Ryan and I are coming up on our two year anniversary, and I’m thinking back to all the amazing experiences we had leading up to our wedding and honeymoon. I’m so grateful we got married when we did, because none of it would have been possible a year later. Right now, having a wedding with a packed dance floor and an international honeymoon feels crazy to imagine!
In case you’re wanderlusting about traveling again, too – I wanted to share the itinerary of our Italian honeymoon. Ryan and I are both Italian (my dad was actually born there!), and Ryan had never traveled internationally before – so it felt like a no-brainer. This trip was a splurge for us, but it was worth it 10x over. I can honestly say that this was the most amazing trip I’ve ever taken, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat, exactly as we did it. We don’t travel very often, so when we do, we try to make it count.
After posting photos from our trip, I’ve had several people reach out and ask for recommendations on where we went and what we did. I would happily sing the praises of each and every place we stayed, and every experience we had. If you’re ever planning a trip to Italy, maybe this sparks some ideas for your own travels!
We flew into the Rome-Fiumicino Airport from Logan in Boston. Our overnight flight left at 11 PM East Coast time and arrived at 12:45 Italian time. We spent 3 days in Rome to kick off our trip, with the idea that we’d enjoy sightseeing and the bustle of the city before heading down to the Amalfi Coast for some relaxation. In hindsight, we both loved that approach. It would have felt too tiring to end the trip Rome, and we might not have enjoyed it as much.
First impressions of Rome – it was HOT! 90+ degrees pretty much every day in early to mid June. Air conditioning exists, but they don’t over-aircondition like they do in the US – so it took our bodies a couple days to get used to that.
Other impressions of Rome – like any major international city, there were a lot of people trying to prey on tourists. Near any crowded part of town, and especially by the Spanish Steps, there were men accosting you and trying to hand you a flower. If you took the flower, they’d ask for money. They are very pushy, even when you say no, and it gets annoying after a while. At the train station on our way down South, everything was in Italian and we were trying to figure out how to get to the right platform. A woman who we thought was just being nice offered to point us in the right direction. She was very helpful, but then demanded money for her time. So… if you go to Rome, just beware.
We stayed at the Royal Suite Trinita Dei Monti, right by the Spanish Steps. It was small (space is limited in the city), but perfect. Our room had a little balcony that literally looked down upon the Spanish Steps, and being in this area placed us at the heart of everything. We didn’t take a single cab the entire time we were in Rome and just walked everywhere. I was surprised at how easy it was to get everywhere by foot!
Breakfast was included every day, as was complimentary espresso. Please enjoy the fact that their ‘Continental Breakfast’ was a giant plate of meat and cheese. This was Ryan’s order, and it was designed for one person! Also, the ‘fruit bowl’ was a literal large (mixing bowl size) bowl of fruit. Although I don’t think it’s customary to eat big breakfasts in Italy, we found all of this food really helped fuel our walking. Some days we walked 10+ miles a day! Every afternoon we tried to come back to the room, enjoy some espresso on the balcony, and then un-melt in the air conditioning and rest our feet.
All of the food experiences we had in Rome were amazing. We wanted to stay away from tourist-trap restaurants (anything that offered French fries and chicken fingers on the menu tipped us off), and so we really leaned on personal recommendations from friends who’d been to Rome. Our favorite restaurants we found were in an area just West of the Piazza Navona. (Not Piazza Navona itself, which gets very touristy!) A friend recommended Etabli, and it was my favorite meal we had in Rome. The ambiance was very romantic, they had live music playing, and the staff, food, and drink were all amazing. We had an incredible hours long meal before walking home past all the fountains.
Other restaurants that came highly recommended to us were Roma Sparita and Mater Terrae.
Other things we did while in Rome:
- A guided tour of The Vatican. We were originally scheduled for a second guided tour of Ancient Rome, but ended up skipping it. The guided tours are long – about 3-4 hours – and we felt one was perfect, whereas two would have been too much. Especially in the heat.
- Lots of shopping at all the amazing stores near the Spanish Steps
- Lots of gelato. Frigidarium is a must-stop, and don’t be deterred by the lines!
- A trip to the Trevi Fountain
After check-out in Rome, we took a train down to Naples. A car picked us up from the train station and drove us to Pompeii, where we met a private tour guide for a tour of the ruins. The tour took about two hours in total and was a fun way to kill time before our room was ready in Positano. The Italian guide we had was so charismatic, personable, and wonderful. Seeing Pompeii felt like a great check-in-the-box for going to Italy, and it was interesting to see an ancient city so well-preserved.
From Pompeii, we took a car down to the Amalfi Coast. We were told that the Amalfi Coast as a whole was such a beautiful place to honeymoon. And we were told that Positano, in particular, was extra romantic. They were right, and this was our favorite town, far-and-away, that we visited. We never wanted to leave!
We stayed at the Giardini dei Sensei, an intimate little resort on the side of the mountain. Linda and Salvatore are Italian hospitality at its finest. They truly treat you like family – starting with a massive homemade breakfast spread every morning. Fresh bread, homemade pastries, fresh fruit, cheese, meats, and more. We were blown away by the sheer amount of it every single morning.
Unlike a traditional hotel, Giardini dei Sensei is four apartment-style rooms, each with their own private entrances. Our room had a double bed, bathroom, closet, and minibar area. There’s a garden and terrace for everyone to enjoy – with beautiful views of the coast. Then there’s a main part of the property where breakfast is served, and Linda and Salvatore are always wandering around for anything you may need. They helped us set up dinner reservations, sent us down to the beach club that they have a partnership with, and gave us recommendations for things to do and places to go in town. They also had drinks waiting for us when we arrived and put a mini bottle of champagne on ice for us in our room, since they knew it was our honeymoon. We only spent two nights in Positano because it was the priciest of the towns we visited, but we would have stayed for three plus weeks in a heartbeat! I only regret not having more time here.
Impressions of Positano – It’s like staying in heaven, if heaven had so. many. steps. Even if you’re trying to relax, you’re being active, because you either have to go up or down to get anywhere. We found it charming how everyone spoke in steps when directing you to places. Instead of “that’s a quarter mile down the road”, it was, “oh, that’s one hundred forty steps up the mountain.” But oh, the views! There’s a reason why everyone who goes to the Amalfi Coast raves about it for months and years afterwards. The tiny cliffside towns are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Things we did in Positano:
- The Path of the Gods hike, which winds along the side of the mountain and gives you the most incredible, sweeping views of the Amalfi Coast. We were able to pick up the trail right from behind where we were staying. Beware – it’s a LOT of steps just to get to the start of the hike. 1500 in our case. But there’s also refreshments there! On our way back down, we stopped at ‘Lemon Point’ (lemons grow everywhere along the Amalfi Coast) and got lemon slushies to rehydrate.
- We walked into the town of Positano, grabbed lunch at Casa e Bottega, a little cafe I had heard about with fresh, healthy food. Their menus say ‘let the food be your medicine’ (I loved that!), and they specialize in smoothies, salads, and veggie-forward dishes – still with an Italian flair. At that point we had eaten so much prosciutto, mozzarella, pasta, and bread that we were craving something light. It was perfect.
- One night, we grabbed a loaf of fresh bread, buratta, prosciutto, and a bottle of wine from a little food mart in town, and had a picnic-style dinner out on our patio. Another night, we had dinner up the road at Adamo ed Eva at the recommendation of Linda. They have the best cliffside views, the best house wine, and the best ambiance. This is a must-stop if you’re going to Positano.
- Going to the beach at least once was on our bucket list while on the Amalfi Coast. Public beach access is tricky in Positano, but we were able to get into Spiaggia di Arienzo since we were guests at Giardini. It was a lot of steps to get down there, but oh so worth it. The beaches on the Amalfi Coast are all rocks – no sand!
Probably the most special and unique experience we had on our trip – on our way from Positano to our next destination of Sorrento, we stopped at Mount Vesuvius. We purchased passes for a ‘hike’ up the volcano, then a wine tasting and three-course meal at a local winery at the top. This was all packaged together and was an experience offered to us by our travel agent. It’s honestly something we never would have thought of or picked out ourselves – but we’re SO glad we did it.
I had a lot of doubts about a hike up a volcano in 90+ degree weather, but… fortunately it turned out that ‘hike’ was a relative word. They drive you to the base of the peak, and then you get to climb the last 30-45 minutes or so. (There were old women in sandals doing it, if that gives you any frame of reference…) It was perfect, and such a one-of-a-kind experience. We were up in the clouds and could peek down into the crater of the volcano.
Once we arrived in Sorrento, we had a little bit of vacation blues! We were so sad to leave Positano and it felt like nothing could top that experience or town – so it took us a little to warm up to Sorrento. The plan was to spend three nights there to wrap up our stay, before driving back up the coast and flying out of Rome.
Fortunately, Sorrento ended up being far from disappointing.
We stayed at the Hotel La Favorita, the only five-star hotel on our trip. We wanted to end on a high note, and La Favorita was definitely that. It felt intimate, relaxing, and romantic… but we also noticed there were a lot of families there and that it was kid-friendly. (Something to keep in mind, if you’re traveling with kids!) La Favorita is in the heart of Sorrento, and put us in walking distance of pretty much anything we needed and more. We only had to take a car once to get anywhere.
We loved the rooftop pool that overlooked the town and coastline. The rooftop bar was pretty nice, too 😉
They also had beautiful patio areas outside, surrounded by gardens and giant lemon trees. It was a lovely place to sit and chat with tea or good coffee – and it gave you some nice shade from the heat. A big, formal breakfast buffet was served every morning (included with our stay), and we certainly grew to love our big breakfasts while in Italy!
Things we did in Sorrento:
- One of our drivers tipped us off to Pizzeria da Franco, which he said had the best pizza in all of Sorrento. When we saw a line around the block of all locals, we knew we were in the right place. The tables are long picnic table style, and the pizzas come out of sheet pans lined with parchment paper. It’s no-frills, super authentic, really good pizza… the kind you come to Italy for.
- We walked Sorrento and all its charming boutiques and ceramic shops.
- We drank a lot of really amazing limoncello – and brought several bottles home!
- We had the most spectacular dinner at sunset at Bagni Delfino in the little fishing village of Marina Grande. You wouldn’t believe that restaurant like this exists. We ate on a giant floating dock in the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the sun gradually coming down over the mountains. They serve you complimentary house-made bruschetta as a starter, and there’s (obviously) complimentary limoncello at the end.
- On our last day, we took a small group cooking class at Annamaria’s Country House. This was out in the hills of Sorrento and was the only thing we needed a car for. The cooking class was three hours, and we learned how to make a full Italian meal from scratch – including homemade pasta! We also got to pick many of the ingredients ourselves from her vegetable gardens and chicken coops. If you’ve never had an Italian grandmother, Annamaria will become your honorary one for a day. She was extremely hospitable, made everyone immediately feel at home, and had a great sense of humor. I really highly recommend this experience if you’re in Sorrento.