Mini Italian Road trip powered by coffee, ice-cream, trip advisor and booking.com!
Following a recent mini road trip around part of Italy, I have been asked by a number of people to share my itinerary, so here it is!
I warn you now though, if you’re looking for city sights, don’t bother reading any further, we avoided most towns and cities. Having been raised by a swimming teacher I spent nearly every day in a pool or a lake. That seems to have stuck with me so far through my life, I’m happy when I’m in water – so we sought out hot springs, waterfalls and lakes instead! Despite our rough start, this was one of the best holidays we’ve ever had!
We flew in to Naples, picked up our hire car from Sicily cars and I made Dan drive! I’m SO glad I did! With our sat nav mistakenly set to avoid toll roads we ended up in the centre of Naples…. Not fun! We had cars, motorbikes and pedestrians pulling out from all directions, fighting for a right of way. We then had a charming motorcyclist, unmounted, step into the road and slap our passenger side wing mirror! I couldn’t figure out why he did this, until he’d jumped on his bike and started chasing us waving his hand about! He kept slapping our car claiming we’d injured him, trying to get us to pull over. Luckily, Dan and our friends in the back twigged it was a scam and we kept driving. He just wouldn’t give up! He kept pulling out, hitting our window and pulling over in front of us! We just couldn’t get away thanks to the horrendous local traffic. Fortunately, a police car drove up behind us, and that seemed enough to make him disappear!
A little shaken up, we stop to figure out what the sat nav was upto! We popped it back onto allowing toll roads and we were on our way to Sorrento at last!
I should probably add at this point that the main reason for our trip was to attend a friends wedding in Sorrento, hence our first stop!
What a place! Sophie had rented an absolutely stunning villa (I’d expect nothing else!) called Villa Dama in Sorrento. It was open and spacious and had beautiful outdoor living spaces which reminded me so much of the Mexico villa rentals we used to dream about staying in when we traveled for spring break in university.
We stayed here for 2 nights to enjoy the wedding of one of my close college friend’s at The Cloisters in Sorrento, which was just beautiful. I don’t feel it is appropriate to share too much here, but if you do visit Sorrento, pop into The Cloisters, it is just stunning.
Before we left we had a mooch around Sorrento, enjoyed a coffee and found “The Deep Valley of the Mills” which was quite something, Dan and I fantasised about buying it and moving in for a while before we moved on!
The Amalfi Coast
Sunday was our day to move on, Grandad had told us that we had to “do the Amalfi Drive”, so that’s where we headed. The views were to die for but sadly there was absolutely nowhere to stop! The narrow coastal road was chocca with parked cars and buses, so all we could do was drive and view. But it was well worth it.
Feeling a little car sick from twisting and climbing round the coastal road we decided to stop at the end for lunch. We took the opportunity to search for some accommodation online.
We found a cute little place in the hills that was a working farm, with the option to go mushroom picking which was a winner for Dan! So we headed there, to Agriturismo Casale Piè. Having booked last minute on booking.com we took the owners by surprise as they we extremely busy hosting a confirmation. Still, they welcomed us in with wine, cured meats and local cheese! We were happy!
Herculaneum & Pompeii
Whilst still relatively close to Pompeii and Vesuvius we decided we had better take the time see a bit of history! A quick check online told us that Herculaneum was more worth while than Pompeii. So that’s where we went! We had a lovely day here, we stepped back in time in this amazing place. I began picturing how the Millcott’s NEW swimming pool at Colmworth Golf Club could incorporate some more authentic hydrotherapy rooms.
Stepping out of the ruins though, Herculaneum appears to be quite dilapidated town. At one point I can see this was once a great place to visit, but we really struggled to find somewhere to eat, let alone stay. So, thanks again to booking.com we found Azienda Agrituristica Vivi Natura in Pompeii, a slice of greenery in Pompeii. Not the best accommodation we stayed in, but they had a nice garden and a place to chill.
Now we needed to make a plan! Where did we want to go and what did we want to see. We’d both had enough of towns, cities and pizza so we searched for things to do in the hills on the way to Pisa, (where we were due to fly home from in 5 days time!).
Dan spotted a hot spring in Viterbo and I managed to find a gergeous little B&B not far from there: Residenza Teodorico Re B&B.
The spring was lovely, but very busy. We later found out that it was an Italian holiday/day off and that they like to spend their spare time at hot springs!
We loved this B&B so much we decided to stay a second night to save us searching for somewhere else. We also managed to find out about the Marmore falls which was an hour drive from us. So that was our next day sorted!
The Marmore falls is the largest (165m tall) man made waterfall in Europe. By man made, I mean the Romans (271BC) constructed a canal to drain the stagnant water in the direction of natural Marmore leap. From there the water fell into the Black River.
After watching the falls get switched on, (due to a compromise between the tourist trade and local power plant), we started the hike to the top. With lots of beautiful places to stop on the way up, including the “lovers balcony” where you can choose to get drenched by the falling water, we made it to the top just as they began to turn them off again! This in itself is quite a sight – to see the power of the water at full flow reduced to a gentle dribble down the falls.
On our way up we spotted a group going white water rafting at the bottom of the falls, we desperately wanted to have a go ourselves, but when we enquired we needed a group of 6… Gutted.
Next, sunbathing! We found a local lake, Lake Piediluco, where we pulled up and watched the Italian National Rowing Centre practising whilst we caught some rays and drifted off to sleep!
My tummy woke me up so we decided to go and find some food, and trip advisor really turned out trumps here! We found L’Antico Borgo and thanks to reviews praising their seafood we went for it! Anything that wasn’t a pizza!! The food was some of the best I’ve ever tasted, truly worth a visit if you’re ever nearby!
Sadly… the only picture I have of this evening is of the toilets… the shower amused me! :-S
The end of a truly amazing day.
San Casciano dei Bagni
The next day took us to yet more hot springs, “The Greath Bath” these weren’t the most amazing I’ve seen, being situated right next to a track. Non the less it was nice to take a dip and relax on our tour of the town. We got chatting to some of the locals who were very friendly. One of them just pulled up on his bike, took a dip, sat, chilled and chatted for a but then hopped back on his bike. Not a bad way to spend your lunch break if you ask me!
The views from the main town above the baths are pretty awesome, the food was pretty good too!
On our tour of the area, we drove past the driveway for Le Radici Natura & Benessere and concluded that it must have some amazing views – so we went in and we weren’t dissapointed!
By far the most amazing place we stayed all holiday!
Stunning gardens with an infinity pool with views of the Tuscan hills. Our room was almost regal, yet we were the only guests! At breakfast we dined with silver crockery and poured coffee from silver carafes.
The only explanation I can offer for this place being so quiet is perhaps the opening of Fonte Verde, a hotel complex and spa in the town of San Casciano dei Bagni. I’m sure, being 5 star, it is a stunning hotel, but I prefer to stay away from the main tourist trail. I really do hope this place continues to thrive and stay beautiful.
Here’s a peak of the road back down from the hotel though, a possible deterrent for those not wanting to drive in Italy?!
I had been looking forward to this one! I found it a few days before and knew it was on our journey North so would have to wait. It didn’t disappoint.
We started our walk of these springs at the top of the valley where we found a crystal clear spring and pool. We also found the guys who created them! They were working away on one of the pools who’s wall had collapsed the night previously. Dan got chatting away with them, when they had finished meditating in the spring! Turns out that they had created the pools over several years. It was their ethos not to use concrete and only use wood and water. Then the minerals in the water did the rest. OK… They might have hacked into the rock to tap the hot spring in the first place, but the result was truly awesome!
Further down the valley were more pools, some clear and some white with minerals…
We really struggled to drag ourselves away from these springs, but we knew we had to check into our next B&B!
Our host from the night before advised us to visit Bagno Vignoni, a lovely little town who’s centre was a massive spring. It was on our route to our next B&B, so we decided to pop in.
It was gorgeous, but we felt disgusting! We had spent far too long soaking in the water from the bottom spring was rich in calcium carbonate. Our hair had solidified and gone white! We decided to get a move on to grab a shower before dinner!
We arrived for our last night at B&B Torre Della Chiocciola, a nice little B&B but greatly overshadowed by the previous nights accommodation! Breakfast was yummy though, and check out the view from our bedroom:
When we arrived home from dinner, we had a lovely evening listening to the frogs chatter and watched fireflies darting around us!
Last day, and with a late flight home we managed to pop into Pisa to see the leaning tower to finish our trip.
All that’s left is for us to buy some land in either Tuscany or Umbria, with a hot spring. I can transfer my clinic to there, running rehab programs with thermal baths and cycle and run training camps through the hills. Dan can set up his own vineyard and organic olive orchard and we’ll be happy as Larry!
On that note, if anyone is looking for an investment opportunity, do give me a call!