Southern Italy- Chapter 2!

We loved the modern amenities of the Hilton! It is great during the busy summer months!  If you need parking, they have a large...approx. +15 Euros a day.  If you are traveling with kids, their pool is beautiful and the facilities are very family friendly.  However, if you are looking for something with more local flavor, every Italian city has a grand hotel.  Sorrento is no exception.  The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is on the water front with a private elevator to the “beach.” It is chock full of history and the rooms and public spaces reflect the historic nature of the hotel.  Keep in mind while Sorrento is a seaside resort town, none of the cities on the Amalfi coasts have significant beaches.  Many are made up of docks and can only be reached by lifts or lots and lots of stairs.

The Bellevue Syrene is just down the water front from the Vittoria and is a breath of fresh air.  Its colorful public areas are gorgeous and modern while maintaining the integrity of its historic surroundings.  Its status as one of the top hotels in Sorrento will be confirmed next year with its addition to the Waldorf Astoria collection of fine hotels.  We also were impressed by the Imperial Hotel Tramantano.  Their lovely public areas and waterfront location help make up for the minor wear and tear evident in the sleeping rooms.

Sorrento is a great base for exploring Southern Italy due to its accessibility by both ferry and train to so many other interesting places.  Ferries run frequently between Sorrento and both Capri and Naples.  We spent an entire day driving the coast (okay- we were driven!).  The roads are narrow and you alternate between feeling like you are about to run head on into oncoming traffic or fall off the side of the mountain.  But the scenery is spectacular and worth the adventurous drive to get there. 

We stopped in Ravello, Amalfi and Positano, each more picturesque than the next.  The Amalfi coast is romantic and beautiful, the perfect spot for a honeymoon.  The driving conditions and the lack of parking make a car and driver a necessity in these smaller towns.  They are beach communities and packed with an international crowd all summer long, although many of the locals told us that May and September were their favorite times of the year.
The local train can also take you from Sorrento to Pompeii in a matter of 30 minutes.  We had to scrap a day trip to the beautiful island of Capri due to the rough seas and high wind, but we did get to experience Pompeii and the ruins of Herculaneum, just outside of Naples.  Both sites are awe inspiring and really magnificent testaments to the size and scope of the ancient Roman Empire.  A private guide is a must though, while the preservation is great considering the cities were buried over 2,000 years ago, it takes an expert to really make it come alive.  During the summer months they can also help you beat some of the crowds.

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