
    Thanks

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