Today I’m sharing a recap of my family’s Italian Spring Break adventure. Many of you followed along via Instagram stories. But today I’m sharing the details on where we stayed and what we did, in addition to sharing what worked and what we would do differently if we could. Apologies in advance for the photo overload. I’m completely convinced that everything is more beautiful in Italy!
We began and ended our Italy trip in Rome. Leaving the States around 5:30 pm EST put us in Rome around 10:30 am the next morning.
Sleeping on the plane was key to enjoying our first day, but we were all pretty exhausted by sunset. If I had to do it over again, I would not have planned anything for that first day. An extra day to recoup after flying would have been ideal.
From the airport we taxi’d over to the Appia Antica Resort.
Appia Antica Resort
This small villa is a 20 minute car ride (more or less depending on traffic) outside of Rome. We found it via Trip Advisor, and it definitely lived up to it’s great reviews.
It’s an absolutely beautiful place, especially at night! But what I loved was how perfect it was our family of four. We chose the apartment that offered one double bed and a pull out sofa. It was a large space that included a kitchen complete with a washing machine and a refrigerator they generously stocked with meats, cheeses and water which were all included in the under 200 euro a night rate.
If you’re visiting Rome as a family, I’d highly recommend this place. While it’s outside the city it’s close enough and there’s plenty of restaurants and things to do in the Appia Antica area.
City Centre, Pantheon & Colosseum
Through a friend of my husband we found a great personal tour guide. He arranged for us to do a walking tour of Rome’s centre that included visiting the many fountains,
and the Colosseum.
This tour was incredible! Looking at these pictures I can hardly believe I stood on this ground. And what struck me as just completely crazy is that there are people that live here that drive by this historic site as part of their every day. Can you even imagine driving by the Colosseum on your morning commute to work?! Just wow!
I had to wear my gladiators in the Colosseum right? Turns out these sandals were the comfiest, and I wore them almost every single day of our trip! (*Fit tip – They’re true to size, but they do take a couple of days for the leather to soften and not feel tight.)
Having a tour guide handle all the details from purchasing the tickets in advance to driving us around took the stress of planning out of the picture and truly made the vacation so much more enjoyable. In addition, having a knowledgeable guide made the experience of seeing these historic sites that much better. It was fantastic for the kids, but even my husband and I learned new things. Our guide was entertaining and great with our kids, keeping them interested by asking them questions. It was well worth the added expense, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. If you want the contact info for the guide we used, feel free to email me at Carmel@ourfifthhouse.com. He offers all kinds of different tours to suit the needs and budget of your family.
For the sake of not completely boring or overwhelming our kids with guided information-filled tours, we broke them up with a few days along the Amalfi coast. On the last day of our vacation we headed back into Rome. It just so happened to fall on Good Friday, so a few things in Vatican City were closed. Although, it was pretty amazing to have the opportunity to view the Sistine Chapel on a day with so much meaning for us. That was an experience I’ll not soon forget. Our Vatican tour was also guided by the same gentleman that took us through the Colosseum.
I know a lot of people think touring museums is boring, but I really do believe that having a guide, especially one that combines knowledge with entertainment, makes the experience more enjoyable. You can’t always appreciate that which you don’t understand and having a guide share background information gives you a better frame of reference. Then again, I’m someone that could tour museums all day. I love them! I find history and art so inspiring!
Grand Hotel De La Minerve
Our last night in Rome we stayed at the Grand Hotel De La Miverve.
It’s location was ideal for enjoying our last night in the city as it’s just steps away from the Pantheon. The roof top restaurant and bar has some of the most spectacular views of the city. Even if you aren’t staying here, I’d recommend at least grabbing cocktails here and enjoying the sunset.
Pompeii, on the way to Amalfi
After looking at all the different ways to get from Rome over to the Amalfi Coast, we ended up arranging to have a driver take us. And we stopped in Pompeii for a guided tour of the ruins. There’s no direct way to get the coast. We would have had to take the train to Sorrento then either take a bus or a taxi to Amalfi. Our trip was only 6 days long, as we traveled back home on the 7th day, so wasting time in transport only to save a little bit of money seemed like the wrong choice.
We scheduled a round trip driver, so the same guy who took us to Amalfi picked us up in Positano to bring us back to Rome. He drove a nice, roomy van so the three hour drive was comfortable not to mention quick and easy.
Our Rome tour guide arranged for another guide to meet us in Pompeii.
Of all the tours we did, I think this was my favorite.
The art on the walls in this ancient city was incredible. I was in awe. That we as people are so innately driven to creating beauty in our surroundings just struck me as so inspiring. To learn about this ancient civilization in school is one thing. but to have the opportunity to see it made it so much more real and amazing.
I’m not sure how much these tours meant to our kids or whether they really grasped what they were seeing. But my hope is that the experience is one they’ll never forget.
Once again having a guide was so wonderful. She made the information relatable for the kids.
I mean, Rome was wonderful, but seeing the Amalfi coast with my own eyes for the very first time was like a spiritual experience. Those of you who are regular readers here are probably eye-rolling because I do tend to have a flair for the dramatic. But this time I am not in any way over-exaggerating. The Amalfi Coast is without a doubt the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It felt like stepping into an alternate reality. The beauty was absolutely breathtaking.
(Who knows what I’m doing in this photo?)
We absolutely loved our stay at Diecisedici! This bed and breakfast accommodated our family of four perfectly. Our comfortable, spacious room included a loft area and our own private courtyard. I could have sat out here for hours!
The red chairs with black and white striped cushions…….it’s like this patio was designed for me!
We also had a sweet, little balcony overlooking a small village courtyard where the kids enjoyed playing checkers.
The included breakfast at the owner’s cafe made the nightly rate really affordable. They also accommodated our gluten free needs which was awesome! More on that coming later. The cafe is situated directly across from the beautiful Amalfi Cathedral which made for a wonderful start to each day.
We spent three nights in Amalfi. Strolling around, taking in the beauty, eating all the lemon gelato, drinking all the limoncello (Amalfi is known for its lemons) and shopping the local boutiques made for a gloriously relaxing time!
Amalfi Cathedral & Paper Mill Miss
One morning after breakfast we toured the Amalfi Cathedral. It was a quick self-guided tour that took maybe 45 minutes.
The boy really perfected his blue steel during our trip. 😉
Apart from its lemons, Amalfi is known for its old paper mills. Unfortunately we got our times wrong and missed out on touring the Museo della Carta, the still operating paper mill, where I’ve heard you can even make your own paper. We walked all the way up there only to find it had already closed for the day. I did however bring home some Amalfi paper for my mom (there are a couple of shops where you can buy notecards, stationary, journals etc), though I was bummed we missed out on touring this place. So be sure to do your homework better than I did as their operating times change throughout the year!
Apart from its beauty and walkability, what we loved about Amalfi is how convenient it is to hop around the coast from here. There are buses and boats, fairly priced, that you can take from here to visit many other places along the coast including Capri and Positano.
We didn’t schedule too much in advance for our time in Amalfi because we knew the weather during the spring can be a little iffy. One day when it was going to rain in the afternoon instead of taking a day trip to Capri as we had initially planned, we took a tour bus up the mountain to Ravello. This unplanned day trip was absolutely amazing!
I fell in total love with Ravello, and if we ever go back to the Amalfi Coast I hope to stay in this charming village for at least a night or two.
The mountaintop views of the coast from here were breathtaking, like something out of a movie. It just didn’t seem real. I loved everything about this place!
We only had a day to spend here, and we chose to tour Villa Rufolo. Built by a wealthy family in the 13th century, the architecture and gardens were beautiful. I think I took a thousand photos.
I can’t decide which was more beautiful, the gardens or the exquisitely ornate interior, but both were equally inspiring.
After a three night stay at Diecesidici, we took a taxi to Positano. Oh. My. Goodness. How I loved Positano! The beauty here is more than breathtaking! In fact I can’t seem to find an adjective that does its beauty justice.
Hotel Conca D’oro
For our one night in Positano we stayed at Hotel Conca D’oro!
Literally everything about this hotel is stunningly beautiful from the pattern tile floors and decor to the gorgeous view. The room we stayed in walked right out onto the most gorgeous patio overlooking the coastline. It was incredible waking up to this view!
Breakfast was also included here and was quite the spread.
We spent our time in Positano just walking around and taking in all of its beauty. A stop in Le Sirenuse for cocktails and appetizers was the perfect late afternoon reprieve. This hotel is stunning. It was total decor inspiration overload. The design of every space is pure perfection.
And it boasts some of the most spectacular views.
Our one night stay in Positano came and went way too fast! I would absolutely love to revisit someday!
In closing our Italian travel report I thought I’d share a few simple, yet key travel tips that helped to make our trip run smoothly.
- Travel off-season. The tourist season on the Amalfi Coast doesn’t really kick off until after Easter. We were there the week before. While the weather wasn’t warm enough to layout on the beach, at least I didn’t think so, though there were plenty of beach goers, it was warm enough to enjoy walking around. By visiting before the season starts we saved on hotel accommodations. I’ve seen rates almost double now as we’re heading into May and June. In addition to saving money, traveling off-season also meant not having to deal with crowded restaurants. For the most part we just walked right in to be seated, which was really great, especially since we had our children with us.
- Arrange tours and travel ahead of time. Planning in advance will save you so much time and make your trip so much more enjoyable. Getting as many of the details hashed out before you arrive, buying tickets and arranging travel, will keep your trip running smoothly and help you avoid wasting time standing in line.
- Travel light. I shared how I packed for our trip before we left. I kept my luggage down to one roller board and a tote that held my camera, wallet and cosmetic bag. Traveling light not only made for an easy airport experience, but it also made our hotel hopping happen with ease.
All in all this was the greatest vacation of my life! While we visited some of the most beautiful places in the world………
what I’ll remember the most are the memories we made spending time together as a family.
Sharing this experience with my children was so very special!
I hope to explore more of Italy and to return to the Amalfi Coast again in the future. Italy was more than I dreamed it would be! I can absolutely see why people say visiting is life-changing.
You may have noticed I didn’t share much regarding food and restaurants. Since my family is gluten free, I’m planning to share a separate post all about how we navigated our vacation through the land of pasta and pizza. Spoiler alert – It was much easier than I expected! More on that coming soon!