You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Naples from your selected airport. On arrival a coach takes us to Sorrento, a lovely base for our holiday. You have a choice of carefully selected hotels, all well managed and of a very good quality within their category with good restaurants where we dine. The rest of the day will be spent at leisure, allowing you time to settle into the hotel and start exploring Sorrento if you wish.
Sorrento has been a resort for centuries and has developed with great style, so today we have a rather lazy day commencing with a short walking tour. The Romans were aware of Sorrento’s attributes and the area is dotted with the remains of their opulent villas. During the 18th century it became part of the Grand Tour for Europe’s aristocracy with classic hotels being built around the old cliff-top town. Today, spared the excesses of modern development, Sorrento is delightful and so typical of the south of Italy. Tiny winding streets lined with tall, seemingly crumbling buildings complete with their faded façades of ochre, yellow and magenta are now home to superb shops and cosy restaurants. The stylish young astride their Vespas, and on every bench sit splendidly turned out senior citizens, superbly dressed no matter how hot the weather – all having time to pass a few words in the street.
Today, we take the drive north around the bay to the cosmopolitan city of Naples where we have a guided tour of the Archaeological Museum which is one of the finest of its kind. All entrance fees are included here. When the excavations commenced in nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum, the best of the finds were brought here and displayed to an eager public. There is a very extensive display of remarkably preserved mosaics giving a superb insight into the way of life and even sense of humour of the ordinary Roman. Other sections include murals, figures, fine pottery, ropes and even preserved food. One of the central displays is of some of the largest classical sculpture ever found and the museum as a whole complements your visit to Pompeii admirably. We all know the story of Pompeii, however, it is more than a series of ruins: the state of preservation is astonishing and even if you are not interested in history you cannot fail to be moved by the scale of the city, the construction of which appears to put our modern structures to shame, especially when you consider machines were unavailable. Much of our knowledge about the way of life of the ordinary Romans, their habits, social structure, class systems and domestic arrangements has come from here. Some of the baths are virtually complete as are various murals and mosaics, with some buildings having graffiti describing political events, romantic entanglements and gossip of the time! You can even see the traffic calming measures, how the oneway system operated and appreciate the very high standard of living evident in Roman Pompeii. The atmosphere is eerie, as preserved for all time are the pained facial expressions of the victims of Vesuvius. We will have a guided tour of this fascinating city, before returning to our hotel.
Today you have a free day in Sorrento to spend as you wish. You could take a boat trip, shop in the high class boutiques, have a lazy lunch or simply catch up on some reading – the choice is yours.
Capri is renowned the world over for its outstanding natural beauty and today we take the short boat ride to the island. It has long been the most sought-after part of the Bay of Naples: not only attracting three Roman emperors, but also writers such as D.H. Lawrence and George Bernard Shaw who sought inspiration here. Famous names such as Gracie Fields and Graham Greene, amongst many others, have made it their home. It is easy to see why it is so adored: as we approach the island you can see small fishing boats rising and falling with the gentle waves, with pretty shops and restaurants lining the busy quayside. The picturesque main town is perched on the hill looking down on the quaint harbour below. You may wish to visit to the famous Blue Grotto – the large cavern which can only be reached by boat and by a freak of nature is bathed in incandescent blue light, hence its name. Yes, Capri really does deserve its reputation as a Garden of Eden. We then take the boat to the mainland and return to our hotel.
This morning we visit Herculaneum, known locally as Ercolano, located in the shadow of the mighty Mount Vesuvius. All entrance fees to Herculaneum are included. This ancient Roman town was destroyed in AD 79 by the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius, one of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in European history. Very much like Pompeii, the town of Herculaneum was buried under volcanic mud and ash, which smothered everything from household objects to metals and textiles, sealing it all in an airtight tomb, until excavation of the site commenced in 1738 using underground tunnels that revealed the hidden secrets of this fascinating place. Our local guide will bring the history of the town to life and as you walk amongst this fantastically preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will have an understanding of the vast amount of volcanic waste that had to be excavated and the enormity of the task to uncover what we can see today. Herculaneum is less well known than Pompeii, but the state of preservation of the buildings is generally far superior, so it’s most certainly worth the visit.
We think you will agree the Amalfi coastline is, as it claims to be, Europe’s most beautiful. Today we explore the coast winding around towering cliffs, dipping almost sheer to the beautiful blue sea with birds soaring above and the air heavy with the typically Mediterranean scent of pine forest and wild flowers. Our coastal drive takes us above the exclusive resort of Positano….haunt of celebrities. We arrive in Amalfi, a picturesque village in a gorgeous setting, possessing charm in abundance and perhaps the highlight of the coast. Just inland is the stunning village of Ravello, with its unrivalled location perched like an eagle’s nest on a shelf above Amalfi, affording some amazing views. It has an ambience of its own and a wonderful main square surrounded by delightful small cafés and the Villa Rufolo – once the headquarters of a city-state, now a charming collection of medieval buildings, statues, tasteful walled gardens and the setting for Wagner’s opera Parsifal.
Today we return to Naples airport, at the appropriate time for your flight home, after a really memorable and unique tour.