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An Italian Honeymoon: Things we did besides …

An Italian Honeymoon: Things we did besides …

Sep 19th, 2006, 08:42 PM
  #41  
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Calla,
1 week, 1 yr, 10 yrs, 30 yrs, 60 yrs of marriage doesn't matter...that place cannot help but be romantic.
saps is offline  
Sep 19th, 2006, 09:26 PM
  #42  
 
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Bravo, saps, this is wonderful!
Congratulations !
Scarlett is offline  
Sep 19th, 2006, 11:25 PM
  #43  
 
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Calla, I hope you and your husband make it to Italy soon. Trust Sap and the rest of the people here. Italy is so magical and yes so romantic. There is nothing like sharing a plate of pasta, calamari, gelato... with your husband.
cafegoddess is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 06:46 AM
  #44  
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Days 7, 8, & 9

Sunday was another beach day so nothing really new. We bought all of our souvenirs including our oil painting. In addition we purchased some really cool tiles to include in our kitchen when we remodel next year.

Sunday night we dined at the restaurant in the Palazzo Murat hotel and it was an extremely beautiful restaurant and the service was excellent but the food was not that great…especially for the high prices. It was also our first (but not last) experience of the man getting a menu with prices on it while the woman getting a menu without prices. I still haven’t quite figured out the purpose of this. I actually think it should be the other way around that way the restaurant staff can get a good chuckle when they deliver the bill to the man and he sees for the first time what his dinner just cost him.

Monday morning we went to Capri as part of another Gennaro e Salvatore tour. This time we got Gennaro himself as our captain and he was a riot. He reminded me of Marlon Brando. Every story that he told or wisdom that he imparted ended with how the story or the wisdom could be used to become a better love maker. The women on the boat were all blushing and the men were all trying to figure out how they were going to be able to handle the added pressure. The tour was 50 Euro per person and included a 4 hour stop on Capri.

Now before I go and bash Capri…I admit to reading a number of times that to truly enjoy Capri you must stay the night and visit the island after the day trippers leave. That being said, as a day tripper I would never go back to the island. It was crowded beyond belief and I don’t think I saw a single local person there. It was filled with thousands of people who had tour bus stickers all over there bodies and were ordering hamburgers at the café.
We joined 4 other people from our boat and rented a taxi to drive us all over the island. My favorite part was actually lunch at a beach away from the madness. I hope those of you who stay the night there can enjoy the island much more than we did.

We got back on the boat and headed around the island. We stopped at the Blue Grotto and since there was no wait to get in KC and I got into their little canoe boats and were quickly told by the rower that it was expected of us to give him a tip. We thought the grotto was beautiful but you are in there for 2 minutes and it cost 20 Euros for two people…a bit overrated in my humble opinion. We then continued the tour around the island stopping twice to swim along the coast.

That night we dined (per a friends recommendation) at La Cambusa in the main square of Positano on the beach. Food was good but the service was probably the worst we had on the whole trip. We didn’t get any bread but we laughed at how in 7 days in Positano we probably ate 14 loafs of bread each so we didn’t ask for any. We had a long leisurely dinner and looked forward to leaving for Rome the following day.

Tuesday morning we were picked up again by Benvenuto Limousines and were driven to Pompeii. Carlo, our driver, waited for us for about 3.5 hours while we toured the ancient city and then he took us to the Naples train station.

At the entrance to the Pompeii ruins we were approached by an older Silcian man name Pepe who offered to give us a private tour. I asked if he was an official tour guide and the pain on his face was like I shamed him beyond belief. He told me that I embarrassed him as he took out his tour guide ID. I really didn’t care that he was embarrassed; I did not want to get ripped off. We hired Pepe for 90 Euros and he gave us a 2.5 hour private tour of the ruins. Honestly, 3 hours was plenty for us…We saw a lot of the grounds and felt like our time and money was well spent. We found our driver and headed off to the Naples train station.

Roma here we come…

I pre-purchased ES first class train tickets from Trenitalia before we left so we just showed up at the train station and found our track…very easy. We had lots of luggage because of our souvenirs so we boarded the train as soon as the departing passengers were gone. We found lots of room for our luggage in the front of the train car and then enjoyed 40 minutes of quite time. An American couple sat next to us and we enjoyed chatting with them as they too had just returned from the Amalfi Coast.

We arrived at the Rome Termini and jumped into a cab for our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Splendide Royal (www.splendideroyal.com) just above (10 minute walk) the Spanish Steps. This hotel was great! From the front door man to the reception clerk to the concierge we were very pleased with the choice. I had notified the hotel that it was our honeymoon before we left and waiting in our room was a bottle of champagne, chocolates and a dozen roses…a very nice way to begin our stay.

We freshened up and got into thick robes (so thick that after about 15 minutes in one I was burning up and had to take it off) and sipped our champagne and planned our attack of Rome. After 7 days of lounging around in Positano we were ready to do some serious site seeing.

We headed out to explore some of Rome. Our hotel had a great map provided by the Time Machine Company that was easy to read and use for navigation. We decided to go to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona. As we walked to the Spanish Steps I pointed out to KC all the different hotels that I researched for this trip…she politely smiled as I explained the history of the Hassler. At the Trevi Fountain I laughed as KC tried to fend off the guys sticking roses in her face as she said “No, I’m allergic to roses.” I gave the guys one not so friendly look and they were gone…nothing said at all. Of course all the sites were crowded and that was expected but we had a nice time just strolling through the streets and watching all the people.

Next up: Scavi tour, an after hours tour of the Vatican, and the best dining experience we have ever had.






saps is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 07:45 AM
  #45  
 
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saps - wonderful read and I love the fact that you and your bride seem to break out the champagne at every possibility. Good for you. Just curious - where were you stationed in Germany?
celticdreams is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 09:21 AM
  #46  
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It was really important to us to have a very relaxing honeymoon rather than try to cram in a bunch of site seeing stuff. We drank lots of champagne and wine and loved every minute of it.

Luckily in Positano it is easy to burn off the calories with the steps.

I was stationed in Bamberg and Wurzberg from 92-95. Loved every minute of my time in Germany. I can't wait to go back.
saps is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 10:36 AM
  #47  
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The final days…

Wednesday morning we woke up and had an awesome breakfast on the 6th floor terrace of the hotel. Meats, cheeses, pastries but what made my day was that they had eggs, bacon and sausage. I was in heaven. Today’s two activities were the Scavi Tour under St Peter’s Basilica and an evening private tour of the Vatican Museum. We walked down the Spanish Steps and strolled through the high end shops area. KC bought a pair of walking shoes as her feet were starting to hurt…She brought 5 pairs of shoes and no sneakers…I may never figure women out.

The funniest part of the entire trip…As we were walking over the bridge that is right next to the Castel St. Angelo we saw about 50 African men selling various souvenirs and knock off merchandise on white sheets. We stopped on the bridge to take some pictures of the Castel and all of a sudden the men were scooping up their merchandise and hauling a$$ across the bridge carrying their goods in the sheet like a hobo. Apparently the police were on the other side of the bridge. We stood in the middle of the road and had swarms of men running past us as we quickly tried to take their picture. It reminded me of the buffalo stampede scene in ‘Dances With Wolves’ only these were not buffalos. About 5 minutes later the coast was clear so they all came back and acted as if nothing had just happened. It gave us a good laugh for several hours.

We were booked for a 1:45 pm Scavi Tour (I requested the tour in March and received the booking in July). We entered through the St Peter Basilca exit on the left hand side of the church and showed our email to the staff and then to the Swiss Guards and were let through to the Scavi Office…I found it odd that we did not have to go through any security while the folks on the other side had to go through metal detectors. Once the tour began we were escorted through the last part of the Pope’s Tombs and down a flight of stairs and into the necropolis. We found the tour to be quite fascinating and really enjoyed it. Were we 100% sold on the belief that the bones we saw were actually St Peters…No, but it doesn’t really matter. They had a good story for why they believe the bones to be St Peters and that was good enough for us.

A couple of thoughts about the Scavi tour…Obviously we went in September and the tombs were humid as hell (pun intended). I was dripping sweat out of orifices I didn’t know existed. They claim the humidity protects the relics. KC gets a bit claustrophobic and some parts were tough on her. They didn’t seem to care that people had small bags and backpacks. Overall, it was well worth the effort required to get the tour.

When you come back up you exit right near Pope John Paul II tomb so you can go against the flow of traffic for a few meters and see his burial place. We went into St Peter’s Basilica and saw the grandeur of that place…Wow! We enjoyed just looking at the art and statues and decided not to do any kind of organized or tape tour. We left the church and had a late lunch down some street en route to the Vatican Museum entrance.

I had booked an after hours Vatican tour with Helen Donegon of Italy With Us (www.italywithus.biz) for the evening. The cost was 175 Euros per person and included about 2.5 hours inside of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel with only those people in her group. Let me say that the last time I came to Rome and went to the Vatican Museum I felt like a piece of cattle who was being dragged along because it was just so crowded. I also did not enjoy my time in the Sistine Chapel because I was pushed from behind every 5 seconds to move along.

We arrived a few minutes before 6 pm and met up with 10 other people including Helen outside of the main entrance. At exactly 6 the entrance doors opened and the 12 of us entered the museum. It truly was just the 12 of us inside the entire Museum (obviously not including the museum staff). A guide came with us (can’t remember her name) who was a Vatican scholar and she seemed more excited than us to be in the museum without the hoards of people. We walked up the steps and out into the Museum courtyard where we began our tour. After a sneak peak of the Sistine Chapel (on poster boards) we went into the Egyptian area where we saw a statue that looked just like Bill Clinton. We then continued our tour down the Hall of Tapestries and Hall of Maps. We then went into Raphael Rooms and were able to sit in there and enjoy the masterpieces. I should say that I am not a huge art fan so my descriptions of these rooms are very much lacking but in a crowd of hundreds of people I would say they were marvelous and in an empty room with just a handful of folks they were absolutely breathtaking. We exited the Raphael Rooms by passing through the exhibit of the Immaculate Conception (which was actually closed to the public) and headed to the Sistine Chapel.

Entering the Sistine Chapel was unreal. It is hard to describe how very “cool” it was to be there with only a few other people and a security guard who did not care that we were snapping photos like crazy. Our tour guide walked us through all the frescos and gave us some cool little tidbits of knowledge and legend and then we were able to sit in there and reflect and be amazed. KC was in awe and starting crying a little bit as we sat in the corner and enjoyed the view. We stayed in there for about 30 minutes or so and then were escorted out down past the former Vatican library and out the way we came in. After exiting we saw and had a new appreciation for the statues of Michelangelo and Raphael above the huge exit door.

Without question I would say that the price of this tour was well worth it as it absolutely was the most memorable site seeing part of our trip. It does not let you see all the exhibits or any one exhibit (except the Sistine Chapel) in any great detail. With the time constraints you walk past a lot of great art that if you had more time would be worth a visit. That being said, I would do it again in a heartbeat. You really feel amazed that you are in this historic place all by yourself and you can truly enjoy the most amazing chapel in the world without any worries or feeling rushed or cramped. Two words…Truly Spectacular!!!

Next up our final day in Rome and our most fantastic dining experience!
saps is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 10:59 AM
  #48  
 
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saps -
This is wonderful!

I was one of those in the herd of cattle on a Vatican Museums tour and I hated it and vowed never again! However, I would definitely pay to do it the way you did. Thank you for this information and your description.

And I think it is perfect that you purchased artwork together as a present to each other. Everytime you look at it in your home, you will relive the wonderful memory of your special honeymoon.

Thank you so much for sharing. And warm wishes for a lifetime together as perfect as this beginning.

Linda
LCBoniti is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 01:00 PM
  #49  
 
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Great trip report! Congratulations!
europhile is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 01:28 PM
  #50  
 
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Thanks so much for your trip report. I love reading about Positano.
Pawleys is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 01:45 PM
  #51  
 
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really wonderful trip report saps - I feel as though im there with you.
It also reminds me very much of my honeymoon!
steviegene is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 02:03 PM
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Saps, thank you for taking us along on your honeymoon. I got so excited when I read you stayed at the Royal Splendid.
That is were my husband and I stayed while we were in our honeymoon. Just like you guys our stay was WONDERFUL. My husband was crazy about the breakfast because of the fresh cheeses and pastries.

Please keep taking us with you. I love how you describe everything. Much Aloha,
cafegoddess is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 06:34 PM
  #53  
 
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saps,

This is one of the most informative and entertaining trip reports I've read. I can't wait to read abt your dining experience! Thank you for all of the info. I'm going to look into that after hours Vatican tour for my trip in May. Congratulations and much happiness to you and your new wife.

jemom
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Sep 20th, 2006, 08:34 PM
  #54  
 
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Hi saps, congratulations! I was in Positano the same time you were (I think you responded on my gtg thread). It was so much fun to be there for the notte bianco with all of the performers, fireworks etc. It was a really special night and we felt so lucky that our stay coincided with it. Your trip sounds fabulous, glad you enjoyed it.
JenV
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Sep 21st, 2006, 05:42 AM
  #55  
 
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Sounds like a glorious way to see the Sistine Chapel. Seeing it when absolutely packed with people is NOT a religious experience.
missypie is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 08:22 AM
  #56  
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Hey JenV, I thought about you guys down at the Buca de Bucca Bar that night of the festival. It was so crazy down there. When those fireworks went off they echoed off the canyon and it was very cool.

I wonder how many US cities would allow fireworks at 1 am?
saps is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 08:31 AM
  #57  
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We woke up for the final day of our honeymoon and over cappuccino we planned the days activities. Today was geared towards ancient Rome and we were headed to the Forum and Colosseum. Again KC and I are not big into tours that drag on and tell you every detail about every building so we took out our guide book and hit the street. We walked to the Forum past the Victor Emmanuel Monument. As the Colosseum came into view I just imagined what it was like 2000 years ago when Russell Crowe was battling Titus of Gaul.

We enjoyed our time wandering around the Forum and casually opening our guide book and reading about the different spots. We then headed over to the Colosseum where we were attacked by folks asking “Do you speak English” and when we said ‘yes’ they asked us “if we would like to join their tour”. This happened 2 times before I started yelling at them in my long forgotten German. I tried to get KC to pose for a picture with the gladiator but she was too embarrassed. I’m not sure if she was embarrassed at having a photo taken with a corny mascot or because the gladiator was so fat that he could have hidden his sword in his belly rolls. Sorry if that is mean but seriously were the gladiators that out of shape???

The line to buy tickets to the Colosseum lasted about 20 minutes as we saw all those folks who bought their tickets at the Palatine Hill booth go straight to security…Thanks a lot Fodors. We strolled through the ruins and enjoyed just watching everybody and listening to the random comments people would make. One lady asked her friend, “I thought they fought on dirt…did they have to balance on those walls”, referring to the underground walls and tunnels beneath the ground level. After about 45 minutes we saw enough rock and brick to last us at least a couple of months so we headed back to the hotel. It started to rain just as we exited so we hoped in a cab (10 Euros including tip).

It really started raining so we opened the door to our terrace and hoped into bed and watched Mission Impossible III on pay per view. Just a side note…could Tom Cruise be any crazier right now??? I’d give the movie 3 out of 5 stars. There was lots of good action but serious plot holes. We loved that there was scenery of Rome and the Vatican so that took the rating up from 2.5 stars.

Dinner for the last night of our honeymoon was at Mirabelle on the 7th floor of our hotel (www.mirabelle.it). A four course meal at the restaurant was included in our room rate (I know I paid for it up front but it still felt like we were getting a free meal). We got all dolled up to go out for the evening. I put on my newly purchases sports jacket and KC got all hot and sexy in her linen skirt and black top. We headed upstairs to the restaurant and from the moment the elevators opened we were blown away. The restaurant was absolutely gorgeous and you truly felt like you were in store for a memorable dining experience. We were escorted out to the terrace where we sat with a view of the Trinita dei Monti towers in the foreground and St Peter’s Basilica in the background. To top it there was a lightening storm in the distance so we watched that as we enjoyed champagne cocktails.

Service at this restaurant was beyond exceptional. They were polite, attentive and seemed to truly care that every need was met. The presented themselves and the food perfectly. We started the evening with a champagne cocktail and a wonderful assortment of little snacks that came before the meal. KC is not a big food experimenter so I had to nibble each piece and let her know if she would like it. For our first course I ordered scallops and KC ordered onion soup. Both were excellent. As each dish was brought out they placed the plates with covers on our table and then in unison lifted the covers off. We don’t dine at extremely upscale restaurants that often so maybe this is standard etiquette but it was fun for us to experience. Our pasta course consisted of king prawn and mushroom risotto for myself and spinach ravioli for my lovely bride. For the meat course I ordered the veal (please no comments) and KC ordered the beef. My veal was perfect but the beef left a little to be desired. Our few experiences with beef in Italy always seemed to be a bit ‘livery’. I don’t know if the Italians like their meat cut closer to the organs or if they think that flavor is good but it just wasn’t for us. For dessert we chose the chocolate and vanilla souffle and topped it off with strawberry and chocolate sauce.

By far dining at Mirabelle was the nicest meal we have ever had. It wasn’t necessarily the best food we have eaten because in my opinion nothing can beat a ribeye steak grilled on my BBQ; however the service, food quality, view, atmosphere and complete infatuation that I had with my wife made this a very special night. Now let me warn that this restaurant is not cheap and in fact it is extremely expensive. Our meal was included in our room package but would have cost about $300 not including our wine, champagne and tip which we paid for.

The next morning we woke up and took a private car to the airport (arranged through the hotel) and left our beloved Italy. We had a fabulous time as I hope you all could sense but we were ready to get home, unpack all our gifts, set up our home and get back to our friends and family.

I know we will get back to Italy in the future but I can truly say that this was a once in a lifetime trip and will never be forgotten.

Even though I didn’t post a lot of questions about our trip I did read most all of the information available to me on this forum for tips, ideas, and advice. Thanks to all. Let me know if I can be of any help!




saps is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 01:49 PM
  #58  
 
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ttt
brandie346 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 01:52 PM
  #59  
 
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Thanks to you, saps! A lovely trip report.
LCBoniti is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 02:53 PM
  #60  
 
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Great report, I wish I was there right now.
crazychick is offline  

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