Category Archives: Italy

Old School Souvenir Shopping in Italy – Disco Swimsuits, Man Purses and Johnny Carson Jackets

We went to Italy last summer and all I have to show for it is a leather man purse … Oh yeah, and some Disco-era swim trunks as well as a jacket that either Johnny Carson or Rodney Dangerfield would have been proud to wear in their heydays.

Some of my best souvenir finds arise from the unexpected. For example, after checking into the Hotel Marincanto, our beautiful lodgings in Positano, my Partner F and I decided to hit the streets of this gorgeous seaside town in order to get our bearings.  A few steps away from the hotel, we spotted the following two gentlemen in a store window:

Maria Lampo Positano Mannequins in the Window

Maria Lampo is the owner of the shop and a longstanding fixture on the Positano resort apparel scene. I’d describe her design style as bold, colorful and harking back to a peasant influenced, Disco-era aesthetic.  In my opinion, the late 1970s will NEVER go out to style.

As we browsed the racks of colorful clothing we noticed framed photos on the walls of the various celebrities who have made their way to this little boutique. In my halting Italian, I asked one of the salespeople whether they carried a particular style of paisley-patterned “disco swimsuit” in a men’s husky size. Over the course of our conversation I commented on the familiar faces on the wall posing with the proprietor.  Suddenly, out of the corner of the room I hear a loud and cheery voice exclaim: I AM MARIA!!!

Maria Lampo Positano with Celebrities

Maria graciously let us take a picture with her and we followed in the footsteps of such stars as Dustin Hoffman, Billy Zane and Colin Farrell. I don’t think we’ll make it on the store’s “celebrity wall.”  However, we did receive a lovely red handkerchief as a complimentary parting gift from this very sweet woman.

Maria Lampo
Via Pasitea, 12/14/16
Telephone: 089 875021

A few days later, we left the Amalfi Coast and took the high-speed train from Naples to Florence. Florence is one of our favorite destinations in the world.  Once we enjoyed the city’s marvelous culture, food, and views, our attention turned towards SHOPPING.

We spent a long morning wandering around Florence’s San Lorenzo Market.  After a few hours of exploring the multiple stalls, we were about to reach our “shopping saturation point” when we made one last stop at a vendor of high quality leather goods. Adriano Pelletteria’s shop was located right behind the stall and we stepped inside.

I don’t know. Maybe it was the thrill of being surrounded by such beautifully crafted leather goods. Alternatively, it could have been the heat of the day that clouded our judgment.  However, after a few minutes in the store the concept of owning a “man purse” suddenly seemed very logical.

Pelletteria Adriano Leather Florence Shopping for Man Purses

After all, it was big enough to carry our iPhones, guidebooks and spare change so the bag was PRACTICAL, wasn’t it?  Plus, there were all those Italian, French and Spanish guys walking around and THEY looked perfectly naturally sporting the bags.  I guess the only question that remained was “Who wore it best?”  (note: Please be gentle with your comments folks!).

Adriano Pelletaria
Stand n. 83 – Via dell’Ariento, 43
Telephone: 055 281654

Finally, we were on our way to visit Santa Croce when all of a sudden another bright and sparkly item distracted us. Well, actually in the case it was a plaid jacket that caught my Partner F’s attention. We just had to pop into this clothing store for a few minutes …

Barnaba Clothing Store Florence Exterior

Barnaba carries a full line of tailored men’s and women’s apparel (much of it with an English influence). It seems like it had been a slow shopping day prior to our arrival.  Once the Americans gushing over “vintage this and vintage that” walked in, the two women working in the shop that day sprung into action and started bringing out various for items for us to look over …

Barnaba Clothing Store Florence Ties on Display

Of course, our main reason for being there were those plaid jackets that we just had to have …

Barnaba Clothing Store Our Purchases

Via Martiri del Popolo, 47-55r
Telephone: 055 240707

I’ll be the first to admit that when on holiday I’ve been known to suspend any normal sensibilities regarding practicality or taste when I’m in a souvenir-shopping mode.  Therefore, I’ll bet you’re wondering just how many of our Italian purchases made it out onto the streets of our hometown. Well I did hang out at the pool in my disco swimsuit … but with a towel strategically draped over me most of the time.  Oh, and sadly the man purse is still enjoying a restful slumber in the pretty felt bag it came in.  However, as for that plaid green jacket …


… I come up with any excuse possible to wear it!

Yes, we do tend to “over buy” when we go away on vacation.  However, in addition to coming home with overstuffed suitcases that bump up against most airlines’ allotted weight limits, we also return with some fun stories about how we came across those particular souvenirs as well.

How about you? Do you have any “souvenir stories” to tell? I’d love to hear them!

Best Views in Florence – Is there room for another view?

As much as we’ve enjoyed our last couple of stays at the Hotel Brunelleschi, I have to admit that we’ve never had a classic “room with a view” in Florence. However, this never really bothered us since Firenze is a city that’s meant to be experienced by walking the streets and not by gazing out of a hotel room window.

A logical first place to catch the “view” that we were seeking was the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Just around the corner from the hotel, this Florence Cathedral is popularly known simply as Il Duomo. Of course, once we arrived at the church, we were confronted with lines that seemed to go on forever. I’m sure the views from the top of the Duomo’s iconic dome would be great. However, we also didn’t want to spend half our day waiting in line.

As an alternative, we decided to head out across the Arno river to the Piazzale Michelangelo. This square features a bronze copy of its namesake sculptor’s statue of David. However, the true draw of this popular vantage point is the panoramic view of Florence.

Best Views in Florence Piazzale Michelangelo

Of course, a lot of other travelers will have the same idea, so be prepared for a bit of a carnival-like (at times honky-tonk) environment with numerous food, drink and souvenir vendors scattered about. In addition, make sure you bring a hat and some sunscreen since there aren’t a lot of shaded areas that offer relief from the sun.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere of the area is festive and offers some great people-watching opportunities. One place to take a break is VIP’s Bar which offers outdoor seating and a prime location for taking in the views.

Best Views in Florence VIP's Bar Piazzale Michelangelo Florence for Drinks with a View Firenze

This venue is best suited for a cold drink, ice cream or some coffee. Although I wouldn’t build my evening meal round the VIP Bar, I would try to time a pre-dinner visit so that you could enjoy the sunset over Florence.

Best Views in Florence Piazzale Michelangelo at Sunset

You also discover views in some unexpected places. For example, last summer we attended a music concert at theOrsanmichele. This church was used as a chapel by the city’s powerful trade and craft guilds during the 13th and 14th centuries. The concert took place in the museum located on the church’s upper floors. During the intermission, we wandered about and enjoyed some wonderful nighttime views of Il Duomo.

Orsanmichele Museum Florence View of Duomo

Finally, after soaking in the atmosphere of the lively Piazza della Signoria, another copy of the Michelangelo’s David (the original was moved to the Accademia Gallery in 1873) caught our attention and drew us towards the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio.

Best Views in Florence Entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio with Michelangelo's David in the background

This large fortress-turned-palace served as the city’s town hall and housed the Signoria, or ruling body, of the Republic of Florence during the Medieval and Renaissance periods.

We opted for an entrance ticket that provided us admission to both the palace museum as well as the building’s Tower. As we made our way up the structure’s stone steps, we caught some peaks of the view outside.

Best Views in Florence View of the Duomo from the Tower of the Palazzo Vecchio

At the top, we were rewarded for our climb with a postcard-worthy view of Il Duomo.

Best Views in Florence Panoramic View of the Duomo from the Tower of the Palazzo Vecchio

Before, my vertigo kicked in, my Partner F and I took a moment to wave at our fellow travelers atop the Duomo’s dome.   Although those folks probably had to wait significantly longer in line than we did, I’ll have to admit that we were ALL pretty fortunate to be able to enjoy the views of the beautiful city laid out at our feet.

How about you? Do you have any suggestions for places to take in the view while in Florence?

Five Firenze Fooderies – Places to Eat in Florence, Italy

Okay, I know my use of alliteration for the title of this blog post really massacred the English language. But hey, I hope I caught your attention! After a heavy day in search of “Rooms with a View” and partaking of Florence’s various cultural offerings, a guy’s gotta eat. So, if you’re famished in Florence and foraging for food (sorry, I just can’t stop), here are a few ideas:

Trattoria Le Antiche Carrozze

Address: Piazza di Santa Trinita – 50123 Florence
Tel: +39 055 2658156
TripAdvisor Reviews:

This centrally located trattoria has been around since 1875. During our last two trips to Florence our daily activities seemed to regularly bring us within close proximity to this restaurant. We’ve eaten here several times and this place has become a favorite “go to” option for a reasonably priced, no-fuss, quality meal. The menu offers a wide variety of classic Italian, Tuscan and pizza options in a traditional and rustic setting.

Le Antiche Carrozze Trattoria Restaurant Florence

After you’re done carbo-loading, you can stroll across the Piazza to the nearby Salvatore Ferragamo Shoe Museum where you can burn off some calories by wandering through the displays that take you on a journey through the history of footwear.

Ferragamo Museum Florence Firenze

Alternatively, you can take a quick air-conditioned Disco Nap while watching the surreal, Tim Burton-esque animated short film White Shoe which was inspired by the life and work of the famous designer.

Ristorante Il Latini

Address: via dei Palchetti 6/r (Palazzo Rucellai) – 50123 Florence
Tel: +39 055 210916
TripAdvisor Reviews:

Il Latini is another restaurant that we’ve visited on each of our recent trips to Florence. The key to enjoying this place is to view it as a fun, albeit somewhat touristy, “food experience.”


Reservations are recommended. However, this place is pretty big and it seems that even if you don’t book in advance, most patrons are accommodated in a reasonable amount of time.

The “experience” begins when you see the big crowd milling about the entrance to the restaurant. Even arriving with reservations, you’ll need to navigate your way to the front in order to provide your name and the number of people in your party. Although the scene may initially seem quite chaotic, the staff does a pretty efficient job of getting their guests checked in and seated.

Unless you’re part of a group of four people or more, you should expect to be seated at a large communal table with other guests. The meal is served “family style” and the interesting conversations you strike up with your fellow international patrons contributes to the festive atmosphere in the restaurant.

There’s really not a formal “menu” at Il Latini. Rather, the waiter comes out and starts talking through some options of what’s available in terms of appetizers, pasta and a main course. Your server will question you in a friendly and informal way about your food likes and dislikes and come up with some suggestions for your table. That said, vegetarians may be out of luck as the selections tend to be a bit “meat heavy” …

Il Latini Restaurant Florence Grilled Meat Platter Firenze


The meal wraps up with some dessert options, biscotti and a round of liqueurs. Portions are extremely generous and you will definitely NOT leave hungry! We stuck with the house wine and the meal was priced in an “all-inclusive” fashion. The waiter kind of “eyeballed” our jug of wine to see how much we consumed. However, my sense was that at the end of the day we were each charged a fixed price of about 50+ Euros per person. Upon request, it should be possible to order from a traditional menu and upgrade your wine selections for an additional charge.

Ristorante Caffe Pitti

Address: Piazza Pitti, 9, Florence (across the street from the Palazzo Pitti)
Tel: +39 055 2399863
TripAdvisor Reviews:

We discovered the Caffe Pitti when were looking for a quick place to grab a bite to eat prior to a concert that we were attending just across the street at the Palazzo Pitti.

Outdoor Verdi Concert at the Pitti Palace Palazzo Pitti Florence

The restaurant’s food was well-prepared and high quality – a real surprise given that it’s located so close to a major tourist attraction.

Caffe Pitti Florence Restaurant across the street from the Pitti Palace Firenze

However, what distinguished this venue is that it specializes in truffle dishes and even operates a store where the restaurant’s products may be purchased.

Caffe Pitti Florence Restaurant specializing in truffle dishes

We didn’t have time to linger on this particular visit. However, you can be sure we’ll make it a point to work our way through the entire truffle menu the next time we’re in Florence!

Golden View Open Bar

Address: Via de Bardi, 64/58, 50125 Florence (within view of the Ponte Vecchio)
Tel: +39 055 214502
TripAdvisor Reviews:

The very un-Italian sounding name of this establishment actually perfectly describes the views that are the focal point the restaurant. The Golden View Open Bar is located in the shadow of the Ponte Vecchio with the famous bridge framed dramatically by the dining’s room large picture windows.


The restaurant’s interior is ultramodern and its stark white interior serves as a neutral backdrop for the views outside. Of course, I did feel a bit worried that my deliciously prepared spaghetti pomodoro might cause some serious “splatter damage” during our meal.

Golden View Open Bar Restaurant Florence Firenze Spaghetti in Pomodoro Sauce

Adding to the ambiance are the jazz performances that are held nightly (except on Tuesdays and Thursdays) starting at 9:00 pm.


Address: Via del Campanile angolo via delle Oche – 50012 Florence
Tel: +39 055 216158
TripAdvisor Reviews:

What’s a trip to Italy without gelato?

Grom Gelato Florence FromPointATo with his hands full

In order for us stay to true to our “gelato-a-day” program we were pleased that this branch of the high-end ice cream chain was located just down the street from the Hotel Brunelleschi which was our base of operations during our stay in Florence.

Grom Gelato Florence Interior View Firenze

Although the gelato at Grom isn’t cheap, the variety of flavors and the quality of the ingredients justify the higher prices and waiting in the ever present long lines snaking out of the store.

Grom Florence waiting in line for gelato Firenze

Fortunately, you won’t have to go too long without a Grom fix as you continue your travels since the chain maintains branches in all of the major Italian cities as well as in New York, Malibu, Paris, Tokyo and Osaka.

Do you have a favorite dining spot in Florence? I’d love to hear about it!


Music in the Air – Culture Al Fresco in Florence

Florence is an incredibly cultural city. Great works of art are around every corner and there literally is music in the air. Our visit to Florence last July coincided with the annual Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Maggio Arts Festival).

Il Maggio d'Estate Summer Musical Festival at the Palazzo Pitti Florence

Along with the festival’s official programming, numerous options for opportunistic music and dance performances abound. What makes things even better is that many of these events take place outdoors where you’re able to capitalize on the gorgeous Tuscan weather.

One venue that provides atmosphere fit for royalty is the courtyard of the Pitti Palace where we enjoyed a Verdi concert.

Outdoor Verdi Concert at the Pitti Palace Palazzo Pitti Florence

As the sun went down and the lights came on, even the swarms of gnats and the rumble of distant thunder couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm.

On another night we headed over to the Bargello Museum, a former medieval prison that during the day houses one of my favorite sculpture collections including works by Michelangelo, Donatello and Giambologna.

Bargello Museum Courtyard Florence

At night the museum’s courtyard was transformed into a stage for a ballet performance set to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by the Florence Dance Company.

Florence Dance Company Performance of the Four Seasons at the Bargello Museum Museo Nazionale de Bargello

The great thing about Florence’s cultural life is that there are always opportunities for unexpected surprises. For example, we bought on impulse a couple of concert tickets for a performance at the Museo di Orsanmichele that featured a more contemporary music program. In addition to enjoying some beautiful nighttime views over the city …

Orsanmichele Museum Florence View of Duomo

… the Pietro Adragana Ensemble treated us to a pretty rocking accordion concert that included some great tango music, a medley of movie music tunes and a rendition of Figaro from Rossini’s Barber of Seville.

Pietro Adragna Ensemble Accordian Concert at the Museo Orsanmichele Florence

There’s no need to book in advance for many of these performances. Our approach is to just keep any eye out for any posters or flyers that might be of interest as we do our daily sightseeing. During the summer season many churches, museums or cultural attractions host evening music or dance performances. You can then either purchase your tickets on the spot or swing back later if you want to give it some thought.

Have you ever enjoyed a spur-of-the moment cultural performance on any of your travels?


Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Review – Tuscan Elegance Meets Old Hollywood Glam

After a wonderful stay on the Amalfi Coast last summer, we boarded the high-speed Frecciarossa train, which whisked us from Naples to Florence in just under three hours. For our lodging in this beautiful city, we returned to the Hotel Brunelleschi which combines Tuscan elegance, Old Hollywood Glam and a location just down the street from the Duomo. The hotel served as our base of operations on our last visit here two years ago and we were eager to return.

My Partner F and I tend to travel like Cher on tour. Given the amount of luggage we had with us, we thought it would be best to have a car pick us up at the train station. When booking our reservation on the hotel’s website, we arranged for a car transfer and were pleased to see the driver with a sign waiting for us at the end of the platform at Santa Maria Novella. After a short drive, we pulled into a narrow street and the courtyard of the Hotel Brunelleschi.

Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Pagliazza Tower

Source: Hotel Brunelleschi

The hotel incorporates the Pagliazza Tower which is the oldest building still standing in the center of Florence. Tour groups regularly stop in front of the hotel to make of note of this fact but keep a respectful distance. The Torre della Pagliazza, which in English means the Straw Tower, was used as a women’s prison during the Middle Ages. Its name derives from the straw used to stuff the prison mattresses. Interestingly, most of the women in the prison were not criminals but rather individuals who refused to marry the men their parents had arranged as future husbands.

Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Lobby

Source: Hotel Brunelleschi

The Hotel Brunelleschi renovated its rooms and public spaces a couple of years ago. The feel is modern and lux with just the right amount of bling that gives it a bit of an Old Hollywood Glam feel. However, you still get a great sense of place as the design deftly incorporates the building’s historical architectural features. Exposed beams and brickwork complement the lobby’s rich clay and earth-toned terrazzo floors. The detail and craftsmanship of the furniture along with leather accents and artwork provide an appropriately Tuscan medieval feel.

For our stay we booked a Superior Executive Room which featured a comfortable queen sized bed.

Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Superior Executive Room Bed

The room also included two chairs, a small table, writing desk, flat screen television and a luggage rack / bench at the foot of the bed. Hardwood floors in a herringbone pattern and vintage moldings served as a softening counterpoint to the room’s contemporary furnishings.

Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Superior Executive Room View

Although the room wasn’t exceptionally large, I did find that it provided “just enough” space for two people to move around comfortably. In addition, high ceilings contributed to a general feeling of spaciousness.

Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Superior Executive Room Bathroom

The bathroom was generously sized and sported marble finishes, updated bath and shower as well as modern fixtures.

Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Superior Executive Room Closet Space

Although the room lacked dressers, the closet area provided several shelving areas for storage as well as a mini-fridge and safe. We had no problem finding space to stow our luggage and to put away our clothes for our four-night stay. A quirky, yet very practical, feature of the room was the little pictograms on the light switches that informed you exactly which lamps you were turning on and off.

Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Superior Executive Room Light Switches

The hotel provides free Wi-Fi. I found the signal strength and speed to be adequate in our room. However, there were a couple of nights when Internet service went offline but resumed by the following morning.

Rooms were promptly made up as soon as we left. In the evening, we enjoyed a turndown service which included a slippers laid out at our bedside along with candy and a small card with the following day’s weather forecast left on the nightstand.

Also included in our rate was an expansive morning buffet offering a variety of breads and pastries, cold cuts and fruit juice, milk, coffee and tea. Hot items such as eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon were also offered.

Hotel Brunelleschi Florence Breakfast Room

Breakfast is served in the bright and airy Salone Liberty and in the Sala del Pozzo everyday from 7:00 to 10:30. Although the hotel was quite full during our stay, we never had a problem securing our preferred table every morning. The servers at breakfast were polite, cheery and attentive.

This service standard extended beyond breakfast and was displayed by each member of the hotel’s staff we encountered. We were regularly greeted with a friendly buongiorno every time we passed hotel personnel in the hallways or in the lobby area. In particular, the hotel’s concierge staff was very helpful in suggesting restaurants or things to. We were particularly impressed that one of the concierges, Sergio, remembered us from our previous visit two years ago.

The Hotel Brunelleschi is very centrally located. The Duomo is only a 3-minute walk away and other major attractions such as the Uffizi, Piazza dell Signoria and Ponte Vecchio are all within a 5-10 minute radius of the hotel. Most importantly, a branch of Grom, our favorite gelato place, is just around the corner.


We would definitely stay at the Hotel Brunelleschi again. The elements of location, service, style and comfort all come together at this establishment. What about you? Do you have a favorite place to stay whenever you’re in Florence?


Trenitalia Frecciarossa Executive Class Review – Microwave Pasta on the Italian High-Speed Express

I love the romance of train travel in Europe.  There’s something magical about the concept of seeing the countryside glide by as you listen to the clickety-clack of the wheels on the rails. Hoping to catch a whiff of the nostalgia associated with rail days gone by, I booked my Partner F and I two tickets in Executive Class on Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa express train service between Naples and Florence.

Trenitalia Frecciarossa Welcome Sign

However, in the 21st Century the high-speed train networks knitting the Continent together result in a travel experience that’s more Star Wars than Orient Express. Although our journey was fast and comfortable, I wouldn’t necessarily put our experience in the “luxury” category. That said, we did get some fun “Facebook shots” out of the deal. Oh yeah, and there was that nice plate of microwave pasta …

Last summer we spent a relaxing week on the Amalfi Coast.  After a wonderful stay at the Hotel Marincanto (see my review Hercule Poirot Should Have Slept Here for more details), we reluctantly bid Positano good-bye. Our driver Salvatore Jr. (see my earlier post on Driving Mr. Daisy for the highlights of the day we spent with him) dropped us off at Napoli Centrale where we were due to catch our train to Florence.

Naples Positano Private Car Transfers

Our Executive Class ticket included access to the station’s FrecciaClub lounge. However, getting into the lounge required jumping through a few hoops.  The club was located a level above the station’s main floor. I sent my Partner F upstairs to get the lay of the land. After ringing the doorbell several times, it seemed that “no one was home.” I then spotted an elevator entrance that required a key card or PIN code to use. I tried punching in the various Ticket Codes and other numbers on the printout of my reservation but to no avail.  Finally, two business guys exited the elevator lobby so we just ducked inside. Of course, once inside I couldn’t figure out how to work the lift! Finally, a friendly station attendant informed me that I had to press and hold the elevator button to get it work. Things just got even more comical from there since the elevator cab literally crawled its way up to the second level.  Now realistically, most people would have given up much earlier.  However, I love a good business class lounge and  … well dammit … I was going to get in! Was it worth it? Well, here’s what awaited us …

Trenitalia FrecciaClub Executive Lounge Naples Central Napoli Centrale

The room was bright and airy and featured some funky oversized modern furniture. An espresso machine, cookies and crackers as well as complimentary cold drinks were available.

Trenitalia FrecciaClub Executive Lounge Naples Central Napoli Centrale Train Station Refreshments

After relaxing a bit, we decided to make our way out to the train since we didn’t want to risk any elevator snafus that might occur as we tried to exit the lounge which frankly left me feeling a bit … well, you fill in the blank …

Trenitalia Freccia Club Executive Lounge Naples Central Napoli Centrale Train Station Indifferenziata

Trenitalia, Italy’s national railway company, operates the premier ETR500 Frecciarossa (meaning Red Arrow in Italian) high-speed trains on its main Naples-Rome-Florence-Bologna-Milan-Turin route.  The train can reach speeds of 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) and the journey between Naples and Florence only took 2 hours and 51 minutes.

Trenitalia Frecciarossa Naples to Florence Speed Indicator

The train features a restaurant car as well as free Wi-Fi. The Frecciarossa offers Standard Class (Second Class), Premium Class (Second Class but with leather seats and a “Welcome Drink”) and Business Class (First Class – like Premium Class but with a little more leg room).  However, on this journey we decided to splurge and traveled in Executive Class.  What do you get for the extra money? Well, for starters there is that “Welcome Drink” along with a few nibbles …

Trenitalia Frecciarossa Executive Class Snack

After we passed Rome, a hot meal was served …

Trenitalia Frecciarossa Executive Class Meal

Sigh, believe it or not even the folks at Lean Cuisine could probably teach these guys a lesson or two. Thankfully, Trenitalia was pretty generous with their prosecco pours.

A special feature of our car was a private conference room …

Trenitalia Frecciarossa Executive Class Conference Room

After I was done pretending to address the Board of PepsiCo, the cabin attendant promptly locked up the room … and later used it to take a nap. With nothing left to amuse ourselves, we settled into our seats which admittedly were very comfortable …

Trenitalia Frecciarossa Executive Class Seat

… and offered a ridiculous amount of leg room.

Trenitalia Frecciarossa Executive Class Seat Legroom

At this Point I asked F to leave the train car so that I could enjoy the exclusivity of the space all to myself.

Trenitalia Frecciarossa Executive Class Cabin

All in all, our journey in Frecciarossa Executive Class was comfortable.  The train staff was polite and the cabin clean, modern and quiet.  That said, while Executive Class was a fun novelty, I don’t think I’d pay the premium to experience it again and would likely just opt for “regular” Business Class on my next trip. In fact, the quality of most European trains is so high that riding in Second Class isn’t second rate at all.

How about you? What has been your experience with European train travel?


Sea, Shrimp and Celebrities – Food with a View in Positano

There’s often an inverse relationship between food quality and the vistas that you take in as you’re tucking into your Caesar Salad.  For example, I’ve had many a mediocre meal at the top of a tall building.  However, in a place like Positano, where you’re constantly surrounded by beautiful scenery, I was pleased that the food did justice to its surroundings.

Our days in Positano started with breakfast on the outdoor terrace of our hotel (for more information on our stay at the Hotel Marincanto check out my earlier postHercule Poirot Should Have Slept Here):

Hotel Marincanto Positano Outdoor Terrace for Breakfast

Where even the cappuccino was pleased with the view:

Hotel Marincanto Positano View at Breakfast

Just a vertigo-inducing stairway descent away …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Stairs down to Beach

… located at the base of the cliffs below the Hotel Marincanto was  the La Scogliera beach club.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Beach Club

 Where we had a couple of seaside lunches …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Beach Club Lunch

… and ordered a fantastic caprese salad featuring some of the freshest and juiciest buffalo mozzarella I’ve ever tasted.

Hotel Marincanto Beach Club Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Another beachside café we tried was Pupetto Evittoria which was located an easy 15 minute walk away through the town center and on Positano’s other major beach, the Spiaggia del Fornillo.

Pupetto Restaurant Sign on the Via Positanesi D'America

Getting to Pupetto included a stroll along a scenic cliffside walkway, the Via Positanese D’America.

Walk along the Via Positanesi D"America in Positano

Where we enjoyed some simple but fresh pizzas on the restaurant’s breezy open terrace …

Pizza at Pupetto Restaurant in Positano

Along with some “sexy” Diet Cokes.

Drinks on the terrace of the Pupetto Restaurant in Positano

Also located along the Via Positanesi D’America is Lo Guarracino.

Entrance to Lo Guarracino Restaurant from the Via Positanesi D"America

At this restaurant we enjoyed our dinner under a rustic vine covered canopy that gave you the feeling that you were sitting in a treehouse …

Lo Guarracino Dinner on the Terrace

… in full view of the ocean with sailboats bobbing in the distance.

Lo Guarracino Dinner with a View

On the menu for dinner was  spaghetti alla puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca at Lo Guarracino

…. shrimp scampi

Shrimp Scampi at Lo Guarracino 

and a main course of Baked Fish (Al Forno) with Potatoes and Grilled Fish.

Baked Fish Al Forno at Lo Guarracino

Grilled Fish at Lo Guarracino

The following night we went from the seashore to the hills above Positano for dinner at Il Ritrivo. Given its sky-high location far from the town center, the restaurant provides a complimentary van pickup and return from your hotel.

Il Ritrovo Restaurant Positano Van Pickup

We had a great table looking down over Positano to the sea.

Dinner at Il Ritrovo Positano

… and enjoyed prosciutto with ripe cantaloupe …

Prosciutto and Melon at Il Ritrovo Restaurant Positano

… and grilled fish.

Grilled Fish at Il Ritrovo Restaurant Positano

However, the highlight of the meal had to be the Salt & Pepper Shrimp.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp at Il Ritrovo Restaurant Positano

Of course, I would have been fine if I stopped at the lemon cake for dessert.

Dessert at Il Ritrovo Restaurant Positano

But I just couldn’t resist the complimentary sampling of the restaurant’s various homemade dessert liqueurs. Needless to say, I slept very well that night!

After dinner liqueurs at Il Ritrovo Restaurant Positano

We wrapped up our stay in Positano with dinner back on the beach at Chez Black which not only offered up more seaside dining …

Chez Black Positano Sign

… but also a celebrity sighting …

Samuel L. Jackson and Magic Johnson at Chez Black Positano

If you squint, you can make out that this is a photo of Samuel L. Jackson and the back of Magic Johnson‘s head. Sigh, I guess I have quite a bit of work I need to do on my paparazzi skills, don’t I?

How about you? What has been your experience with restaurants with a view?


Hotel Marincanto Positano Review – Hercule Poirot Should Have Slept Here

Agatha Christie does a great job of situating Hercule Poirot in some pretty luxurious locations. Whether its’s a carriage on the Orient Express, a Nile steamer or a secluded Black Sea resort, if you’re going to have a murder you might as well have someplace comfortable for the great French … sorry Belgian … detective to interrogate the suspects.

It’s that combination of 1920’s glamour in a spectacular setting that characterized our stay at the Hotel Marincanto in Positano this past July.  Minus, of course, a dagger embellished body lying face down in the lobby.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Lobby View to Breakfast Room

Our driver Salvatore “Junior” (check out my earlier post on Driving Mr. Daisy for more details on our tour of the Amalfi Coast the day before) dropped us off at the hotel and we made our way from the street level entrance into a small glass-walled elevator that brought us down to the main reception area.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Lobby Reception Desk

Our check-in experience began with a warm welcome from Enza who was manning the front desk that afternoon.  Enza was bright, enthusiastic and promised that she would make our stay very special as we were there to celebrate a “Signature Birthday” for my Partner F. As we arrived, another guest was saying good-bye and declaring that this was her third time staying at the the hotel and that her stay was absolutely perfect … a very promising sign! Note: This was in contrast to our previous check-in at the Hilton Sorrento Palace (See my Staging Hotel post for more details.).

We arrived around noon and Enza informed us that our room would not be ready for about about an hour.  We stored our bags and took the opportunity to start familiarizing ourself with our surroundings and decided to enjoy the sun on one of the hotel’s numerous outdoor terraces.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Outdoor Terrace First Impressions

As soon as we walked outside the spectacular views confirmed that we picked the right hotel for our stay in Positano. We had to wait about 1.5 hours until our room was ready.  However, we had arrived early and I can think of worse places to cool our heels.

We reserved a Junior Suite and were assigned Room 212.  Shortly after settling in, Enza sent a small welcome gift to our room …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Welcome Prosecco Before

… which after consumption sparked the need for an afternoon nap.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Welcome Prosecco After

It’s a good thing that our room was comfortable! Our Junior Suite included a small table and two chairs and an antique chest of drawers,which along with a hallway closet, provided ample storage space.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Junior Suite 212 Room View

The room also featured two generously scaled arm chairs …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Junior Suite 212 Seating Area

… a flat-screen television, DVD player and refrigerator.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Junior Suite 212 Room View with Chairs and Tables

Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.  However, I found that signal strength and speed was a bit spotty (though still functional) in our room.

The bathroom was spacious and had a picture window that opened onto the room’s terrace.  This ensuite doesn’t have a tub. However, the water pressure in the shower was strong and the towels and bathrobes passed the “generous, white and fluffy” test.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Junior Suite Bathroom

Although I found the facilities to be very clean, I do have to admit that the shower stall could have stood with a bit of “freshening up” … perhaps some new grout and a new shower head would do the trick.

The queen sized bed was comfortable.  However, you should be forewarned that the bed is unusually short (e.g., my Partner F and I are far from being long-legged and we found that we each “just fit” lenghthwise on the mattress.).

Hotel Marincanto Positano Junior Suite 212 Bed

Along with the rest of the hotel, the room featured vaulted, high ceilings, tile floors and bright white-washed walls that wonderfully framed the blue ocean visible from the Juliet balcony at the foot of the bed.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Balcony View Morning

At night we would leave the window open and go to sleep listening to the sounds of the waves washing up on the shoreline below.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Balcony View Afternoon

In addition to the Juliet balcony, we enjoyed the room’s small private terrace …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Junior Suite 212 View from Exterior

That included a table and two chairs …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Junior Suite 212 Private Balcony

Note: There’s a small walking path right below the terrace which somewhat reduces the privacy and seclusion of the room.  However, there isn’t a lot of foot traffic on the path.  In addition the view you get from the terrace greatly compensates for this minor issue …

Hotel Marincanto Positano View from Junior Suite 212 Balcony

… now there’s a vista that’s truly toast-worthy!

Hotel Marincanto Positano View from Balcony Prosecco Toast

The terrace was also where I enjoyed my daily limoncello nightcap.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Evening Limoncello Nightcap on Balcony

Of course, following an evening filled with wine, prosecco and limoncello, it was nice to know that a buffet breakfast was included in our room rate.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Breakfast in Sunglasses

Along with my morning cappuccino, I was able to fill up on fruit and cereal …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Breakfast Buffet Fruit and Cereal

… cheese and a wide variety of Italian cured meats …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Breakfast Buffet Meat and Cheese

… and pastries!

Hotel Marincanto Positano Breakfast Buffet Pastries

On a rainy day, we could have eaten indoors.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Breakfast Room

However, we were fortunate that the perfect July weather allowed up to enjoy our morning meal alfresco everyday on the Marincanto’s dining terrace.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Outdoor Terrace for Breakfast

The hotel’s other outdoor features include an infinity pool and private sun deck.  However, we skipped those amenities on this trip and made the LONG TREK DOWNSTAIRS …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Stairs down to Beach

To the pebble beach at the base of the cliffs below the hotel.  The facilities “downstairs” include a beach club which provided toilets and changing rooms, rented beach chairs and featured a restaurant …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Beach Club

Where we enjoyed some great oceanside lunches …

Hotel Marincanto Positano Beach Club Lunch

Hotel Marincanto Beach Club Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

… and spent a couple of lazy days drinking Campari and sodas as we watched the yachts bobbing in the water.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Drinks on the Beach

We really enjoyed our stay and will likely make the Hotel Marincanto our “go to” choice for lodging on future trips to Positano.  The Marincanto is conveniently located just down the street from some interesting shops and only a five minute walk to the center of town.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Exterior View

There are certainly more exclusive and famous options for hotels in Positano.  However, the Hotel Marincanto offers distinct character, Mediterranean charm, spectacular views and upscale amenities at a price point that, while not inexpensive, puts it in the category of “attainable luxury.”  More importantly, the Marincanto’s entire staff creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all of its guests.

That said, I was somewhat “disappointed” that our stay at the Hotel Marincanto was noticeably free from Agatha Christie-style drama.

Hotel Marincanto Positano Outdoor Terrace Flowers

I guess, we’ll just have to save the murder, intrigue and international espionage for our next visit …

How about you? Have you ever stayed at a hotel where your “room with a view” simply took your breath away?




Amalfi Coast Private Tour – Driving Mr. Daisy

The Amalfi Coast is known for it’s spectacular scenery.  When we made plans to visit this region of Italy over the summer I had visions of us tooling around in an Alfa Romeo convertible, sporting dark glasses and taking each hairpin turn with my hands up in the air yelling at the top of my lungs “I’ve never felt so alive!”

Of course, once I snapped out of this daydream, I realized that the reality of a drive up the Amalfi Coast would be quite different.  You see, I haven’t driven a car for ten years (yes, I am a creature of my urban environment).  Therefore, chauffeuring responsibilities would have had to fall to my Partner F who himself is a bit of a nervous driver.

Instead of a glamorous Grace Kelly / Cary Grant cliffside, coastal jaunt á la To Catch A Thief

To Catch A Thief

Our journey would most likely end up resembling a white-knuckle ride with Woody Allen driving in … well, any movie in which Woody Allen has to get behind the wheel of a car …

Woody Allen Driving

Therefore, I decided to hire a private driver for our tour of the Amalfi Coast.  I did quite a bit of research and decided on Simply Amalfi tours.  I was impressed by the company’s excellent recommendations on TripAdvisor.  In addition, I was able to use Simply Amalfi for our car transfers during our stay in addition to a full day tour of the Amalfi Coast.

I was impressed by the responsiveness and thoroughness of the company’s American co-owner Katharine Johnson.  Our interaction began with a series of email exchanges to outline our options. Katharine was great in providing some very detailed sample itineraries that could be customized to our personal interests.  She was extremely helpful and patient throughout the entire planning process and responded to my email inquiries very quickly.  I ended up hiring Simply Amalfi for the following elements of our trip:

  • Private Car Transfer from Naples Airport to Sorrento (See my earlier post on our stay at the Hilton Sorrento Palace for my review of the hotel)
  • Day Long Private Car Tour of the Amalfi Coast
  • Private Car Transfer from Sorrento to Positano
  • Private Car Transfer from Positano to Naples Train Station

After landing in Naples (see my earlier post on Flying Lufthansa Intra-Europe for more details on our flight to Italy), Salvatore “Junior,” the nephew of Katharine and Simply Amalfi’s other co-owner Salvatore Mocerino, was waiting for us at the airport.  Salvatore helped us with our luggage and we boarded a comfortable and spacious mini-van for our private car transfer to Sorrento.  I had indicated in my earlier communication to Katharine that I was very interested in seeing some “great views” on our trip. Therefore, it was nice that Salvatore picked up on this and volunteered to stop off for a couple of “photo ops” on the way to our hotel.

Sorrento Private Driver Salvatore

Our Private Amalfi Coast Driver – Salvatore “Junior”

Sorrento Private Tours

Our First View of Sorrento

The next morning, Salvatore was right on time to pick us up for our private car tour of the Amalfi Coast.  Our first stop was a pretty overlook where we were able to catch some great views of the island of Capri …

Capri View Private Tours … and the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius.

Vesuvius View Private Tour

We were feeling a bit peckish so we stopped under a few olive trees for a snack.

Amalfi Coast Tours Olives

We were a bit early in the olive picking season so we came up empty-handed.

The drive continued and we were treated to some spectacular coastal views. Salvatore was great at pointing out the key sights along the way such as a rock formation that looked like the head of the Italian general and politician Giuseppe Garibaldi and the private island that once belonged to ballet great Rudolph Nureyev. After passing a sign spray-painted onto to the cliffs that encouragingly said that “You Will Never Walk Alone” we soon came up on Positano.

Since we struck out on a snack during our “olive stop” we were treated to our first taste of a lemon granita. This treat featured real bits of lemon and was so sweet and cold and refreshing on the very hot day that we were touring.  Of course, while we were there, we managed to make a new friend at a roadside fruit stand …

Positano Fruit Stand Lemons

Since Salvatore was friends with the owner of the stand, we were able to get this great shot despite the large and clearly labeled sign that said “NO PHOTOs!”

While here, we were treated to some great views of Positano …

Amalfi Coast Private Driver Positano

… Both coming …

Positano Private Tours

… and going.

Positano Private Driver

The beauty of Positano was simply surreal and this preview made me feel really happy that we’d be making the town our base of operations for the rest of our stay on the Amalfi Coast.  Stay tuned for more details in a future blog post!

After leaving Positano, we passed a grotto that featured a model of the town in miniature …

Positano Miniature

…  and a quick view of the site of the Emerald Grotto.

Private Tours Emerald Grotto

We continued on to the town of Amalfi where Salvatore helped us get our bearings and pointed out the Cathedral of San Andrea situated in the town center …

Private Tours Amalfi

… and brought us to a local restaurant, La Taverna di Masaniello, for lunch. The restaurant is highly rated by TripAdvisor and we treated ourselves to a great meal of pasta with olives (alla puttanesca) and eggplant (alla siciliana). We then had some free time in Amalfi to explore the town on our own and get in a bit of shopping as well as a stop for some gelato!

Gelato in AmalfiWe reconnected with Salvatore at our designated meeting point in the town square …

Private Driver Amalfi

And bid farewell to Amalfi as we continued our drive.

Simply Amalfi Private Tour

Although, we enjoyed our stop in Amalfi, it was a pleasure to get back out on the road to enjoy the countryside. Salvatore drove us through the scenic Valley of the Dragon up to a secluded hill town called Scala.

Scala Private Tours

What was distinctive about this stop was the noticeable LACK of tourists.  We had had this scenic overlook all to ourselves … except for a solitary municipal worker who was on his smoke break as we took in the views.

Scala Private Driver

The last stop on our private tour was Ravello which is known as the “City of Music.”

Ravello Private Tours

Ravello Private Driver

The town is quiet and elegant and I could see spending a few days here on a future trip in order attend its famous Summer Music Festival. Some of the concerts take place at this beautiful venue overlooking the ocean on the grounds of the Villa Rufulo

Villa Rufolo Private Tours

The magnificence of the setting got my creative juices flowing and inspired me to take the stage …

Ravello Festival

Don’t worry, I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon!

What’s great about hiring a private driver is that throughout the day we were on “our time.”  Salvatore made sure to communicate that we could personalize our experience to our own preferences.  We had the freedom to stop and linger whenever and wherever we wanted. Having Salvatore with us was like having a good friend take us out for the day.

Throughout our trip, Salvatore was enthusiastic and professional.  Even after the “formal” part of tour was completed, Salvatore remained engaged and personable.  For example, once we ran out of “touristy” subjects to cover, we launched into a great discussion of Italian pop music (e.g., Did you know that there is a famous Italian cover version of Crowded House’s song Don’t Dream It’s Over?).  Even stuck in rush hour traffic on the way back to Sorrento the time seemed to fly by.

On our last day, Salvatore was also our driver for our private car transfer from Positano to the Naples train station.  Professional to the very end, Salvatore helped us with our luggage and guided us to the train platform.

Naples Positano Private Car Transfers

I was extremely pleased by the service we received from Simply Amalfi.  Working with this company took the worry out of the travel logistics involved in touring the Amalfi Coast. I wouldn’t hesitate to call on Simply Amalfi to manage my transportation needs on any future trips to the Amalfi Coast.  For example, I could see using the company to organize a trip revolving around the Ravello Music Festival or perhaps for a day outing to go swimming at the Emerald Grotto.  In addition, Katharine would also be able to organize transportation and a private guide for an outing that would include a visit to the Pompeii archeological site followed by a tour of the local wine country.  In order to make the most of your experience, my advice would be to opt for a full day tour (or perhaps a series of full day tours).  It’s best not to try to cram too much into a few hours since being too “rushed” will likely detract from your experience.

Hiring a private driver wasn’t too much of a stretch for me.  Back home, when F isn’t driving me around, I’m hailing a cab or ordering an Uber or one of its variations.  Yes, in many ways I’m the Jessica Tandy character in the film Driving Miss Daisy.  That said, the biggest benefit of having a private driver on the Amalfi Coast is that it allowed us to enjoy the spectacular scenery without having to worry about driving our rental car off a cliff. Isn’t NOT careening off a steep precipice worth the extra money?

What about you? On vacation have you ever hired a private tour guide or driver for your trip? What was your experience?


Hilton Sorrento Palace Hotel Review – A “Staging” Hotel for our Italy Vacation

I have to admit that I knew I would not be a very fun person after our transatlantic flight. We were on the way to Italy for our vacation this past summer. Even after I stuffed myself with hardboiled eggs and consumed large quantities of Diet Coke in the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge during our layover (see my Lufthansa Lounge Lizard post for more details), I was still not “all there” once I hit the ground.

In addition, I had booked us on an all day tour the following day.  Since I knew we would feel like zombies on our first day in Italy and would be out and about on the second, I didn’t want to book a hotel that was  “too nice” since we wouldn’t be spending all that much time on the property to enjoy it.  We just needed a good place to sleep off our jet lag. It’s at this phase of the trip where a “staging hotel” comes in handy.

Of course, I still wanted to be comfortable and didn’t want any “surprises.” Staying at one of the major international hotel chains fits these parameters since you have a reasonable assurance of consistency associated with a “brand name” hotel.  I chose the Hilton Sorrento Palace for this reason.  In addition, I was able to cash in 100,000 HHonors points that paid for our two-night stay.


Source: Hilton Sorrento Palace

The Hilton Sorrento Palace is a large conference hotel situated in the hills above Sorrento. It’s about a 12-15 minute easy walk to the center of town. However, bear in mind that your return journey will involve a modest uphill climb.

The hotel’s public spaces have a funky “late 60s Mad Men vibe” …

Hilton Sorrento Palace Lobby 1

Including this fire pit area (anyone spot Hugh Hefner or Sean Connery here?)

Hilton Sorrento Palace Firepit

Source: Hilton Sorrento Palace

We arrived at the hotel around 3:00 pm and were pleased that our room was ready for us.  Although the check in procedure was efficient I found that our the Front Desk Clerk seemed to be in a mood that bordered on “surly.”  Although he wasn’t rude, we didn’t experience a “warm Italian welcome.”  On the other hand, his colleague next to him who was checking in some other guests seemed animated and friendly.  Maybe our guy was just having a bad day.

I currently have Hilton HHonors Gold Status that I received from holding the Hilton HHonors Surpass American Express card (see my earlier Hot for Hilton post for more details on why I applied for the card and my Burn Points Baby Burn and Starwood Starpoints Starstruck posts for how my Pointing strategy has changed since then).   As a Gold Member I received the following Welcome Amenity in our room:

Hilton Sorrento Palace Welcome Amenity

Receiving a full bottle of Limoncello was a nice touch and I was able to enjoy this Amalfi Coast specialty as a nightcap on every evening of our Italian vacation.  We also received two bottles of water in the room.  However, the hotel neglected to include bottle openers (sigh … details).

As a Gold Member I was also upgraded to a Sea View room …

Hilton Sorrento Palace Sea View King Guest Room

Source: Hilton Sorrento Palace

… which featured a balcony with two chairs, a small table and this great view of Vesuvius:

Hilton Sorrento Palace Sea View Room of Vesuvius

The room was clean and fresh and featured a refrigerator / mini bar which had enough spare space to include a few of your own things (e.g., my bottle of Limoncello!).  The housekeeping service seemed pretty efficient and our room was made up relatively early in the day.  The bathroom was spacious and the shower provided good water pressure.

The signal for the in room Wi-Fi was a bit spotty and it required you to register each device for 24 hours of access.  This is important to know since if you try to access your iPhone, iPad and laptop in the room you’ll be charged 7.50 Euros for each device per day.  Fortunately, the free Wi-Fi in the lobby was pretty speedy and I was able to get my internet access charges waived because of my HHonors Gold Status.

Another nice benefit of my Gold Status was access to the hotel’s Pompeii Executive Lounge …

Hilton Sorrento Palace Pompeii Executive Lounge

… which provided a Full American and Continental Breakfast daily from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and Evening Snacks from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Breakfast offerings included bacon, sausage, eggs, cold cuts and assorted breads and fruit.  Coffee and prosecco (mimosas anyone?) were readily available. The lounge also featured a well-stocked cooler filled with beer, assorted juices and soft drinks.  I was so relieved to have a source for my much needed afternoon … and morning … Diet Coke fix!  The Lounge also had access to a large outdoor terrace with great views where you could enjoy your breakfast or drinks.

You also benefited from a sweeping panoramic view of the Bay of Naples from the expansive terrace bar and restaurant that opens up just beyond the hotel lobby.

Hilton Sorrento Palace Lobby 2

The meal was perfectly fine, though nothing special.  However, unfortunately it seemed as if the waitstaff had taken “surly lessons” from the guy handling our check-in earlier in the day.  That said, we were seated at a table just at the edge of the terrace where we were able to enjoy watching dusk transform into night and the lights of Naples start to flicker on.


Source: Hilton Sorrento Palace

As we were wrapping up our meal we saw a series of sky lanterns rise up from the waters’ edge and drift up into the twilight.  The effect was magical and served as a pleasant way to wrap up our first day in Italy.

Despite the service hiccups we encountered during our stay, I would probably stay at the Hilton Sorrento Palace again.  The hotel is a clean and comfortable place to sleep off your jet lag after a long transatlantic flight.  In addition, the Hilton Sorrento Palace features a large pool area that we didn’t use on this visit but seemed like a nice amenity.  The hotel is also conveniently located near the Pompeii archeological sites and Sorrento would be a great jumping off point for a day trip to Capri.  The “stage is set.”  Now we’re ready to explore the Amalfi Coast … stay tuned!