Review: Private Day Tours

This past summer we booked two full-day tours in Italy through Private Day Tours. (See Both full-day tour excursions exceeded our expectations thanks in part to the excellent service and guidance we received from Gianluca Savarese prior to the trips. Gianluca was very patient and quick in responding to our questions. The staff that accompanied us on our trips were knowledgeable, polite and informative. We would highly recommend Private Day Tours to anyone considering doing a tour of the Amalfi Coast. 

Full day tour: Pompeii, Cantina del Vesuvio, Positano
We were picked up at our hotel in Sorrento by Gaetano and Lello (we were a party of 9) at around 9am and driven to see the ruins of Pompeii. The vans were very nice Mercedes and were very comfortable. The drivers were both very knowledgeable and pleasant to speak to. 

We were greeted at the entrance of Pompeii by a private tour guide (only those who have a pompeii tour license can conduct the tour) who seemed genuinely interested in giving us an informative yet manageable tour of the ruins. Making the tour manageable and interesting was especially important to us since we were traveling with four children.

After the tour of Pompeii, Gaetano and Lello met us directly at the exit of the ruins and whisked us away to Cantina del Vesuvio to do an wine tasting and lunch. (see: The Lacryma Christi wines at the vinyard ranged from good to very good with the Reserva being the best. Interestingly, because of the richness of the Vesuvian soil (the vinyard is located on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius) it is not necessary to water the vinyard. We also should mention that the vinegar was exquisite. Lunch was pasta marinara. The owner was also very nice and personally helped us order and ship a box of wine back home to the United States. Overall, a very worthwhile experience.

After the trip to Cantina del Vesuvio, Gaetano and Lello drove us to Positano where we were taken to a small limoncello-making shop. It was interesting to see the limoncello-making process. We were left by our drivers as close to the the bottom of Positano as possible and enjoyed walking around and having a nice dinner at Le Tre Sorrelle. (See By the end of the day we were pleasantly exhausted. Definitely a successful day!

A short slideshow of our full-day tour

Full day tour: Capri by boat
We were picked up at around 10am from our hotel in Sorrento by taxi and taken down to the docks where we greeted by Captain Arturo, Elena and his 32 foot boat. The boat itself was beautiful, clean and a perfect size for a party of nine. Both Captain Arturo and Elena had a pleasant demeanor and were very professional. 

Our first stop would be the Blue Grotto as we wanted to avoid the long wait that often happens later in the day. When we arrived at the Blue Grotto we noticed that there were three lines: public boats (large groups), people entering from land and private boats (us). We were told the wait could be up to 3 hours. While waiting in line, Arturo masterfully used the boats motors and side thrusters to avoid hitting other boats. Thankfully, we waited only 1 hour. When it was our time to go we were greeted by a smaller row boat that could fit 4 people (max). The boat would take us to the entrance of the cave where the captain would have to time the entry perfectly to avoid getting our heads chopped off! The captain would wait for the water level to go to the top of the cave entrance and then he would pull the metal chain just as the water level subsided and whoosh we entered the cave. The color of the blue is breathtaking. It is possible to swim in the Grotto (we did!) but it is important to note that there are many boats inside the Grotto at the same time (watch out!) and it is customary to give a "special gift" to your captain after. We would highly recommend taking a quick swim!

After visiting the Blue Grotto we took the opportunity to take a quick swim off the boat which was a welcomed relief from the heat. We then headed to several other lesser-known grottos (heart grotto, white grotto, red grotto). 

Then it was time for lunch. We ate at Le Serene which is located just off the dock at Piccola Marina. (See There are two small beaches and places to swim and rocks to jump off of. The water was dazzlingly blue. The lunch at Le Serene was a mixed bag. On the one hand the view and location were excellent. On the other hand, however, the food was just okay and the service was subpar. It is important to note that we charged for drinks that we did not order and after reading other reviews of the restaurant this is not an isolated incident. A pity because the lunch experience could have been much better. 

After eating at Le Serene we took open air taxis (expensive) to Capri's main town and were immediately struck by how beautiful and clean it was. The shops were high end luxury - Gucci, etc. The views from the top were amazing. We had about 30 minutes to explore before having to go back to the boat. 

On our way back to the Sorrento docks Captain Arturo and Elena took their time to let us take in the views of the mainland and to enjoy the last moments of our adventure. We went through the Faraglioni rocks - an archway where lovers can get good luck if they kiss underneath it. (See Once at the Sorrento dock we were picked up by taxi and taken back to our hotel. Such an amazing fun-filled experience. 

We highly recommend using Private Day Tours for any excursions in the Amalfi Coast!

A short slideshow of our full-day tour

A special moment in Tuscumbria

A special moment in Tuscumbria at Altabella Properties as our youngest 
son dashes inside the house for dinner.

Italy Trip 2017

PART 1 : Naples & Sorrento

PART 2: Sorrento, Pompeii, Cantina del Vesuvio, Positano

PART 3: Sorrento (Staying Local)

PART 4: Capri, Quanto Basta Ristorante

PART 5: Ravello, Villa Cimbrone, Amalfi, Atrani

PART 6: Family time at Altabella Properties

PART 7: Time with Vicky & John

Italy Trip 2017: Food Adventures

This is a short slideshow of some of the delicious places we ate at in the Amalfi Coast and Tuscumbria (Tuscany/Umbria).

Italy Trip 2017: Portraits & Pictures

This past summer we went on another fun-filled trip to Italy. We had the opportunity to explore parts of the Amalfi Coast and Tuscumbria (Tuscany/Umbria). Below is a slideshow of some of the portraits and pictures that we took.

For both the casual and experienced traveler, Italy is a wonderful place to visit. From its exquisite dishes, savory wines and sweeping landscapes to its architectural marvels and artistic masterpieces Italy offers something for everyone.

While our family has traveled throughout Italy over the years, there is one particular area that is nestled in between a narrow stretch of land bordering both Tuscany and Umbria that holds special significance for our family as it has become both a place of family gathering and a favorite holiday destination.

We call this area "Tuscumbria" as it is neither fully Tuscan nor fully Umbrian as a result of the constant border changes over the past centuries. While the area of Tuscumbria is not officially recognized by the Italian government and the boundaries have not been legally demarcated, we recognize this area as belonging to both Tuscany and Umbria because of the cultural similarities found in many of its small towns. As of today, this area loosely stretches from the environs of Cortona through the small towns in the Niccone Valley (up to Umbertide) to the small lake towns dotting the northern shores of Lago Sul Trasimeno. Indeed, there are some who believe that Tuscumbria should encompass a far bigger geographic area (to include Assisi, Cortona, Perugia, Gubbio, Todi, Orvieto) but we will leave that up to the experts to define.

Tuscumbria offers something for everyone and is an excellent place for families with children or for those who want to escape the heavily touristed areas and is truly a hidden gem of Italy. We love Tuscumbria because it offers the best of both Tuscany and Umbria along with a wide variety of activities for families and adventurers alike. With beaches (Lago Sul Trasimeno), golf courses, horse back riding, bicycling, truffle hunting, wine & olive oil tasting, vinyard tours, concerts, water parks, agriturismi, villa rentals and five star restaurants at three star prices Tuscumbria is an ideal travel destination for anyone.

This travel blog will outline some of the most basic and, in our opinion, most important information that you will need to plan your visit to Italy with a strong focus on the Tuscumbrian area of Italy. Because this area is both a part of Umbria and Tuscany regions, many towns and cities belonging to these two magnificent regions along with some of their restaurants, places of interest and accommodations will also be touched upon and talked about.

We are also big technology fans and will be providing our readers with information on tech gadgets that we believe will enhance (not detract from) one's travel experiences.

It is our hope that this travel blog will serve as resource for people who plan on taking their next trip to this wonderful part of Italy.  If you have any reviews or comments you would like to submit please contact us and we'll be happy to consider adding them to this travel blog. Reviews of restaurants, places and accommodations will be periodically added to and/or updated.

Please always keep in mind that change happens constantly so please make sure to use this travel blog only as a supplement to the travel research you are conducting as doing so will further ensure that your travel information is both current and reliable.  

Thank you for taking time to stop by our travel blog and we hope you check back periodically for upates, news and views on everything Tuscumbria!

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