Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples

Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples

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The Sorrento peninsula and the Bay of Naples has attracted visitors for centuries in search of its outstanding scenery, tranquility and some of the most remarkable sights from throughout history. Invasions by the Greeks, Phoenicians and Saracens have all left their legacies - but none more so than the Romans. Even 2000 years ago the attributes of the region were well known with the Emperors Tiberius and Augustus, together with countless members of the ruling elite, having villas here. Sorrento came to real fame though, during the late 18th century when many of Europe’s aristocracy came to spend their winters here - attracted by its mild climate and outstanding natural beauty. Sumptuous houses and grandiose hotels were built along the cliff-tops and today Sorrento is everything you expect an Italian town to be: tiny cobbled streets and quaint squares with flowers decorating almost every building, tubs of geraniums, dark blue clematis climbing up pastel-coloured, almost crumbling walls, with pink hydrangeas and roses in almost every open space, all shaded by lofty palm trees offering welcome shade. Mouth-watering aromas drift from the numerous restaurants and bistros, some humble and homely, some grand and ostentatious with pavement cafés serving fine cappuccino on seemingly every street corner. We see the legendary Amalfi coast, with every guidebook proclaiming it the most beautiful in Europe, and when you see it, it really is impossible to disagree! Deep red mountains covered with pine forests plunge dramatically into the calm blue Mediterranean. Then to Capri, which possesses a deserved reputation as a veritable Garden of Eden - it will come as no surprise why so many of the rich and famous have made it their home. Wherever you travel in the Bay of Naples, the skyline is dominated by the majestic and still active volcano Vesuvius, rising loftily to over 4000 ft. No doubt you will be aware, it has erupted in spectacular fashion several times in its history - the most famous, of course, being in 79AD when the Roman city of Pompeii, together with many of its inhabitants, were entombed and whose state of preservation today is little short of remarkable. All in all there can be few places where you will find so much of interest in an area of such outstanding natural beauty as the Bay of Naples.

Highlights

  • Return flights to Naples
  • Seven nights half-board in a choice of three-star or four-star hotel in Sorrento
  • Walking tour of Sorrento one of Italy’s most beautiful coastal towns
  • Cruise to the stunning island of Capri, home of the Roman Emperors
  • Visit to the magnificent volcano of Vesuvius
  • Guided tour of the Naples Archaeological Museum
  • Guided tour of Pompeii a city frozen in time
  • Tour of the Amalfi coast - one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world
  • Visit to Ravello – setting for Wagner’s opera Parsifal
  • Service of an experienced tour manager

Inclusions

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room with single and sea view rooms subject toavailable, at the relevant supplement; please see the accommodation section for further information. The price includes return flights, seven nights dinner, bed and breakfast, all coach tours as mentioned, executive coach travel in Italy, guided tours of Pompeii, Naples Archaeological Museum and Sorrento, cruise to Capri and services ofa Rivieratour manager.
  • Not included: Where hotels feature a swimming pool, pools are open in the summer months weather permitting. There will be a charge for swimming pool towels of €2 per towel per day at the Vue D'Or and Villa Maria, €1.50 per towel per day at the Metropole and €1 per towel per day at the La Badia
  • Occasionally the opening times of the places of interest varies, and if this happens we may change the order of visits, however the overall content will not be reduced.

Itinerary

Day 1

You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Naples. On arrival a coach will take us to Sorrento, a lovely base for our holiday (journey is approximately one hour, fifteen minutes). You have a choice of carefully selected hotels. They are all well managed and of a very good quality within their category. All have good restaurants where we take breakfast and dinner.

Day 2

Sorrento has been a resort for centuries and has developed with great style, so today we have a rather lazy day commencing with a short walking tour. The Romans were aware of Sorrento’s attributes and the area is dotted with the remains of their opulent villas. During the 18th century it became part of the Grand Tour for Europe’s aristocracy with classic hotels being built around the old cliff-top town. Today, spared the excesses of modern development, Sorrento is delightful and so typical of the south of Italy. Tiny winding streets lined with tall, seemingly crumbling buildings complete with their faded façades of ochre, yellow and magenta are now home to superb shops and cosy restaurants. The stylish young astride their Vespas are everywhere, and on every bench sit splendidly turned out senior citizens, superbly dressed no matter how hot the weather – all having time to pass a few words in the street.

Day 3

Today, we take the drive north around the bay to the cosmopolitan city of Naples where we have a guided tour of the Archaeological Museum (2014 only visits) which is one of the finest of its kind. When the excavations commenced in nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum, the best of the finds were brought here and displayed to an eager public. There is a very extensive display of remarkably preserved mosaics giving a superb insight into the way of life and even sense of humour of the ordinary Roman. Other sections include murals, figures, fine pottery, ropes and even preserved food. One of the central displays is of some of the largest classical sculpture ever found and the museum as a whole complements your visit to Pompeii admirably. We all know the story of Pompeii, however, it is more than a series of ruins: the state of preservation is astonishing and even if you are not interested in history you cannot fail to be moved by the scale of the city, the construction of which appears to put our modern structures to shame, especially when you consider machines were unavailable. Much of our knowledge about the way of life of the ordinary Romans, their habits, social structure, class systems and domestic arrangements has come from here. Some of the baths are virtually complete as are various murals and mosaics, with some buildings having graffiti describing political events, romantic entanglements and gossip of the time! You can even see the traffic calming measures, how the one-way system operated and appreciate the very high standard of living evident in Roman Pompeii. The atmosphere is eerie, as preserved for all time are the pained facial expressions of the victims of Vesuvius. We will have a guided tour of this fascinating city, before returning to our hotel.

Day 4

Today you have a free day in Sorrento to spend as you wish. You could take a boat trip, shop in the high class boutiques, have a lazy lunch or simply catch up on some reading – the choice is yours.

Day 5

Capri is renowned the world over for its outstanding natural beauty and today we take the short boat ride to the island. It has long been the most sought-after part of the Bay of Naples: not only attracting three Roman emperors, but also writers such as D.H. Lawrence and George Bernard Shaw who sought inspiration here. Famous names such as Gracie Fields and Graham Greene, amongst many others, have made it their home. It is easy to see why it is so adored: as we approach the island you can see small fishing boats rising and falling with the gentle waves, with pretty shops and restaurants lining the busy quayside.   The picturesque main town is perched on the hill looking down on the quaint harbour below. You may wish to visit the famous Blue Grotto – the large cavern which can only be reached by boat and by a freak of nature is bathed in incandescent blue light, hence its name. Yes, Capri really does deserve its reputation as a Garden of Eden. We then take the boat to the mainland and return to our hotel.

Day 6

Today, we take the drive north around the bay to the cosmopolitan city of Naples where we visit the Archaeological Museum which is one of the finest of its kind. When the excavations commenced in nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum, the best of the finds were brought here and displayed to an eager public. There is a very extensive display of remarkably preserved mosaics giving a superb insight into the way of life and even sense of humour of the ordinary Roman. Other sections include murals, figures, fine pottery, ropes and even preserved food. One of the central displays is of some of the largest classical sculpture ever found and the museum as a whole complements your visit to Pompeii admirably.

Day 7

When you see it, we think you will agree the Amalfi coastline is, as it claims to be, Europe’s most beautiful. Today we explore the coast as it winds around towering cliffs, dipping almost sheer to the beautiful blue sea below with birds soaring above and the air heavy with the typically Mediterranean scent of pine forest and wild flowers. We arrive above the exclusive resort of Positano clinging pyramid-like to the cliff-face, giving a view, which has inspired countless artists and today is the haunt of even more numerous celebrities. Next it’s Amalfi, a picturesque village in a gorgeous setting, possessing charm in abundance and perhaps the highlight of the coast. Just inland is the stunning village of Ravello, with its unrivalled location perched like an eagle’s nest on a shelf above Amalfi, affording some amazing views. It has an ambience of its own and a wonderful main square surrounded by delightful small cafés and the Villa Rufolo – once the headquarters of a city-state, now a charming collection of medieval buildings, statues, tasteful walled gardens and the setting for Wagner’s opera Parsifal.

Day 8

Today we return to Naples airport, at the appropriate time, after a really memorable and unique tour.

Accommodation

Hotel Villa Maria

three-star rated, provides all the comforts of a modern, purpose built property. The bedrooms are tastefully decorated and of course have a private bathroom, TV and air conditioning. It is in an...

Hotel La Badia

three-star rated, is based on the sympathetic conversion of a 16th century abbey, retaining much of the original stonework and giving a superb ambience to this small family-run hotel. Its location is...

Hotel Vue D'Or

The three-star superior rated Hotel Vue D'Or is a superbly apt name meaning "view of gold", for a really lovely hotel. Built in a style typical of the region, it has benefited from a most...

Aminta

The beautiful 4-star superior is one of the finest hotels in Sorrento. Located on a hilltop, just above the town and 3km from the centre, the Hotel Aminta has been built highlighting to superb effect,...

Michelangelo

One of Sorrento's most tasteful hotels, the four-star, family-owned Michelangelo is superbly centrally located, literally just a few minutes' walk from Piazza Tasso, the hub of local life, set back...

Grand Europa Palace

The centrally located four-star superior Grand Europa Palace (www.europapalace.com) enjoys one of Sorrento's most breathtaking vantage points, directly on the cliff-top with uninterrupted...

Grand Hotel Cesare Augusto

The four-star Grand Hotel Cesare Augusto is extremely well located in Sorrento’s centre providing a superb base for exploration of the Neapolitain Riviera and the resort itself. Only steps away...

Hotel Metropole

three-star rated, situated on the coastal road approximately one kilometre from the Old Town. This charming hotel, purpose built to a high standard in its own attractive gardens, offers some wonderful...
  Cost per person: €1,059pp
  Number of nights: 7
  Dates available from: Aug 2017

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  Call:  01 905 6300