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17 amazing days in Tuscany, Positano and Rome – June 2014!

17 amazing days in Tuscany, Positano and Rome – June 2014!

Old Oct 6th, 2014, 10:21 AM
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Great report and lovely photos!!! Really enjoying it!
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Old Oct 6th, 2014, 05:30 PM
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2010 - hope you had fun on your trip - where did you go? Florence was great - so glad we added it to our trip.

Paqngo - thanks - I'm ready to go back to Positano too.

ekc - sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Can't wait for your TR. If you substitute "eat like there is no tomorrow" for your "laying in the sun" - those would be my sentiments exactly!

TDudette - thanks - We really liked Orvieto even though we were only there a few hours.

jamikins - thanks - I've really enjoyed following you and Bikerscott on your travels over the years too.
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Old Oct 6th, 2014, 05:35 PM
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Positano (Day 13)

The deciders met in the lobby again and after quite a bit of discussion, we decided to go for it – we were going to tackle the path of the gods. Our motto for any decision that had to be made on our trip in 2012 was “this is no time to be conservative, let’s pull out all the stops”. On this trip, we had not had to resort to following our motto for any decision until today. We went to the front desk to order a taxi to Bomerano and they tried to talk us out of it. But we stuck to our motto.

At the agreed upon time, two taxis showed up and there was a bit of confusion. It turned another guy staying at our hotel was doing the exact same thing as us – taking a taxi to Bomerano to walk the path of the gods back toward Positano. We thought about trying to share a taxi but there wasn’t enough room in either taxi for all of us so we climbed in and our driver followed the other taxi. It was a fairly easy drive along the coast until we turned off and headed up towards the top. OMG – it was not nearly as scary as the bus ride yesterday at Capri but still enough to get the heart pumping every now and then. Somewhere along the way our young driver admitted he was completely lost – he had never been to Bomerano so he was just following the first taxi.

We drove through some clouds and continued up until we finally reached the main square at Bomerano. We went in to a little convenience store to buy some water and use the bathroom. OMG again, that bathroom was totally gross. We began to wonder what the heck we had gotten ourselves in to. We easily found the path and started out exactly at 10 AM - feeling a little more nervous than we wanted to be. We soon found out there was no need to be nervous. We hoped to make it to Nocelle in about three hours and that is exactly what we did.

In doing research about this walk, I saw a few things saying the path might be difficult to follow but it was well marked and we only took one wrong turn for a very short distance before realizing our mistake and we quickly turned around. I’m going to let the pictures describe this walk but we really enjoyed it. There were very few people on the path but the ones we met were very nice. And the weather that we were so worried about was perfect. I could not imagine anything worse than getting stuck in a thunderstorm on the side of a mountain half way between Bomerano and Nocelle. But none of that happened. The deciders (or our motto) made the right decision to go. It was incredible.

On the first part of the path, we thought it should have been named the path of the poop instead of the path of the gods. There was more donkey or mule or horse poop right in the middle of the trail than you can imagine. Not only did you have to make sure you didn’t fall off the edge of the cliff but you had to worry about dodging the prolific proportions of poop – and some of it was quite smelly too. Oh well, it was just a part of the adventure.

We made it to Nocelle and stopped for lunch at a restaurant with a great view looking down on to Positano. We also wanted to celebrate the fact that we actually did it. I said before that our group ranges in age from early to late sixties and even though this was not a really difficult hike, we were very proud to have done it. After lunch we caught the bus back to Positano and it eventually dropped us off right next to our hotel. On the bus my wife and I tried to compare this hike to the hike we did in the Cinque Terre. In 2012 we had hiked the high trail (6d) from Manarola to Corniglia. We liked walking through the vineyards looking out over the incredible vista in both directions on the first part of the CT hike the most. But the POG hike was much higher, much more rugged and we thought a bit harder than the CT hike. When Positano first comes in to view, it is spectacular. We liked them both a lot but they are really quite a bit different and I think hard to compare.

We showered, dressed and headed down to the beach to have dinner at Wine – Dark House but it was closed. We were very disappointed but decided to look for a place on the beach. We ended up at Buca di Bacco and were very happy we did. I had an incredible plate of mixed seafood. As I tried to pull the head off my shrimp, it completely exploded and squirted juice all over my wife. And I mean from her hair to her lap she was covered. Jeez – that was not good. We sat there a long time and totally enjoyed watching it turn to dusk. We eventually went back to the hotel, had a limencello on our balcony and went to bed – too tired to try to pack for our trip to Rome the next day. An exhilarating and excellent last day in Positano!
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Old Oct 6th, 2014, 05:43 PM
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Pictures from Day 13.

https://john183italy2014.shutterfly.com/pictures/416
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Old Oct 7th, 2014, 02:59 AM
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Bookmarking to read at my leisure later
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Old Oct 7th, 2014, 06:59 AM
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Hi John,

My husband and I went to Amsterdam, Bruges and Paris. We had an amazing time, especially in Amsterdam & Bruges which were new destinations. And then back to Paris - such a favourite for us! Almost three weeks in all.

Just working on my photo book. Let's see if I can get a trip report done after that! Gone are the days of multi-tasking ... sigh!
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Old Oct 7th, 2014, 10:09 AM
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Great report and pics! I've always wanted to do that hike, and your photos make it even more enticing. Must get back to Italy soon.
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Old Oct 7th, 2014, 10:20 AM
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Super, john! Just finished the page with the hoopoe bird--how cool was that?
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Old Oct 11th, 2014, 05:06 AM
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2010 - Bruges is high on our travel wish list - we have never been there. We like Paris too and have a family trip planned to go there in April - our crazy daughters are running in the Paris marathon. Obviously my multi-tasking skills are gone too when you look at how long it is taking me to finish this TR.

msteacher - it really is a great hike. We loved it! Overall it was not a difficult hike but there were a couple of places that were a little challenging for our group - but we went slow and made it just fine. I agree with you - must get back to Italy soon.

TDudette - hoopoes are cool and hyper -very fun to watch. Here is a wiki-site with more than you could ever want to know about the hoopoe. It has quite a history and is the national bird of Israel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoopoe
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Old Oct 11th, 2014, 05:09 AM
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HappyTrvlr - Our Ceramiche Rampini plates and bowls finally arrived this week. You were right - it took a while but it was worth the wait - we like them a lot and they go well with our Geribi pieces from Deruta.
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 01:06 PM
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Rome – 4 days

Rome (Day 14)

Up early and packed before going for our last breakfast with the fabulous Tony and his famous cappuccino. We took several gorgeous final pictures from our balcony before we left. Our same driver Bernardo arrived at the exact time we had arranged and we headed for the train station in Naples. Bernardo said the weather in Naples was bad and that traffic getting there was really bad. He said the people that normally drive scooters were driving their cars today because of the weather and that makes for horrendous traffic. As we were stuck in traffic, he kept calling ahead to get updates and he assured us we would make our train. I was not so sure.

But he was right – we drove up to the train station with time to spare. He wanted to pull in to the close parking area but the attendant said the lot was full and we would have to go to another lot farther away. Bernardo got in to a big argument with the attendant and refused to leave. It turns out that when the lot is full, as one car leaves another can enter and the attendant did not want us to block the entrance waiting for cars to leave. But Bernardo stood his ground and before too long we were able to pull in to a parking spot right next to the door in to the station.

Bernardo said he was picking up another customer at the station and he had time so he waited with us in the station until our track number was on the screen. While we waited he kept an eye out for pickpockets/other nefarious characters and we felt quite safe with him “guarding” us and our luggage – especially when we took turns going to the restroom. I say that with tongue in cheek but I did appreciate him staying with us and our luggage. When our train arrived, Bernardo walked in with us. He helped carry our luggage and get it stowed in the overhead bins. Like I said earlier, Bernardo was not only incredibly good looking but he was very nice too. We would recommend him whole-heartily. The limo service is Due Golfi Car Service (www.duegolficarservice.it/). We booked initially through Positano Taxi (www.positanotaxi.net) which is part of the Due Golfi Group.

It was an easy and quick (an hour and 10 minutes) ride to Termini – the free Prosecco didn’t hurt either. As we walked out of the station toward the taxi line, one of the guys in charge sent us to a taxi/van without having to stand in line. The driver was quite a character and did not know exactly where the address of our apartment was so he handed me his map and I directed him close to where it was. He actually drove in to a pedestrian only area to drop us off and he totally overcharged us for the ride. I will never admit to anyone how much it cost but it was outrageous for such a short ride.

I’m going to copy a lot of what I said at the beginning of this TR about arriving in Rome. As we walked towards the apartment, a girl met us on the street and told us she was the apartment greeter. She said she had good news and bad news. The bad news was our apartment was completely flooded and was unlivable. The good news was they weren’t going to leave us on the street – they had an upgraded apartment we could have and it was not too far away. When we asked how far it was, she said close enough to walk so we started out.

I guess my definition of not far is way different than hers because we walked about 1.5 kilometers to the other apartment. Every so often the girl would turn toward us and say we were very close (which was complete fiction) and that we were such good sports. Hey, 1.5 kilometers is not far UNLESS it is on crowded uneven cobblestone sidewalks in the rain with lightning and thunder all around AND you are pushing/pulling all your luggage (and we don’t travel lightly). At some point I made her (I admit I was not very nice about it) take the big suitcases from the ladies. What a nightmare! We were not such good sports by the time we got there.

When we finally did get there, our greeter turned us over to a guy on the street and she left before we even saw the inside. Like I said above, we were wet, exhausted and not at all satisfied with the “upgraded” apartment. Their web site makes it look way better than it actually was. The pics look good online but the apartment itself had some problems. It was really dirty which was a big problem for our group. And despite the bright online pictures it was very dark inside day and night. One of the bedrooms did not have a door - it was open to the living room. We flipped a coin to see who had to take the room with no door and unfortunately K&K lost. The bathroom for the room with no door was TINY - especially the shower.

The location was actually great but we did not know that when we arrived. We were just led around several streets in the pouring rain until we got there and really had very little idea of where we were. Once we had a chance to scout a little, the neighborhood was great. And it had one fantastic feature that made up for a lot – the remote controlled air conditioners worked GREAT.

After looking at the maps and figuring out where we were, we decided to head towards the Pantheon and have lunch on the piazza there. The Pantheon is probably my favorite building anywhere so I hoped it would cheer us up – and it did – a little. Lunch was great and I had always wanted to see it rain while I was inside the Pantheon and it did rain while we were there. Pretty cool. We walked around the neighborhood a little and found a little grocery store where we bought our usual apartment supplies. Because we had such a late lunch we just had a light dinner at the apartment. We unpacked and went to bed still not very happy - an excellent morning leaving Positano but a nowhere near excellent afternoon arriving in Rome!
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 01:15 PM
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Pictures from Day 14.


https://john183italy2014.shutterfly.com/pictures/473
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 01:18 PM
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What a disappointment.

I wonder how you made the most of it this time?
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 03:36 PM
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What an unfortunate start and introduction to Rome. Glad to read in your introduction that it did not spoil your enjoyment of the city.

Andiamo!
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 07:46 PM
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annhig and 2010 - Our attitude is usually positive but we were all really bummed out about the apartment. We didn't like much about it at all but we did like those air conditioners - it was HOT while we were in Rome. And how could you not enjoy visits to the Pantheon, the Vatican museum, St Peters, the Coliseum, the Forum, Castello San Angelo and my personal favorite, the Borghese Gallery? Unfortunately the Trevi Fountain was completely closed for renovation but overall when you include several good meals with fun servers, our time in Rome was good.
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Old Oct 13th, 2014, 08:17 AM
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john - on our first visit to Rome, we didn't get our first choice of apartment in Rome either. we were luckier than you in that they let us know about a month before that the apartment we had booked had been withdrawn by the owner. i was a bit dubious but when I checked the other websites where I'd seen it for different dates, it had disappeared so i decided that what we had been told was probably true.

They offered us two alternatives - one which was clearly unsuitable for the same price, and a much better one for slightly more. We took the latter one and were very pleased with it, so I think that we actually benefitted from the change.

Nothing like your experience, but just to say that these changes can happen; however they ought to be handled a lot better than yours was.
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Old Oct 13th, 2014, 12:02 PM
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Am at Rome now. Wonderful TR and stunning photos. Good job on your treks!
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Old Oct 13th, 2014, 12:04 PM
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Forgot to mention that DH and I took a day trip to Bruges from Paris some years ago. Except for seeing the lace makers, whose building was closed that day, one day was sufficient for us but everyone is different.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 07:06 PM
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annhig - I wish it would have worked out for us like it did for you. If the apartment would have been clean, if the second bedroom would have had a door and if the second bathroom had not been so tiny it would have been OK. But it wasn't. Thank goodness for the good air conditioners and the wonderful neighborhood.

TDudette - Thanks. I'm not sure when we will get to Bruges but we sure want to. We have never been to Provence and are going there next April after a week or so in Paris. Can't wait!
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 07:13 PM
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Rome (Day 15)

Up early and had a quick breakfast at the apartment before heading to the Vatican for our early entrance, small group Viator tour of the Vatican museum and St Peter’s. It was an easy, scenic walk along the Tiber River to the Vatican and we easily met up with our group (total of 10) near the museum entrance. Our guide said that unfortunately St Peter’s Basilica was going to be closed all day because of the Feast of Corpus Christi (which I knew nothing about at the time). She said we could reschedule for another day or she could just spend more time in the museum. We decided to go ahead with the tour.

It was a very good tour and our guide was interesting. We saw and learned a lot at the museum and finished in the Sistine Chapel. At this point we thought the tour would be over and we were OK with that because it had been a very good tour. As we were finishing up, our guide called us over and said it turns out St Peter’s was open but they were not allowing tours. She said we were welcome to tour St Peter’s on our own if we wanted to. Of course we wanted to so we were able to skip the line and go directly in to St Peter’s after leaving the Sistine chapel through the small back door. Side note – shortly after we were back home, we received a partial refund from Viator because they were not able to take us in to St Peter’s. We did not expect it or even want it but it was nice that they did it.

They had a large portion of the center blocked off but most of the side alcoves were open. We walked around for a while and saw they were celebrating Mass in the front of the blocked off area (it was not Pope Francis - dang). There were a few empty chairs left and I wish I would have known that after Mass everyone that was sitting in the chairs was allowed to join the procession around St Peter’s. I would have really liked to have been able to do that.

We then headed in the direction of Piazza Navona, stopping on the shady side of a little side street that was not too far from our apartment for some very good pizza. We continued on and had a gelato at Piazza Navona while we walked around a little before heading back towards our apartment. We stopped for a drink at what looked like a nice place but the music was so loud we left very quickly. We found a much quieter place (we were the only customers) just around the corner from our apartment and had a fun time chatting with a cute server from Argentina. We saw a bride getting out of a car about to go in to a tiny church near the bar. I will have to say that I have never seen such a low cut top on a bride’s dress – I mean everything was out there on display. We then went back to the apartment for an air-conditioned break. We stopped by and made dinner reservations at a small place just across the street from our apartment.

After we cooled off a little, we decided to go to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. It was a short walk and we saw some really interesting buildings along the way. As soon as we came around the corner and saw the Spanish Steps we were disappointed. Both the church at the top and the fountain at the bottom were under complete renovation/restoration. We stayed a while and then went to the Trevi Fountain. And it happened again – as soon as we came around the corner and saw the fountain, we were again very disappointed. It was fenced off and under complete restoration – no water at all. We went back to the apartment to rest a little before dinner.

It was nice to just be able to walk across the street and be seated at a nice table in a sort of private alcove in the window area of the Trattoria del Gatto Bianco. The food was good, the server was really fun and it turned in to a longer than we expected meal – we just lost track of time. Our server worked her tail off and at the end of the night – you could tell she was tired – but she kept going. We said our goodbyes and took the long walk across the street to our apartment. LOL! Like I said before, we ended up really liking the neighborhood but not the apartment itself. We finally went to bed, an excellent beginning at the Vatican and ending at the Gatto Bianco but a mostly disappointing middle part trying to sightsee on our second day in Rome!
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