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Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

Providence, RI
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Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

Our trip was wonderful! Amazing how much we did and what we did, considering we had a nine year old in tow. Although we started in Capri, and worked our way back to Rome, I will begin with transfers in and out of Rome and our visit there

Rome FCO-Capri: Transfers by trains (Leonardo Express- Termini, Trenitalia Frecciarossa to Naples), taxi to Naples Port and ferry Naples to Capri went smoothly. Luckily, the train strike was averted. Landed an hour late at FCO at 9AM and arrived in Capri around 2PM.

ROME

We had a driver (gianluca Savarese) pick us up in Positano, and wait will we toured Herculaneum for two hours with a guide, Sylvia Braggio who was excellent (we used her in Paestum as well). He brought us to the Naples train station.

I had purchased our tickets on the FrecceRossa in advance from Naples to Rome, but had miscalculated what time we would arrive at the station. There was no problem changing the tickets, although I lost all the price advantages of purchasing in advance. I had made sure to buy an economy and not a super economy ticket so that they were changeable.

We took a taxi to our apartment in Rome, in the Largo Argentina, booked through Sleep in Italy. The owner met us in front and took an hour to explain the layout. This was a luxurious 3 bedroom apt. with terraces, a/c, and anything else we could need. The windows were soundproofed and overlooked the ruins below where the cat sanctuary was located. There was some street noise in the morning, but no more than I was used to, growing up in NYC, and it was not disruptive. There was a Despar, a pharmacy, and a large bookstore around the corner and across the street, so very conveninent. And at least three excellent gelaterias.

Unfortunately, we hit Rome during a heat wave where it was close to 100 every day (I understand it dropped 20 degrees the following week).

We began early the first morning where we met our guide, Daniella Hunt, at the Forum, for a four hour tour. She was quite good but very different style from Sylvia Braggio. Nonetheless, she drew an accurate picture, and my husband particularly enjoyed her tour. My son was less engaged, but I think overtired, and had refused breakfast.

We had lunch at Taverna dei Forum Imperiali (sp?), which was excellent, and catered well to kids. From there, we headed out to the Coloseum, where my son perked up after eating lunch.

I had purchase our tickets to the Colosseum in advance, as well as the underground tour which included a tour of the upper levels. This was definitely a big hit with our son and we enjoyed being away from the crowds.

The next day, we walked to Castel S. Angelo on our own, and after lunch at Sorpaso, met the same guide, Daniella Hunt, for a tour of the Vatican at 1:30. She really excelled here, keeping us focused after a thorough introduction, viewing a few of the most important statues before heading to the Sistine Chapel. Afterward, we viewed St. Peter's on our own and climbed to the top of the Dome. We walked there and back, which we enjoyed, despite the heat.

The third day we visited the Pantheon, had a coffee at café S. Eustacio, and saw s. Maria sopra Minerva before taking a taxi to the Galleria Borghese, where I had reserved 11:00 tickets. DS was enamored with Bernini. Glad we started with the sculpture and rented the audio guides.

Afterwards, we wandered through the gardens, getting lost before finally finding a café (café De Cine) in the park for lunch. The salads were actually quite good. They made my finicky eater a Panini with Ham very graciously, even though it was not among the prepared sandwiches. There is actually a little trolley waiting outside the Villa Borghese to take you there, but we thought we knew better!

Finding our way back to the villa, we took a taxi to the Spanish steps. The crowds were overwhelming, so we took the back way and walked back to the apt. viewing Piazza Navona and the Campo dei Fiori along the way, as well as S. Ignatius, my son's favorite church because of the trompe l'oeuil dome. We also stopped at the English bookstore along the way. He loved the graphic novel "Ancient Rome and Cicero the Cat", although he is quite an advanced reader.

Our last day, we explored the Jewish Ghetto and took a tour of the synagogue, followed by a walk through Trastevere and the famous S. Maria church with the mosaics there. Before we left the Ghetto, we stopped for gelato and sweet rolls across the way. We had lunch near the Campo dei Fiori, followed by visit to the Palazzo della Cancelleria (http://www.mostradileonardo.com/index.php option=com_content&view=article&id=14&Itemid=122&lang=en) on the corner, which had a special exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci. Actual replicas had been made based on his drawings. This was my son's request to visit and he adored it. He bought a fabulous book on Leonardo's drawings related to the projects in the exhibit.

Restaurants:

We used two rome restaurant apps, " Eat Rome" by Elizabeth Minchilli and Katie Parla's

"Rome for Foodies". The Gps was a bit off sometimes, and worked better on the Ipad than on my android phone.

Settimio Il Pelligrino was a small family hole in the wall, that served simple good food. Perfect our first night.

Cul de Sac was OK, but frequented by too many tourists.

Da Armano near the Pantheon was fine, we ate on the early side for Rome.

Sorpaso, near the Vatican, served an excellent lunch. However, it is a good 20-30 minute walk to the Vatican museum entrance, although we may have gotten lost and taken the long way around.

Our last lunch we had at Roscioli, which was excellent, if pricey. We had gotten take out food from their separate bakery store, which has very nice prepared food, and made an excellent dinner. We also picked up bread from the Forno Campo dei Fiori and salami from the Noccieria on the Campo.

Taverna Dei Forum Imperiali was excellent although full of tourists, as expected.

Mistakes I made: I should not have booked a tour of the forum on our first day in Rome. By the time we were settled in the apt., and the owner had finished her explanations, it was after 5 and we had had a very full day. We should have explored the Campo dei Fiori our first morning, and picked up fresh fruit and vegetables there, rather than the limited and wilted options in the Despar. DS would have been fresher and more tuned it at the Forum, as he was at Paestum, Herculaneum and our other days in Rome.

I had arranged for a 7:00 AM pickup by RomeCabs the next morning. They were there early and waiting for us to take us the airport. The owner of the apt. had stopped by at 6:45 AM, as we had arranged, to check the apt and return the security deposit. Our departure went smoothly even at the airport. I had used airmiles to fly on Alitalia in Classica Plus. While not business class, it is a significant improvement over economy, except for the food.

We ran out of time to see the Domus Romana, Ostia Antiqua, many of the museums and churches, and Ostia Antica. I was surprised how engaged DS was in the churches--of course it was cooler there as well! We also omitted "elegant" Rome, and the other shopping streets. We would have liked to explore Via Margutta, etc...Our only shopping in Rome was for some small gifts for the extended family, and books for DS

Of course, we left much unexplored in Rome, but hopefully will return. Our son has already requested a visit to Florence! I am very grateful for all the patient help I received on the TA forum particularly the Destination experts who respond to the same questions repeatedly.

Providence, RI
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1. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

CAPRI

Somehow we missed the porters at the dock in Capri, and wheeled our luggage to Hotel La Tosca. Ettore, the owner, was like having your own personal concierge. His restaurant recommendations were excellent and he made all the reservations, in addition to helping us plan our routes each day. The room, as expected, was very simple, but had an alcove for the additional bed, and a terrace with a view, and was very clean. Next time, we would probably prefer a hotel with a pool, but this fit our budget. They couldn't have been kinder, even running out to get fresh milk for our son. The personal attention was worthy of a five star hotel, even if the rooms were far more modest.

Restaurants we particularly enjoyed were:

Buca di Baco (best lemon pasta of the trip)

Da Gelsominia in Anacapri (but beware the return. The restaurant misinformed us about the frequency of buses after 10 pm and we had a long wait). Amazing food, with the best antipasto and prosciutto and melon from their garden. Service was haphazard

Le Grottelle (near the natural arche). a lovely simple meal with the best bean soup according to DS. amazing view.

We found Da Tonnino (slow food recommendation) fair and overpriced. Il Verginello was OK, but not great.

Embassy had the best ice cream. (better than Buonocore IMO)

Our favorite day was hiking to Villa Jovis, then taking the rough path to a modern villa which was closed, then after lunch, walking around the natural arche and following the trail around the island back to town.

The next day, We explored the museum Axel Munthe, took the chairlift up Monte Solaro and walked down, explored the town of Anacapri and had a simple but good lunch near s.Michele, then took the bus to the Faro and hung out on the rocks before making our way home.

The boat tour around the island the next day left us indifferent, too commercial. Transfer to Positano was easy, but we wish we had taken the 12:00, rather than waiting for the 3:00 ferry. Nonetheless, we really enjoyed Capri and the natural beauty of the island.

POSITANO

We found the town too touristy, the beaches too crowded, and the whole place a bit claustrophobic. We made the most of our time there, but feel no need to return, unlike Capri. Perhaps Sorrento would have been a better choice on our part, but we made the most of our location.

Villa Rosa worked out well, despite the 99 steps from the street to our room! We had chosen it over the Maricanto because we were able to get a 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite with a large terrace and view. Breakfast was delivered to the terrace every morning, and it was lovely to sit out in our robes having cappuccino. Very clean and accommodating, even running back downstairs and up again for a second coffee, and arranging an early delivery when needed. The continental breakfast had great variety and overall was far better than La Tosca. We followed their restaurant recommendation the first night and regretted it.

We took a walking tour of Positano with Christine (http://www.discoverpositano.it/) and a wine/food tasting that evening with her husband which was enjoyable.

Gianluca Savarese, the driver, was not able to pick us up either of the two days arranged, he said he was ill, however, he emailed me the evening before, confirming the pick up, and informing me of the fact. He told me in advance the name of the driver each time. Pick up was prompt and friendly, in an immaculately clean Mercedes van. I would have no trouble recommending him. I am not sure how much he is actually driving now, as opposed to running the car service company

Sylvia Braggio, the guide, met us in Paestum. She had made the arrangements for the tour of the water buffalo farm (which we enjoyed very much, to our surprise!) and reservations for lunch at Il Nettuno, which was very good food. She was an excellent guide, friendly, engaging and knowledgeable, and very good with our son, who was enraptured by the site. We had also arranged for her to meet us in Herculaneum for a two hour tour two day later, which we also enjoyed. From there, the driver, who had waited while we had lunch at the pizzeria on site (I had allocated three hours there so that we could have time to eat) took us to the train station in Naples.

The day between Paestum and Herculaneum, we took the bus to Nocelle and hiked the Path of the Gods to Praino, then took the bus back to Positano. Easy transfers (I had a copy of the bus schedule), but the path is not for the faint of heart. Late afternoon by the beach. When we returned that evening looking for a restaurant for dinner, DS joined a game with some other Australian boys his age.

Restaurants in general didn't impress us as much as Capri. we found the food very expensive and of variable quality, but perhaps we just didn't go to the right places.

Caffe Positano, recommended by the hotel was a tourist trap. Should have eaten next door at Da Vicenzo

Wished we had eaten at Da Fernando rather than Il Puppetto at il Fornillo beach.

Regretted never making it to Da Adolfo.

l'Incanto : Casual, relaxed dinner, on the beach, the best eggplant parmigiano we had . But it may have just been because our son hooked up with some Australian boys his age and they played on the beach in front of the restaurant after dinner long after dark.

Chez Max was fine.

La Tagliata was nice, but we had to wait an hour for the bus service to bring us back to the hotel. They waited until the transport was filled. It put a sour note on the end of an otherwise pleasant meal.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

Nice to hear you had such a good time - all trips have some disappointments but, overall, yours sound fairly minor. Always a good thing.

You might want to put the Capri/Positano portion on either or both of those forums so people going to either or both will have a better chance of reading them.

Your description of Positano is the reason I only go in low season now and I don't experience what happens in high season.

The cat sanctuary is still there then? They have been talking about relocating the pussy cats.

Thanks for the report.

Providence, RI
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3. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

Ok, I will try to repost in the forums. don't misunderstand, we loved our trip. DS was like a sponge, absorbing all the information. two weeks of sun was also wonderful, especially after the uneven weather in May. Things I would have done differently was meant to be helpful advice, our little guy was a total trouper, and we walked everywhere without a complaint (but with a few gelato stops).

The cat sanctuary is still there, we would watch them come out in the evenings from our terrace as the sun set and the weather cooled. At least, we didn't have the humidity that we are experiencing now in New England.

We have friends who love Positano, and don't mind the crowds of July. Capri just resonated more with us.

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

Oh, I thought you did love your trip; that seemed clear and it sounded like your son really enjoyed his trip. That "special" exhibit of the DaVinci machines has been there now at least 4 years or more; at least I went into about 4 years ago. There were two other people there the whole time. I really liked it and I always stay in that area and smile when I see it is still there.

All I meant was that it seemed that overall, your few disappointments were small and so you were fortunate. I have not yet had the perfect trip and if I come back with just a few less than enjoyable moments or memories, I am always a happy person.

I love both Capri and Positano - they are very different. I really don't like Sorrento - everyone has their own opinions and, thank goodness, not everyone likes the same places or that would be a pure misery of over crowding. And, now you know which spot hit your spot.

Glad to hear the cats are there - when I was there in December, they were definitely not in abundance as they have been on past trips.

dallas
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5. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

thanks again for the great post as I mentioned over on the positano forum - very very helpful as we have four nights in Rome along with four in Positano..........will try to return the favor after our trip

good idea on the coliseum - how difficult to navigate both the Forum and the Coliseum? I have a bad hip but am fairly mobile and did expect to walk a bit that morning.....is the underground tour too troublesome in your opinion?

You also just confirmed we will go spend the morning in campo BEFORE our guide picks us up so thanks on that!

cheers!

David

Edited: 06 July 2013, 00:25
dallas
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6. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

thanks again for the great post as I mentioned over on the positano forum - very very helpful as we have four nights in Rome along with four in Positano..........will try to return the favor after our trip

good idea on the coliseum - how difficult to navigate both the Forum and the Coliseum? I have a bad hip but am fairly mobile and did expect to walk a bit that morning.....is the underground tour too troublesome in your opinion?

You also just confirmed we will go spend the morning in campo BEFORE our guide picks us up so thanks on that!

cheers!

David

Edited: 06 July 2013, 00:25
Providence, RI
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7. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

I don't think you can do the forum and the coliseum and the campo on the same day. We started at the forum at 8:30, stayed for four hours, had lunch, then had tickets to the coliseum at 2:30. It was a while until the group got on its way. It was late afternoon by the time we got home and we were fried. We started early at the forum because of the heat and the sun...we would have melted had we done it in the afternoon.

You should be able to handle the coliseum underground tour even with your hip. There is an elevator that is available for handicap access, but I am not sure it goes to the upper level. The footing at the forum is less even, you would need to watch your step, but not terribly arduous. We all took every opportunity to sit in the shade, at our guide's insistence, and necessary.

dallas
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8. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

hey thanks - I may have mis-communicated - we are going tot he campo the day prior - we have actually just booked I think a three hour tour of the Forum/Coliseum which is just what i want - have actually confirmed elevators both up and down which is nice so kinda a quick 1 hour 15 at the forum I think and then over to the coliseum.........with the suggestion of the guide not only will we get WAY more out if it but it will also be a more defined schedule :)

I think we are good?

Edit: our goal is to knock this out so we can enjoy some pizza in trastevere and then stroll that neighborhood with Paolo in his golf cart............so we are good with a relatively condensed version of the forum/coliseum if I hadn't quite made that clear before - thanks

Edited: 06 July 2013, 05:04
Providence, RI
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9. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

Trastevere is quite large, but I with a guide should be manageable. We had no problem on our own through there. You know your best pace. Enjoy your time in both Rome and Positano.

dallas
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10. Re: Trip Report: Capri-Positano-Rome

thanks - looking forward to posting my trip reports!!