While our time in Israel and Egypt was educational and memorable, it was also pretty heavy in terms of what we experienced. So, the final leg of the cruise, a stop in Naples, Italy, was the cherry on top of our trip.
Touring around the little towns on the Amalfi Coast was as light and fluffy as my Caffe Latte (have I mentioned how much I love Italian coffee?). It did not require any thinking or analyzing, we didn’t hear a thousand-year-long history of every town (except briefly in Pompeii), and it was just what we needed to end the vacation.
For the entire first half of the morning, I sat in the passengers seat as our guide, Umberto from Pallenberg Brother’s, another fantastic Virtuoso partner company, drove us along the Amalfi Coast.
We first stopped in Ravello, where I asked if we could pop into the Hotel Caruso Belvedere, an Orient-Express and Virtuoso property that I’ve been a little obsessed with after hearing rave reviews from so many other agents. Not only that, I had my first set of clients here just last week, so I wanted to check it out for myself.
I’m so glad I did.
Hotel Caruso is FABULOUS. A big thanks to Franco and Carlo for the warm welcome and for showing us around. I was blown away by the friendly staff and breathtaking property.
Located at the very top of Ravello, the Hotel Caruso’s lush landscaping and panoramic views are unparalleled. It genuinely feels like you’re vacationing in the clouds. Also, the property is famous for the the infinity-edge pool. Words can’t even begin to describe what this was like, so check out the photo for yourself:
After spending time in the quiet city center of Ravello, we continued our drive down through the village of Amalfi, a much more touristy area, and made our way to the renowned seaside town of Positano.
Right on the outskirts of the village is the Hotel Il San Pietro di Positano, which Umberto stopped by to show us the view of Positano. Unbeknownst to him, this is another noteworthy Virtuoso property, a Relais and Chateaux with a garden setting just as beautiful as the Cellars-Hohenhort in South Africa.
I was on cloud nine getting to check out a couple of our partner hotels and would absolutely recommend both the Caruso and San Pietro. You can’t go wrong with either, it just depends on what you’re looking for in a fantastic property on the Amalfi Coast.
After exploring the little shops at the heart of Positano, we stopped for lunch at Da Constantino, a family-owned restaurant perched above the village with spectacular seaside views. The homemade gnocchi and complimentary limoncello were well-worth coming back for, if and when I get the chance.
From Positano, we circled back around toward Naples, stopping for an hour in Pompeii to meet Fernando, an archaeologist and guide arranged by Pallenberg. Fernando highlighted some of the most interesting facts about the ancient city preserved by the ashes of Mount Vesuvius. I’m not a huge history buff and even I was interested when he pointed out the structures, homes, and citizens of Pompeii. If you really want an informative visit to Pompeii, I’d highly recommend going here with a private guide over a group tour and audio guide.
This entire area is worth visiting for its sheer beauty alone, guide or no guide. On our way to the Amalfi Coast, we passed passed through a national forest that was as green as any rainforest I saw in Costa Rica. As we wound our way up the cliffs of Ravello, the Mediterranean stretched for miles and miles in front of us. It always amazes me how the sea can look so still from far above, even though it’s in constant motion. The only movement from that high up is the in the sunlight as it reflects off of the water.
The hours spent in the passenger’s seat gave me time to think back on the trip, how fantastic it really has been. For our own reasons, I believe that all five of us needed this more than we can begin to comprehend. I’ve watched everyone taking it in, especially Nan, her restored and healthy heart allowing her to take part in her dream trip.
I was initially hesitant about a vacation of this nature, so heavy in its content. However, I feel like I’ve made it to the other side with a newfound appreciation for all that we’ve seen and learned. More than that, I’m filled to the brim with happiness. Sometimes traveling can be more restorative to a person than any surgery known to man. There’s more than one way to stitch up a heart.
What I’m listening to in Naples:
So when your hopes are on fire
But you know your desire
Don’t hold a glass over the flame
Don’t let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road.
But hold me fast, hold me fast
‘Cause I’m a hopeless wanderer
And I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I’m under.
– Mumford & Sons, Hopeless Wanderer