One spring, when I was a kid, my family went to Italy to spend time in Rome, Naples, Capri and Sorrento. Besides amazing statues, churches, mosaics and buildings, when I think of Rome, I think of action. From that first taxi ride to just walking down the street or looking out a window, Romans always seem to be flying around the place. As an 8 year old, my memories are being awake nights due to the time difference, passing by candy shops everywhere (many of which had bright and colorful marzipan creations displayed in the window), getting small pizzas from vendors on the street, and seeing the Pope walk by in the Vatican just as I rubbed the foot of the statue of St. Peter.
In Rome, the Piazza di Spagna with its main attraction, The Spanish Steps, is a favorite of mine. At the top of The Spanish Steps is the Church of the Trinta dei Monti and a very impressive view of the city. After running up and down a few times, I remember sitting on the steps eating roasted chestnuts and playing in the fountains at the base. Some of the kids were even drinking from the fountains. No matter what religion you are, I think you will find Vatican City to be thoroughly enjoyable. Walking around this part of Rome is fascinating and just across the Tiber River you will find street performers and live music in the cafés and restaurants. The main event for me was seeing The Roman Colosseum. Even though 60% of the outer surrounding wall is missing it was quite an experience to see what was the greatest arena in the ancient world.
Traveling south from Rome, you will find the city of Naples nestled into a majestic bay, it is one of Europe’s most densely populated and vibrant cities. You’ll hear some people highly recommend a stay in Naples, while others will recommend avoiding the city. This is understandable as you will find Naples has many poverty stricken areas in addition to the beautiful, historical and vibrant areas. The many destinations within a short distance of this city are the main reasons my family travelled to Naples. Visible from almost anywhere in Naples, Mount Vesuvius looms over the ancient city of Pompeii. We used Naples as our base to travel to Pompeii. Learning about how Pompeii was buried by a volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD was very interesting and mysterious as an 8 year old. From Naples, you can also take an hour and a half ferry to the island of Capri.
Capri is a famous island with a nice mix of history, nature and culture that blend together and bring the legend of Capri to life. The short boat ride to see the glowing Blue Grotto is unforgettable for children and adults alike. Famous for its wonderful natural beauty, deep-rooted history, and bright landscape, the island is a favorite destination for many. From Capri you can take the 45 minute ferry to Sorrento, a pretty little city where kindness and hospitality is handed down from one generation to the next. Known for it’s many orange and lemon groves and famous for the production of limoncello, it’s also know as being the land of the Mermaids. Next, we drove the beautiful, yet tortuous, rocky and winding drive that is the Amalfi Coast. We stopped in Positano, a picturesque and luxurious town built into the cliffs over the Gulf of Salerno. As a kid, the steep and narrow pathways leading to the sea stand out in my mind. I felt I was venturing through a real life maze. The road back to Rome follows the similarly tortuous course of the indented and rocky coast and high cliffs, with enchanting views of Capri, Vesuvius and the Gulf of Naples.