From Rapallo, we caught the train to Como via Milan. We found the trains very easy after the first one we caught from Rome to Florence, and we were very grateful for your tip to take suitcases that had four wheels on the bottom, so we could roll them sideways down the aisle.
Not every train had a baggage section at the end of each carriage, so more often than not we got on at the end of the carriage furthest from our seats! Transferring trains was very easy, although we noticed older folk had quite a struggle getting bags on and off the trains. The transfer was ready and waiting for us in Como, as we’re all the transfers you organised for us. The driver was very courteous and was asked if we would be ok on the winding road to Bellagio.
Check-in at Hotel in Bellagio was first class. Very professional, even down to the detail of using a miniature door to show how to use the key wand to unlock or room door. The balcony view was terrific. It was unfortunate the weather was cold and rainy, but we had our umbrellas with us and explored every lane way in Bellagio. The closest we got to seeing George Clooney was a photo of him on the wall inside Bellagio Point.com, a food and wine bar which had an all day happy hour. Very generous complimentary food with aperitivi.
The quality of the room at the hotel was excellent, and I would gladly recommend others to stay there. I was glad we didn’t get a terrace room, as it would have been a waste in such poor weather, and even in good weather, all the lake view balconies look down on the terraces, so not much privacy down there. We ate breakfast in the hotel, which was fine, and on one occasion had lunch in the bar/cafe – the soup was excellent. Mostly lunch and dinner we ate out. Best meal in my opinion was wood fired pizza at Barchetta.
Venice was absolutely wonderful. Once we were out of the train station, we took our time to figure out how to purchase the ferry tickets, and which ferry to take to Rialto. As with most things in Italy, it was a bit confusing, but in the end, as we were getting on the ferry, I asked a staff member “this ferry to Rialto?” Si. “How many stops?”
One. I had taken a GPS device with me, which we used to navigate from Rialto to the hotel, and confirmed our directions with the instructions you gave us. We needn’t have taken the GPS. After the walking tour the next day, we didn’t even bother with maps as it was a delight to get lost in such a wonderful place, and always easy to follow the signs back to San Marco or Rialto.
The staff at the hotel were really friendly. We were put in the room halfway up the stairs, which was fine, although next time I’d probably prefer on of the upstairs rooms which might be a bit brighter and I believe have four-post beds. The location was absolutely spot on, and Jenny and I used their recommended restaurants on a couple of occasions, and we weren’t disappointed. Breakfast was very enjoyable, except for the American guest who complained about the music! Then spent all his time at breakfast ignoring his wife and reading out loud from his iPad.
I was glad we only did the one tour in Venice, as we really enjoyed just wandering the streets, shopping, eating, drinking and taking it all in. We didn’t even go to Murano or Burano, as we felt that we had come to see Venice. Not to jump on a ferry and go somewhere else. Maybe next time. The confusion at the start of the walking tour was disappointing, mainly because we had arrived 15 minutes early, and were the last to be checked in due to them cancelling our booking. The tour itself was very good, and our guide was friendly, informative and good natured. I would advise against taking this tour on a Sunday, as the church at San Marco was being used for communion and was therefore closed to tour groups. So our tour started late and finished early.
Nevertheless, it gave us the confidence we needed to get around Venice on foot without a map. We kept an eye out for concerts and on our last night in Venice we went to Chiesa San Vidal where we enjoyed a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Interpreti Veneziani. The water taxi was probably not necessary, but an enjoyable experience anyway, to take us back to the train station on the way out.
Ravello was gorgeous, and the hotel in Ravello was very enjoyable. Breakfast in the hotel was terrific, and we mostly ate lunch at one of the restaurants in the main piazza. We took a walk through the gardens at Villa Cimbrone, and marvelled at the killer view! I would recommend this to anyone. We had dinner on the second night on the terrace by candle light, overlooking the beautiful valley stretching below us towards the spectacular coastline. Very romantic!
In Positano, I was again delighted by the friendliness of the reception staff at the hotel. They could not have been any more helpful. We arrived quite early and our room would not be ready for a half hour (which was still much sooner than we would be able to get in to most hotels in Australia!), so we just went for a walk down the hill to the Bach while they got our room ready. We had an excellent view from the very end/corner room on the top floor. The hotel breakfasts were terrific, and on the two mornings we needed to be out early, they opened the restaurant just for us so we could have an early breakfast (which we arranged the night before).
The weather in Positano was quite cool (around 18C max), mostly overcast, rain at times, windy and rough seas. The first full day, the ferries to Capri etc were cancelled due to rough weather. The forecast for the last two days however looked much better (sunny and 23C) so as we were already booked on a Pompeii tour on the Monday (2nd last day) we booked a boat tour to Capri for the Tuesday. Both tours were excellent.
The Pompeii and Vesuvius tour was one of the highlights of our time in Italy, well worth the long, winding road journeys there and back! We opted for a smaller boat rather than a ferry to Capri and were glad to avoid the throng on the larger boats. We finally had a swim in the Mediterranean.
Had the weather been more conducive to laying on the beach, the five days in Positano would have been perfect, but given the weather, I felt it was a day too long. The locals said it was really unusual to be so cold in May. I think next time I would probably travel in September, as I suspect coming out of summer, the weather may have been just a few degrees warmer.
Anyway, our final night at the beautiful residence in Rome was wonderful. Again – so friendly and what a gorgeous room. We went back to a restaurant called Toto, just around the corner, where we had been for dinner just over a month before. The waiter remembered us, and asked how my speaking Italian had gone. As we were returning customers, we were treated like VIPs, given complimentary prosecco before our meal, and limoncello afterwards.
After dinner we walked back down to the Trevi Fountain so we could see it by night. It was a beautiful evening. Amongst the crowd of people, we held hands and tossed our coins far into the bosom of the fountain, ensuring we will return one day to Rome and la bella Italia.
I can’t stop singing your praises Gemma whenever anyone asks me about how we chose where to stay in Italy. Your advice and selections were absolutely brilliant. Thank you for helping make our 25th wedding anniversary celebration an experience of a lifetime.