Italy: A Magical Place

“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” -John Steinbeck

As many of you know, I recently traveled to Italy for vacation. There’s been a few requests for details about my trip, so I figured why not summarize it all in a blog post? Our trip to Italy was absolutely fantastic (but that goes without saying, really). It was well-deserved and much needed. If you haven’t taken a vacation yet this year, check out my post 4 Reasons You Should Take a Vacation and get booking!

One way this post ties into personal finances is that we put our expenses on our Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, which offers 3% cash back on all travel and restaurant expenses. Additionally, this card waives the foreign transaction fees that many cards charge you when you travel out of the country. I highly recommend this card for any who frequently travels or goes out to eat a lot, like us). Read more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve and others here: Best Credit Cards for Travel, Food and More.

This was a trip planned by my husband’s family. Our time was split between Portofino, where we spent 3 nights, and then Positano, where we spent 7 nights. The first leg of the trip consisted of just my in-laws, sister-in-law, her boyfriend, my husband and myself. We stayed at a lovely hotel called the Belmond Splendido. The views from this hotel were stunning, to say the least. Our first day we relaxed by the pool. When we headed to our rooms after dinner and drinks, we were pleasantly surprised by a spectacular fireworks show that we watched from our window.

The second day was spent exploring Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is made up of 5 small, charming villages all on the coast of the Ligurian Sea. These towns are all lined with colorful houses and cobblestone roads. It really was very picturesque.

Our last day in Portofino was spent, again, by the pool. We ate dinner in our hotel once again. As we were sitting down to dinner a large group arrives which grabs our attention. This group happened to be Steve Wynn and his family members who were traveling with him by yacht. It was pretty cool to be eating dinner a table away from a very successful businessman whose net worth exceeds $3 billion!

On our 4th day we made the trek back to Rome via plane and from Rome to Positano via van. We were joining the rest of the family, which included my husband’s aunt, uncle, 2 cousins and the boyfriend of one of the cousins, at our hotel in Positano. If you’re trying to keep track, our group in total consisted of 11 people. It must have been a really joyous experience for all the restaurants we ventured to. The hotel we stayed at in Positano was Le Sirenuse.

If you have never been to Positano, or the Amalfi Coast in general, I HIGHLY recommend it. It is hands down one of the best places I have ever visited. This was my second time visiting and my husband’s third time. His family fell in love with Positano back in 2008 and I can totally understand why. It is so incredibly beautiful, the people there are so unbelievably friendly and it’s so clean (quite different from New York).

We spent a lot of time by the pool, again, in Positano. Our hotel, and really a majority of the hotels in Positano, had stunning views that we really didn’t want to miss out on. Plus, what’s better than beverage service in a lounge chair at a pool with a view? Not much.

We did take a day trip to a winery in the town of Tramonti called Tenuta San Francesco. This place was awesome from start to finish. It was way up in the hills, so it was a bit of a hike to get there but so worth it. We tried 4 different wines while we were there:  a white, a rosé, and two reds. Between the 11 of us, we ended up ordering 7 cases to be shipped to the U.S. It was THAT delicious. There was also an adorable dog named Emma who hung out with us on our wine tour. The family who owned the winery made us food in the kitchen to pair with each wine we tried. It was all around a wonderful experience.

The 5 females of our group took a cooking class right down the road from our hotel at a restaurant called Max. Here we learned how to make eggplant parmigiana, pizza, zucchini blossoms, and tiramisu. We got to take notes and taste everything. It was all very delicious and I’m excited to try to make the foods at home, although I’ve got a funny feeling it won’t taste quite the same.

The last excursion we did was a tour of the town of Sorrento. I don’t think there’s a place on the Amalfi coast that isn’t beautiful and Sorrento did not disappoint. There are plenty are great vantage points throughout the town where you can look out and see Mount Vesuvius across the sea. Sorrento, like Positano, offers several shops to its visitors. We bought these insanely delicious cookies there that my co-workers got to enjoy, as well (because I’m nice like that).

Positano is where we did most of our shopping, though. Our hotel has a boutique that sells a line of products that are the hotel’s specific brand. The bathrooms in the hotel are stocked with sample size perfumes, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and bath salts. The scents of all these are amazing, so we bought a lotion, perfume and bath salts to constantly take us back to this trip when we use them. Ceramic is also very big in Italy, so we purchased some spoon rests to replace one I had broken, as well as adorable bowls. Lastly, there is a shoe store down the hill in Positano on the stairway coming up from the beach where the entire family purchased at least 15 pairs of shoes. These shoes are unbelievably comfortable, cute and some are custom made to fit your foot. How cool is that!?

Saving the best for last, my favorite part of Italy is the food. We ate some of the most delicious meals there. My absolutely favorite meal was at Donna Rosa. This is a family-run restaurant from start to finish. The mother and one sister cook everything, while the other sister is the hostess and waitress and the father is the sommelier. This makes for a great atmosphere, especially when you’re a table of 11 people. While the atmosphere and the family are all great, the food is the actual best. The pasta is so good it’s indescribable. Words just won’t do it justice. The ravioli legitimately melts in your mouth. UGH so good! I wish there was something on par with Donna Rosa here in NY because I enjoyed it so very much. Seriously, if you’re ever in Positano, make sure you go to Donna Rosa!

So, there you have it, a summary of our 10 nights in Italy. A trip that I will certainly never forget and one I hope I get to relive again sometime in my life.

Has anyone else been to either Positano or Portofino before? I’d love to hear about your experience.

And if anyone is planning to visit Positano or Portofino, I would be more than happy to give you all my recommendations.

Related Post: How to Save (and Make) Money While Traveling

22 thoughts on “Italy: A Magical Place

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  1. I’ve been to Rome before but that’s the only spot I’ve been in Italy. My wife loved her month in Italy and says that her favorite spot was Cinque Terre by far. Sounds like you had a great trip!!!

  2. Great pictures – makes me want to go back. (We did not do mainland Italy, but Sicily instead.) Did anyone in your group speak Italian? I realize most speak bits of English in these locations, but many places seem to be off-limits without any native language.

    Glad you enjoyed your vacation! Time to flip through the photos of my trip! 🙂

    1. That’s awesome!! My mother-in-law’s family is originally from Sicily so she is dying to visit there too!

      A couple people in the group could speak a little Italian and understand it, but we were actually fine speaking only English! I think Sicily is less of a tourist spot so that’s probably the difference

  3. New to your blog and loved this description! Several years ago my wife (then girlfriend) went to several spots in Italy. Our favorite was the island of Ischia, which is quite a bit further south from where you were, a short sail from Naples. Incredible landscape and the ocean floor would warm when shuffling one’s feet, due to the natural hot springs.

    Just want to say, nice blog, I’ll be reading more … –Rich

    1. Thanks Rich!! I appreciate the kind words!

      My husband’s grandpa told us Ischia was his favorite spot he ever visited back when he was stationed out in Italy when he was in the navy. He said it was he most beautiful place he’d ever been!

  4. Sounds like an amazing trip and you’ve described it well. Feels like I’m standing at some of these places while reading. My brother went backpacking in Italy a while back, he said it was great but the food was normal as compared to a fancy Italian restaurant in the states. Then again, he’s not as much of a foodie as I am 🙂

    1. Thank you!

      You’re a foodie too!? Food is my favorite passion! haha. I think it varies depending on which part of Italy you are in and definitely which restaurants you go to. Many of the pastas are your typical Italian fare (think carbonara, bolognese, putanesca, plain tomato sauce), but the quality of the food is much better than the U.S.

  5. WOW! What an adventure.

    It was great reading of your awesome time and the sights and such.

    It was very interesting to read of your 3% Chase Saphire Reserve card. Definitely a great way to get a little bit back on your expenses.

    Sounds like y’all enjoy wines too. Can’t imagine shipping from out of the states.

    The “Shoes” story is awesome! We’ve never stumbled across anything like that.

    Awesome that y’all got to have that wonderful “Family Time.” Good for you guys!

    1. Thanks, Keith!

      It truly was an amazing trip. You and your wife should visit if you have the chance!

      I LOVE my Chase Sapphire Reserve. It’s great for both travel AND going out to eat. We have earned so many points that we can afford multiple trips in points alone!

  6. Ahhh, this takes me right back! We skipped CInque Terre and spent some time in Amalfi and it was gorgeous – a real highlight of Italy (and Europe overall… <3)

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