Italy: Sorrento, Pompeii, Isle of Capri, Positano & the Amalfi Drive, Rome, and Vatican City
September 18 – September 26, 2015
$3599 for payment by credit card
$3529 for payment by check
TOUR SOLD OUT
A wonderful nine-day, seven-night tour to Sorrento and Rome, areas known for their natural scenic beauty and world-famous archeological sites. Organized for the FRHS by Alan Amaral of Italian Wine Services, LLC, this tour comprised a four-night stay in the four-star Hotel Michelangelo in Sorrento, and a three-night stay in the four-star Grand Hotel Palatino in Rome, and an extensive sightseeing program along the beautiful coastal regions of Amalfi and in Rome, the aptly-called “Eternal City.”
The tour included:
Day 1: Boston to Rome
FRHS travelers were met by deluxe motorcoach for transfer to Boston’s Logan International Airport to board our transatlantic flight to Florence, via an intermediate stop in Rome.
Group assembly and effortless transfer to Boston for check-in at Alitalia; a delightful group of fellow travelers from the greater Fall River area and as far away as Kansas. Enjoyable flight with more-than-ample food and beverage service; attendants very accommodating. Exceptionally smooth landing in Rome.
Day 2: Rome to Sorrento
“Benvenuti in Italia!” Upon arrival at Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome, we were met by our tour escort, who assisted with transfer to our motor coach, for a three-hour drive along the Autostrada en route to Sorrento for check-in at our hotel. The remainder of the day was at leisure to get acquainted with the hotel and the quaint city of Sorrento. An orientation meeting and “Welcome Drink” was organized in the evening prior to dinner. Overnight at our hotel.
Greeted at airport by our guide, Bruno; delighted to see him again. Easy transfer to coach for the drive to Sorrento through lovely countryside with scenery rapidly changing from metropolitan to rural and back again as one approaches Naples; an amazing mixture of scenery and architecture with masses of oleander in full bloom everywhere. A welcome rest stop along the way with time for a bite to eat and delicious expresso. The bay of Naples dominated by formidable Vesuvius; an imposing site, indeed.
Hotel Michelangelo lovely with very comfortable accommodations; perfectly located with shops, cafes, restaurants, and life all about. Much to see and do here.
Day 3: Sorrento
Following breakfast, we took an escorted morning walking tour through the historic center of Sorrento, including visit to the Museo Correale di Terranova, which is situated in an 18th century palazzo. We then departed, via motor coach, for La Sorgente, a picturesque estate belonging to the Marciano family that is nestled in the Sorrentine hills with a fabulous view of the city of Naples, to experience an entertaining demonstration of making mozzarella and pizza the old-fashioned way. We sipped and savored homemade wine, snacked on crisp bruschetta, and enjoyed a lunch of pizza topped with delicious homemade mozzarella, typical of this region of Italy. We then returned to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure and shopping on the famous Via San Cesareo in the center of Sorrento, and on the famous Corso Italia extending east and west from the Piazza Tasso. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Lovely day! Breakfast before assembling in hotel courtyard for informative, leisurely walking tour of Sorrento with our guide Gino; a beautiful, quaint city with winding streets and alleys, picturesque facades, and old-world atmosphere to the extreme. Streets bustling with people. Stunning waterfront views when seen from cliff railings with a steep drop to the shoreline below, dotted with boats of all sorts, piers short and long, and cafes with multi-colored umbrellas. The Correale Museum housed in a grand, yet tastefully restrained, palazzo, formerly home to the wealthy Correale family, ideally situated with picture-perfect views of the Gulf of Naples. Eclectic collection of 17th – 19th century Neapolitan paintings, Capodimonte and Sèvres ceramics, Asian porcelains, and sparkling crystal. An impressive display of 18th/19th century fans.
Return to hotel to board coach for drive to La Sorgente through verdant hillsides lush with wild roses and camellias, and neat plantings of olive and grape vines, the latter dripping with clusters of ripe fruit ready for picking and very tempting; lemon trees with waxy green leaves and bright yellow fruit everywhere. Interesting tour and mozzarella demonstration after which four fellow travelers were recruited for pizza making – a hysterical display with “revealing” classical aprons. Delicious lunch with Margherita pizza as only the Italians can do it and wine produced on-site. Excellent! Return to hotel for afternoon at leisure to explore Sorrento and dinner at our hotel.
Day 4: Isle of Capri
After breakfast we embarked on a full-day excursion to the Isle of Capri, including round-trip ferry ride, lunch, a scenic island boat tour, and a guided tour of the town. Capri is very chic with shops, hotels, and restaurants set along winding streets with borders of cascading flowers. We visited the main square, the lovely Piazza Umberto, with several open air cafés, and toured the famous Gardens of Augustus, with magnificent views over the Faraglioni Rocks. Late in the afternoon we returned to Sorrento across the Gulf of Naples to the Italian mainland. Dinner at our hotel.
Beautiful Capri … stunning vistas beyond belief and all picture-perfect. A long-time favored spot for the rich and famous for very good reason, with grand villas clinging to steep craggy hillsides and lovely plantings all about. Fascinating boat tour; the only way to truly see the natural beauty of this place; the Blue Grotto like some marvelous faceted sapphire refracting the intense sun. Masses of people enjoying sightseeing, shopping, and food of all sorts; coffee and pastry delicious. Quaint shops stuffed with myriad luxury goods, fine art galleries, and a few souvenir shops.
The Gardens of Augustus located at a promontory reached via a long walk down a windy street bordered with shops en masse, the heady scent of perfumeries, and a rainbow of blossoms against stucco facades … a grand site. Location of gardens far more impressive than the garden itself, with stunning views of the Fraglioni Rocks.
Delicious lunch perched cliffside on a terrace restaurant under a canopy of foliage and a fine view; very relaxing. Return to hotel after a very full day for free time and dinner.
Day 5: Amalfi Drive
Following breakfast we began an excursion along one of the most scenic roads in the world – The Amalfi Drive. Our first stop was Positano, one of Italy’s most famous and elegant resort towns, where we had free time to explore and shop before boarding a boat for a journey along the magnificent Amalfi Coast to the ancient maritime republic of Amalfi. There we had free time to visit the beautiful cathedral, explore the town, and browse or shop. Following lunch, we returned to Sorrento, with time to relax before dinner and overnight at our hotel.
The magnificent Amalfi coast with its winding roads cut through cliff faces offering fantastic views at every turn; lush foliage, sapphire waters, sunshine … fabulous. The stunningly beautiful playground of the world’s elite with villas and luxury hotels studding the cliffs, many nearly impossible to see shrouded in manicured blossoming vines and foliage in myriad shades of green. Positano a beautiful town but crowded with locals and tourists; shops of all sorts, restaurants, and cafes competing for space. From here started on a boat tour; the optimum way to see the coast and the serene beauty of this place, which is impressive. Disembarked at the Emerald Grotto, a natural echo-chamber with crystal-clear water that splashes like emeralds scattered in the sunlight below a vaulted roof studded with weirdly formed stalactites … dream-like. From here an elevator for the ascent to a terraced cliffside restaurant with unbelievably superb views from every angle; fabulous food and, of course, wine.
Off to Amalfi and a visit to the Amalfi Cathedral, the Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea, a grand building with cloisters and additions from ancient to baroque and a fine collection of paintings; reliquaries, vestments, and trappings of the church. Free time to explore and shop before returning to Sorrento for dinner.
Day 6: Pompeii-Rome
After breakfast and hotel check out, we departed Sorrento en route to Pompeii, where we were met by our guide for an informative visit to the world-famous excavations, site of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. that preserved the town as if frozen in time. Following lunch, we traveled north to Rome and our hotel, The Grand Palatino, for check-in, dinner, and overnight.
Farewell to lovely Sorrento! Pompeii a wondrous site to behold and beyond belief with extraordinarily preserved structures of astounding architectural beauty; paintings, mosaics, and intricate ornamental plasterwork ceilings seemingly created yesterday. Formerly home to thousands of residents with wide avenues, grand villas, shops, brothels, baths, and public buildings surprisingly modern in their layout and design, with running water and public fountains. One could spend days here, wandering about and not discover it all. Plaster casts of former residents, masters, slaves, and animals alike reveal their agonizing last moments before Vesuvius claimed them as tribute; poignant reminders of the calamity that occurred here.
Drive to Rome and check-in at the Grand Hotel Palatino, a fine hotel ideally located literally a moment’s walk to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum; Saint Peter in Chains, housing Michelangelo’s grand statue of Moses, reached via ascending a flight of steps across the street. Free time to get acquainted with the hotel and vicinity before dinner.
Day 7: Rome
Following breakfast, our local guide escorted us on a visit to the sites of Rome, including a panoramic view of the Colosseum, the ancient Roman forum, a stroll to the Piazza Nauvona, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. The remainder of the afternoon was at leisure for shopping, sightseeing, lunch and touring on our own. Dinner at our hotel followed by a stunning Rome by Night tour.
Rome, the aptly named Eternal City, an unbelievable juxtaposition of structures ancient to modern and every period in between … beyond description, really. The brilliance of the ancients evident at every turn, with the Colosseum, the forum, et al stunningly beautiful in their ruinous state; the grandeur of ancient Rome must have been unimaginable. Delightful tour with our guide, Paola, considered one of the best in Rome – a brilliant, informative guide, and very personable.
Free time for a delicious lunch at a small, non-touristy restaurant minutes from the Piazza Nauvona, a favorite with locals; classic amatricana washed down with quantities of red wine – fabulous. Leisure time to stroll, people watch, and browse the shops before heading back to the hotel. Great day!
Following dinner, an evening tour of Rome by night with many famous and not-so-famous sites illuminated, casting brilliant, surreal shadows; few people outside the Vatican and the coach pulled up nearly to the steps of St. Peters – amazing!
Day 8: Vatican City – St. Peter’s Basilica
Following breakfast, we met our local guide and boarded our coach for the short ride to the City-State of the Vatican, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. We visited the Vatican Museum to view precious works of art – including the Sistine Chapel and its ceiling painted by Michelangelo. We then proceeded to the Basilica of St Peter, where the popes are entombed, to view more artworks and architecture – including Michelangelo’s famous Pieta. Lunch was on our own, with the remainder of the day free for sightseeing or shopping before dinner. In the evening, we gathered for a special “Farewell to Italy” dinner at a nearby restaurant with live music. Overnight at our hotel.
One can hardly describe the beauty and wealth of the Vatican collections, with the power of the church evident at every turn; the world’s greatest artists toiled to create splendid tributes to their God, with seemingly unlimited resources; the Popes collected the best output of the ancients in every genre from excavations across Italy and the Roman Empire. Between 25,000 to 30,000 visitors every day – mobs of people from the world over. Special admission arranged for our group before opening to the public so very little waiting on our part. Fascinating tour before viewing the Sistine Chapel; grand beyond belief and intended as a private chapel, for the use of one man – mind-boggling.
St Peter’s Basilica on a massive scale and opulent to the extreme; a wealth of marble, bronze, and gold … a riot of color and textures, splendid, and at times, brilliantly garish. Walls smothered in mosaics so intricate they mimic paintings with what appear to be the finest brushstrokes reproduced in intricate detail by brilliant, long-dead artisans. Far too much to take in and one could spend months here and still not begin to digest it.
Lunch on our own – headed to Piazza Nauvona for amatricana and vino … superb; free time before heading back to hotel.
Special farewell dinner at Le Del Tereme Colosseo, a basement-level restaurant located in the original baths of the Colosseum with vaulted ceilings and walls of ancient Roman brick – impressive. Delicious multi-course meal with a selection of wine, all the while serenaded by a talented trio; a classical soprano, a tenor, and a baritone. Delightful!
Day 9: Rome- Boston
After breakfast and hotel check-out, we said “Arrivederci, Roma!” as we headed to Leonardo da Vinci International Airport for our return flight to Boston.
Leisurely morning before departing for airport. A thoroughly enjoyable tour with a full itinerary of highlights of Sorrento and Rome – outstanding.
Testimonials From Tour Participants
“Fantastic, unbelievable, and unforgettable are just a very few words that describe our recent trip with the Fall River Historical Society and Alan Amaral to Sorrento, Rome, Amalfi, and the Isle of Capri. The attention to details and the enjoyment and comfort of travelers was evident in the choice and location of hotels in both Sorrento and Rome. They were first-class accommodations with meals to match.
“Sorrento’s hotel was conveniently located near town squares and shopping areas as well as historical and cultural venues. Rome could not have been more perfect. Just a few steps from the hotel to the left and – The Colosseum!!!
“The Guides were extremely knowledgeable in the areas we visited and helpful in answering any questions we had. We will long be remembering all of the great things that we saw and did and will be waiting for the next trip."
—Dan and Billie Medeiros, Fall River, Massachusetts
“My recent trip to the Amalfi Coast and Rome with the Fall River Historical Society was an outstanding vacation. The accommodations in Sorrento and Rome were five star, with an exceptional staff, and the meals were delicious.
“The cities and towns we visited — Sorrento, Isle of Capri, Pompeii, among them — were fascinating with amazing architecture and spectacular views. Touring museums, estates, and viewing the landscape by bus, by boat, and by foot gave me the opportunity to see much more than I ever expected. And the food at the restaurants we visited was delicious.
“Rome and the Vatican City was an amazing experience with stunning architecture, ancient ruins, and churches. Despite the large number of people touring this area, especially the Vatican, the flow of the tour kept moving at all times.
“I would not hesitate to travel with the Historical Society again, and have already reserved a space for the Azores in May, 2016. I toured Tuscany with the museum in 2013, and that experience was just as amazing.
“Thank you for this exciting opportunity!"
—Richard A. Pray, Warren, Rhode Island