Last August, Brianne Johnston from Flight Centre Woodgrove in Nanaimo, B.C. travelled through Southern Italy with Blue-Roads Touring (formerly Back-Roads Touring). Here’s a look at her weeklong journey:
By: Brianne Johnston – International Travel Consultant with Flight Centre
Enchanting Southern Italy tour: August 30th – September 5th (7days/ 6nights)
The Blue-Roads Difference: Unique experiences, fantastic hotels in perfect locations, amazing people as Tour Leaders and perfectly-sized groups. Over 80% of my group was on their second or third Blue-Roads Tour! The biggest thing that stood out for me was the authentic local experiences that kept getting better without overshadowing the previous ones.
Day 1: Naples / Pompeii and Paestum
An early morning start from our designated hotel. The location was great, and the breakfast was fantastic (don’t miss out on the salami!). Our guide then took us to meet our bus driver and city guide for Naples. He was very knowledgeable, kept our interest the whole time, and led at a good pace. Naples has many beautiful churches. My favourites are the Baroque ones! After the city tour, we drove to Pompeii, and all I can say is WOW!! After that we headed to Paestum for the night, staying in a beautiful boutique hotel that’s also a 200-year-old Wheat Barn. Our included dinner at the restaurant next door was incredible. I chose the fresh tomato and mixed pepper salad with mozzarella, fresh pasta with tomato sauce, organic chicken breast with salad, and the yummiest dessert. Oh, and of course, we had fantastic wine.
Picture of the vine-covered building was our lodging in Paestum – our rooms were in the other building.
Day 2: Paestum to Minori
The Baroness’ in her kitchen on day two of the tour.
After breakfast, we rushed off to a buffalo farm to see how Italy’s best mozzarellas are made fresh. On the farm, we sampled dairy products, including milk, ice cream, and yogurt by the gardens. Then, off we went to Paestum’s UNESCO site — well-preserved Greek temples with over 2,500 years of history. After an eventful morning, we arrived at the Baronesses’ home to learn how to make authentic Campanian cuisine. From assembling a local-style pastiera to kneading doughs for our Neapolitan Pizza from scratch, we got hands-on demonstrations on making timeless local recipes. We even got to craft unique traditional dishes like buffalo ricotta-stuffed ravioli with ragu and mozzarella in Carrozza. Next up was Vietri and the Amalfi Coast. Vietri is known for its ceramics, with many shops selling them. I spent my time with Isabelle, our guide, who helped me get a great deal on a little blue dress. She also told me that outside of peak travel season most items would be half the regular price!
Day 3: Minori / Ravello and Tramonti
We slept in this morning and didn’t leave for Minori until 11 am! Most of the group was out last night enjoying fabulous wine and getting to know each other at the bar across from the hotel. After a great breakfast, our next stop was the famous Amalfi Coast and the quaint town of Ravello, a place filled with classical villas, manicured gardens, and surrounded by stunning coastal views. Our local guide Lello was a lot of fun and had much to say about local history. After lunch, we headed to a lemon farm to learn about making Limoncello. We then carried on to Tramonti for, hands down, the BEST dinner of the trip at the B&B Agriturismo Il Tintore. They also made the best red wine I’ve ever had, and it was on tap in a little barrel behind our table. By the time we finished dinner, the rain had started to pour. Luckily, our bus driver had raced ahead and grabbed us all umbrellas. So thoughtful!
Day 4: Amalfi and Positano
Most of today was made up of free time, which I used to shop, explore, and enjoy pizza and pasta with the group. We then travelled back to Minori where we got to try our hand in ceramic colouring. Before going downstairs to the studio, we had complimentary drinks and a quick history lesson. I bravely volunteered to turn the pottery wheel and created a bowl, but it’s safe to say I won’t be leaving my day job anytime soon. The owner then asked us to sculpt a donkey head that he hopes to showcase with more than 500 others at a charity event.
Day 5: Capri!
Time to see the coast from a different perspective! We boarded the boats this morning for Capri. The island was so busy with tourists that, for the first time, I felt like a traveller. We had free time to grab a drink and check out the shops at the harbour before taking the funicular to the main square. Once at the top, we went to Faraglioni for even more amazing sceneries. A few of us had drinks at a rooftop lounge nearby, enjoying some more incredible views. We then took the boat back to Minori.
Day 6: Maiori and Cetara
I spent the day getting some R&Rs as the group travelled to Maiori and Cetara for shopping and local cuisine. We spent our final evening together at Ravello. Everyone dressed their best for group photos, which we then shared through e-mails.
Day 7: Palace of Caserta / Sant’agata De’ Goti and back to Naples
A bit of a sombre morning knowing this was our final day together. But before we say goodbye to Italy, we had a few more unique places to visit. Our bus headed toward the mountains and stopped at the Palace of Caserta, another UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, we got to tour the living quarters and the grounds. Some of us opted for the horse-drawn carriage ride. We then headed to Sant’agate De’ Goti, to visit Mustilli family’s five-centuries-old wine cellar. We ended the trip on a high note with our last included lunch that came with a wonderful assortment of cheeses, apples, meats, pasta, wine, and dessert. The perfect end to a perfect trip!