The Amalfi Coast and its hidden gems

See this image? If you look closely you'll find the place I stay when I go to Positano - Pensione Maria Luisa. It's history is truly interesting. It was one of the first hotels opened in Positano in the 1940s and is still owed by the same family. Carlo will greet you and do anything to make your stay special. Sure it is rustic and definitely no frills but you come to Positano to relax and stand in awe at the scenery, right? Well there is no better place to do that. Here are the details:

Definitely a hidden gem despite featuring prominently in the Lonely Planet guide book on Italy and the Amalfi Coast. I've stayed there four times with the fifth coming up in September 2017. The view and the location keep me coming back - and the cheap prices at just 90 euro per night for a room with a terrace. See my other blog posts:…

The Villas at Stabiae - the unknown Vesuvian sites

The Roman Villas at Stabiae - Villas Marco and Arianna - the unknown Vesuvian sites

The statistics say it all. Pompeii attracted over 2.5 million visitors in 2015. Herculaneum, marginally less. These UNESCO World Heritage sites are overrun with visitors and are two of the most popular places to visit in the Campania region. Vesuvius' destruction in AD79 has enabled the preservation of an extraordinary glimpse into Roman life - and boy, doesn't everyone want to see it!

Photo - crowds at Pompeii's ticket office, September 2015

Photo - crowds waiting to enter the Lupanare (brothel) in Pompeii. 

But Pompeii and Herculaneum are not the only sights that Vesuvius locked away. Very close by to both of them are the Villas of Oplontis and Stabiae - three palatial, enormous residences that belonged to wealthy owners and that had stunning views of the coastline. It is possible to visit these three villas - and in doing so you will be well rewarded with an insight in to the lives of these …

Planning that trip to Italy - what you need to know

So you've decided to splash the cash and take that bucket list trip to Italy. You're not alone.

You only have to look at the traffic on Trip Advisor - Italy is Europe's number one destination. Well, what's not to like - the glorious food, the dazzling landscapes, the 40 plus World Heritage sites, the history, the architecture, the artists, the beaches, the islands, climate, the beautiful people - it's got the whole package.

Well - what to do next? This post is about planning - and as I've just taken my third trip to Italy in twelve months, I can give you some advice about what to do - and what to AVOID!

1. Get a good guide book.I can't stress this enough. You may think you can just use the internet for everything you need to know  - but guide books answer the questions you didn't think to ask.

For example, I did a day trip to a very off the beaten track part of Naples and wanted to find a restaurant. Not only did my guide book (Lonely Planet Naples and A…

Back to Naples - September 2015

I returned to Naples in September 2015 for visit number five, this time with my 19 year old son, his friend and my mum. I have said before that I love the Lungomare district - well this time around we stayed somewhere else - the Spanish Quarter in Hotel Il Convento. I can't fault the hotel - flawless service in a building that was a former convent, and right in the thick of things with the tiny cobbled streets at your feet and the Centro Storico across the road.

We did a great mix of exploring and relaxing and I saw a few places that had been on my 'Naples bucket list' for quite some time. Take a look.

Every visit to Naples starts with a beer from the vendor's cart on Via Nazario Sauro on the Lungomare. Where in the world can you pay 1 euro for a beer and see a view like this? That's my family (Jack, Robert and my mum, Catherine)

The Spanish Quarter looking along Vico Tre Re A  from Via Toledo - Jack and Robert are on the left

A second-hand dealer's cart in Porta A…