Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, Capri, Salerno, Palermo
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Southern Italy offers a genuine contrast to the icy elegance of the North as this is a land that has no time for the inauthentic. This luxurious, 14-day tour of the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily’s capital is handcrafted to reveal what is unique about the South while offering all the sights, sounds, and flavors that have made Italy one of the most sought after destinations in Europe. From the heights of Mount Vesuvius to the depths of the Grotta Azzurra, this adventure will...
Naples – A Neapolitan Welcome
Italy is a land that is steeped in history and tradition, and nowhere is this more evident than in the sunbaked cities of Southern Italy. Hugging the West Coast of the Italian peninsula, Naples has had a front-row seat for the dramatic history that this region has seen as the centuries have passed. Today, Naples represents the third largest metropolitan area in Italy with significant urban sprawl, surrounding the original structures of the city. Situated on the Northern end of the Gulf of Naples, its strategic position has made it a sought after city for merchants, traders, and generals before international travelers discovered its host of culinary treasures. Your private transfer will meet you at Naples International Airport and escort you to your luxurious hotel, which will be located close enough to the port for you to experience the charms of the city but just far enough away to avoid the noise and bustle of incoming cruise ships and freighters.
After you have had a chance to settle into your conveniently located accommodation, you will be met by your helpful guide who will provide you with an introductory tour of Naples, beginning at the church of San Domenico Maggiore. The spirit of Southern Italy will quickly express itself to you through the casual conversation of locals who rarely fail to pause and exchange a few words with their neighbors no matter how busy they are. Carved out of the surrounding neighborhoods, the Piazza del Plebiscito offers some relief from the jumble of narrow alleys and stunning views of the Royal Palace of Naples. As you acquaint yourself with this charming corner of Italy, the history and architectural splendor that surrounds you will leave no doubt in your mind as to why the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.
Naples – Dig Into History at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale
As dawn breaks on your first full day in Naples, the comforting sound of grinding coffee and dripping espresso will lure you to one of the institutions of Italian living that is the morning staple of coffee products. A general hum of industry will fill the cafe as more and more patrons arrive, causing more coffee to be poured with each patron as they carry out their daily commutes. After washing down your breakfast with some coffee, you can take a closer look at some of the sights that you passed yesterday. The Castel Nuovo is a short stroll away and offers some stunning views of the port and a distant, looming mountain to the South. The castle itself dates back to the 13th century and exhibits five impressive towers that would make even the most courageous invader think twice before storming this citadel.
Today, you will take a deep dive into the history of this region with a guided visit to the Naples National Archaeological Museum, where you can survey the artifacts that make Italy such an iconic location for fans of ancient history and archaeology. Its collection of antiquities from ancient Greece and Rome demonstrate the unique past of the Mediterranean and some of the major empires that once flourished here. Likewise, items from nearby excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum present the unlikely geologic and volcanic history of the peninsula as well. Afterward, you will be returned to your luxurious accommodation to spend the rest of the night at your leisure.
Naples – Witness Nature’s Power on a Day Trip to Ruins of Pompeii
A gentle breeze that drifts in off the sea will cause the brightly colored linens to flutter on windowsills, and as the sun climbs, what started as a murmur of early morning traffic will reach a comforting crescendo as Naples comes to life around you. Today, you will depart the city walls for a short jaunt in the direction of the twin-peaked mountain that looms in the distance. As you move closer, what appeared as two peaks will reveal themselves to be the two sides of a massive caldera, and the seemingly innocuous mountain will transform into the powerful example of nature’s fury that is Mt. Vesuvius.
On August 24th, 79 AD, this mountain erupted, launching volcanic gas, rock, and ash miles into the sky and into the adjacent countryside. Lying just at the base of this active volcano is the Roman communities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, which never had a chance as liquefied mud, burning debris, and pyroclastic flows buried, smothered, and otherwise crushed most of the local surroundings. An unexpected consequence of the volcanic material involved in this natural disaster was the quality preservation that it ensured for the cities and people that it buried. Today, you can visit both sites and see intact examples of Roman ruins, including the mosaics that decorate the walls.
During your day trip to these archaeological sites of Pompeii, you will be escorted by an expert guide that will interpret the various sights and explain how each represents a very real part of everyday life for the ancient Roman. Broad boulevards and sturdy walls will exhibit the engineering skill of these classical societies, and you will not want to miss the remains of the forum, which was an ancient gathering place that was typical in many Roman cities. You can also witness the Garden of Fugitives, which is where the final moments of some of Pompeii’s inhabitants are remarkably well-preserved.
Naples – Stroll the Old City Center of Naples
In the morning, you will have one final opportunity to discover the perfect cafe in Naples before you depart. Many would argue that the unique riches that can be found in this city are surpassed only by the culinary delights that are contained in the many eateries and restaurants. A short stroll through some of the open air markets of this city, whether at Porta Nolana or La Pignasecca, will reveal some of the bountiful products of those who ply the fields or the waves. Heaps of sardines, swordfish, and scallops will add a salty scent to your stroll while you sample local olives and fruits that never fail to delight the senses.
If prepared food is more to your liking, the Centro Storico or historic center delivers an abundance of eateries that will allow you to enjoy an afternoon glass of wine with a plate of pasta or some of the best pizza that can be found in Italy. If the bustle of the crowds ever becomes too much, salvation lies just a corner away as this neighborhood is dotted with quiet piazzas and dead ends, where you can take a moment to relax before plunging into the excitement once again.
Everywhere you look during this final day in Naples, you will see evidence of its turbulent past. Founded in the 8th century BC by the Greeks, Naples has seen many empires rise and fall over the centuries. Normans, French, and Spanish forces all occupied the city, contributing much to the artistic and architectural sights that can be seen here.
Sorrento – Stretch Your Legs on the Slopes of Mt. Vesuvius
Departing the hustle of Naples, a private transfer will whisk you away to the more tranquil and rural communities on the Southern end of the Bay of Naples. Your ultimate destination will be Sorrento on the Southern peninsula; however, prior to your arrival, you will be provided with the opportunity to stretch your legs on the trails of this infamous mountain. Mt. Vesuvius occupies one part of the Campanian volcanic arch, which is an illustrious chain of volcanos that adds some geologic excitement to the Mediterranean. Since covering Pompeii with its fiery debris, Vesuvius has erupted more than 30 times with its most recent outburst occurring in 1944.
Your visit today will include an introduction to the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio, offering state protection to the volcano and featuring miles of hiking paths, archaeological sites, and charming buildings to explore. A trip up to the summit will provide spectacular views of the surrounding countryside along with the impressive metropolitan expanse that surrounds Naples. Many different paths afford visitors plenty of flexibility to how they experience this rugged and pristine landscape, and depending on what time of year you visit, hearty varieties of wildflowers will add a splash of color and fragrance to this volcanic promontory.
Finally, your day will culminate with your arrival to the seaside resort town of Sorrento. Not having to steer the wheel, your journey to the Sorrentine peninsula will offer plenty of stunning views as your experienced driver navigates the sharp twists and turns of these hair-raising roads. Parched from your visit to the volcanic slopes of Vesuvius, you will be able to sample local wines while delighting in a quick bite from the many savory restaurants in Sorrento. Afterward, you will return to the plush comfort of your luxurious hotel for some well-earned rest.
Sorrento – Practice the Passeggiata in Sorrento’s Center
Lucky for you, everything worth seeing in this immaculate city is within a comfortable stroll or passeggiata from your centrally located hotel. The landscape here is characterized by the rugged and steep mountains that plunge into the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Much like its sister region of Cinque Terre, small villages and seaside communities cluster around any reasonable point of water access, demonstrating the reliance that these communities had on the trading and fishing vessels that plied these waves for centuries. Clustering these cliffs and overlooks are villas and palaces that boast a unique claim on artistic and architectural splendor.
After a simple morning breakfast of a handcrafted pastry with a splash of coffee, you will be left to explore Sorrento’s treasure trove of sights, sounds, and smells at your own pace. A stroll down Sorrento’s Limonoro street will reveal the industrious tradition of this town and offers plenty of opportunities to survey the handiwork of ceramics, lacework, and other products that are on offer by the friendly artisans. The Sorrentine Cathedral also provides shade and architectural splendor to those who pass through its impressive facade. Dating back to the 15th-century cathedral features an impressive bell tower, four classical support columns, and the relics of numerous saints and holy figures.
Capri – Marvel at the Mediterranean Splendor of Capri
Staying in such close proximity to the water, you will by now have noticed the constant presence of watercraft that comes and goes along the shores of Sorrento. After a hearty breakfast at your luxurious hotel, you will have the opportunity to find your own sea legs with a trip to the adjacent island of Capri. Capri has long been the playground for the rich and famous but also for the day trippers who seek an excursion to one of the gems of the Mediterranean. A short boat ride is all that separates you from this idyllic retreat as the charm of mainland Sorrento is replaced by the exotic promise of the sea caves, cliffs, and boutique cafes of Capri.
The three most developed areas that can be found on this emerald isle include Capri Town, the smaller and quieter Anacapri, and the Marina Grande. Capri Town features all the glitz and glamour that has made it a celebrity destination since Roman emperors. Boutique shops and craft shops line the pedestrian-friendly streets, and there is no shortage of bars and restaurants to satisfy the many visitors that Capri receives during peak season. To avoid some of the crowds, you may need to visit the smaller, and quainter community of Anacapri to see a different side of the island. Here, you can visit the Chiesa di San Michele to witness some pristine examples of majolica tiles that have been used to depict biblical scenes on this island church. The best views of the island can be found a short chairlift away at the top of Monte Solaro, where you will be able to survey all of Capri, the Bay of Naples, and the rest of mainland Italy.
Returning from the lofty peaks of Capri, you will be able to watch the sunset during your first evening in this lush landscape, and as the sun sets on the horizon, you will be left only with locals and those visitors who are spending their night in the warm embrace of this alluring island. A delicious dinner in either Capri or Marina Grande will be best paired with a nightcap of limoncello, which is a lemon aperitif that is produced in nearby Sorrento before retiring to your comfortable accommodation.
Capri – Enjoy a Boat Tour of the Grotta Azzurra
Arriving well before the flocks of visitors, the sea breeze will gently wake you for your first full day in this picturesque community. A quick peek out your window will reveal the sun as it glimmers off the quiet streets and whitewashed buildings before you dive into a hearty breakfast. You will need to be alert because today you are going to visit one of the main reasons that visitors have braved the rolling waves in order to arrive at the idyllic island of Capri.
The Grotta Azzurra or blue grotto is a nearby sea cave whose distinct size and shape afford it an acoustic and visual appeal that has attracted visitors for centuries. You will be met at your hotel by a knowledgeable guide who will escort you to the docks and board a small boat that will transfer you to the sea cave. Entering the cave, you will want to watch your head because the five-foot entrance shrinks and rises with every passing wave. Once inside, you will be captivated by the glowing blue light that emanates from below your vessel, and the haunting sound of the rowers as their voices echo off the sturdy limestone rock around you. Your tour will conclude with a little history of the Roman emperors who sought to leave concerns of the state on the mainland to enjoy the plush comfort of this hospitable island.
Returning to the bustling center of Capri Town, your guide will depart but not before offering you some suggestions of the best local eateries that will allow you to try some of the regional varieties of wine in addition to Italy’s bountiful seafood. Likewise, the pastas and pizzas of this region are always reliable, but on Capri, a delicious alternative includes the insalata caprese, which is a mozzarella and basil salad that will satisfy those with lighter appetites.
Amalfi – Dive Into the Coastal Brilliance of the Sorrentine Peninsula
Spectacular views replace more spectacular views as you depart Capri for the mainland, the promise of the terraced vineyards, and the quaint cafes of the Amalfi coast. As the limestone face of Monte Solaro fades behind you, a short boat ride will lead you back to Sorrento where your private transfer awaits to carry you to the South side of the Sorrentine Peninsula. As a UNESCO protected region, Amalfi is a top destination for domestic and international travelers alike and receives 70% of its visitors in June, July, and August. With only one congested highway that links all of the coastal communities of Amalfi together, it is no wonder that many choose the alternate boat transport that is offered from the nearby ports of Sorrento and Salerno. Luckily, your experienced driver will navigate the sharp turns and precipitous drops of this highway with ease and deposit you safely at your luxurious accommodation in the town of Amalfi.
Amalfi, like many of its Mediterranean neighbors, held importance as a trading power and enjoyed its position at the junction of many shipping routes. Commodities such as timber, salt, and grain kept the ancient merchants busy, and despite wars, political squabbling, and plagues, the Amalfi of today still possesses much of its charm and prosperity that is has enjoyed throughout the ages. Much of this history is still evident in the architecture, palaces, and villas that appear in abundance through Amalfi.
Saint Andrew’s Cathedral stands out as a notable example of the late Baroque style of architecture. Its broad staircase leads to the interior where statues and paintings from masters, such as Michelangelo and Andrea dell’Asta, add dramatic flair to the Biblical scenes that are depicted. As you explore the interior of the Duomo, the potent smell of incense will permeate the air, and you can still see examples of relics that locals claim belong to the apostle St. Andrew. On holy days, these and many other relics are prominently displayed on processions and parades throughout these pious communities. After your arrival to Amalfi, you will have the remainder of the afternoon to explore these and much more of what this shining beacon of this pristine coastline has to offer. Afterward, you will be returned to your hotel to enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure.
Amalfi – Brave the Waves on a Boat Excursion of Amalfi Coast
A brisk walk along the Amalfi’s boardwalk and beaches in the morning will help shake off any remaining drowsiness from your well-earned rest. At this hour, you will be able to see what the cozy beaches look like free from the swarms of visitors that annually arrive in the summer months. Southern Italy is infamous for its heat, especially between July and September, so the coastal destinations remain of prime importance for both locals and visitors who are seeking solace from the afternoon sun.
No matter the time of year, you will dodge the crowds today as you transfer down to the marina for a private tour of the Amalfi coast. By offering superior views, a boat is often one of the best ways to witness the coastal communities, pristine beaches, and impressive cliffs. You will be met at the harbor by a private boat that will offer you such an opportunity. As you head out to the open ocean, the busy cluster of buildings that tower over you will neatly arrange themselves into the cascading communities that typify the peninsula. Positano, Praiano, and Conca dei Merini each contain the unique blend of construction that gives these villages the pastel coloring that contributes greatly to their beauty. Lunch awaits you in Positano, which is where your boat will temporarily dock, and you can stretch your legs along the waterfront while enjoying a sample of the coast’s proud gastronomic heritage.
Beverages that range from sparkling wine to limoncello will be provided during your return voyage as you bask in the Mediterranean glow of the sun, sea, and sand. As your reliable guide returns you safely to the harbor of Amalfi, you will enjoy the smell of the salt and the sound of the waves as you gaze upon the coastline. The remainder of the day will be yours to explore the boutique shops, historical sites, and cozy eateries that continues to attract visitors.
Amalfi – Meander the Hiking Trails Surrounding Amalfi
Your final day on the Amalfi Coast is not to be experienced without your camera. A short drive from your comfortable hotel will take you to the entrance to the Walk of the Gods, which is a twisting and turning tour of the mountains that you have been observing since your arrival. The Walk of the Gods is a three-hour trek that takes you through winding terraces, luscious olive orchards, and deep valleys that all provide a contrast of green to the rolling azure of the waves.
Comfortable shoes will be the vehicle of choice for today’s outing. Although well maintained, the packed trail will involve significant ups and downs along rocky ridges and rugged hillsides, and if the exercise does not get you excited, then the drops will with some sections of trail being perched right above the abyss. Packing a snack or two is not unwise as the local olives and cheese varieties provide the perfect reward for your efforts. Water is an absolute must. In the case that you need to replenish your supplies, markets and delis in the communities of Praiano and Fontanella will offer an abundance of refreshments to the weary hiker.
As you meander your way through this Mediterranean landscape, you will have little time to worry about anything else. Spectacular panoramas of the surrounding area will help you keep your bearings and explain why this trail is called the Walk of the Gods. Impressive yachts in the distance will be your only interruption to the blue that stretches across the horizon in almost every direction. You will feel refreshingly alone after the busyness of Sorrento and Capri, and in the afternoon, the path will deliver you back to Positano where your private transfer will await to transport you back to Amalfi for a well-earned rest.
Palermo – Immerse Yourself in the Dramatic History of Palermo
A hearty breakfast on your final morning in Amalfi will be the perfect send-off as your private transfer waits outside to whisk you off the Sorrentine Peninsula for the final leg of your tour of Southern Italy. After arriving at the Naples International Airport, a short domestic flight is all that separates you from your Sicilian destination. As the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has long-held a unique identity at the crossroads of many cultures, and its capital of Palermo claims the unexpected title of the most conquered city in Europe. This city first housed the Phoenicians, then the Greeks, and then the Romans. Surrounded by mountains, the port of Palermo still has much to offer the visitors that arrive at this bustling metropolis of Sicily. The centuries of invaders all left their own imprint on Sicily and contributed to the rich cultural, linguistic, and culinary heritage that can be found here.
A trip to Palermo is not complete without a visit to the Vucciria, Ballaro, and Capo open-air markets, where sellers impress buyers with their colorful selections of fruit, fish, and vegetables along with their vocals as they belt out their specials to anyone who will listen. At the height of Arabic influence, Salerno claimed approximately 300 mosques, but after a Christian reconquest, many of these mosques were converted into the numerous cathedrals and churches that greet visitors today. A private transfer will lead you from the airport to your conveniently located hotel in the Centro Storico or historic district of Palermo, which is where you can spend the rest of the day relaxing or exploring your new surroundings.
Palermo – Visit the Palatine Chapel and Norman Museum
The scents and smells that will greet you on your first morning will remind you of your unique position at the fault lines of many worlds. Influences from Africa, Europe, Islam, Christianity, the past, and the present all lay claim to some portion of Palermo’s heritage and will express themselves to you through the sights, sounds, and smells that you encounter. Meeting you at your hotel, your private guide will help you navigate this rustic landscape to your first encounter with this rich heritage. The Palatine Chapel dates back to its commissioning in the 12th-century and features stunning examples of the mosaics and medieval architecture of the subsequent generations. Byzantine artists contributed scenes of St. John and other apostles who offer their glittering figures to the Biblical scenes on display.
An even greater display of Palermo’s artistic and architectural splendor lies in the main Cathedral of the city. Under the rule of Normans from France, the cathedral represents the determination of Christian rulers not to be outdone by the Arabic influence that can be felt throughout Sicily. Situated atop a crypt that dates back to earlier times, this 12th century church towers over the local neighborhoods and offers visitors excellent examples of how Gothic, Renaissance, and Neoclassical styles combine in a Sicilian context. As you wander past the towering columns that support the massive roof above, your guide will ensure that no question goes unanswered as your pass through the generations of history and construction that surround you. Your tour will conclude at the impressive facade of the Cathedral, and after some suggestions from your guide about where to find refreshment, you will have the remainder of the afternoon to craft your own memories during your final day in the Mediterranean.
Palermo – A Sicilian Send-Off
In the morning, the sights and sounds that you have grown accustomed to on this tour of Southern Italy will greet you as they have greeted countless visitors and locals before you. The sounds of the port will echo faintly down the stone alleys and corridors of Palermo and will be interrupted by the occasional flutter of wings from a passing pigeon. After a delicious breakfast from your accommodating hotel staff, your private transfer will greet you and will escort you to the Palermo International Airport for your departing flight, bringing a satisfying end to your thorough tour of the beauty and character of Southern Italy.
- Unearth hidden treasures from Italy’s colorful past in a visit to the Italian National Museum of Archeology
- Wander the crisscrossing alleys and streets of Naples’ Centro Storico and sample some of the classic Italian cuisine that can be found here
- Observe the tragic remains of Italy’s volcanic past in a visit to the ancient ruins of Pompeii and the well-preserved relics of the past
- Experience the pristine views of the Bay of Naples and the Sorrentine Peninsula from the slopes of the imposing Mt. Vesuvius
- Witness the proud maritime tradition of Sorrento and enjoy an evening stroll, or passeggiata, through the neighborhoods to witness the impressive works of local artisans
- Discover your sea legs on a ride to the island of Capri and marvel at the stunning seascape that can be found on a tour of the Grotta Azzurra
- Immerse yourself in an exploration of the rugged mountains and precipitous drops of the Amalfi coastline.
- Delight in Sicily’s proud history and vibrant culture through a visit to the Palatine Chapel and the Museum of Norman History
Italy has long been a destination location for travelers hoping to experience the best of Europe. Contrasting the verdant beauty of the North, the rugged, Southern landscapes and sea fairing communities offer much to the traveler who is hoping to catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean past while enjoying the comfort of modern amenities. As August has long been the vacationing month for locals, early Spring and Fall remain the best times to visit these destinations because you can combine the promise of summer warmth with the absence of crowds. Southern Italy has long seduced visitors from all walks of life from queens and emperors to pilgrims and traveling artists.
Whether the culinary charm of Naples to the rural beauty of the Amalfi Coast, there is something for everyone on this 14-day tour of Southern Italy, and you should leave plenty of space on your camera to capture the countless moments that you will undoubtedly encounter. The first leg of your journey will introduce you to the Bay of Naples and the surrounding cultural and geologic history that has been the subject of books, songs, and film for generations. A side jaunt up the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius will then offer a panorama of one of the must-see destinations on this tour.
The second leg of your adventure comprises of visits to the island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast, which is where the rugged mountains plunge into the waters of the Mediterranean and the local villages offer quaint and quality samples of local ingredients and dishes. Boats and cars will be your primary modes of travel, and you will always be steered by the most experienced hands. A trip to Sicily will almost seem like another country as the extravagance of Capri is replaced by the rustic charm of Palermo, which is a city that claims to have been the most conquered of any in Europe.
Consider learning more about our travelers’ best Italy vacation activities by reading their Italy travel reviews.
$3,845 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.88 stars based on 4533 reviews
"We could not be happier with our experience"
Reviewed By Lilian P.
"[Our travel planner] built us a fantastic itinerary that...
Reviewed By christine G.
"Giulio was excellent and was very quick to respond to my...
Reviewed By ahmed j.
"Our travel planner was on top of every little detail, which...
Reviewed By Gabriel G.
"Every aspect of the trip was considered and managed for...
Reviewed By Bill B.
"ETAV was very responsive and helpful in the planning process."
Reviewed By Nicolle G.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era