We just want to say that the guided tour of Pompeii and Naples that you provided was the highlight of our visit to Naples. Our guide, Ludovica, was responsible for making this tour an unforgettable experience. Her depth of knowledge was extraordinary, but more important was her enthusiasm and passion for her subject. She made Pompeii come alive for us. She is a gem. Treasure her.
Peter & Liz G.
Hi In Italy Team,
Thank you so much for all your help in planning our trip to Italy. It truly was a fantastic experience! I would definitely recommend your services and that of your tour guides to anyone who asks. Since our return all our family friends keep asking, "What was the favorite part of the trip? Which city did we like best?" This question brings the answer, "We can't possible nail it down, each place we went was fantastic, each city was unique and brought on a new "taste" of Italy, each apartment was great and the tours and guides were exactly what we had hoped." All guides were excellent they gave our family their undivided attention. Clearly enjoyed their job, were organized, easy to understand, knew their stuff inside and out as it relates to not only the tour we were on but the ‘tangential" information as well. They answered questions from local current trends to ancient history. While all tours went extremely well we especially liked the full day Catacombs, Coliseum and Forum tour with Eva, the Capri full day tour with Francesca and without a doubt the full day Chianti tour with Maurizio. Eva had a great personality and really connected with all of us. Her humor was fun and light. As far as spending an entire day with someone you didn't know, it was great. We found each stop of the tour to be very interesting, however, the Catacombs were certainly very unique and we felt as if it was something that not everyone got a chance to do. The same goes for Francesca, great personality and really connected with us. She knew everyone on Capri, it was fun. She'd walk down the street and the storekeepers to boat skippers would yell, Hello to Francesca! It is clear to me without her as guide we would never have been able to get all the things we wanted to get done in Capri. She took care of all the logistics down to the details and minute, her insiders' knowledge made it all happen, she even called ahead and held back a blue grotto boat full of people so they would wait for us to get there. Sure enough the bus came down the hill dropped us off at the dock, we boarded a fully loaded boat that had been waiting for us then we embarked. She even arranged for us to pay after the trip. Then at the Grotto she organized our family to go first and in one boat. It was excellent! The full day Chianti tour with Maurizio! He was so entertaining – the stops plus his commentary made the day without a doubt a highlight of the trip. We especially loved the winery, the food, the family etc.
Across all Tours and all cities: We really felt as if the private tours were the way to go from the start and booked them this way, without a doubt I am glad we did. I highly recommend this approach to others. We especially liked that the tour guides were not over powering - i.e. they let us eat lunch as family vs. joining us. We also liked that they listened to our requests on when it was time to move on, stay longer, or skip one area so that we could add another. This goes for all tour guides across all tours. Their knowledge was amazing.
I just wanted to write and tell you how wonderful we felt our private tour to Pompeii and Herculaneum was, and to let you know that your services were greatly appreciated. The day was absolutely wonderful from start to finish! Rosario was at our hotel early and it was the perfect start to our day. He provided us with a very calm and comfortable ride (quite nice after some of the taxi rides we had in Italy!). Our private guide, Valentina, was excellent and never have I learned soooo much in such a short time, and every bit of what she shared was extremely interesting to us. She was very knowledgeable, her English was excellent and our tour was so enjoyable - thanks to her wonderful way of presenting everything to us. She brought the history of Pompeii & Herculaneum "alive" for us, and it was simply amazing how many parallels there were to life then compared to our lives now. Valentina even took us to see the expert cameo maker, which was an added area of interest to us, and she also volunteered to take a photo of us together in one of the buildings in Herculaneum, as a special memory of our tour. Plus, she and Rosario allowed us to photograph them as well. (I have attached the photo here for you to see.) It was an absolutely perfect day and one I will never forget. I would recommend this to others and use your services again if I ever get to return to Italy. Thanks so very much!
Donna & Judy
The tours and guides were great! They were on-time and well planned. Herculaneum is a gem and much more interesting than Pompei. Thank you for the tours and I won't hesitate to call on you again.
We had a lovely day touring the Amalfi Coast. I could have spent much more time there, it makes me want to return.
Just a note that our tour of Pompeii and Amalfi went very well. The guide, Michelina was very professional and knowledgeable. The tour went smoothly and on schedule. The restaurant in Amalfi where we had lunch was very good with a spectacular view. The family had a great time and we left with fond memories of the region.
Our tour was a total delight. Our driver, Michael, and our guide, Andre, did an excellent job showing us the sites of the region. We had a great day with them and have told the story of our great day to our friends and family many times. One of the highlights of the trip was our lunch in Pompei. We ate at a nice outdoor cafe that was across the street from a secondary entrance to the excavation site. The food was fabulous; the people were fantastic; and, the atmosphere was perfect. It was a great day from beginning to end.
All 4 of us loved our day tour of Naples and Pompeii. Lisa was fabulous. She was very well-versed on the history and she had many anecdotes about life in Pompeii and in Italy. She took her time and answered any and all questions we had, and she was very personable. Her choice of food for us at lunch was wonderful, as was her walking tour and her choices for our dessert and limoncello! Thank you for checking with us. We would definitely recommend your service and we look forward to returning to Europe. I have attached a picture of our group with Lisa at Pompeii.
Just to say a big "thank you" for organising our half day tour of Pompeii. Our guide, Valentina, was lovely and didn't mind that our 2 hours tour turned into 2.5 hours as we were so enthralled with everything we saw. We would also like to say a massive THANK YOU to our driver, Rosario. Our return train to Rome from Naples wasn't until 7pm so we had several hours to kill. Once Rosario knew that, he was only too happy to take us on a panoramic tour of Naples (which we hadn't booked) for a very reasonable extra cost. He was really lovely and our family of 5 would especially like to thank him.
This is not a criticism – more some helpful feedback – but the pizza we had for lunch wasn't great so we wouldn't rush back to that restaurant again.
Having said all of that, the day was superb and we would certainly use your company again.
First, I would like to say that I found your web site extremely valuable when I was planning our trip. This was my third time in Italy, and my family and I returned to some favorite places, but were also in several new cities. I was a little uneasy about scheduling and paying for a walking tour over the Internet, but was pleasantly surprised with how well everything turned out.
We were on a cruise which stopped in Naples, a city we would not have otherwise chosen to go to. Because we had heard so many negative things about crime and safety there, I was reluctant to try and tour the city on our own (which is what we normally do). Our tour guide and driver (sorry I can't remember either one's name) met us at the port right on time. The guide offered to tailor the tour to meet our interests. The only thing we specified was that we wanted to end up at the Archaeological museum when the tour was over. For three hours we walked, and walked, and walked. We felt entirely safe, and absorbed in the city's history. Having a local guide is really wonderful because you learn so many things that would never be included in a travel book. As promised, we were delivered to the museum right on time. He even walked us across the street to ensure we met no damage from Naples' drivers!
I also booked tickets through In Italy Online for the Borghese Gallery, and the Last Supper. Unfortunately, due mechanical difficulties with our aircraft, our outbound flight was rerouted to NYC and we arrived in Rome 24 hours late, missing our reservation at the Borghese. However, the Last Supper was wonderful! No problems with the vouchers at all!
Once again, thank you and everyone at In Italy Online for everything you did to make our vacation special. I am already dreaming about our next trip!
We had a wonderful day. The guide was terrific (as was the driver). From the beginning, it was made very easy for us, from picking us up at the Naples train station, to the interesting info at Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius, as well as just chatting about Italian life. The guide was very well informed. He made Pompeii come alive! Then they dropped us off in Positano. FYI-these details were difficult to arrange via Internet, until I found your company. Leaving from one place and going to another added to the complexity. Thanks for doing such a great job coordinating this.
I would highly recommend your company.
The only difficult was reaching you once I arrived in Rome. Your policy says I must confirm and we had a hard time reaching someone. I ended up calling several times.
Our tour of the Amalfi Coast was very well done. Going up to Ravello from the inland side was very special. The group would have wished to have the time to get into Positano, but given the traffic and limitations of some of our members that was probably not possible. We had a great lunch in Amalfi, and perhaps stayed there longer then anticipated. Our tour guide - Laura - had a warm and friendly personality. Unfortunately, she was also booked for a later avisorary tour, and our time was cut short by about a half an hour. The scenery along this stretch of the coast is breathtakingly beautiful. The ride itself is not for the faint of heart. I will certainly recommend your website for others who plan to tour in Italy.
On Wed June 7, my niece, my sister-in-law, and I spent a wonderful day with Elisa on Capri. She arranged a fabulous lunch in Anacapri and then we spent the next few hours exploring the beautiful vistas and gardens. We actually saw a rock slide just as Elisa was telling us about possible rock slides! We had arranged to take an early train from Rome to Naples and unfortunately we get off at the wrong train station in Naples so we got off to a delayed start but the day was beautiful, the hydrofoil ride was smooth and it was a perfect first visit to Capri for the 3 of us. Thank you Elisa and In Italy..I will spread the word!
Thank you for asking about our Day Trip to Pompeii & Mt. Vesuvius from Rome! I've been wondering how I was going to let all involved know how great our experience was!!! Will you please pass on to our driver (Rosario) and guide (Andra) that we had a great time! Here are all the great things:
1. Driver was on time - early!!
2. Driver was pleasant and delivered us to and from our destination safely . . .and on time!
3. Guide was very pleasant and greeted us promptly on our arrival and began the tour right away.
4. Guide was VERY KNOWLEDGABLE and he made the tour fun by asking us questions instead of just explaining things to us. He kind of made it a game. He really knows his stuff!
5. Guide ensured that we saw and understood all of the "little things" that we would never have noticed on our own.
6. Lunch was good and the guide made sure we received our food promptly.
7. Driver delivered us to and returned us from the top of Mt. Vesuvius safely. . . .and that was not an easy job with all the buses on the road and the road being so narrow. YIKES!
8. IT WAS GREAT EXPERIENCE THAT WE'LL NEVER FORGET. . . .WE NOW HAVE TO GO BACK TO TOUR NAPLES AND HERCULEAM! MANY, MANY THANKS TO ROSARIO AND ANDRA!!!
Suggestions for improvement:
1. I was nervous about waiting until just the day before the tour for confirmation. I would like to hear from the tour company maybe a month before the tour and then again closer to the tour date. I found myself calling to make sure the tour was still "on" as all I had was the e-mail from you folks and that just didn't seem like enough.
2. I see that on some of your sites you now mention the walk to the top of Vesuvius; however, I don't think it was included on the site I used. . . .I didn't know I was going to have to walk so wasn't prepared . .wrong shoes, etc.
Thank you for your e-mail. . . .I really do hope you send our thanks and compliments to the driver and guide. Thank you!!
I was just preparing a few notes to let you know how fabulous our trip actually was. I don't think there was anything we found that would be negative as we always found people and the actual friendliness of the Italians that made every moment enjoyable. The weather was extremely cooperative and we had the most beautiful days...
Our trip to Pompeii and Naples was very special. It allowed us to ride with a wonderful driver from Italy ( Rosario) who didn't know much english but was so friendly and helpful. We learned a lot about the beautiful countryside driving down to Pompeii and had Michaela as the guide. She was very friendly, outgoing and also so knowledgeable about the area as she is native to Naples. Pompeii was very special and so enjoyable. Lunch in Naples was very good and we were able to discuss politics and other issues since there was a major presidential election going on. The Italians are so friendly to Americans and go out of their way to try and help you when you don't speak their language. I really love their relaxed lifestyle.
I think you can tell that our experiences were wonderful everywhere we went and our accommodations selected on the InItaly site were exceptional. I want to personally thank you for your assistance and help in planning this whole trip. The In Italy site is the best and I would recommend it to anyone. All of the tours, pick-ups at the airport were there on time and there wasn't any glitch on the whole trip. This will be a trip that the four of us will have memories for the rest of our lives. Jessica I want to thank you and the others helping on the In Italy site for making it all possible.
Just a thank you for our wonderful guide (Michaela). She was great and we had such a wonderful day! We can always count on you.
We had an absolutely wonderful tour of Pompei. Our guide (Michaela) was incredibly knowledgeable and a joy to be with! I would highly recommend your tours. Thanks so much.
Thanks for your inquiry.
We had a great time in Naples/Pompeii on June 20, 2005. The bus was on time to pick us up in the am and we were back in Rome by 9-- right on schedule. The guide you provided for our tour of Pompeii/Naples was great! (sorry I didn't write down his name). He was young, intelligent, knowledgeable, had excellent English skills, and connected with my high school students. He offered great advice for lunch restaurants AND even helped me convince our driver to take us to the beach on the way back to Rome for a dip in the Mediterranean Sea (I gave them each a 20 Euro note as tip). I was very pleased with the service you rendered. I will certainly keep InIntaly in mind when we plan our next Italian adventure.
I want to thank you for two great tours through Naples. It was fantastic. I will recommend your site to other people.
thank you very much.
Thank you! My mother and friend Cindy and myself had an absolutely WONDERFUL time in Italy - thanks to the INITALY website!
We took 2 tours - the all-day Pompeii/Vesuvius and the all day Capri. From what I understand most tourists don't stay in Naples - they take day tours from Rome. WELL, let me tell you that while Naples isn't really set up for tourists, it IS the perfect place to be for those day trips!! We spent most of our day at the sites and only 2 hours total (each trip) traveling.
For both trips we had Michela. She was EXCELLENT. She taught us some Italian. She explained the archeology of Pompeii, of Vesuvius and Capri. She told us HOW they excavated places - how we could tell Roman from Greek from "really" ancient pieces. We also enjoyed our lunches. We felt that we ate (or tried to) like the Neapolitans - not like a tourist. We enjoyed the wines and the fish and the bread and the pasta - YUM!
The Capri trip started out a bit rocky as most of the people got seasick from the rough ride to the island. Michela & I walked to the Farmacia, where she asked for some medicine for our queasiness. We were scheduled to take a cruise around the island and visit the Blue Lagoon....one more boat ride and we all would have tossed our cookies ....so we stayed on land and did a major walking tour instead - it was wonderful. Since we had extra time, we got to run into a few more shops. Our trip back to Naples ended with a beautiful rainbow at the harbor!!!!
She also told us about the cultural differences between the south and the north and from our experience - she was right on! She also took us to the post office on Capri where we fumbled thru our Italian and managed to buy postcard stamps - I think she translated our horrendously accented Italian behind our backs - heeheehee. And since we were in no condition to drink she told us about limoncello. Luckily we got to try it later on in our trip. If people want a "real" tour - ask for Michela!!
A few notes:
-In Firenze most of the museums are closed on Mondays - I missed that when I made reservations and we were there on Monday - I didn't get to visit the Uffizi (boohoo)!!
-It is a very good idea to have a 50 Euro coin or two in your pocket at all times as you may have to pay to use the "public" toilets. In Capri it was 1 Euro to get inside.
In Assisi, one toilet area had a cashier (!!!) and the other had a gated entry that required a coin of some kind (it took a 50 coin and a 1 Euro coin that I saw).
-It is also a good idea to have packets of tissue for your nose and as backup in the toilets!
Thank you so much for all the information on your website and the helpful people on the other end of the phone! Our trip to Italy was a success because of you. I want to thank you all so much! Please feel free to use any (or all) parts of this email as an outstanding endorsement of your company and the companies associated with you. When we go back (and we will) I'll be back on your website!
Thanks again!!! Ciao!
I was extremely pleased with our private tours in Southern Italy. Your guides were pleasant and very knowledgeable. They were prompt and the vans/minibus were comfortable. When some of our group found the restaurant (Amalfi Tour) unacceptable, the guide was very patient and agreeable making other arrangements for us.
This is the second year I have used your company, If we return to Italy, next year or some time in the future, I will certainly use them again. In addition, I have told my friends of my pleasant experience with you.
We found a real "gem" of a Trattoria=Pizzeria in Ravello (one of our favorite towns on the Amafli Coast) "Cumpa Cosimo." Tel. 089 857156
Thank you for helping to make our trip so memorable.
Upon our return home, I feel justified to write and thank you for the excellent tour. I am not sure if our guide was Mrs Gratia or Mrs Oria, but please thank her very much. She was full of enthusiasm and knowledge, which made the whole tour really enjoyable.
Thank you again,
Thank you for contacting me-I actually got on your website when I got home and was trying to find the button to leave feedback--We had such an awesome trip. Rome is such an incredible city, so much to see and do. The people very friendly and there is such amazing history everywhere you look!
Our trip to Pompeii was one of the highlights of our event filled week. Stefano was very knowledgeable and personable, making us all feel comfortable. It was nice to be able to sit back and not have to stress over the trip there. Actually there was some sort of train 'strike' at our connection in Naples and he was so helpful in negotiating another train and upgraded our tickets to first class to make up for the delay. Even at the restaurant, he was helpful, offering suggestions for selections and arranging a dessert special for my birthday-complete with only one (thankfully) candle! My kids (ages 14 and 11) were enthralled with his descriptions of city life at Pompeii and he was especially good at finding things they could relate to and would be interested in. They loved seeing the 'preserved people'--in a creepy sort of way, it really makes it sink in how tragic the blast of Vesuvius was. Y'all are fortunate to have someone like Stefano working for you. He clearly has a passion for archeology and is able to make those around him excited in it also. He was able to bring history to life for us all-it was a great trip.
We did have a marvelous vacation thanks in large part to you. I meant to email you immediately upon our return but have had problems with the computer. I have a few minor items that I would like a response to, but I will email those to you in a separate email.
The private tour of Pompeii/Vesuvius was one of the highlights of our trip. Our guide, Michela, was superb and our driver very capable. They both had a wonderful sense of humor. It was great to get off the train in Naples and have someone there waiting for us. The lunch was only marginal but the gelato was the best we had on our entire trip. We really appreciated being able to bypass the lines especially at Vesuvius. We arranged a tour of the Vatican without using Initaly, a mistake I will never make again. It couldn't even compare with what we experienced in Pompeii!
Thank you so much for your help with our trip, Jessica. We had a lovely time and will highly recommend Initaly to anyone we know.
Thanks for your note; I was going to write you about the tours anyway, but was nice to hear from you first!! Both Flavia in Florence (with driver Daniele) were so very nice; Flavia was extremely knowledgable about Florence, and all things, and was very very accommodating to find things in which we were interested, taking us to the Leather factory and churches in which we had an interest.... We were disappointed that she had another appointment at 3 p.m. since the tour was so expensive I would have thought we would have had her the whole day... our only complaint!! tho Daniele did try his best to make us happy (very nice young man)!!
The trip to the Amalfi coast was less expensive and we got more "bang for our bucks" if you understand me... Your tour guide, Rosalba and the driver "Gennoa"(probably misspelt) were excellent and were not only with us (both of them) for the whole trip, but a lunch was included which was a 3 course DELICIOUS meal right on the beach at Amalfi... We were picked up at 8:30 and were taken back at 7:30 when the ship left & we were taken back at the last minute so that we saw as much of your beautiful Italy as possible; both Rosalba and G wanted us to see as much of Italy as we could and went out of their way to give us an extra special trip, which it was!!
Both guides and drivers could not have been nicer people and thank you for picking such good ones for us...
We went on to Venice by ourselves and enjoyed that very much too; one day we would like to go back to Naples and hope that Rosabla will still be with you; she is a gem. Will contact you again as soon as we decide to "do" Italy again.
Thank you for asking.
Our guide was Michaela (although I have her card, I can't seem to lay my hands on it right now so I apologize for the lack of her last name and possible misspelling of her first name). She was at our hotel well before our scheduled time and our driver was right on time. Michaela's English as infinitely better than my Italian and she was not the least bothered by our occasional request for a repeat of something we didn't understand. The weather was unpredictable and she responded beautifully by rearranging our day to take advantage of a break in the weather and a short strike at Pompeii. Given her strong academic background, her information was factual and vast. This well suited my husband (a former professor) and was perfectly acceptable to me (although a bit more local color would have been nice too). Lunch was adequate and convenient but not the intimate non-tourist meal we would have enjoyed.
As a special treat she took us to a local bar (café) for an after lunch coffee treat (my husband would dearly like to know what it was called) and recommended a pleasant resturant for a quick pizza after our long day.
In all honestly, we have done tours in Italy before (although not through your group) and we found this one to be over priced. While I recommend your organzation to others and will use you again, I would not recommend this tour not because of quality but because of price.
We had a great time on our visit to Mt. V and Pompeii. It was pretty hot that day, so we were wiped out by the end of the day, but we still enjoyed it. I wish we had stayed longer in Pompeii itself, although as hot as it was, we probably did good to go as long as we did. Our guides did a good job of making it a fun day! I would certainly recommend others to use your services.
Our day with Elisa could not have been better! She was so sweet and accommodating and her English was just perfect! We had a great time in Amalfi and Ravello and she indulged me on 2 separate occasions. I wanted to go back to the Santa Caterina where I had stayed 4 yrs. ago and I wanted to see the San Pietro. She took me to both places and let me take pictures and walk around... it was great! Our time in Amalfi was wonderful. She was full of interesting info. And shared her passion for architecture and the area with us. Our lunch in Amalfi was also fabulous. It was great to have that time alone with my husband to discuss all the fun things we had done that morning. I have to comment too on our driver Luigi. He was a sweetheart and drove very slowly and carefully, that made the day that much more enjoyable. This is my second adventure with In Italy and I must say it is worth every penny. I really wanted my husband to see the area since he had never been. I can not think of a better way than having a guide like Elisa, a driver like Luigi and a beautiful bright, and warm sunny day like we had. As far as treasures go, the best night we had was dining at La Sponda, the restaurant at Le Sirenuse. It was absolute magic and if you recommend it to anyone tell them to ask for Danielli DePalma's table. He is a waiter extraordinaire!
Thanks for your email Jessica and please pass along our thanks to Elisa, she was the key to our special day and I can not express my gratitude enough for her kindness.
Thanks for the welcome home note. I had a wonderful vacation in Italy and Germany.
One of the highlights of my trip to Italy was, of course, the wonderful tour which your company presented to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. I was delightfully surprised to have a driver, so the tour guide could give us all of her attention. We were VERY pleased with Elisa's background, and her professionalism. She did an excellent job. I am developing some very serious eye problems, and she and my friend did a great job of keeping me from falling off the mountain.
Thanks again for your promptness, and the excellent tour, it was well worth the price!
Here is the excerpt from my journal of my trip for the Pompeii day. As you will see, we had unexpected problems, but thanks to Elisa's willingness and flexibility, it all worked out in the end. Our luggage had been left in Amsterdam and had still not appeared, so that's why all the references to borrowed clothes and bad walking shoes.
Day 5, April 2 - Salerno, Pompeii, Naples
Alarm went off way too early, but with an 8:45 am train to catch we needed it. Dick took a quick shower and then went out to the local bakery for some different pastries. The packaged croissants with filling and strange twinkie-ish things were starting to pall. The little snack bar across the street provided yogurt and doughnuts, lemon turnovers and chocolate filled croissants.
I dressed in a pair of Anne's extra jeans, a new Roma t-shirt with Romulus and Remus embroidered on it, and one of Dick's flannel shirts. We walked down to get Anne & Todd. The landlady, Georgina, asked us our plans in her slight English. We told her we were going to catch the 8:45 train and go to Naples. She got very agitated and asked how we were going to get to the train station. We said we were going to walk across the Vatican to the Metro. She said, No, no, get taxi right outside or take the 64 bus. Catch downstairs! Well, we knew Grace and Carmel were being lazy tourists and catching taxis to get anywhere, but we were young and strong and used to walking and it was only about a 1/2 mile to the Metro station and we had lots of time, so we shrugged off her advice and walked over and caught the Metro to the Termini.
When we got there we immediately looked at the schedule to find what track we were leaving on, but we couldn't find it. All the train times were later than the time out train was supposed to leave by about a half hour. We checked our watches. No, it was 8:15 am, why were all the trains listed as leaving at 9:15 or later? Then we saw the clock and it said 9:15. 9:15!!!! We missed the train! Daylight Savings Time!!! Italy goes on Daylight Savings Time the last weekend in March not the first weekend in April!!! It's Tuesday! And we hadn't figured that out that the time changed on Saturday night! Damn, damn, damn, damn damn!
Ok, no time to panic. Check the train schedules. There's another train leaving for Naples in 10 minutes. We'll just use our old tickets and act like stupid Americans, which was looking easier and easier to manage, if anyone questions it. We called Elisa from the station and told her we'd be there at noon, not 10:30. It's Ok with her, She'll meet us at Napoli Centrale. Remember, there's several Naples train stations, be sure you get off at Napoli Centrale. Right. We're on our way.
We make the train with seconds to spare. Of course there are no spare seats. So we work our way to the snack car and sit at the counters along sides. We had to twist kinda sideways to talk, but we were on our way at last. About 11:35 we started to see the Naples train stations. At 11:52 we pull into Piazza Garibaldi. The train is due to arrive at Napoli Centrale at 11:57. And we know the trains run on time. We sit for a couple of minutes in the train station. The train slowly pulls out. We see the signs for Napoli Centrale, so we gather up our coats and make motions to get ready to leave. The train picks up speed and Naples recedes into the distance behind us. We are clearly going past Naples now and back out into the country. Now what?
We ask the little old man who mans the snack bar when the next stop is. His English is very sketchy, but he finally makes us understand that the next stop is at 2:30 pm and half way to Sicily. Rachel's eyes start filling up with tears. But, mom, if it takes us another 2 and half hours to get there and then 2 and half hours back, we won't have any time to see Pompeii. Oh, I know, honey. I don't know what happened. We're doing the best we can. Dick and Todd take Rachel - with Anne and I egging her on, Cry, Rachel, look really pathetic. - into the train to see if they can find someone who speaks English with a cell phone to call Elisa and let her know we were not at Napoli Centrale after all. And what did happen to Napoli Centrale??
So we sat in shock for a few minutes. Numb and brave. Making the best of things. Then the train started to slow down. Anne and Jenny and I grabbed our stuff and piled into the door between the cars. If the train was stopping we were getting off, even if it was just onto the tracks. The train pulled into Salerno and stopped. Dick, Todd and Rachel came running down the car and we all piled off onto the platform. It was 12:15.
We found a phone and called Elisa, again. She told us to stay put and she would come and get us. She'd be there at 1:15. Don't MOVE! Right. No problem!
Anne went to see if the Post Office opposite the train station would stamp our passports with Italy, as everyone had just been waived thru customs at Malpensa and all our new passports were still pristine. We felt like we'd been somewhere and wanted to prove it. No luck there, either. The only place in all Italy where the facilites were sub par was on the train to Naples and at the Salerno train station. The train didn't have a holding tank, and there was a howling draft coming up thru the toilet you could see the tracks passing by underneath. The Salerno train station was the only place with several non-working stalls and no TP.
However, with about 45 minutes to wait, we were hungry so we set off looking for a snack bar. Salerno is not as much a tourist town as many we visited. It was just a working downtown. We found a quiet little snack bar where the girl's had their favorite pizza Margerita, and we tried the local speciality sandwich, boiled sausage and spicy spinach. My stomach, after the stresses of the morning wasn't really up to that.
We were back at the train station in plenty of time to meet Elisa. She had brought a darling 9 passenger van and a driver. The van was no longer than a mini-van but was a little wider and higher. The seats were three rows of three across. Anne and Todd wanted one. It looked like the perfect compromise between lots of seating and lots of storage that the American vans just don't have. We had a nice discussion with Elisa and the driver about trade offs on safety standards and Italian motorbikes.
So where was Napoli Centrale? we asked in trepidation. You know, it's always the little things that catch you up. Daylight savings time, common local knowledge. The main train station in Naples is built over the Metro station. The train station is called Napoli Centrale, but if you go down a level and are in the Metro station, it is Piazza Garibaldi. It's the same place, it just depends on which track your train is on which level you stop at. Oh, well, we're on the right road now to the right place.
Elisa is very nice and friendly and gives us a great running commentary on the road to Pompeii. We learn all about Vesuvius and Monta Summa, the biggest mountain that the eruption in 79 destroyed. We learned about all the other major eruptions. And something of the landscape and people who live around the area now. It's fascinating and Elisa does a great job of running commentary.
We get to Pompeii, have a quick pit stop, and head for the ruins. Our special guide for the Pompeii tour is Massimo. He is personable and knowledgeable and puts up with our wandering style of sightseeing.
Pompeii is amazing, astounding, wonderful (darn, repeating superlatives again). Even having seen the Roman ruins, and walked the streets of the cities, being in a place that hasn't been modernized several times gives a whole different feel for an era. It's just different. The small shops at the street, the maze of living quarters behind them. The larger houses, and the small hovels. The bakery and the fast food places.
Some things you expect, the cave canem foyer, and some things take you by surprise. One house had an inset pattern of diamond shapes in the pavement that ran all long the front of the property. I can easily imagine the merchant saying, look for the diamonds in the paving to prospective customers. Or maybe it was just a rich lawyer, or a bailbondsman, who wanted his clients to find him. It was right on a main road in the Roman quarter.
It's huge, over 150 acres with only about 50 acres left unexcavated. In the 2 1/2 - 3 hours we wandered around we could only see a fraction of the site. We saw the brothel, the bakery, the fast food counters, the house of the faun, the casts of the dead, the piles of amphora and potsherds, the frescos and the mosaics. I could have spent days wandering around It's a whole city to explore.
We stopped at the souvenir stalls on the way out and bought a few guidebooks in English, and one really nifty book that shows the site then and now' with reconstructions in overlays. Jenny got a horse carved in pumice and painted with really lurid purple, or maybe it was turquoise I've benn trying not to see it, glitter.
We had a gelata and then tried to decide what to do with the rest of the day. It was just about 4:30 pm. Our train back was at 7 pm, and we really didn't feel like missing it! The original plans had called for us to climb Vesuvius and maybe a short stop at Herculaneum, but it was getting too late for either. We could have driven up Vesuvius but only as far as the car park, as there was no time for a leisurely climb into the crater, (and as Jenny and I still didn't have any good walking shoes, the thought of trying to not only climb but climb fast up in clogs just didn't appeal). And we still had a drive of nearly an hour to get into Naples. Elisa suggested a private tour of Naples and we accepted.
Elisa is a very good guide. She was sensitive to how much we wanted to hear and caught on quickly that we were all medievalists. She gave us cute snippets of local lore and having her guide us gave us some quite unexpected perks. When we got to the Duomo, on a very small and busy street, she had the van stop and she herded us out onto the plaza in front of the door. Then she calmly hauled back the barrier and the van, having turned around farther down the street, drove right up to the door. Woah! I felt important! And no need to walk to get to the van afterwards.
The Duomo had parts from several periods, a late Roman Basilica, a medieval section a Renaissance section. Huge pillars and lovely art. Elisa explained to us the Miracle of the Blood that takes place there when a vial of saint's blood becomes liquid every year. It was obvious that she believed in the miracle and was good at explaining how much this miracle was a part of the belief, and of being, from Naples.
We drove around the city and saw the four castles. Elisa could tell us tidbits like, łThis is where Lucullus lived˛, and why the lower portions of the bastions around one of the castles were fluted at the base (to help cannonballs bounce off). We saw some gorgeous views over the Bay of Naples and heard the history of the Royal park.
We made the train with 20 minutes to spare. Elisa, not trusting us in train stations on our own, came inside with us and found us the right track number before she left. From a day that started off so badly, it was her willingness and flexibility that made it one of the more pleasurable and memorable days of the trip. I would gladly recommend the tour to anyone.
The biggest hit for the kids in Italy was the tour that we arranged through In Italy of Pompeii and Vesuvius. Our guide, Micheala worked for the local university and was very knowledgeable and great with the kids. We got to climb to the top of Vesuvius and then go down to Pompeii--which Michaela really made come alive for us as it is her favorite place in Italy. Again, we would highly recommend that tour--especially for those with families. In fact, we'd love to have Michaela's e-mail address as the kids would like to stay in touch with her. Is there any chance that you would have that? Thanks again for everything.
We had a wonderful trip! Our day tour of the Amalfi coast was perfect! Elisa is knowledgeable, friendly and delightful! At the end of the day we felt we were bidding goodbye to a friend.
Thank you again.
Judy D. & Kathy T.
You beat me to the punch! I was going to drop you a line this week, after the smoke clears. Everyone was absolutely fantastic!! Our hike to the top of Vesuvius with Elisa was spectacular, and she is so knowledgeable that it was one of the very best as far as information was concerned! Both she and our driver, Enzo, were a total delight.
The trip through Pompeii was a bit rushed, but still very good.
Without a doubt, Pompeii was the highlight of my trip. Considering the number of places I visited (Marrakech, Casablanca, Rome, Naples, Pisa, Florence, Paris), that is quite a recommendation. Even though the weather was less than cooperative, the day was still a success. Why? Well, the city of Pompeii was very fascinating in it's own right but the entire tour experience was just right.
As outlined in your instructions, we contacted the local person in Naples the day prior to our tour. With his suggestion and the help of our concierge at the hotel, we secured train tickets for the short ride from Rome to Naples. We were met by Michela as we got off the train and escorted to the waiting driver and car. The driver was well dressed, drove safely and was professional in his mannerisms. The car was also fairly new and comfortable. On the way to Pompeii we stopped for coffee. After a short drive we arrived at Pompeii where we promptly began our tour. The tour lasted until around 2 in the afternoon. We then went to a restaurant for lunch. Lunch was good and it gave us some time to discuss what we saw and to learn more about each others lives. After lunch we were met by the driver again and we stopped at the entrance of Pompeii to pick up some books. After that, we did a quick tour of downtown Naples. Finally, we were dropped off at the train station where Michela showed us exactly which platform our train would depart for Rome. The day in Naples ended very positively.
I must say I had concerns about handing over $500.00 to a company I found via the internet for services to be performed in the future..... in another country! Number one, it's a lot of money for a tour; number two, the quality of the tour has many variables that could make it less than optimal. By design, it all came together and considering myself an experienced traveler, I would rate my Pompeii/Naples experience very very favorably.
On a personal note, I found Michela to be very courteous, patient, spoke clear and concise English and very interested in showing and explaining to us the ancient city of Pompeii. Her enthusiasm was very evident and it was clear she took pride in her city of Naples and her heritage. Being that she is an archeological research student, I couldn't have asked for a more knowledgeable guide. I am very glad that she was our tour guide and that we had a safe and courteous driver.
In closing, the money was well spent and my experience in Pompeii will always be remembered. You delivered as promised and in such a way that I am 100% satisfied in your services. If your other tours are similar to the one I took, then without a doubt In Italy will be a huge success.
The attached picture is typical of the many times we would pause for an explanation and to simply "take in" the sensations of the experience.
We were extremely pleased with the reservations that we made through In Italy and we would highly recommend your services to anyone who is traveling to Italy. As you may recall, we booked two activities through your company and everything was 100% perfect.
We took our train ride from Rome to Napoli (Naples) where we were greeted by Michela, our guide for the day, at the train station. She took us to the van where the driver was waiting and we proceeded to Pompeii. It was nice to be in an air-conditioned vehicle as it was hot in August!
At Pompeii, we waited a minute as Michela skipped past the line and got our entrance tickets. Once inside Pompeii, Michela guided our party of four through the ruins. She was very knowledgeable about the events leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD as well as the history of the town itself. Two of us had been to Pompeii before with a tour, but this private tour allowed for a personal glimpse of the city that was much better than the tour we had used in the past. The ages of our group ranged from 15 to 64 (with two of us in our 40's) and taking this into consideration, Michela didn't run us ragged through the streets. She kept us moving at a nice, leisurely pace. We all had bottled water with us, but she carried an extra couple of bottles in her knapsack for us just in case, which was very thoughtful. When we had seen more of Pompeii than we had ever seen, it was time to head out to our lunch which was included in the price of our tour.
Elisa greeted us at the restaurant, and after making sure that our tour was going o.k., got us settled into a table and we had a great lunch of pizza and soda. Before heading to the top of Mt. Vesuvio, we had a few minutes for some postcard and souveneer shopping.
Back in the van, again, thankful for the airconditioning, we began the winding ride up to the top of the volcano. Our driver was very experienced with the roads and curves and did an excellent job of safely getting us everywhere we went.
The van can only get so far up the mountain and the final trek to the rim of the volcano has to be made on foot. Now, this is a pretty steep climb and it takes a good bit of time, but again, Michela did not rush us in the least, and all four of us (including our 64 year old Grandmother) made it to the very top! Along the way, Michela continued to entertain us with her knowledge of volcanoes, and the famous eruption which destroyed Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum.
The top of Mt. Vesuvius is fantastic, and offers an unparralled view of Naples, the Bay of Naples, the islands, and Pompeii. We happened to time it right and a volcanologist was giving a lecture about Vesuvius (in English) near the volcano's crater which helped supplement the information already given to us by our guide, Michela.
Walking down the volcano was easier than walking up but still a little tricky. Michela continued to keep us moving at a pace that was comfortable for all of us. Back in the van, we headed back to Naples.
We had made a little mistake with our train reservations and we were not scheduled to leave until 9PM. Michela came to the rescue and helped us get our tickets changed. She took our tickets into the main train station to see if she could get our reservations changed to an earlier departure. Success!! Anyone who has travelled to Europe knows that trying to get tickets changed can be, at best, a challenge; but, Michela took care of that for us with no problems. The change in reservations allowed us about 45 minutes before the next train left. Michela and her driver had met us at 9AM and it was now nearly 6PM, yet she offered to give us a tour of beautiful Naples (her hometown). She also took us to her favorite gelato place, and INSISTED on picking up the tab. "This is my treat" she told us. She was indeed correct when she told us that this was the best gelato anywhere (we put her to the test and tried gelatos all over Italy, and none compared to the ones we had in Naples.)
It was a little sad when our tour finally did come to an end more than nine hours after we had been greeted at the train station, and we had to say goodbye to our guide who had treated us so politely and with so much enthusiasm.
A few days later, we were able to use the second part of our In Italy package as we went to the Accademia in Florence. Now, I could go on and on about the beauty of Florence, but instead, I will just say how happy we were to be able to skip the very long lines of people waiting to get into the museum as we were indeed on the list and able to walk in and see the statue of David at exactly the time our reservation stated.
In conclusion, we would like to once again say Thanks for everything you did to ensure that we had a fantastic time while we were in Italy. You answered our e-mail questions quickly and got all of our tickets and information to us in a timely fashion. We were a little wary of ordering online as we were not sure what to expect. Well, we were 100% satisfied and will highly recommend your company to anyone who is planning a trip to Italy. You can be sure that we will be contacting you and In Italy again when our travel plans take us back to Italy.
Mark J/Charles B
The tour of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius was wonderful. The tour guides pleasant and knowledgeable. We thoroughly enjoyed it and will recommend you to our friends. I have no criticisms. I would, however, recommend you suggest your clients wear some type of closed shoe or hiking boot when going up to Vesuvius. We wore sandals and, wow, did our feet get dirty. Thank you for a wonderful tour.
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