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ITALY IN 8 DAYS – Rome, Amalfi Coast & Capri

January 22, 2020

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Italy - Rome, Amalfi Coast and Capri

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SEE ALL OF ITALY IN ONE TRIP. That’s the best advice I will start with because this gem of a country has tons to see. Unless you live there for a few months, you’ll want to plan out an itinerary to see the spots that jump out to you the most. 

Which is why I have broken down my Italy trips into 3 separate blog posts:

  • Italy in 8 Days – Rome, Amalfi Coast & Capri (this one)
  • Italy in 8 Days – Milan, Florence, Amalfi Coast & Rome (click here)
  • Italy in 11 Days – Milan, Sardinia & Lake Como (to come!)

Italy has been, by far, my favorite country to date. Italy is an amazing, jaw-dropping countryside that I recommend everyone see at some point in their life. If you LOVE FOOD, WINE and small villages with history…look no further! Luckily, getting to Italy from the States is super easy, with many cities flying direct to Rome and Milan. Once there, hopping around Italy is even easier via train (main form of transportation there), ferries and regional planes. 


This trip in a nutshell: (I will give more details on flights and hotels further in the post)


I’ve had many people ask me how to see Italy. What we did. Tips on how to do it. Where to stay. How many days to see what city, and so on. I have been 3 times so far. Before my maiden voyage to the country, I researched for about 3 months. Not gonna lie – it was a lot of work. As with most of my trips, I did not use a travel agent for this one. I booked all my air through American Airlines miles (read how to do this here) and direct from DFW to FCO. All hotels I used hotels.com or booked directly through the hotel’s website, depending on what was a better deal. On most instances, I like to book the non-refundable rates upfront in order to save lots of $$$. Many people ask me how I travel on a budget with 4-5 star taste, and this is one of my secrets. Euro’s aren’t cheap and they add up fast compared to the USD.

So let’s talk numbers. You can do Italy backpacking, or you can do it 5 star. Or anywhere in between. On this specific trip, we (2 people) did it for right around $4k total, and stayed in 4-5 star hotels the entire time, with upgraded terrace and sea-view rooms. I’ll elaborate on how to get that below more too! This trip cost the same as a small all-inclusive hotel in Mexico would for 5 days, which to me is crazy and an obvious HELL yeah! 


DAY 1 & 2: ROME

Ah, Rome. Rome was one of those massive cities that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy, but actually ended up loving it. I designated 2 days in Rome and to me, that was perfect. I wanted to see the history and eat amazing food. Two days was perfect for that. 

We arrived to Rome at 7:15am coming off an overnight flight, and were eager to check into our hotel – the Portrait Roma – and relax a little before hitting the city. I splurged on this hotel since my Mom was with me, and it was for her late birthday present. And MAN WAS IT AMAZING. (Read my post here to get my full review of the Portrait Roma) It’s one of those hotels that goes above and beyond – like sending you a questionnaire before you arrive asking your preferences, and then you walk in the door to see an iPad with your photo on it, custom sheets you selected and the air conditioning set at your preferred temperature. My mom has severe food allergies, which can be lethal, so traveling abroad is hard for her. I had heard this hotel offered custom menus for people with these needs and that immediately drew me in. I wanted her to be at ease on the trip and not worry if she had enough Epipens to last 8 days! Like I said, this was my splurge hotel. It came in around $500-600/night. The best part was it’s right next to the Spanish Steps and one of the best areas of Rome for walking and shopping. 

And did I mention is has the best private rooftop in Rome?? Yep! We had this whole view basically to ourselves for 2 full days. Best view of the trip! 

TRAVELING TIP: On every trip I take, I like to designate one “splurge hotel” and then do moderate the rest of the time. It’s like the ‘treat’ of the trip. This is a great way to save money, but yet have a nice mix of all feels while on your dream trip. 

The first afternoon, we visited the Collusium and the Forum. Both of which I highly recommend. Walked the streets and ate amazing homemade pasta. Lots of it. My mom even had her first huge helping of hand-rolled gluten free pasta, which she devoured in about 2 minutes. This first meal started a huge legacy for our trip. 

The first evening after arrival, we went up to the rooftop bar at the Portrait Roma (OMG, yes!) and enjoyed glasses of fine wine and sat and chat with the cool breeze blowing, firepits blazing and the city of Rome below us. 

On the second day, we had planned to visit the Vatican. I had done a ton of research on this relic, and I honestly was dreading it due to the crowds and self-sticks galore. Of course I wanted to see it, I just don’t like crowds or tours. Especially in tourist traps. Everyone I had talked to recommended doing the private tours of it before it opens to the general public. Our hotel offered that, and we ended up booking it for 250 euros. It seems pricey, but at the end of the day, and after seeing what the normal tour lines and entry to the Vatican looked like, I honestly wouldn’t recommend doing it any other way. Our driver picked us up at our hotel bright and early, drove us there and we walked RIGHT IN. The best part was that we were the only people in the hallways. The only ones with cameras. It was glorious. Especially for a photographer! I was nervous to see the historical and strong Vatican hallways slammed with tourists pushing and using self-sticks, which are not permitted. But luckily the private tour allowed us to skip over that and have a chance to actually take in everything we were seeing and not have to be bothered. By the time we left though, the amount of disrespect there by people just to get ‘their iPhone photo’ was saddening, but what can you do? It was impressive and I’m thankful I got to experience it in quiet solitude, thinking about my Catholic roots, and Dan Brown. 

We spent about 4 hours at the Vatican, and then had lunch, gelato, did a lot more shopping, saw the Trevi Fountain (photoworthy rating: 2 out of 5) and toured the streets of the colorful and intimate section of Rome called Trastevere, which I highly recommend for some great scenic photos and colorful buildings!


DAY 3-5: AMALFI COAST

On the third day, we departed Rome and headed to the famed Amalfi Coast! This was my ‘must do’ for the trip and the part I was the most stoked about.

There’s a couple ways to get to the Amalfi Coast from Rome quickly, but my all time favorite and the way I would recommend to anyone is this: Take the Frecciarossa express train from Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale, the main train station in Naples. The express train from Rome to Naples is 1 hour. The normal train is 4 hours. Definitely recommend the express train to save time, and they run 16 times a day so hopping on one is super easy at any time. Just walk up and grab a ticket. No need to purchase them in advance really.

As soon as you arrive in Naples, run. Get out as fast as you got there. Spend your time getting to Amalfi Coast instead by means of a private driver, or taxi or bus. I highly recommend the driving service called Positano Luxury Limo. I have used them over 6 times now and they are outstanding. Always on time, affordable and pick you up in a Benz! Sure, why not? Haha. The cost to go from Naples train station to Positano is 100-120 euros for up to 4 people on average with a driver. It’s the fastest and safest way to go. You can book them online or on Facebook messenger before the trip. The best part about using a private driver versus a cab is that you can ask them to stop along the way, take a photo, see a sight, etc. And it doesn’t cost extra. I will write more about this driver service below under “Amalfi Coast” days.

Our driver, Antonio with Positano Luxury Limo, picked us up at Napoli Centrale with a sign so we could easily see him, quickly loaded us in the car and we started our 45 min drive to the Amalfi coast. Along the drive, we decided to make a 2 hour stop at Pompeii, which was a blast. I LOVED this stop. 2 hours is not enough time there so we learned, but it gives you the chance to quickly see the biggest spots of the ruined village. I remember studying Pompeii my younger academics and being obsessed with the story and the mummies they found. Seeing them in person was a huge highlight to the trip for me. I had no idea there was a brothel there, nor did I know you can still touch actual ashes inside the brick walls from the volcano explosion. 

After finishing up at Pompeii, Antonio whisked us away to Positano, which is where we stayed for 2 nights during our Amalfi Coast days! The drive to the coast from Naples is insanely gorgeous after Sorrento. A winding 2-lane road alongside one of the most majestic cliffs I’ve seen in my life. Huge. If you get car sick, I recommend sitting on left side of the car, behind the driver for this segment. 

Positano Beach

So here’s the big question I get asked all the time: What city should I stay in to best see the Amalfi Coast? That’s a great question. And so specific and detailed, I’ve written a whole post just on that you can view HERE.

In this itinerary, we stayed in Positano during our Amalfi Coast duration of 3 days/2 nights. I wanted that ‘postcard’ infamous photo that everyone sees on Pinterest. Who doesn’t? 🙂

Positano is a lovely little town, with one main road that runs through it. There’s a central “square” that most taxis or drivers will drop you off at. If your hotel is down the cliff, you will need to carry your bags to your accommodations, or hire someone to do it for you. Which when you have a 50lb roller bag – is always a great idea! It ranges from 10-20 euros/bag. 

We stayed at a nice hotel called the Marincanto for two nights. I had found it on Instagram, and after TripAdvisor-ing the heck out of this journey, it seemed like the best place to rest our heads. It also had easy access for my Mom that wasn’t too steep or had a ton of stairs, with an elevator. We had a Junior Special Suite, which was in the perfect location and had a wonderful balcony with a view of the city and ocean. Elevators are rare in Positano, and considered a luxury. Make sure to do a lot of research on a hotel before booking. The higher up the cliff you are, the cheaper the rooms will be. The lower and closer to the beach, the more expensive. You are paying for convenience and location. The blue and orange umbrella strewn beach in Positano is super popular, and likely to be crowded. If you plan to go to the beach, make sure to go early to get a good chair! Also, the beach is not sand, and is a course black pebble. Locals find it easy to run across, as tourists you will see having a hard time. Haha. I recommend shoes for it. The Marincanto has one of the best terraces to view Positano from, which is why I booked there. I was definitely not disappointed! Most breakfasts are included in Italy, as with most European meal plans in hotels.

Marincanto Hotel in Positano

The first evening, we asked our hotel front desk for a dinner recommendation, and they made us a reservation at the Ristorante Bruno…HIGHLY recommend! The food was some of the best on our entire trip, that we ended up eating there 2 nights in a row. The tables are lined down the quiet street with an amazing dinner and sunset view!

Since we had limited time in the Amalfi Coast to see everything, we made Positano our home base for our 3 day stay on the Amalfi Coast. On the second day there, we used our full day to once again hire our driver Antonio with Positano Luxury Limo, and explore the entire coastline. From Positano on the far western side, all the way to Ravello. This was BY FAR THE BEST use of our time on the coast. Positano Luxury Limo offers hourly rates, which allow for you to make your own itinerary. Antonio picked us up at Hotel Marincanto, and off we went for 8 wonderful hours of sightseeing. I had sorta mapped out some spots I wanted to photograph, and gave him the list. I told him we wanted to see ‘off the tourist path’ stuff and local faves. It was simply amazing. He knew of every spot to stop at, which was tailored to our requests and interests including Fiordo di Furore, a quaint chapel in Praiano, a wonderful ceramic store where I spent too much money, Amalfi and Ravello. He even stopped off for lunch at a wonderful restaurant, Ciccio Cielo Mare Terra. You must order their house specialty pasta – Spaghetti al cartoccio! It’s to die for!

Their house special!

I highly recommend doing the village of Ravello – it was my ultimate favorite of the coastline. Check out the Villa Cimbrone (see my post here) and Villa Rufolo (here). Those 8 hours flew by, and before you knew it we were back in Positano for another sunset dinner after a lovely coastline driving day. For the whole expedition with Antonio and a full day, we spent about 250 euros. Hands down I recommend this to anyone who wants to see the Amalfi Coastline quickly or has limited time.

Villa Rufolo
Villa Rufolo by Shannon Skloss

The last day in Positano, we enjoyed the beach and shopping before leaving to Capri the next morning!


Capri Marina
Marina in Capri Italy

DAY 6 – 7: CAPRI

In order to get to Capri from the Amalfi Coast, one of the fastest and cheapest options is to get on the ferry that runs about every hour from Positano’s pier. We simply walked up, bought our tickets for 9 euros each, and hopped on the 20 minute ferry to Capri!

Upon arriving in Capri, you are welcomed by crystal light blue waters and a busy marina. Hop off the ferry, and enter a world that is straight out of a vintage movie. From the wood-varnished boats to the tanned locals and their glam beach attire, Capri engulfs you with class and style immediately. It’s a small island, with an island mindset. Totally different than the rest of Italy, and that is why I recommend you experiencing it!

Blue waters of Capri
Blue waters of Capri

We stayed at the Weber Ambassador Hotel, on the south side of the island. It’s a quaint, 3-star property with a lovely private beach and is close to the ever popular beach club, La Fontelina. They even have a water taxi shuttle that runs to it, which is a plus. Here we booked a Sea View Terrace Junior Suite, which had a wonderful view of the beach and the multi-million dollar yachts spread out over the little Mediterranean nook by the hotel. 

Private Beach at Hotel Weber
Private Beach at Hotel Weber

During our stay here, we went up the hill to Anacapri, and ate at Giorgio al Cucciolo, which came highly recommended and did not disappoint. Some must-do’s that I recommend making time for on a quick Capri getaway are: getting a private boat tour that goes around the island and to the arch, visiting the Gardens of Augustus, walking the shopping district, and eating a whole fish dinner at a local restaurant. 

On Day 8, we took the ferry back to Naples to start our trek north back to Rome after having a nice, relaxing lunch. Capri is very relaxing and the views of the ocean I could take in for days. 


DAY 8 – BACK TO ROME

After arriving back in Naples via ferry from Capri, we hopped back on another express train for the 1 hour long ride back to Rome. Since our flight out the next morning was a super early call at 6am, we wanted to stay close to the airport (FCO) so we didn’t have a long drive and could sleep in. I found the BEST country-side hotel on TripAdvisor to fit this bill. If you are traveling to Rome and also have an early flight out and need a place to crash close to the airport, I recommend staying at the QC Terme Rome. This property was simply gorgeous. It’s an old Italian villa they turned into a boutique hotel. It boasts a wellness farm, positive energy and the best décor I saw in Italy. Terracotta stucco, tiled roofs, outstanding spa with hydrotherapy, aromatherapy surrounding you and the most elaborate tiled floors I’ve ever seen. If I could redecorate my house and had an unlimited budget, this is the hotel I would style it after! You can find my extensive write-up on this property here

QC Terme Roma
QC Terme Roma

That afternoon and evening, we took in the relaxing tranquility of the QC Terme in our lovely appointed room. This is the very spot I took the photo of the bird flying off the tile roof that you may have seen! We enjoyed a luxurious dinner at the restaurant on property and called it a night to make our early flight back to Dallas the next morning.


BEST QUICK TIPS TO TAKE FROM THIS POST:

  • If you have limited time on the Amalfi Coast (less than 3 days), hire a private driver and do a half-day or full-day sightseeing tour of the whole coast from Positano to Ravello, and all in between. Cost is around 250 euros for 2 people, which is a steal for what you get. 
  • 8 days isn’t a lot to see Italy and hop around, but it’s very possible thanks to their convenient express trains!
  • If you want to see a popular tourist spot, like the Trevi Fountain or the Vatican, go early in the morning to beat the crowds. Otherwise you will be an ant in an ant pile getting trampled. 
  • Eat, eat and eat some more.
  • Always pack a great camera! Italy if full of picturesque views at every turn!
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