How to spend a fantastic week in Italy exploring Rome and the Amalfi coast. Ideas on things to do and places to eat.

One amazing week in Italy exploring the brilliant city of Rome and the beautiful Amalfi Coast

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We had an amazing family holiday to Italy.  Its a great destination for the four of us as Pizza and Pasta are the kids food of choice, we love sight seeing, my son loves the history of the Roman Gladiators and you can’t go wrong with Ice cream!  We spent a week in Italy starting in Rome and then travelling down the coast visiting Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.  It was a jam packed week but thoroughly enjoyed by all!  This is how to spend a fantastic week in Italy.

First stop…… Rome!

We spent three days exploring this amazing city seeing the many historic sights, eating great food and people watching in the many Piazzas.  We visited most of the major sights including –

  • The Colosseum
  • Roman Forum
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Vatican City
  • Spanish Steps

Colosseum, Rome, Italy, 1 week in Italy, things to do in Rome

St Peter's Square, Rome, Italy, 1 week in Italy, things to do in Rome

Check out my other post for more information on what we got up to in Rome – Discover Rome with Kids.

Moving down the Coast…..

After our stay in Rome we hired a car and started our travels south.  We made a pit stop in Naples and found a great restaurant for lunch.  La Campagnola – Pizzeria & Trattoria serves up fab food, the staff were great and it doesn’t feel touristy.  We had the menu of the day and the children had some tasty pizza and pasta.  Unfortunately it was raining while we were there so didn’t get chance to do much exploring but there is always next time!

Pizza oven, Naples, 1 week in Italy, things to do

 

Next stop…… Our apartment

We hired an apartment in the small village of Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi, west of Sorrento.  Perched high up in the hills it has some great views over the Bay of Naples.  It is a quiet village with rustic charm despite it having many places to stay and a good choice of restaurants.  I loved staying here as it didn’t feel touristy but had places to eat and drink on our door step and is a good base to visit the Amalfi Coast.

Bar Orlando is a great place to stop for a drink and is often busy with locals.  The owner is very friendly and likes to tell stories of his smoking cat!  We didn’t eat here but the food looked good and was reasonably priced.  It has a nice atmosphere and a lovely garden to sit and enjoy your drink.

Bar Orlando, Sorrento, Italy, 1 week in Italy, things to do

 

Restorante da Mimi is a family run restaurant serving superb food.  My son Zach ate his best ever pizza here and he still talks about it now!

Best pizza ever, Restorante da Mimi, Sorrento, Italy, 1 week in Italy, things to do

Buenos Aires looks like a shack but has a nice outside seating area out the front.  The food is simple but satisfying and very cheap.  The kids were able to watch the local children playing football next door which kept them quiet!  Great option for a reasonably priced lunch or dinner.

Buenos Aires, Sorrento, Italy, 1 week in Italy, things to do

Bar Pasticceria Fiorentino is a well known pastry shop/bar in the Sorrento area and we were lucky enough to have it right by our apartment.  They sell delicious cakes and gelato and great coffee to accompany the feast.

Bar Pasticceria Fiorentino, Sorrento, Italy, 1 week in Italy, things to do

Bar Pasticceria Fiorentino, Sorrento, Italy, 1 week in Italy, things to do

 

Exploring the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast, Italy, a week in Intaly, exploring Amalfi coast

Such a beautiful, picturesque coastline with so many places to stop and explore.  You have to drive with confidence to negotiate the narrow winding roads and the other extremely confident Italian drivers!  You do find yourself breathing in as you pass close by other cars and buses!  Its definitely worth it though to drive along the coastline looking out of your window and stopping for photos at whichever breathtaking view comes round the corner.  Its great to have the freedom to spend as much or as little time at each stop.  We made a few stops on our journey through the Amalfi Coast.

Positano is a magnificent little town and is probably the most picturesque and photographed town along the coast.  We walked down to Spiagga Grande which is the main beach and let the kids run around and stretch their legs while we admired the view.

Spiagga Grande Beach, Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy, 1 week in Italy

Amalfi Town is a pretty town with a small beach and a majestic Cathedral overlooking the Piazza.  Its a great place to wonder through the many alleyways and pick up some gifts and souvenirs for the family.

Amalfi town, beach, Amalfi coast, Itlay, 1 week in Italy

Amalfi town, Cathedral, Amalfi coast, Itlay, 1 week in Italy

Ravello sits high up in the hills above Amalfi.  It’s a slower paced town mostly dedicated to tourism and is a popular wedding venue.  It has some amazing views of the coastline.  We did attempt the steep kilometre long walk down to the small town of Minori however we had to abandon the walk halfway when we realised it was too much for the kids.  Thank goodness the kids were in a good mood and they have taps to fill up your water bottle on route!!

Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy, steps down to Minori, 1 week in Italy

Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy, amazing views, 1 week in Italy

Sorrento is a very popular tourist destination with lots of cafes and restaurants and Piazza Tasso, the main square is a great place to enjoy some fab Italian food.  There isn’t much of a beach but we spent some time there letting the kids have a swim and having a spot of lunch.

Sorrento, Amalfi coast, Italy, 1 week in Italy

Pompeii

I was really moved by the ruins of Pompeii.  It is so hard to believe a whole town was buried under 6 metres of ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  This protected the evidence of life at the very moment of the tragedy.  Its amazing walking down ancient streets seeing what life would have been like.  It was really educational for the children and my son found it really interesting!

Pompeii, Italy, residents of Pompeii the moment the tragedy struck, 1 week in Italy

Pompeii, Italy, streets of Pompeii, 1 week in Italy

We had an amazing time spending a week in Italy exploring Rome and the Amalfi Coast.

Leave a comment below with your favourite places to visit in Italy, would love to hear them.

How to spend a fantastic week in Italy exploring Rome and the Amalfi Coast, great ideas on things to do and restaurants to try

Things to see and do in Florence, Florence, Italy

Things to see and do in Florence

Someone recently asked me if I had been to Florence and whether I could recommend anything to do.  Sadly Florence isn’t somewhere I have ever visited but since doing some research its somewhere I would definitely like to go.  As with other places in Italy it seems to have great museums, historical buildings and landmarks to see as well as great food to try.  After doing some research on the internet and in guidebooks I have put together a list of things that will be on my to do list.

Climb Duomo’s Dome and Giotto’s tower

Things to see and do in Florence, Duomo and bell tower, Florence

Florence’s Cathedral located in Piazza del Duomo is free to enter and often at the top of peoples to do list.  A popular activity is to buy a ticket to climb the 476 stairs to the top of the Duomo.  This gives great views of the entire city.  Another option is to climb the adjacent bell tower for great views and a chance to see the Duomo from its best angle.  The queue for the bell tower is said to be shorter so could be an option if short on time.

Uffizi

Things to see and do in Florence, The Uffizi, Florence 

There are lots of museums in Florence but this seems to be the museum to visit if you only have time for one.  The Galleria degli Uffizi is located in what was the government offices.  It houses a number of stunning masterpieces and is one of the most visited museums in the world.  Because of this, booking tickets in advance is highly advised to avoid hours of queuing.  The official website to book tickets can be found here.

While in this area I will be paying a visit to All’Antico Vinaio, this place is said to serve the best giant focaccia sandwiches (they do look amazing).  A queue can often form as they are popular with both tourists and locals.  Definitely sounds like a place to stop for some lunch!

Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

Things to see and do in Florence, The Palazzo Vecchio, town hall, Florence

Piazza della Signoria is the main square in Florence, this L-shaped square is home to Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall).  It sounds like a lovely place to sit and have a coffee and watch the world go by.

Talking of coffee, something that is on my food to try list is a Panforte. This is a traditional Italian dessert which has been described as a cross between a cake and a candy, it contains nuts, dried fruits, honey and spices (and sounds amazing).  Its meant to be perfect to accompany a coffee for a great mid morning snack.

InThings to see and do in Florence, Piazza della Signoria, Michelangelo's David, Florence this square you can also see a copy of Michelangelo’s David statue as well as some other impressive statues.  The Palazzo Vecchio is another great museum to visit containing lots of artwork and beautiful ceilings.  You can also climb the tower for more great views over Florence.

 

Ponte Vecchio

Things to do and see in Florence, Ponte Vecchio, Florence

This bridge always came up as something to see when doing my research.  This historical bridge gives spectacular views of the river Arno.  It is lined with lots of jewellery and watch shops but because it is such a tourist trap the advise is to shop elsewhere to save money.

As the bridge is always packed with people and its hard to admire it when you’re on it, another option I read about is to visit Ponte Santa Trinita (the bridge next door) instead to view the Ponte Vecchio in all its glory.

Florence is said to be the birthplace of gelato and is famous for its family run institutions.  Gelato is on the top of my list of things to eat (more than once) in Florence and apparently Gelateria Santa Trinita is the place to get it.  Its located on the corner, just over the Ponte Santa Trinita so I will be admiring the Ponte Vecchio with gelato in hand.

Piazzale Michelangelo

Things to see and do in Florence, Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Located in the Oltrarno district this square gives visitors postcard panoramic views of the city.  There is also another replica of Michelangelo’s David but I have read that you may have to wait a while to get a photo of it without any tourists in it.  Sunset is a popular time to visit Piazzale Michelangelo but if you are a true adventurer and a very early riser, sunrise is meant to be the best time to visit as the piazzale will be empty and you get to see the sun turn all of Florence a golden colour!  It is a modest walk up a hill or their are tours that you can take (or a taxi for a cheaper option).

Mercato Centrale

Things to see and do in Florence, Market, Florence

This market sounds great.  It is one of the largest and well known markets in Florence.  Inside consists of food vendors selling everything from meat, cheese, olives and bread and outside in Mercato San Lorenzo is the place to go for souvenirs and leather goods.  On the second floor of the market is a food court which is a popular place to go to try a variety of freshly prepared foods.  This market sounds amazing for foodies.

Pizza

You can’t visit Italy without having pizza (well I certainly couldn’t).  Somewhere that keeps coming up with great reviews is Gusta Pizza, on Via Maggio 46R (Tuesday – Sunday 11:30pm – 3:30pm and 7pm – 11pm).  This small restaurant is said to be one of the best pizza places in Florence.  Its popular with locals which is always a good sign, its small so be prepared to cozy up with other pizza lovers around the tables or you can take the pizza to go.

I look forward to visiting Florence with my family and trying all these great things to see and do.

Discover Rome with kids, things to do in Rome, top sights in Rome

Discover Rome with kids

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Rome is a magnificent city with so much to see and do.  We spent 3 nights in Rome with the kids as part of a one week holiday in Italy.  You could easily spend a whole week seeing the many different historical buildings, ruins, museums, and piazzas (aka squares) but this is how to discover Rome with kids in three days.

Trastevere

We stayed in an apartment in the area of Trastevere.  This area is across the Tiber river but walkable to the city centre.  It really comes alive at night and tourists flock to the pizzerias, cafes and bars that fill the many lanes.  This is where the kids got to have their favourite foods for dinner, pizza and pasta (but the authentic Italian type)!

We ate in a great restaurant called Osteria Pizzeria da Otello.  They served great food and the staff were very attentive and great with the kids.  You were even allowed to draw on the paper tablecloths which kept them amused.  I would recommend the pasta with clams.

Discover Rome with kids, pizza, Trastevere, Rome things to do, rome restauarnts, Osteria Pizzeria da Otello

 

Palatine Hill

We started our day at Palatine Hill.  This is a beautiful area of towering pine trees, ruins and lovely views.  You can get some good photos of the Colosseum and Roman Forum from here and its a great space for the kids to have a run around.

Discover Rome with kids, Palatine Hill, Rome things to doDiscover Rome with kids, Palatine Hill. Rome things to do

Discover Rome with kids, Palatine Hill, Rome things to do

Roman Forum

Next we headed down to the Roman Forum.  This was once the heart of the ancient world and is now a collection of impressive ruins.  Its great to impress the kids with stories of them walking the same footprints as Julius Caesar and other great emperors of Rome.

Discover Rome with kids, Roman Forum, things to do

Doscover Rome with kids, Roman Forum, Rome things to do

Colosseum

This is Rome’s most thrilling ancient sight where gladiators met in combat in front of huge crowds.  Our son loved learning about the history of this place while walking round.  It is a good idea to get a children’s book about Rome before you go so they already know a bit about it.

Discover Rome with kids, Colosseum, Rome things to do

Top tip – Buy your tickets for the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine before you go to avoid the queues.

Pantheon

Discover Rome with kids, Pantheon, Rome things to doAnother one of Rome’s iconic sights, this 2000 year old temple, now a church is a relatively quick stop, so good for the kids.  We grabbed a sandwich from a nearby deli and sat on the steps of the fountain outside the Pantheon.  Great to take in the views and people watch.

 

 

 

 

Trevi Fountain

Rome’s most famous fountain which takes up most of the Piazza.  Unfortunately it was being refurbished when we visited but a must when in Rome.  Its also great for the kids to throw in a coin or two and make a wish!Discover Rome with kids, things to do in Rome, Trevi Fountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The evening was spent back in Trastevere for some more great Pizza and pasta at Gajo e Gajo.

Vatican City

The next day we went to Vatican city to explore St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica.  There was a bit of a queue to get in but it was easy for me to wait in line while the hubby and kids explored the square.

Discover Rome with kids, St Peter's Square, things to do in Rome

Discover Rome with kids, things to do in Rome, St Peter's BasilicaDiscover Rome with kids, things to do in Rome, St Peter's Basilica

 

 

Discover Rome with kids, things to do in Rome, St Peter's Basilica

Top tip – Remember to dress appropriately which means, no shorts, no skirts above the knee and keep shoulders covered, otherwise you will be refused entry.

Next stop was the Vatican museum.  If your kids are ok with museums its worth a visit and head straight to the magnificent Sistine Chapel.  This is something I was really keen to see and tick off my bucket list.

Time for lunch, so we stopped at Panzerotti & Friends – Ottaviano for a quick bite to eat.  This is a small restaurant with a few outside tables.  The lasagne was very tasty!

Spanish Steps

This is a great place to rest your legs and watch the world go by.  You will get asked if you want to buy a selfie stick once or twice (which we did!)  While you are here you should definitely get a gelato from La Strega Nocciola (via della Vite 100 Piazza Di Spagna).  They do the most amazing gelato and the staff are very friendly.

Discover Rome with kids, gelato, things to do in RomeDiscover Rome with kids, Spanish Steps, things to do in Rome Discover Rome with kids, things to do in Rome, Spanish Steps

 

Villa Borghese

This is the largest park in central Rome.  It is a lovely place to come and let the children run around and explore.  The park is home to Rome’s zoo (Bioparco).  We hired a bike to explore the park which the kids loved.  It is in the northern part of central Rome so we took a taxi there but it is a brilliant place to bring the kids and you also get great views over the rooftops of Rome.

Discover Rome with kids, Villa Borghese, things to do in Rome

Discover Rome with kids, Villa Borghese, things to do in Rome

 

Piazza Navona

We spent our last evening in this Piazza with its gorgeous fountains and street performers.  There are lots of nice places to eat and drink and relax.  The car free Italian Piazzas are great for the kids to run around (and there are lots of them in Rome).

Discover Rome with kids, Piazza Navona, things to do in Rome

 

Rome is an amazing city to discover with kids and the great pizza, pasta and ice cream on offer is always a winner!  I would recommend using a pushchair for younger kids as there is a lot of walking to be done and make sure you have plenty of water in the warmer months.

Grazie!

Discover Rome with kids, things to do in Rome, top sights in Rome