Naples and Campania itinerary
We meet at our 4-star hotel in the heart of Naples for an aperitif and then walk down to dinner on the city’s famous waterfront at a Michelin-starred restaurants with views over Vesuvius and the celebrated gulf. Dinner.
This morning we will be taken on a guided visit to Spaccanaopli and the Spanish Quarter to explore the heart of this extraordinary city, including visits to the cathedral and the chapel of San Gennaro; one of Caravaggio’s greatest works and Giuseppe Sanmartino’s incredible Vieled Christ. After lunch (pizza of course!) we’ll spend the afternoon in Nazionale Archeological Museum, the most important archaeological museum in Europe, which bursts with comprehensive collections of Graeco-Roman works. The evening is free. Lunch.
This morning we will be taken on a guided visit to Herculaneum, an ancient residential town on the outskirts of Naples that was swallowed up in the same eruption as Pompeii. Smaller but better preserved than Pompeii, Herculaneum is no less fascinating and more manageable for a single visit. After lunch the afternoon is free. You have the option of joining your guide to scale Mt Vesuvius (3 kms, 2 hours); visit Pompeii (we can organise guides for this) or chill out and do some shopping back in Naples. Evening free. Lunch.
This morning we leave the bustle of Campania’s capital and head east across the fertile plains of Benevello to the 'Irpinia' district in the rolling foothills of the Appenine Mountains near the border with Puglia. Along the way we stop at the extravagant Royal Palace in Caserta (the Bourbons’ 18th century answer the Palace of Versailles).
After a light lunch, we drive to our base for the next four nights, a lovely country house with extensive gardens, a swimming pool and a celebrated restaurant in the heart of the Taurasi wine growing district. We are three kilometres from one of the region’s best-preserved hill-towns. Dinner at the country house. Lunch and dinner.
Today we drive south to a picturesque mountain town on the edge of the Monti Picentini National Park. A local will guide will accompany us on a loop walk through forests along the well-marked trails of this beautiful range passing a 14th century monastery and the ruins of a Norman castle (10 kms, 4 hours). We’ll have a picnic lunch along the way.
In the afternoon, we’ll visit our neighbouring town. Sitting on hills above the Ofanto and Calore rivers, it is believed that Hannibal passed by the settlement, losing a number of elephants which became bogged in the river flats. In the Middle Ages, this small town was an important bishopric and a seat of learning, becoming known as the 'Athens of the Irpina'. After the plague of 1656, the town’s fortunes declined, leaving it something of an enchanting time capsule. After a cool drink in the piazza, we’ll head back to base for dinner. Lunch and dinner.
Today we explore the fine wines and cuisine of the district. Although virtually unknown outside Italy, Irpinia has been called the ‘new Tuscany’ for the quality of its wines. Due to volcanic activity, high elevation, strong sunshine and cool nights, this region is tailor-made for making great wine most notably its four different indigenous DOCG certified varietals: Aglianico, Greco di Tufo, Fallanghina, and Fiano di Avellino.
After a late start, we will visit one of the region’s finest producers, where we’ll visit their wonderful cellars, have a degustation of the wines and a light lunch, before returning to our base for a bit of R&R. Later in the afternoon we are introduced to the secrets of the Irpina cuisine via cooking lesson conducted by our hosts in their own restaurant, learning to cook a selection of local specialities such as different types of hand-made pastas; focaccia and grilled meats, accompanied by fine local wines. Lunch and dinner.
This morning we drive to a small village in the heart of the Monti Picentini National Park. The walk follows a marked trail in the valley of the Tusciano River. Along the way we pass the ruins of a medieval paper factory and enjoy the spectacular peaks of the mountain range rising around us. The walk at a small hamlet from where we'll be transferred back to base. We’ll have a picnic lunch along the way (13.5 kms, 4.5 hours). The afternoon is free. Dinner at our base. Lunch and dinner.
Today we drive south to Campania’s spectacular coastline. Along the way, we will stop for a guided tour of an extraordinary World Heritage listed monastery. Founded by the Normans in 1086, this extraordinary monastery has the largest cloisters in the world.
After lunch we will continue on to one of Italy’s best-kept secrets: a tiny enclave on a hilltop overlooking the sparkling Policastro Gulf, a vibrant and well-preserved town with a long history (its little museum contains more than 50 anchors from ancient Roman and Greek ships that wrecked along its rocky coast). Our base for the next three nights is boutique 4-star hotel with gardens and a swimming pool in the centre of town. The evening is free. Lunch.
This morning we follow an ancient path up into the hills above the town that has connected looping though forest and passing through a number of hamlets until arriving at the peak of Mt San Biagio, which has breathtaking view over the gulf to the west and over the forests and the mountains of Calabria and the Pollino National Park to the east. We continue along the trail back down to the port for lunch (10 kms, 3.5 hours). The afternoon and evening is free. Lunch.
Today we explore what has been described as the most beautiful coastline in Italy, heading west on a sailing boat to a small village nicknamed Little Provence because of its colours; the wild lavender that grows in the hinterland and the fact that many artists and writers have made this hidden corner of the Mediterranean their home. Well off the traditional tourist trail, it makes a great place to spend a relaxing day.
After coffee at the port, you will have the option of exploring the town and having a swim or going for a walk along the coast, climbing to a 16th century tower that has views back across the gulf to the east and down south across the sea to distant Stromboli and the Aeolian Islands (8 kms, 2.5 hours). After a slow lunch on the waterfront, we’ll cross the gulf back to our base. Evening free. Lunch.
This morning we drive north to the spectacular Amalfi Coast, visiting on the way the extraordinary Greek ruins of Paestum. Swallowed up by forests they lay unknown for over two millennia only being discovered in the early 1800s. Their perfect state of preservation and isolated position above the Tyrrhenian Sea adds to their impressive grandeur. We will walk to one of Campania’s premier mozzarella producers and have an open-air lunch under a pergola.
Our tour finishes in Ravello, a charming town with a rich history sitting on a natural balcony looking down over the famous Amalfi Coast. ‘Closer to the sky than the seashore’, Ravello is pleasingly removed from the busier towns on seashore, a lovely spot to finish our tour. Our accommodation is a 4-star hotel, each room with views across the coast. After arriving, the evening is free. Lunch.
Our finale is a glorious walk from Ravello a longer walk option into the extraordinary Valle delle Ferriere, which wraps through a national park, with towering cliffs, shaded chestnut forests, waterfalls and views down over the coast (11 kms, 5 hours).
You will be free to explore Amalfi and have lunch, either take a bus or taxi back to Ravello or donig the short steep walk back up to Ravello. Our final dinner is in a lovely restaurant overlooking the twinkling lights of the Amalfi Coast. Dinner.
In the morning you will be transferred back to Naples, an hour’s drive from Ravello, which has national and international rail and air connections.
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Naples and Campania: 13 days/12 nights
15 May to 27 May, 2020
Single supplement $850 (double room for single use)
• 12 nights accommodation (see the itinerary for details) in excellent boutique hotels
• All breakfast, and all lunches and dinners (wine included) listed in the itinerary
• All land and sea transfers during the tours
• All taxes and service charges at the hotels and restaurants
• All paid admissions during the tour
• 7 guided walks
• Services of a full-time professional tour guide
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