Rome, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast

The Vatican, Rome - The Life in Limbo blog

Rome certainly not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations. I was scared of going in winter, I don’t much like the cold, but it was fine – some nice leather gloves, a scarf and a jacket did the trick.

The location of the boutique hotel we stayed at could not be beaten. Literally at the foot of the Spanish Steps in the popular and trendy Spagna area. It is called The Inn at the Spanish Steps and they have a sister hotel right next door, The View at the Spanish Steps. We walked everywhere, but still: in five days, I gained two kilograms! The food was so fantastic and fresh, plus, off course we had a glass of wine with lunch AND dinner! (Btw, Rome is famous for Carbonara, be sure to have some while you are here!)

The Inn at the Spanish Steps - The Life in Limbo blog
View from The Inn at the Spanish Steps

Entrance to The Inn at the Spanish Steps, Rome - The Life in Limbo blog

Amazing appetitive in Rome - The Life in Limbo blog

The quaint little streets and alleys, with surprisingly big brand shops hidden around, were a treat. They also had their winter sales on and the bargains amazed me. This is also where I appreciated going in winter, outside of the normal tourist seasons – because the streets are small and narrow, it gets crowded very easy. Even with not even half the normal number of tourists around, it was very busy.

The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps

Rome Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

We did the hop-on hop-off  and it was great for visiting all the famous sites, like the Trevi Fountain, the Coloseum, Vatican City etc. You can buy tickets at the numerous sellers and booths across Rome. If you are not pressed for time. Like we were, you could also just visit these sites on your own. At all the sites (and the booths) you can buy “Skip the line” tickets from tour guides. Everywhere was busy, even in the off season, so this is a great way to save yourself from wasting time in a que, plus you could get a guide to show you around and explain things. There are also numerous audio tours if you prefer to go on your own.

The Colosseum - The Life in Limbo blog
The Colosseum
Trevi Fountain, Rome - The Life in Limbo blog
Trevi Fountain, Rome
Palatine Hill, Rome - The Life in Limbo blog
Palatine Hill

Shop-a-holics beware!

You can easily blow your whole budget by buying things you don’t need because the sales are so good. My friend referred me to the Castle Romano Designer Outlet, just outside Rome and luckily we decided to make a day of it, as it is full of top brand stores with items on sale for between 30% – 70% off. If you are into shopping and fashion, I would recommend this place. You can buy tickets for the shuttle bus online OR at the stops (which was not clear on the website). If you do buy it online, you will need to print them out, which may be tricky if you are travelling (our hotel had to print it for us). The stop at 48 Via Ludivisi is only a few blocks from the Inn at the Spanish Steps!

Castel Romana Designer Outlet - The Life in Limbo blog
Castel Romana Designer Outlet

A local leather shop in Rome - The Life in Limbo blog

Apart from the outlets and boutiques in Rome, there are many local shops that sell real Italian leather goods, cashmere etc. for much lower prices. If you are just after some quality items and don’t care for brands, then you will love these shops! The area around the Spanish Steps are full of both boutiques and these kinds of shops, as well, off course, restaurants and cafes!

Day trip to Amalfi Coast and Pompeii

We booked our semi-private tour to these UNESCO World Heritage sites through Tripadvisor with a company called Welcome Italy. Both our driver, Stefano, and guide, Edda were fantastic. There was only one other, lovely couple with us on this tour.

At Pompeii we met up with a local guide from Naples, called Hector, who was both funny and charming. I also saw the biggest lemons I have ever seen in my life! They make Limoncello from these – a palate cleanser or after-dinner drink. The wind out in the open can be icy and I am very thankful for my beanie, that I pulled down over my ears.

Pompeii - The Life in Limbo blog
Pompeii

Huge lemons, Pompeii Rome - The Life in Limbo blog

For lunch we visited a lovely estate in the national park at the foot of the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius. The estate, Tenuta Le Lune el Vesuvio, produces, amongst others, an award winning wine, Lacryma Christi, as well as local produce, fava beans, apricots, broccoli and the famous Vesuvius tomatoes, know as spongillo or piennolo. They also have donkeys, horses, ponies and goats and you can take a leisurely stroll around the estate. We enjoyed a lunch, made from local products and wine tasting before heading to the Amalfi Coast.

Vesuvius tomatoes - The Life in Limbo blog
Vesuvius tomatoes

Even in winter, the Amalfi coast is a wonderful scenic drive. Positano, Amalfi and the numerous small villages along the way are very unique. A lot of the shops are closed out of season though, but we did manage to find a few, including a pottery shop, open. If you get car sick, this may not be a good idea for you as the roads are narrow and winding, and cars can barely squeeze by one another in some places.

Amalfi Coast, Rome - The Life in Limbo blog
The Amalfi Coast

Positano, The Amalfi Coast - The Life in Limbo blog Amalfi, Italy - The Life in Limbo blog This was a long day, pick-up was at 6:30am and we only got back after 9pm, but totally worth it!

Rome, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast - The Life in Limbo Blog

Coda alla Vaccinara - The Life in Limbo blog

We had a late, last dinner in Rome of a magnificent Coda alla Vaccinara (oxtail with carrots and celery) – yum! No wonder I gained so much weight…

I already miss this place!

We found the Italians we met to be very friendly and warm people, passionate about their food and country. Next time I’m in Italy, I’ll be visiting Tuscany for sure!

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14 Comments

  1. Thanks Alice! I also love the UNESCO sites – there are 2 amazing ones in Indonesia if you ever get a chance to go near Yogjakarta!

  2. I hate Rome with all my heart (been twice, don’t want to return) but I loved Naples and specifically Herculaneum. Pompeii, of course, is interesting but too touristy for me. Haven’t been on the Amalfi Coast yet.

    1. Haha, Cris – I think the fact that we went out of season made us enjoy it as I’m sure Rome is a madhouse in the peak tourist seasons.

      1. I’ve been to Rome first time during the low season actually – March. Then I decided to give it another shot and went in September. Nope, not happening. I am glad I can fly into other airports and for better fares haha
        While I did like the Forum, I was stunned to see people SMOKING in the Colosseum (yes, there were places where you could smoke).

  3. Oooh looking forward to my trip even more now Ilse. Thank you for your tips and for making Italy that little bit more closer. Looking forward to your next adventure.

  4. It seems u visited Italy more than me ahah I have never had a proper tour of Rome nor visited Pompeii but it seems u enjoyed 🙂 that time I wrnt to Rome I found it very crowded and very badly maintained compared to other european capitals. Next time if u visit Tuscany, be sure to check Siena out, it is worth a visit

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