Slow down, savor and explore coastal Italy by foot
on May 17, 2017
If you really want to see, hear, taste and have a sense of place,embracing and taking it all in at only few miles per hour or even day is the road less traveled, and usually very satisfying.
If your world is spinning too fast, maybe it’s time to consider taking your next vacation to Italy one step at a time like many of the Romans did. Yes, there are high-speed trains, airports, cars and busses, but if you really want to see, hear, taste and have a sense of place, embracing and taking it all in at only a few miles per hour or even day is the road less traveled, and usually very satisfying.
And more and more Americans are stepping out of their traditional comfort zone and actually stepping out and into their vacations. Here are some ways to enjoy Italy’s enviable coastal regions at a slower pace.
In a country of exceptional beauty, southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast stands out for its scenery, where soaring rocky cliffs plunge into the sun-dappled Mediterranean Sea and where pastel-colored villages laden with cascading flowers cling to the steep hillsides. On a 10-day guided walking tour, The Amalfi Coast & Capri, stroll along iconic trails such as the Path of the Gods, whose name was inspired by its divine views of Capri and the islets of Sirenuse, famous for the mythical sirens that attracted seafarers, and the scenic Alta via dei Monti Lattari trail, which winds through a lovely chestnut forest and wildflower field before ending with dazzling vistas of the Gulf of Salerno. Off the trail visit the ruins of Pompeii, the storybook towns of Positano and Ravello and the renowned island of Capri, where you can amble through their charming hilly streets. Learn the ancient art of paper-making at the Museo della Carta in Amalfi. Savor traditional Neapolitan dishes at a family-run trattoria. Linger in the sidewalk cafes of terraced Ravello or romantic Capri. And delight in the aroma of lemon groves, rosemary, and jasmine along the way. Ah, la dolce vita.
What could be more heavenly than a string of five candy-colored fishing villages clinging to the serpentine coastline of Italy’s Riviera? A 7-day guided walking tour in Portofino & Cinque Terre takes you to the famed Cinque Terre, or Five Lands, which continue to beguile even the most jaded travelers. Accessible only by boat, rail, and footpath, these seafront towns along the Ligurian Sea are the centerpieces of this itinerary. Wind your way through the five — Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore — by following cliffside stairways and narrow trails through citrus and olive groves, and passing neatly terraced gardens, hillside grape arbors, and medieval hand-cut stone walls. It’s no wonder the area has attracted its share of writers. You’ll visit the Roman-Byzantine town of Portovenere, once frequented by Dante, and you’ll take a vintage wooden speedboat across the Gulf of Poets, which once inspired Byron, Shelley, and Petrarch. The tour also features chic Portofino, where fishing boats and sleek yachts bob in the harbor and stylish boutiques and cafes line the narrow winding streets. With so much mesmerizing beauty, just be sure to make time for savoring fresh-caught seafood, swimming in the clear blue water, and lingering over the eye-popping sea views with a chilled aperitivo in hand.
How to eXplore
Small-group walking adventure companies provide a stress-free way to plan and experience Italy by foot. Their local expertise and connections make extraordinary, immersive cultural experiences like these possible and they coordinate it all so your vacation is easy. Two leaders in small-group active vacations that offer multiple itineries in Italy are VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations and Country Walkers.
VBT has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for six years, and with several Italy adventures to choose from, their most popular walking vacation is The Amalfi Coast & Capri.
A sister company to VBT, Country Walkers has provided active, immersive, and unforgettable travel experiences on five continents for over 38 years. They offer two distinct ways to explore Italy by foot: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures.
Alternatives to walking vacations that still deliver the up close and personal way to experience Italy are bicycling tours, motorcoach tours and small-ship cruises. Holiday Vacations offers a 9-day motorcoach tour where you discover the charming countryside of Tuscany, art treasures of Florence and the historical sites of Rome. And last but certainly not least, let Windstar Cruises bring you closer to the smaller ports and exclusive local experiences in Italy on one of their small luxury sailing ships or all-suite power yachts.
For more travel experiences in Beautiful Places on Earth® available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/stories.