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Trip Report: Venice, Tuscany, Amalfi Coast, Rome

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We enjoyed a fabulous trip to Italy in May! It has taken a while to write the report, but here it is! Thank you so much to everyone on this board for your insight. Although I didn’t post too many questions, I was definitely addicted to this site in the planning process!
Let me give you some background. My DH and I are in our late 20's. My DH has never traveled outside the continental U.S. I have traveled only to Great Britain (England, N. Ireland, Ireland, Scotland) as part of a foreign exchange program in college. We wanted to do a European trip prior to starting a family.

OUR ITINERARY: May 6th-20th, 2006

Venice: 2 nights
Tuscany: 3 nights
Amalfi Coast: 4 nights
Rome: 4 nights

FLIGHTS:

On the way to Italy, we flew American Airlines from Kansas City to Chicago, Chicago to Brussels, Brussels to Venice. On the way home we flew American from Rome to NY, NY to Dallas, Dallas to KC. Our flights were $880 each ($1021 with taxes, fees, etc. ) We booked in December.
I chose American because we had never really had trouble with domestic flights and they seemed to be reliable. However, we had several issues this time around. Our flights we had originally booked were cancelled and AA had us getting into Venice 5 hours later than our original itinerary, which we were pretty upset about. We were also getting back to KC 3 hours later than our original schedule. We had specifically booked these flights (and paid extra for the tickets) for the schedule. Supposedly, AA had emailed us about this change, however, we never received the email. So, at the airport, we changed flights again and were getting to Venice at 11:00 am, instead of 4:00 pm. The downfall of this last minute change was our seating arrangement. We were originally a window-aisle seat, and now we were middle/aisle group of 3. I didn’t think this would be a problem until we sat down! We were both VERY disappointed in the amount of room in our seats. It appeared to be the same as other domestic flights. I recalled on my trip to Ireland and acquaintances’ international flights, there was quite a bit more room. It was a pretty miserable flight.

MEALS:

All of the hotels we stayed at served a pretty wonderful breakfast. (But note that breakfast here is 8am-10am as opposed to 6-10 am in the states. This worked out fine for us everyday except the day we were leaving Rome) We were usually pretty full from breakfast so not incredibly hungry by lunchtime, at least not before siesta was over! Usually at lunch, we would grab a sandwich from a little osteria or enoteca that looked appetizing and sit in some shade somewhere to people watch. This worked out great for us, and we didn’t have a bad panini or tramezzini on our entire trip! Each was just a little different, but pretty tasty! It ended up being pretty economical as well. (Not the reason for the choice, but an added bonus) For dinners, we would attempt to find a recommended restaurant (by this site, or Fodors/Rick Steves guidebook) These worked out pretty well, too.

VENICE:

Transportation:
To get into Venice, we took the ACTV bus. We bought a 24 hour pass for 12E each, which was good for the vaporettos as well. Vaporetto #1 took us to the Ca D’Oro stop for Hotel Bernardi . We found all of this to be very easy and well marked. We walked most of Venice pretty easily (getting lost a few times of course!)

Hotel Bernardi, Cannergio, SS.apostoli, 4363-66. 93 E/night, www.hotelbernardi.com
We booked this hotel based on reviews from this site and tripadvisor.com. We had a double with private bathroom. We were very pleased with this hotel. It is just off the Ca D’Oro vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal. It was only a 6 min. walk to St Marks, but was in a very quiet area. Staff was very nice and helpful. Our room was bright and clean (#10) . Breakfast was good-rolls, juice, toast, and the very best hot chocolate we’ve ever had! They give a 5% discount for cash payment.

Restaurants/Gelato:

Ca D’Oro Gelateria -(on Strada Nova, just E.of Ca D’Oro vaporetto stop)
Our first taste of gelato, we were hooked, and none compared our whole trip! It was absolutely wonderful! DH had limone and said it was the best cold dessert he’s ever had! I had stracciatella and fragola (choc chip & strawberry) For 1.60E for 2 scoops, it was a great deal! We tried to go back the second night but they were already closed!

Pizzeria Marciana (near Piazza San Marco, 25E)
We were both craving pizza and walked into one of the first sit-down restaurants we saw. We were both pretty tired at this point(our first night) and couldn’t really focus on finding addresses of reccomendations! This restaurant was good, but not great. The service was definitely lacking. We had a margarita pizza and a four cheese pizza, which were good, but not nearly as good as others we would come to find.

Spizzico:
On our 2nd day in Italy, we weren’t quite accustomed to siesta, and attempted to find lunch around 2:30 pm. (We got a funny look walking into Enoteca Al Volto for lunch at this time) So this Italian fast food was the only thing at the time we could find serving food! Not ideal, but for 8E, not bad for the experience.

Day #1:

After 24 hours of travel, we were pretty beat! We got to the hotel and my DH was feeling rather ill from the travel and no sleep, so we decided to take a little nap. Slept for a few hours, and then walked Venice for several hours. Walked San Marco, Dorsoduro, some of Castello, and some of Cannaregio. We both fell in love with Venice!

Day #2

I won’t go into detail about the sites we saw, unless anyone has questions–I figure enough has been written about these! I’ll do more of the hows, costs, etc.
We got up early and headed to the Gallerie dell’ Accademia (6E each) on Vaporetto #1. We were there when it opened and had no line. I really enjoyed this. I bought an audio guide for 4E which was very helpful. After the Accademia we hopped back on the #1 and went to St Marks. The line for the St Mark’s Basilica was very long, so we went to the Correr Museum to purchase tickets for Doge’s Palace (12E each for the San Marco museum card). We skipped the long line for the Palace and went straight in. It was great. We both really liked the Palace. I wished at that point I had booked the Secret Itineraries tour, but guess we’ll have to save that for next time! After the Palace, we headed to find something to eat. In passing the entrance to St Mark’s, there was no line, so we went right in! (We had a great day for lines!) The Basilica was very ornate and impressive. After all of our sightseeing, it was around 2:30 pm, so we headed out to find lunch (it was siesta-but we weren’t quite used to that yet–see restaurants above)
After lunch, we were had to decide what to do with the rest of our day. We thought about heading to one of the islands, but opted instead for the Campanile ( 4.30E/each) We are both suckers for views, and really enjoyed this. There were fantastic views of St Mark’s Square, Basilica, Venice, and the mainland. On the way to the Campanile, we tried to hop on a traghetto at 3 different spots, but none were running! We were disappointed.
After the Campanile we sat on the steps of St Mark’s for a while and enjoyed music and the atmosphere until dusk. As darkness settled in, we hopped onto the #82 Vaporetto and headed north. The vaporetto was pretty empty. The Grand Canal at night is magical! We are so glad we followed recommendations on this one! We walked Cannaregio and San Marco that night too, which were also very pretty!

Thoughts on Venice: 1) LOVED IT!!!! Its like no other city in the world. A must see. 2) Its okay to get lost! 3) Walk, walk, walk!

Next: Tuscany

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    Mary, Mary, Gelateria Ca'd'Oro is MY neighborhood Gelateria-you have to try their arancia (orange) and the pompelmo di rosa (pink grapefruit) which is to die for! When I go there (and will be arriving very shortly again) for my daily gelato fix, they just greet me and smile, and say "the same?" Yes, please!

    And the Campo SS Apostoli-didn't you love it? So close to Rialto, so close to all the wonderful little local restaurants in Cannaregio and across the traghetto in San Polo-and to the beautiful churches of dei Miracoli and Giovanni e Paolo. Of course, if you know your way and follow the little signs (called "nizioleti") you can get to San Marco in 20 minutes from there-and there's nothing better than the Strada Nova for seeing the local life and color of Venice-out on the streets. It is an ideal location for getting to know the real Venice, and to get away from the madding crowds of San Marco.

    It sounds like you and the DH had a lovely time in Venice- am looking forward to the rest of your report.

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    Girlspy- Thank you. We did have a lovely time. The neighborhood was wonderful, and oh, the gelato! We were soooo disappointed we didn't get to try it a second time. I don't remember the name of the other gelateria we tried in Venice, but it didn't compare at all!!! The churches around there sound fantastic, too, although we didn't get a chance to go in them. Next time around...

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    TUSCANY:

    Hotel: Hotel Pescille, 3 km from San Gimignano, 95 E/noc, www.hotelpescille.it
    Another hotel we booked based on this website’s reviews and tripadvisor.com. We loved this hotel! Its setting is beautiful, and there is a great view overlooking San Gimignano. Our double room with private bathroom was very quiet and modernly decorated with a view over the gardens (You can pay extra for view over San Gimignano) Breakfast was fantastic with fresh fruit, meats and cheeses, breads, cereal, yogurt, juices (our first taste of blood orange juice!) and cappuccino machine. Staff was very helpful in directing us to different Tuscan destinations. They also have an Enoteca at which we purchased some souvenir wine for a great price! They give a 5% discount for payment in cash.

    Restaurants/Gelato:

    Trattoria Chiribiri:(Piazza della Madonna 1, just inside the main entrance to San G)
    This little family owned restaurant was fantastic! I had homemade spinach and cheese crepes and DH had baked lasagna, and we enjoyed a Tuscan meat and cheese appetizer, all for 31E. Enjoyed the white house wine (complimentary while we were waiting!) It is very small and very popular, so try to get there early to grab a table (open at 7:30?)

    Taverna Paradiso: just off Piazza del Duomo in San Gimignano
    Our second night, we attempted to go back to Trattoria Chirubui, but had a 2 hour wait. We were starving, so headed for Osteria del Cavure,(recc by Fodorites) but they were closed on Wednesdays. So we found this restaurant instead. Maybe it was because we were famished by this time :) but we absolutely loved this restaurant. I had the best spaghetti pesto I’ve ever eaten and my DH had Spaghetti Al Ragu (with meat) which was also fantastic! We had a blueberry “cake” (like a mix between pie and streusel) and a vanilla gelato with chocolate shavings for dessert. Fabulous desserts! The service was fantastic, too. We were pretty pleased with this restaurant. So pleased, we headed back on our 3rd night in San G. I got the pesto again, and DH had a seafood spaghetti. We also had dessert and wine. Fantastic again! (25 E first night, 28E second night)

    Gelateria: I’m disappointed I can’t remember the name, because it was so good!! It was the first gelateria just inside main gate to San G. We had limone, limone,and more limone! Very good, in a homemade wafflecone. (3.60 E for 3 scoops) Yummy!

    Day #3

    We took the EuroStar train from Venice’s to Florence’s Santa Maria Novella. (27 E/each) It was a very nice ride. We bought tickets at the train station just before the train left.
    We booked an automatic car through Hertz (the agency is 500 m from the train station). We booked through Hertz because they were quite a bit cheaper than autoeurope.com or other booking sites (with AAA discount) Although I had called 3 times prior to our trip and was assured we would have an automatic waiting for us, there was no automatic available. My DH was to be the primary driver, and has had a total of 3 lessons in manual driving in his life. Neither of us have ever owned a manual! Needless to say we were pretty upset, and very nervous about the next 4 days in the car! We were also upset because we had to argue with Hertz to get a cheaper price (They were still going to charge us the automatic price because they had upgraded us to a larger car!)
    Our plan was going to be to stay in Florence for the afternoon/evening and then head to San G. But my DH was very understandably nervous about the car, and just wanted to get the heck out of Florence! We got directions from Hertz. After about 15 minutes, several times killing the engine, and the start of a hailstorm (!) we were very lost in Florence! It ended up taking us about 3 hrs total to get to San G (what should have taken 1-1.5 hrs!) We were very happy to finally make it to Hotel Pescille! We ate and walked around San G for a while. After our day, San G was a very welcome quiet town. The daytrippers had left, and we fell in love with it!

    Day #4

    My plan for the day had been to get up early and go to Siena, then maybe spend the afternoon/evening in San G/Volterra. Well we slept in a bit, and my DH was still very nervous about the car. We decided to head to Siena and then try to do some of Stu Dudley’s 1 Day Driving Itinerary.
    We set out for Siena. Apparently, I didn’t research Siena enough, because I expected something much smaller. (When we asked Hotel Pescille for directions, they said “follow the signs, you know!”) So we followed the signs for Siena, and then I (the navigator) thought we should just get off at the first exit for Siena (didn’t realize there were several!!) Got off on the Siena Nord exit, which is not the one we wanted, and ended up driving around Siena looking for the City Centre for an hour. In the end, we must have at least drove near it, because ended up in the south of Siena. Decided to go ahead and do part of Stu Dudley’s drive and then head back to Siena in the afternoon. According to the drive we were to head south on the N2. Well, we had trouble locating this, and ended up on the 223. In our attempt to get back to the N2, we were lost in Tuscany for a few hours. I had brought my Tuscany map, and attempted to get us back to the N2. It actually turned out to be very pretty driving, and one of our favorite parts of Tuscany!
    We finally made it to Montepulciano around 12:00, parked in a pay garage, and headed up to the main square. Grabbed some lunch at a little bar just off the main square (very good sandwiches!) and sat in the square for a while. Went into City Hall Tower, (1.60E/each) which had good views, but not much different than you can already see from the town. Walked Montepulciano for a while and loved it! I would definitely recommend visiting this town if you are in this area. It sits up on a hill with a large church, San Biagio, in the foreground. The drive to it is gorgeous, the views from the town are wonderful, and the town itself is very full of character.
    Headed out of town and through Pienza, San Quirico, and Montalcino. Small stops in each of these towns (due to our hours of being lost and sleeping in, we weren’t able to spend as much time as I would have liked!) But all are worth a visit! Montalcino is located high on a hill and is very pretty as you are approaching it.
    After Montalcino, we headed out for Sant’ Antimo Abbey. For some reason the signs out of Montalcino took us the roundabout way and we thought we were lost and got turned around, and ended up doing the same 8 km of road 3 times! Obviously, it took us much longer to get there than what it should have! But the Abbey is beautiful! Unfortunately, the exterior was under construction, which was disappointing. The setting around the Abbey is just beautiful, too!
    After the Abbey, we decided to head back and spend the evening in Siena. Made it to Siena, but again, couldn’t find any signs directing us toward parking or City Centre. We drove around for about 90 minutes , located the soccer stadium, but couldn’t find a single place to park! Even now that I am writing this, it sounds unbelievable, but we really couldn’t. Maybe we were just looking in the wrong places. It was probably between 4:30 and 6:00 pm when we were there, and it must have been rush hour, because it was crazy! It was almost as bad as Florence to navigate and drive. I was pretty surprised by this because I guess I had pictured Siena as a small Tuscan town! Obviously, I didn’t pay close enough attention during my research of it! We found ourselves back on the road toward San G, and my DH, tired of being lost and driving, headed back to the hotel, without really seeing the delightful part of Siena. I was pretty disappointed in this, as we had heard so many wonderful things about Siena, but unfortunately, it left a sour mark in my DH’s book.
    Headed back to San G and had dinner and walked more of the town. So nice after the daytrippers had left!

    Day #5

    Okay, this is starting to get a little long-winded, so gotta shorten the reporting a bit!
    On a last minute whim, we decided to head to Pisa, because my DH thought at some point we may regret having not seen the Leaning Tower (and just before we left the states, 5 different people asked if we were going to see it–we took it as a sign!) Drove to Pisa, saw the tower, Duomo (2E each),and Baptistery. We both enjoyed this more than we expected to! And the pictures were fun, too. Obviously, it was packed with tourists. We grabbed some lunch at a little vendor just outside the Field of Miracles, where sandwiches and drinks were surprisingly tasty and reasonably priced.
    For the rest of the afternoon, we decided to take a scenic tour and head down the SS222, see Chianti, and try to fit in some wine-tasting. Drove the Autostrada toward Florence and were going to catch the 222. I assumed (although I realize this is a dangerous word) that since the 222/Chianti region is so well known and touristy that there would be signs off the Autostrada. Well, there were no signs for either and we ended up going about 10 km past the exit I guess we should’ve taken. In the meantime, we hit a pretty bad traffic jam and ended up in a dead standstill for almost an hour! In the end, we backtracked through small Tuscan roads and ended up in Greve in Chianti. This is a nice little town. At the tourist info office (poorly marked signs, but we found it!) we were told about a place around the corner to sample all of the local wines of the region. It was called LeCantine di Greve in Chianti. They had 150 different wines from the region. We bought a wine card (come in increments from 5E to 30E) and sampled many different wines. We placed the card in different “kiosks” with different wines to obtain a glass of our choice. We paid anywhere from .80E to 4.90E per glass, depending on the cost of the bottle. The card came with free samples of different regional olive oils and bread and we also purchased an appetizer with the money on the card. Overall, we really enjoyed the experience! It was a lot of fun tasting many different wines! Next time, we will make a reservation at a winery and plan a bit more, but for our situation, this worked great for us!
    After wine tasting, drove the 222 and headed back toward San G. Another beautiful drive. Stopped several times to grab pictures. At San G, grabbed a late dinner and enjoyed the little town for our last night.

    Day #6

    Had another great breakfast at Hotel Pescille, and were a bit sad to leave! We headed out for Assisi. (We got there without getting lost!) Parked at the bottom of the hill and had about a 20 minute walk to the Basilica di San Francesco. The walk up the hill toward the church was very pretty. The Basilica and tomb of St Francis were important for me to see, and so glad we did get to see them. Assisi is another fabulous walled hill town. The views from the church are pretty amazing, as is the town itself. I definitely could have spent more time here!
    After Assisi, we headed to the Amalfi Coast. We made very good time to Naples (3 hrs) and then got stuck in Naples traffic for over an hour! It was some of the worst traffic we’ve ever been in! We finally made it through 2 traffic jams on the Autostrada (one was at the tollbooths-no one takes turns or has any courtesy when it comes to this!) The original plan was to stay in Pompeii, see it in the morning, then head for the coast. But after driving through Pompeii for a while (there were 2 exits & my viamichelin.com directions didn’t give me which exit to get off on, so once again we were lost) we decided we would not stay there! It was a bit run down, to put it nicely! Our next decision was to head for Sorrento, and attempt to find a hotel for the night. But, we missed the turn for the Amalfi coast because for some reason coming from the north, there is no sign for it! We got off, turned around, and saw the sign for the exit coming from the south. Turned off, and took us about an hour to get just outside Sorrento. By this time, we both just wanted to get out of the car! As we had no reservation for this night, we stopped at the first hotel we saw, Hotel Klein Wein, (see below). We ate supper at their rooftop restuarant, enjoyed the view for a while and then headed to bed! It was a pretty long day!

    Thoughts on Tuscany: 1) Pictures do not do it justice! 2) Wonderful, relaxing, scenic, hospitable people, a perfect vacation spot 3) I can't believe I'm recommending renting a car because of all of the trouble we had with driving/navigating, etc, but the things we were able to see and do make me say it is almost a must-which brings me to another point:

    Thoughts on driving in Italy 1) It is only for the very brave! 2) As in Venice, there is no shame in getting lost!! 3) Have very good maps, viamichelin directions, know European road signs, but once again, be prepared to get lost! We found it pretty difficult to navigate due to lack of signs and forewarning of upcoming turns, etc. 4) Enjoy the drive!

    Next: Amalfi Coast

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    Dear mary:

    Sounds like fun, even though you got lost!! Most young people under 30 I know, like you, don't know how to drive a manual transmission. I already told my daughter(age 13) that she will need to learn, since it is an important skill when travelling overseas!!

    Looking forward to the rest of your report!!

    MY

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    EvenMary...I am enjoying your trip report. I loved the Chiribiri...the pumpkin ravioli was to die for. I also had crepes as well!!...I was stuffed but loved every bite. I think I confused the waitress a bit as I wanted two primi instead of a primi and secondi...but I really had a hard time chosing so what the hay. It was one of the best bargains of the trip...wonderful food and service.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your stay in the Amalfi.

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    Bailey- Glad I could help. I used this board as my main travel advisor! There are so many wonderful experienced travelers here, you can find out just about any information you need to know. I am glad to answer any specific questions you might have!
    MY-Thanks for the nice comments. I wish my DH and I had learned at your daughter's age! It would have been nice! It was quite nerve-racking for my DH "learning" in Florence with the crazy Italian drivers, especially with me not completely sure where I was going! Oh well, its all an experience, and it now makes for pretty good stories among both of our families!
    Crazy4Travel- Yes the Trattoria was wonderful! I could've eaten there again and again! I think it is the smallest restaurant I've ever been in! The customer who walked in after us said "Do you have an upstairs or a downstairs or something?" They didn't quite understand what she wanted!

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    AMALFI COAST

    Transportation: Circumvensia train to Pompeii and back to Sorrento (3E each-catch from Sorrento train station and get off at Pompeii Scavi-very easy!) We used SITA buses to get around the coast. (1-2E/each-Blue/Green buses you buy from Tabacchi shops prior to boarding, Orange buses buy on the bus)

    Hotel: Hotel Klein Wein, Piano di Sorrento, 70E/night
    We happened upon this hotel due to our last minute change in plans. They had many rooms overlooking the sea. We ended up in a quadruple with private bath for 70E. This was sort of a Best Western-ish hotel. Not much character, but good value. The staff was absolutely wonderful-we were dead tired and they went out of their way to help us find a parking space in the garage (staff moved his own car to make a space for us!), make a long distance phone call, and ensure we had a great view for supper in their rooftop restuarant. Although I wouldn’t necessarily reccommend this hotel as it was not an ideal location (in an outskirt of Sorrento) and wasn’t the prettiest I’ve been in, at the time it was just what we needed!

    Hotel Le Sirene: Via S. Nicola, Praiano, 90E/noc, www.lesirene.com
    We just have to say, Thank you, Ira!! Ira reccommended this hotel, and it was absolutely wonderful! From the moment we arrived, the owners, Giancarmine and Maria’s, hospitality was fantastic. (He carried our suitcase down and then up many stairs!) Our room had an amazing view! I booked Jan 2nd, and Giancarmine said we had the best room! (#9) We had 2 windows, an L-shaped terrace overlooking the sea, and very pretty, simple decor. Breakfast was served on the terrace and delicious with fresh fruit, pastries baked by Giancarmine, drinks made by him (coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, freshly squeezed OJ), and meats/cheeses. We also enjoyed drinks in the bar in the evenings served by Gian. There is also a lovely courtyard and rooftop terrace. The only negative we noticed on this hotel was the shower had no walls/curtain! (just a showerhead in the corner of the room-it made the bathroom pretty wet while showering!) Overall, I would highly reccommend this hotel! It was wonderful!

    Restaurants/Gelato

    Hotel Klein Wein Restaurant: Piano di Sorrento:
    This restaurant/hotel we were very happy to find (see Day #6 above) They had a set menu, which was 10E each. The food and waiter service was only okay, although the hotel staff was very helpful. The view over the sea was nice.

    La Brace Ristorante, Praiano: (On the coast road near the bus stop)
    We loved this restaurant so much we went back a second night! When we asked Giancarmine if it was a good place to eat he said “It is the traditional restaurant of Praiano, very delicious!” That was what we wanted to hear! We loved the service and the fact that it was family owned. On the first night, I had Pizza al Praiano, DH had Spaghetti al Praiano. We also had one of the most wonderful desserts we’ve ever had-Limone Gelato in a frozen lemon-it was so smooth and creamy and fantastic. (25E total) In the states, I would pick chocolate over lemon anyday, but not here! Limone is wonderful! On the second night, we had wine, I had another pizza and DH ordered spaghetti al scampi, and another wonderful dessert of blueberry “cake”. (31E) The restuarant also has a beautiful view over the sea, and we were able to watch the sunset over the mountains.

    Ravello Gelateria: (unsure of name, on main square) very good! Lemon and chocolate- (3E for 2 scoops)

    Capri Gelato: street cart just off Piazza Umberto, sold Lemon granitas (3E) and gelato (3E/2scoops) Very good! Everyone should try a lemon granita!! So refreshing on a hot day!

    Day #7

    Woke up in the morning, dropped the car in Sorrento, then took the train to Pompeii. Spent the morning and early afternoon in Pompeii (10E each, which includes a nice guidebook and map which is not advertised by the admission counter but just to the left of it-very worth it! ) Many of the attractions in Pompeii were closed, but we enjoyed it anyway. Be sure to take sunscreen, water, and walking shoes!
    Trained back to Sorrento, then caught the SITA bus outside the train station to Praiano. Got a seat on the right of the bus for a lovely view of the sea as the bus drove to Praiano. ( We had taken some motion sickness pills prior to boarding as we had road about the curves-we are very glad we did!) The trip was about 90 minutes. Got to Hotel Le Sirene (see above) and relaxed for a few hours. Then we walked Praiano for a while, which is a very lovely town with very lovely Italians! Then went to La Brace for dinner. Back to Le Sirene for drinks on the terrace. Tried Limoncello-pretty strong, but enjoyed it! Giancarmine loves to serve drinks!

    Day # 8

    Slept in a bit, caught a bus to Amalfi, then to Ravello. We were going to try to go to Ravello, then back to Positano for the evening, but with sleeping in and infrequent buses, this didn’t quite happen! We had just missed the bus in Amalfi, so we grabbed some lunch and enjoyed Amalfi for a while, and finally made it to Ravello around 1pm. We ventured to try to find Villa Rufulo, and ended up uphill from the main square in a little garden called Villa Rufulo, which was very pretty, but not exactly what we were looking for. We ended up walking all around Ravello, and I really fell in love with this town! Eventually, we headed back to the main square, sat and put our feet up for a while and had some gelato. Then we headed toward Villa Cimbrione (5E each-there are signs from the main square) I really enjoyed these gardens, and the Infinity Balcony is pretty amazing! My DH and I both got a small case of vertigo on the balcony. We sat for a long time and enjoyed the view (and recovered from the vertigo!) We stopped into a few churches to light a few more candles on the way back from Villa Cimbrione. Then we headed back to catch a 4:10 bus to Amalfi. We couldve stayed in Ravello for a long time! The buses to and from were actually pretty crowded, but once in Ravello, it didn’t seem touristy or crowded at all. I thought it was peaceful and relaxing!
    The following is a little side story, but pretty much typifies the Italian way of life!: The buses on the way to Ravello were pretty crowded, so we decided to get to the bus stop about 30 minutes early to catch the bus back down to Amalfi. The bus schedule posted said there was one bus for Amalfi at 4:10, then not another one until 5:05. When the bus showed up at 3:55, I asked the bus driver if it was the correct bus to Amalfi. The bus driver said yes, and everyone piled on. At this point, there were about double the number of people on the bus that should be allowed, with still more people waiting! The bus driver then turned off the bus and got off. About 5 minutes later, another bus showed up and someone asked if he was the 4:10 bus to Amalfi. The bus driver said yes. So about ½ the people from our bus piled into the other bus. I told my DH I was staying as our bus driver told us this was the bus to Amalfi. At 4:10, the 2nd bus (that we were not on) pulled out for Amalfi. Meanwhile, our bus driver was chatting and smoking a cigarette. By 4:20, I was beginning to get angry! We had come 30 minutes early to the bus stop and I was told this was the correct bus, and we were still sitting! At 4:25, just as I had gotten up the nerve to get off the bus and let the driver have a piece of my mind, he climbed on and started the bus. Everyone in the bus clapped! We headed to Amalfi. Just before Amalfi, we caught up with the bus that had left before us-because the driver stopped for gelato! I thought that anyone who had ever been to Italy could appreciate the story!
    Since it was later in the day than we anticipated, we decided to head back to Praiano and relax and grab some dinner. Before dinner, we decided to walk to the Praiano beach. Some Canadians we had met staying at Le Sirene informed us it was 800 steps and several streets to and from the beach. We decided we were up for it! Although I lost count at about 200, I am sure the Canadians were right! The beach was very small and rocky, but a fun adventure anyway! The water felt pretty nice by the time we got down there!
    Since we enjoyed La Brace so much, we went back there, and once again, thoroughly enjoyed it! After dinner, headed back to Le Sirene to have evening drinks. Giancarmine thought that since I enjoyed the Limoncello so much I might enjoy a Sambucca (spelling?) Well, it was a bit strong for me and I think he was hurt that he had recommended something that I didn’t like! I figure everything is worth the experience!

    Day #9

    Le Sirene had booked a hydrofoil to Capri for us (29E each through Positano Jet) from Positano. So we enjoyed another wonderful breakfast and then caught a bus to Positano. Had some time to spare, so we walked Positano for a while-which of course, is very picturesque! I could have used some more time here for shopping and wandering!
    Our hydrofoil left from the Positano beach at 11:00. We hopped on, and in 40 minutes we were at the Capri port. We rode on top of the boat, and had a great view for the trip. We got to the port, and according to my guidebook, there was supposed to be a Tourist Information office at the port, but we never did find it (We did find one in the town of Capri) We were a little worried about the rest of the day once we experienced the port because it was so packed with tourists and merchants attempting to sell you something! We followed the signs for Capri town, and ended up in Piazza Umberto about 25 minutes later. (We walked with a couple from Scotland, the hubby kept saying “This is a bloody lot of steps!”) Walked Capri town enjoyed a lemon granita (YUM!) and found the bus for Anacapri. (We liked this bus stop because there were actually lines! There was no pushing and shoving for a seat! But they really packed that bus!) At Anacapri, we grabbed a bite for lunch, and headed to find the chairlift for Monte Solaro. (Its right on the main square-Monument Square) but in the process we wandered toward Villa San Michele. Didn’t quite make it all the way there, but the path is really pretty. The chairlift was a neat ride-a little scary! (6.50 E each for both ways) We enjoyed the views and the ride. At Monte Solaro, we sat for a long time partway down the walking trail to Anacapri, which was quiet and nearly free of other tourists. We enjoyed the view of Capri, the sea, and the Faraglioni Rocks.
    Eventually headed back down to the port and sat on the beach for a long time. It was such a gorgeous day, the beach quiet, and the Mediterranean very blue! It was nice! Our boat was scheduled to leave at 6:15 so we headed back to the docks, and had a nice ride back to Positano. At Positano, we walked and window shopped for a while and then caught a bus to Praiano. We were pretty wiped from a day of lots of walking and sun and had snacked throughout the day, so we decided to skip eating out and stopped by a little grocery store in Praiano. We bought the best strawberries we had ever eaten, some Italian cheese, and several other items to make a wonderful little dinner. We ate on our room’s terrace and greatly enjoyed it! We then enjoyed some more drinks on the terrace with Gian. We had hot chocolates! (The total for our 3 nights of drinks only came to 9E-what a deal!) It was the perfect night for it! What a wonderful relaxing day!

    Next: Rome

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    lol, EvenMary, I loved your Ravello bus driver story- I have met and hung out a little with several of those drivers, and they definitely own the schedule!
    Too funny!

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    bellastar and LC-glad you enjoyed the story! My personal favorite part is the bus driver stopping for gelato! Can you imagine if U.S. bus drivers tried that?? I thought it was pretty funny!
    Here is a link to some of my pictures. (Although I think you have to have a sign-on to walgreens.com to get in, I'll try to figure out where else I can post that you don't need a sign on)
    http://photo.walgreens.com/share/p=680111155320786803/l=7949051/g=4970286/cobrandOid=1009/otsc=SYE/otsi=SALB

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    I enjoyed your report! If you had it do over, would you stay in Praiano or Ravello?

    Sorry about your Siena experience. It's one of my favorite places... but then I did not arrive by car.

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    watercolor- I would stay in Praiano again. It is a really nice little town, and we loved Le Sirene. It is also closer to other coast towns, decreasing the amount of time it takes to get around. But, a lot of people on this board have stayed in Ravello and have loved it!

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    ROME

    Transportation

    My DH really was not enjoying the coastal buses, so we opted instead for an option we had read about on this forum. We hitched a ride with a few Canadians to Positano (in exchange for my DH carrying their suitcases up the many stairs from Le Sirene!) From Positano, we caught a boat from the Positano beach (from Travelmar Linea Intercostiera, 70 min, 6.5 E each) to Salerno. This was a very enjoyable trip. The boat was practically empty and we greatly enjoyed the view of the Amalfi Coast along the way. From Salerno, we caught a train to Rome (25 E each, 2.5hrs). The train station is a short walk from the port.
    In Rome, we easily caught the #40 bus from just outside the train station (1E each). While in Rome, we mainly walked since our hotel was very centrally located. We also took a few taxis which were surprisingly reasonable. On the one day we did try to use the subways to go across town, there was a strike!

    Hotel: Castel Sant Angelo House, Via Del Banco Di Santo Spirito, 21 Roma,
    www.bed-breakfast-colonnato.com/ensantangelo.aspx, 110E/night

    I found this B&B through Venere.com. We actually only paid 95E/night due to a booking mistake. (We’d originally booked Al Colonato di San Pietro, but there was a booking error and got this B & B owned by the same couple) We loved this B&B. We were actually a spare room in a Roman couple’s apartment. From the moment we booked, the owner, Rosa Maria was very helpful on exact directions to the apt and tips on traveling in Rome. When we arrived, she had a map of Rome ready for us and laid out many of the sites to see and ways to get there. She even had reserved our tickets to the Papal Audience for the next day. Our room was beautifully decorated, and probably the largest room we had while in Italy. Breakfast was also very nice, brought in on a cart with all of the items we had chosen from night before, and lots of other choices. It included toast, croissants, yogurt, cereal, juice, milk, hot chocolate, coffee, or tea (or all 3!) There was also a basket of a variety of nice fresh fruit in our room, stocked daily which was a wonderful treat. We were a 5-10 minute walk from the Vatican & a 20 minute walk from ancient Rome. The only downfall was a restaurant that did dishes around midnight below the room! Otherwise, this was a wonderful place to stay!

    Restaurants/Gelato:

    Hosteria del Curato: Via Del Banco Di Santo Spirito (just south of Castel Sant Angelo)
    We ate here our first night in Rome. For 23.60 Euros, my DH had Ravioli (which we thought tasted like Chef Boyardee!) And I had Spinach Canneloni. We also had drinks and gelato. I don’t think I’d recommend the dinner, but the gelato was excellent-especially the strawberry! (They have a regular gelateria you can order from)

    Osteria da Narone: Via delle Terme di Tito 96 (near the Colosseum):
    This restaurant was a little difficult to find, but has especially fond memories because of the friends we were with! My DH and I each had a pasta dish, bread, wine, water, and dessert for 33E. Although I don’t remember what we ordered, I remember our pasta being particularly good and also enjoying the wine.

    La Focaccia Pizzeria: Via della Pace 11, (From Piazza Navona, go West on the Northern most street that comes out of the Piazza and follow it to Via della Pace, turn South. Restaurant has no sign, just a small business card on the wall that looks like the one on their website: www.1stmuse.com/focaccia/index-e.htm) We ordered fried mozzarella, cokes, split a mixed vegetable pizza and dessert for 31.50E. They brought our split pizza out in the shape of a heart! They have a wood-burning oven. The pizza was thin and crispy and the ingredients were so fresh! Its making my mouth water just writing about it! We also had a wonderful dessert called “3 types of chocolate” which we assumed was 3 different types of chocolate dessert. It was actually 3 kinds of chocolate pudding/custard/fudge-ish type goodness all in one bowl-absolutely wonderful!!

    Osteria da Mario: Piazza delle Coppelle 51, north of the Pantheon
    At this restaurant, we each enjoyed pasta dishes, fried zucchini (split), wine, water, and dessert for 27E. My DH and I both enjoyed homemade pastas-yummy! This was our last meal in Italy, and a quite enjoyable one! The outside seating was nice and the food was very good. We enjoyed this meal with our friends again, who also really liked this restaurant.

    Day #10

    We arrived in Rome late in the afternoon and got a great introduction to Rome from Rosa Maria (see hotel, above) She had reserved tickets for us to the Papal Audience for the next day, so we headed up to the Vatican to pick them up. (10 minute walk) We walked to a special line by the Bronze Door, spoke with the Swiss Guards, were ushered past, and received our tickets. The line to get into St Peters was almost nonexistent at that time, too (5:30 pm) so we headed in. We pretty much walked right in, and were immediately in awe. We stayed until around 7:00 and it was quite an experience as it was practically empty, and such a place of reverence. Audio guides, John Paul II’s tomb, and the Dome were not open at that time, so we decided we had to come back to finish those things. We walked around the rest of the Vatican for a while, then back to our neighborhood, grabbed some supper, and back to our room to do some laundry (It was mandatory by this point, we had put it off for so long!)

    Day #11

    We woke up early and headed back up to the Vatican for the Papal Audience. We had friends we were meeting there who were saving seats. (Friends who by the strangest and most wonderful coincidence happened to be in Rome at the same time as us!) They had gotten fairly close for the Audience (we are all Catholic) and we sat and waited for the Pope catching up on our vacations thus far. (They had been to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and now Rome) They had gotten there around 8 am, and had fairly good seats. Pope Benedict came out and traveled all the aisles in his Popemobile and spoke in about 8 languages. Prior to him doing his sermon in that language, they announced all the groups from that country and they would stand and cheer (like at a ballgame-it was pretty funny!) From the time the Pope came out until it was over, it was probably around 2 hours. It was really a great experience. Tickets are free and can be obtained from the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome, requesting your hotel to reserve them, or if you are Catholic, I believe you can write to your diocese and obtain them.
    After the Audience, we decided the Vatican would probably be too busy to try to see, so we headed over to ancient Rome. We walked from the B & B. (20-25 minutes) We saw the Vittorio Emmanuel Monument (free) Roman forum (free) Palantine Hill (11E combo ticket with Colosseum). A lot has been said about these, so I won’t add much, unless anyone has specific questions. The only thing I will add is to make sure you have a good guide book to know what you are looking at. It is all very awe-inspiring, provided you know what you are looking at! We bought a book from one of the street vendors for 15E, which is called “Rome monuments, past and present” and has nice overlays of ancient Rome in its time and the current look of the monuments. It helped to put the remnants in perspective. This was the only place I really wish we had booked a tour.
    After an afternoon alone in ancient Rome (our friends had Scavi Tour reservations), we met back up again at the Colosseum and were able to bypass lines due to having bought our tickets at Palantine Hill. After the Colosseum, we went to Osteria da Narone, and had a great time. On the way back from dinner, we walked by the Trevi Fountain, which was very beautiful lit up at night. (Although the most crowded landmark we saw in all of Italy!!) I had to throw a coin in, of course!

    Day #12

    We had Scavi reservations for 9:00 am, so we headed back up to the Vatican. On the way, we met another couple who were also headed toward the Scavi office. Turns out they didn’t have reservations and were extremely disappointed they couldn’t get in! (10E each; I emailed Jan 18th, heard back March 23rd) The Scavi Tour was fantastic. Our tour guide, Anthony, had just graduated with his masters in Theology from a school in Austria, and was very interested and excited about the material he was telling us about. It is very interesting, and I would highly recommend it for anyone, and it has a even a more special meaning for those of us who are Catholic.
    After the Scavi Tour, we saw John Paul II’s tomb, and the tombs of many other popes buried underneath St Peters. We also went up into the Dome (4E each if you decide to climb all 551 stairs or 7E each if you decide to ride the elevator- saves about 150 steps) Both are worth the wait. Seeing St Peters from inside the Dome, and the Vatican and the rest of Rome outside the Dome, are pretty amazing.
    Grabbed a bite to eat just outside the Vatican Museums and had a delicious panini with “rockets”, tomato and cheese and a homemade pastry. Once again, a simple but delicious lunch for about 7E. After lunch, we headed to the Vatican Museums. Lines were pretty short by this time (1:30 pm) and we headed right in. Unfortunately, we realized we didn’t have enough cash for the entrance fee(12E each-they don’t take credit cards) so we headed to find an ATM and ended up back at the entrance about 30 minutes later. Luckily we got right in, purchased an Audioguide (6E) and made our way through the museums to the Sistine Chapel. The musuems were extremely crowded, however, a must see! I would definitely recommend an audioguide as things are not well labeled. I would also recommend at least 3 hours, as we were a little rushed with only about 2.5 hours. So much has been written about the Sistine Chapel, and of course, it was breathtaking!
    After the musuems, we did a little souvenior shopping, wrote postcards then headed out to dinner at Foccacia Pizzeria (see Restaurants above). After dinner, we hit an internet café in the area (1.60E for 30 minutes) and enjoyed walking Rome at night.

    Day #13

    When we woke up, we were saddened by the fact that this was our last day in Italy; our last day of Nina’s breakfast cart, afternoon siestas, authentic Italian food, cheap wine, and Italians. We had attempted to get tickets to the Borghese gallery about a month prior to our trip (can be reserved through their website or by calling) but unfortunately the tickets were sold out for the entire day! (The museum had been closed all week in preparation for a new exhibit and this day was the first day it was opened. I do not think it is normally booked so far in advance) We started out the morning by heading to the Campo de Fiori Market. This was a fun experience. We wished we wouldn’t have eaten so much breakfast, or we may have bought some fruit! It all looked wonderful. There were fruits, veggies, meats, fish, flowers, souveniors, and lots of other goodies. This is definitely worth a stop!
    After the market, we dropped our purchases back by the room and headed to the Pantheon (Free, but audioguides are available for a small fee) The Pantheon is another must see. With the architecture, Rapheal’s grave, the level of preservation, and the neighborhood, it is simply amazing.
    After the Pantheon, we headed to Piazza di Spagna/Spanish steps. We were a bit disappointed in the steps. Trinita dei Monti was under scaffolding and the steps were void of flowers (as we had seen in all the pictures!) After sitting on the steps for a while, we went to catch the subway to meet our friends on the other side of town, but unfortunately, there was a strike! So we decided to start walking in the general direction of San Giovanni of Laterano in hopes to find a taxi stand along the way. We ended up hiking the whole way, mostly because by partway through our walk, we were just entranced in Rome and sort of forgot we were needing a taxi! (This ended up being a 60 minute walk!) We walked by St Peter’s in Chains and stopped for a quick peek. The Church and Michaelangelo’s Moses were worth the stop. We met our friends at San Giovanni in Laterano, a very beautiful church SE of the Colosseum. (They also have a cute little giftshop ran by nuns) After touring the Church, we split a taxi to Piazza Navona. The Piazza was pretty happening. We decided to try to go to dinner at Foccacia Pizzeria. Well it was a bit early, and the staff told us to come back at 6:30. We walked the area and toured some more churches including San Luigi dei Francesi, the Church of St Ignazio, and another I can’t remember the name of. (Of course, I had to light a candle in each one to ensure our safe passage back to the States the next day :-) By that time, it was 6:30, so we headed back to Foccacia Pizzeria. Unfortunately, the staff was eating, and they told us to come back at 7:30! We were a bit put off by this, so decided to eat elsewhere, however, I would still reccommend this restaurant! We walked some more and found dinner at Osteria di Maria (see restaurants, above) We drank too much wine, had a wonderful dinner, and greatly enjoyed our last evening in Rome.

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    What a wonderful trip - tell me about the buses along the Amalfi Coast. How did you get the details and manage this? (We'll be there next month & would like to bus from town to town but haven't done any research to figure out the ins and outs of this mode of transport.)

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    Reading about your trip has been so wonderful. I am going to Italy next May for my 30th birthday w/family. After having read this I am going to follow the same/similar (venice/tuscany/amalfi/rome) itenary. Still a few things I need to think about, but I do have some time! Thank you so much for your post!

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    Loveitaly-Yes, we definitely did our part in the getting lost bit!! We did see some beautiful countryside, though.

    DFM-We didn't find the buses on the coast difficult. Our hotel had a schedule, and there were schedules posted at most of the stops. The buses also had a destination point posted on the bus, or we would just ask the driver if we weren't sure. The only downfall was that there were always lots of people waiting for the bus, and there tended to be somewhat of a mob mentality when the bus pulled up! But, we always got a ride, whether we were standing or sitting.

    zeta-You are welcome! The only downfall to our itenerary was that we wished we wouldn't have done Rome last. There is so much to see and do in Rome, and we were a little tired by the time we got there. We managed to get in almost everything we wanted to do, though. I also wished we would've gotten to see a little bit of Florence, too, but it just wasn't in the cards for us. We are really glad, however, we chose to stay in Tuscany as opposed to another big city. We really felt like we took in more of the Italian culture, and were able to get away from the touristy areas. It may be a long time before we get back there, but Florence will be first on our list when we do.

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    Enjoyed your report. It's so inspiring to hear about people who have faced all kinds of challenges on a holiday and still have a positive attitude. Lots of good tips, too.

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    THank you for your report. Especially about Le Sirene. We will be there in October for our honeymoon (2 nights in Rome, 5 nights in Praiano, 5 nights in Venice) and reading your report brought tears to my eyes! It is going to be such an amazing time for us!

    It is also so good to hear how your managed to stay within a reasonable price range.

    Thank you!!!

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    A quick apology for the paragraphs in my report. I didn't realize until after I had posted it all that the indents at the beginnings of the paragraphs are taken out once you copy and paste. Darn, if I would've known that, I would've added spaces between paragraphs. Sorry-makes it much harder to read now...

    rickmav-We had a wonderful time and would do it again!

    caroldes-Le Sirene is wonderful. It was such a nice break from the hustle and bustle of all of the touristy things we had been doing. At that point, I think I would've been content staying in Praiano the whole time on the coast, only I knew at some point I probably would've regretted not seeing the rest of the coast! And I'm glad we did! We were also pleasantly surprised that we didn't spend as much money on the entire trip as we thought we would. I am so thankful for people on this board who helped us find great places for great prices.

    Dayle-yes, La Brace is wonderful. The view, the food, the staff! On the 2nd night we were there, my DH was giving me a hard time because I ordered a pizza with "rockets" (this was the only explanation the waiter could give for an Italian ingredient I didn't know, and I didn't know what it was, but I ordered anyway-turns out it was spinach leaves, which was actually pretty good) He ordered spaghetti with scampi, thinking it would have little bits of scampi in the pasta. When he got it, it had 2 VERY large whole scampi, and he sort of panicked not knowing exactly how to eat it. After attempting to explain in our broken Italian that he didn't know how to eat it, (we couldn't think of the word for how, so we ended up using hand gestures) the waiter came over and worked for a while on the scampi to obtain the edible part and placed it on top of DH's spaghetti. Turns out the edible part was exactly where he thought it was, but it was a funny story anyway! We just don't eat a lot of seafood here, we live in Kansas :)

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    Dear Mary,

    I have loved reading about your trip! I want to know what you took in the way of clothing and what other people are wearing. I'm going to Italy at the end of September and I want to be appropriately dressed and comfortable. Any packing tips you have would be appreciated.

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    hi EvenMary
    I had the most fabulous afternoon reading your trip report. We're planning a drive down vacation ( sept end) and i was wondering why you let go of your rental car while in Sorrento rather than using it for exploring the Amalfi Coast especially since you guys drove all the way there. ( And also because your DH didnt particulary like the coastal bus experience) Im fascinated with the idea of driving along the coastline and was also wondering if the trip from Florence to Sorrento was scenic?

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    Hi EvenMary,
    I just spend the last hour reading your fascinating report and looking at all your beautiful pictures! Thank you so much, I just loved your review!!!

    We are going to Venice, Rome and the Amalfi Coast (in that order) next June so I really enjoyed all your wonderful details!

    I do have a couple of questions if you don't mind answering. First, we will be in Venice for 3 nights, and I'm a little concerned about the jetlag coming from the Boston and am wondering if 3 nights are enough. What did you think about staying only 2 nights?

    Also, we originally planned to stay at LeSirene, but since we're traveling with teenagers, we thought Positano would be a better choice overall. By this point in the trip, I'm sure they are going to want to do their own thing and check out the area by themselves for awhile. Based on your experience, what do you think?

    Thanks again!! :)

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    Rocket is not spinach but Arugula a bitter green, very delicious in salads etc.

    Good report. My DH and I also travelled to italy during the month of May. We also had the experience of getting lost in tuscany....so I had to laugh at your report.

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    concerto- We took clothing that layered and could be washed out and worn again. I took a pair of jeans, a pair of capris, a pair of khakis, and shirts that could be worn with any of these (mostly black or white, with a few other colors mixed in) I took one black cardigan type sweater that could be worn over anything, and ended up wearing it many of the evenings we were there. I also took sneakers (yes, white ones :) , which a lot of people might advise against, but I was going for comfort and shopped for quite a long time trying to find something as comfortable as those that looked a little classier, but could find nothing that was as comfortable to me! I saw lots of people who were wearing sneakers as well, probably all tourists, but my feet didn't hurt at the end of the day!! ) and a pair of nicer black shoes to wear. We took travel size bottles of toiletries and old socks that we threw away before the return trip. I also took a small spray bottle that I filled with water in each hotel, and would spray out and hang clothes for the next morning to get rid of wrinkles. I packed in large ziploc bags so that I would only need to open 1 or 2 at each hotel which made repacking easy. Packing lightly really really paid off. My DH and I shared a suitcase and then carried a backpack for carry-on. I am such a heavy packer normally, but am SO glad we both packed lightly, as it was so much more convenient for traveling around.

    sharanis- The reason we drove all the way to Sorrento to drop the car is because I wanted to visit Assisi and Pompeii on the way, and there didn't seem to be a more convenient place to drop the car (without driving into Naples) We chose not to have the car on the coast because we had heard numerous stories about the roads and parking and were a little hesitant. Also, the bus system is pretty convenient, so we didn't think we would need a car. Looking back now, I can see how at times the car would've been nice on the coast so we wouldn't have had to wait on buses. However, the roads were somewhat scary at times, and with my DH's limited experience with the manual car, I'm very glad we chose to drop it off! But then again, we are from a small town in the Midwest, so I don't think I speak for everyone here! Also, something else to keep in mind, that if you are the driver, you don't get to apprciate the scenery as much. I don't remember the drive to Sorrento being particularly scenic, but we were on the autostrada up to Naples, and I think that cuts out some of the scenery, although shortens the drive considerably.

    Rosie-glad you enjoyed!

    Jay-I think 3 nights in Venice would be enough. We only had 2 nights, but could've used a 3rd. Venice really isn't too large, and we walked around most of the city in the 1.5 days we were there. However, we could've used the extra day for exploring some of the islands, or just soaking up more of Venice. After a short nap, we recovered from jetlag fairly quickly (and we had been traveling for almost 24 hours) And although I absolutely loved Praiano and Le Sirene, I would probably choose Positano with teenagers as there is more to see and do in the evenings, especially if they are wanting to explore by themselves for a while.

    Jocy-thanks for clearing up the rockets! I didn't think it was spinach, but couldn't figure out what exactly it was. I won't forget now! It sounds like a lot of people have gotten lost in Tuscany, so I don't feel like such a bad navigator now!

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    Hi Mary,

    I too am from KCMO! I just moved back from Del Mar, CA...I broadcast for KCMO 710 News. I'll be going to Rome March 28th thru April 4th. I'm wondering if your aware of any private tour guides to the Amalfi Coast? I will be traveling alone...

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