Trip Report - Rome and the Amalfi Coast

Old Jul 13th, 2009, 06:38 PM
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Trip Report - Rome and the Amalfi Coast

Just returned from a great trip to Rome & Amalfi Coast. Thanks again to the helpful folks here and on tripadviser. Note, some of this information is also being posted there under the appropriate hotels and restaurants.

Took overnight flight to Rome and arrived in the morning. We were picked up at the airport courtesy of the people who invited my husband to speak at the Rome conference. Checked into the Grand Hotel de la Minerve, also courtesy of the same people. The hotel was fine and in a great location - a block from the Pantheon. However, on our own we would never have paid the going rate of around $500 a nite!

Had lunch at the Antico Forno Roscioli restaurant, recommended by a friend from Zagats, a poor introduction to Italian food. We had mediocre pasta, bland fish & wine for the ridiculous fee of $100/person! Yikes. Fortunately, after that, the food ranged from good to excellent. Had been to Rome before, so we went to see the Ara Pacis which was newly opened. It’s a large 2000 year old altar in an outrageous modern building. It’s fine, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve not seen the main sites already. Walked around near our hotel & into the Pantheon. We had seen it on our previous trip, but it is still amazing. Had pizza for dinner & then collapsed.

The next two days DH had his meeting and I was on my own. One day I had arranged to have a private cooking lesson with Giulia. It was great. We went to the market and got some supplies and then to her restaurant to cook it. Since I was the only student, the menu was catered to my taste. We made fried vegetables, including stuffed zucchini flowers, home made pasta with fresh tomato and vegetable sauce, grilled swordfish with sauce and tiramisu. Then we ate it for lunch. Yum. My only regret was that I couldn’t take the leftovers home as I didn’t have a refrigerator or any place to heat it. The other day I took a standard group tour of Tivoli and Hadrian’s villa. The tour was so-so, but the fountains at Tivoli were amazing. We had dinner one night at Da Armando al Pantheon which was outstanding. There were three of us and we each ordered an appetizer, pasta & main course. Every single course was wonderful. I think I’ve developed a taste for truffles-could be dangerous.

Next we went to Amalfi for three nights. Took the train to Salerno and then the bus from there. The bus stop is right outside the train station, but we just missed one so had to wait an hour for the next one. Note, sit on the left side of the bus if you want to have the best views. In Amalfi we stayed at the Floridiana Hotel. Can’t say enough good things about it. It was rated #1 on tripadviser in Amalfi and I can see why. It’s really almost like a bed and breakfast as it has only 13 rooms. The location is outstanding - a 5 minute walk to the center of Amalfi. Plus it is a really neat historic building dating from the 12th century. Most importantly, the owner & staff make you feel welcome & cannot do enough for you.

We lucked out and arrived in Amalfi the night of a festival. They took a statue of their patron saint out of the church and paraded it around the town. Then they ran it back up (I think it was more than 100 steps) to the church. This was followed by fireworks. While there we also took a very interesting walking tour of the town offered through our hotel - not sure if that’s given every day or not. One day we took the ferry to Positano. It’s very pretty, but there really wasn’t much to see. I’ve never seen so many clothing stores in a row. I’m glad we chose Amalfi to stay rather than Positano. During our time in Amalfi we ate at Il Tari, which was fine, but not memorable, La Perla, which was very good & Il Teatro which was excellent.

Next we took the ferry to Capri and stayed 2 nites. Really glad we decided to stay overnight rather than do a day trip. We stayed at the Hotel Weber Ambassador. This is a fine, but unremarkable hotel with one exception. As my DH said, it has one killer ap - the view. We splurged and got a room with a balcony. We looked down on the Marino Piccolo beach, the harbor with yachts and out to the I faraglioni rock formation. Just gorgeous. We ate lunch there the first day while waiting for our room & I advise against it. We discovered later that there are several places right down by the “beach” with better & cheaper food. I put beach in quotes, because the although we did swim here & the water is delightful, the shore is all rocks. The hotel is 5-10 min drive from Capri town, but they have a free shuttle which runs continuously. Our other splurge here was taking a private boat tour around the island. We started early & were able to beat the crowd to the blue grotto. Also swam in the green grotto & looked at a couple of others. The other memorable thing we did here was go to Anacapri & take the chairlift to Monte Solaro. The views here were also amazing.

The final leg of our trip began with a ferry to Sorrento. Here we stayed in the Hotel Sorrento City. This is a small budget hotel located right on the main strip. You can walk to the main square, restaurants, the train station etc which was great. The hotel staff were especially helpful & made several calls checking things out on our behalf. It was very reasonable. The only small complaint was that, being on the main street, it was sometimes a little noisy. If you are a light sleeper (not me), I would bring earplugs.

We used Sorrento as a base to visit Pompeii, Vesuvius, Herculano and Naples. We had been debating staying here or Naples, but I’m glad we stayed here - much more relaxing and very scenic. We got to know the Circumvesuvianus train very well. My advice is to be sure & get a guide at these sites because the maps and audio guides can be very confusing. We enjoyed meals at Da Giginos, right in the city center and Ristorante Caruso, which was pricey but with great atmosphere & beautifully plated. The best dinner in Sorrento was our last night at Ristorante Donna Sofia. They are not in the center city, but if you call for a reservation they will arrange to pick you up at no extra charge. The atmosphere was very romantic, the pastas were outstanding and my fish dish was the best I had the entire trip.

Let me know if you have any questions.
jerirl is offline  
Old Jul 14th, 2009, 06:58 AM
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Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I was happy to read many of your comments b/c my DW and I are heading to Rome (4 nights) and Sorrento (3 nights) at the end of next week. Like you, we are staying near the Pantheon (Albergo del Senato)and have reservations to eat at the Da Armando al Pantheon. Glad to hear it apparently lives up to what we have been told. We also have plans to eat at the Ristorante Donna Sofia in Sorrento...how funny! I have some questions if you don't mind. How did you get from your hotel to the Termini train station? Were Rome and the AC extremely crowded with tourists? Also, did you find the ferries easy to use on the AC? We plan on taking a ferry from Sorrento to Positano, from Positano to Amalfi and then back to Sorrento on one of our days. Does that make sense or should we divide it into 2 day trips? Do you have any other recommendations for what to see/do in Positano or Amalfi? Many thanks.
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 03:13 PM
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We just took a cab from our hotel to Termini train station.

Rome & Amalfi Coast were crowded, but not ridiculous. I think there may be less people than usual due to the recession. I say this because I made our hotel reservations only 2 months before we left & was able to get my first choice in each location. Also, it depends where you go. Capri town was pretty crowded, but when we took the chair lift to Mount Solano there weren't that many people - didn't have to wait at all.

The ferries and buses are both easy, but you can't reserve in advance. You just buy a ticket and take the next one to arrive. If you want to do Amalfi & Positano in one day I suggest taking the ferry to Amalfi in the morning. Tour the church, with a guide if you can, walk around the town & have lunch. Then take a bus to Positano. The bus lets you off at the top of the town -remember the town is vertical. Walk down through the town & end at the pier at the bottom. Then take the ferry back to Sorrento. When we visited Positano from Amalfi we took the ferry over & the bus back. That was nice for the different views, but meant we walked up through the town.

Have a great trip!
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 10:52 AM
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Thank you Jerirl.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 11:01 AM
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Domer,

You will love Albergo del Senato. In Sept. we ate twice at Da Armando~duck w/prunes and asparagus pasta is delicious.


Have a memorable time.
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 06:01 AM
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I wrote my report in Word and then pasted it here. Somehow all the links got removed, so here they are.

Grand Hotel de la Minerve http://www.grandhoteldelaminerve.com...el-in-rome.htm

Ara Pacis http://www.ara-pacis-museum.com/

Pantheon http://www.aviewoncities.com/rome/pantheon.htm

Antico Forno Roscioli http://www.anticofornoroscioli.com/R...restaurant.htm

private cooking lesson http://www.liveromelikearoman.com/services/cook.htm

Da Armando al Pantheon http://www.armandoalpantheon.it/home.php

Floridiana Hotel http://www.hotelfloridiana.it/english/enhome.html

Church in Amalfi http://www.amalficoastweb.com/amalfi...cathedral.html

Hotel Weber Ambassador http://www.hotelweber.com/EN/index.html

Hotel Sorrento City http://www.sorrentocity.com/

Restaurant Caruso http://www.ristorantemuseocaruso.com/index_eng.php

Restaurant Donna Sofia http://www.ristorantedonnasofia.com/en/index.php
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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Fabulous! Do you have a recipe for the zucchini flowers?? We have been many times to Italy but only in March when they are not in season. This year I finally planted seeds to try it and the people I hired to help with yard debris pulled them up! So I have started again...

Definitely filing this one for future reference!
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 10:24 AM
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First time I'd ever had them either & I've grown zucchini in the past. I had been hoping for artichokes, but apparently they had just gone out of season. Here's the recipe as I wrote it down. Guilia doesn't exactly follow recipes.

Batter (for lots of fried vegetables)
1 bottle of beer
1 bottle of water
1 kg flour

Mix well until smooth.

For zucchini flowers
Remove the pistol (I think that's what it's called, the thing inside the flower with the pollen) and the 4 pointy pieces of leaf on the outside of the flower.
Place 1 piece of mozzarella cheese & 1 canned anchovy inside the flower & gently close.
Dip in batter & fry briefly in hot oil (she had a special fryer for this) until lightly browned.
Remove, drain & eat immediately.
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 04:56 PM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 11:57 AM
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jerirl,
Thank you for the tips. Could I take the bus from
Sorrento to Amalfi, then take bus from Amalfi to Positano and then take the ferry from Positano to Sorrento? We are staying in Sorrento. I would like to eat lunch in Amalfi. Any suggestions?

Thank you
Jo Jo
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 08:15 AM
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Jo,

The answers are yes, yes & yes. I would check the timetable before you start though. As I said earlier, it's best to bus to Positano & leave by ferry so you can walk down through the town rather than up like we did.

We really liked Il Teatro (E. Marini 19, Amalfi, Italy) which we got from Fodors. It has both pizza and pasta. We also enjoyed La Perla (Salita Truglio, 5, Amalfi, Italy) which we got from tripadvisor http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran..._Campania.html

Have a great trip!
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Old Jul 30th, 2009, 02:39 PM
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jerirl,
I enjoyed reading your trip report. We are going to Rome and the AC in May. You suggested
Hotel Sorrento City on a previous post and I just booked it. We are also staying at Hotel Florida,I made note of the
tour of the town. We are also considering Capri but the two hotels I contacted aren't booking
that far in advance. I just emailed Hotel Ambassador Weber for information. Could you
please tell me about the private boat tour around Capri, and the price if you don't mind, it
sounds wonderful! I appreciated the links you provided as well. I'm glad you had such a
good time and shared it with us.
bxl
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Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 02:43 PM
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We are planning on dinner at Donna Sofia when we visit in Sept. Can you give me an idea of what is on the menu and their pricing? Do they speak English?
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Old Aug 6th, 2009, 05:43 PM
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bxl
I'm afraid I don't remember the price for the private boat trip. They can actually take 6 people. Someone we met at the "beach" suggested to us to try and find another couple at the port who wanted to share the boat. We didn't do this, but you might want to try. We got the names of a couple companies from the Fodor's Amalfi Coast book & they all seemed to charge the same.

Note, even with the private tour, you have to transfer to one of the official rowboats to go into the Blue Grotto. Since we had started early, we were the first ones at the Grotto & got to spend more time inside. We were even able to get out and swim in the Grotto briefly - really cool. We also stopped at a couple other caves and swam through a stone arch. Be sure to wear your swimsuit!

BTW, if you stay at Hotel Weber, definitely go for a room with a view.

MKG, Donna Sofia had a traditional Italian menu. I think we spent about 100 euros for the two of us including wine. Don't worry, the menu has English translations and our waiter spoke English.

Hope you both have a great time!
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