CasertaOn the way down from Tuscany towards the Amalfi Coast we stopped at Caserta, a palace built by Charles III of Spain. It is the largest palace in Italy.

Wanting a home to rival his ancestors' palaces at Versailles and Escorial, Charles hired Luigi Vanvitelli, southern Italy's greatest architect, to design a complex of buildings and gardens. It is a spectacular site without the invasion to too many tourists.


We arrived on the Amalfi Coast to be met with the stunning views of rock and sea. We took the autostrada to Salerno and then to drove the windy S163 road along to coast to the Hotel Villa San Michele. The hotel is located just outside of Atrani - about 1 kilometer east of Amalfi. Oh, the road is very narrow. All traffic comes to a stop whenever a bus comes to a curve. Along this stretch this is quite common. Then, the cars inch forward and somehow make it into incredibly small spaces.

Hotel Villa San Michele, pictured here on the right, is a small, 12-room hotel etched into the cliffs below the road and above the water. It is heaven. The rooms all look over the sea. Our rooms, with patios, all has great views of the sea. Meals were included and this was a real bonus. We are all restaurant critics. Every meal, without exception, was outstanding.

View fromthe Hotel San MicheleSome days were very relaxing. In the morning it would be a short 1 km walk to Amafli. Pick up a paper, have a gelato, enjoy the scene and head back to the hotel. Then down to the water to soak up some sun and relax.

On other days we would head to Amalfi and take a boat to Capri or a bus to Sorrento or Salerno. Oh the life!

Could you tire of this? Glenn, his pen, his travel journal, the patio, the sea... what else would someone want?

The hotel, run by the Dipino family, has a good feel. Nicola will ensure you are looked after. It is an event to look forward to each evening as he greats you and discusses the menu for the evening.

On the Amalfi Coast we took a little more time to relax. That was good. Carmen was in heaven. The sun and Carmen are meant to be.


Capri viewFrom Amalfi there are regular boats that take visitors to Capri. It is a day-trip destination. There is not that much to see in the port. From from the port there are options. Walk (Chris and Carmen) an endless number of stairs, or take the funicular (Karen and Glenn), to get to the town of Capri on the upper slopes.

Depending on your mood, you may find the streets lined with high-end designer stores charming or a little over the top.

Caesar Augustus visited Capri in 29 BC, and was taken with its beauty. He purchased the island from the city of Naples -- giving up the nearby island of Ischia. His successor, Tiberius, lived there from 27 to 37 AD and built twelve villas, dedicating them to the twelve gods of Olympus. In the 4th century AD the island was returned to the Dutchy of Naples. In the 18th century, Capri became a destination of the Bourbons. More visitors came, who plundered the extensive Roman ruins. If you want to see ruins, go to Pompei. Pictured above are the famous rocks off the coast of Capri, the little white specs are large boats. Gives some perspective to the size of the rocks!


PompeiOf course one trip was Pompei. We left early in the morning, taking a bus from Amalfi to Salerno.

We arrived only to find the next train would not leave for hours. After a little mix up with directions and language... okay "the bus is over there" means get on the bus other there right now... but we made it by bus from Salerno to Pompei in a little over an hour.

Pompei is impressive. The size of the ruins and the overall magnitude of the site is hard to grasp. Columns everywhere. Street after street to walk. An endless number of buildings. Many are shells of former residences, some are quite intact. If there were not so many tourists it would be quite the experience!

Chris Grant in Pompei

Pompei was first occupied in the 8th century BC. The Etruscans soon dominated the region and their occupation lasted throughout the 5th and 6th centuries BC. After the Etruscans came the Saminites. The Saminites turned Pompei into a Greek town. Their reign ended when the Romans took control of Pompei around 200 BC.

The Romans retained control of Pompei until the end... a fateful day in 79 AD when Mt Vesuvius unleashed its fury on the 20,000 inhabitants of this thriving Roman city. The town was covered and seal with ash. It was hundreds of years later that the site was discovered again.

At the end of the week we packed up our bags. Somehow got our luggage up the 270 steps from the hotel to the road, and headed off to Roma.




Grand interiors of Caserta

Hotel San Michele

Hotel San Michele

Glenn on the patio at Hotel San Michele

Carmen Grant at Hotel San Michele


Pompei, endless scenes.