top of page
Search
  • Janis Nunez

Italy: Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento, & Positano

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

2018 Summer trip to Italy. This was our fist trip to Europe as a family. We stayed three nights in Rome, headed to Pompeii for the day, stayed overnight near the Amalfi Coast to see Sorrento and Positano, and then headed back up for one more day in Rome.


BEFORE YOU GO


ADAPTER: You will need an adapter for your electronics. I got these ADAPTERS from Amazon. A power strip with several USB plugs is a great way for everyone to charge their electronics. You also need to make sure your electronics (flat iron) have worldwide dual voltage. With dual voltage you don't have to worry about getting an adapter AND a converter.


PHONE: Contact your cell phone provider to see what is included. T-Mobile gives unlimited data and texting, but charges $0.25 per minute for calls. I have read other companies require you to get a European SIM card to use your phone, so just contact your provider to find out before you leave.


AUDIO TOURS: Since we were going to be doing a lot of sightseeing on our own, we downloaded the Rick Steve's Audio Tours. Then when we were at the Colosseum, we were able to listen and know exactly what we were looking at. He has several walking tours as well with printable maps that are very helpful. Download them before you go. RICK'S AUDIO TOURS FOR EUROPE.


WHERE TO STAY: This really depends on what you're wanting to spend, and if you want to be in the middle of everything or on the outskirts. We like to be out of the crowded touristy areas so that we can relax in peace and quiet. Rome is very busy, and the streets are filled with people, so it is definitely a plus to have a place to retreat from it all. You will walk a LOT. Be sure to take good walking shoes. I give suggestions on my Planning Your Vacation blog post.


We booked a great place through Airbnb. The rental was near the Vatican (actually within walking distance). And the seller for me, was the view from our private terrace. I mean look at it. That's Saint Peter's Basilica!


After traveling 9 hours from JFK airport we were so excited to see such a great place. She gave us a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy, and brought fresh croissants/pastries to our door every morning. We absolutely loved it. Just down the street we could catch the bus to take us anywhere we wanted to go in the city. So amazing.



Even the view from the kitchen was beautiful. I like to stay at a place that has a washer and dryer. As a bonus we got to hang our clothes on a line like the locals to dry.


WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT FIUMICINO AIRPORT


CURRENCY: In Italy they use the Euro. It helps to have a currency converter app on your phone, so you have an idea of how much you are spending. We took out money from the ATM at the airport to avoid fees at the currency exchange counter. Call your bank to find out what the fees are for you to make a withdraw in the country, as well as if you use your card to make purchases before you go. They will probably also have a currency exchange fee, but ours was minimal.


Notify your bank and credit card company before you travel so that they will not decline any purchases you make while out of the country. The ATMs do have an English option, so you will be able to read the screens. If you need to read Italian, use your google translate app and your phone camera. It reads signs and words for you and translates them to English.


TRANSPORTATION: You can take a train directly from the airport to Rome. Car rental is also easy to do there, but in Rome you really do not need a car. We rented a car to go to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, but did not use one at all in Rome.


Europe's metro system is dependable. We purchased a 72 hour Roma Pass. You can find more information here: ROMA PASS WEBSITE . It gives access to all of the metro systems within Rome. It also includes two free museum entrances, and discounted admission to other museums. The 72 hour pass is €38.50. It also gives you "skip the line" privileges at some of the museums and archaeological spots. You get a map and a ton of information on what to do in Rome as well.


We did not get the kids Roma Passes because kids 17 and under get free entry into most of the museums. We got them BTI passes. This is a 3 day tourist pass for the metro systems. It is validated from the moment it is used and good for two days after. The cards are €24 each.


The Roma Pass and the BTI are good for the Metro, Buses, and Trams that are within Rome. You can buy them at the metro station, convenience stores, and at various other locations.


The buses were pretty easy to figure out. This is the locals mode of transportation, so at peak times it will be more crowded. We never had an issue finding a place on the bus though. They also have air conditioning so it's a nice break from the heat. The bus seats show a person with a cane. This means if you see any elderly man or woman on the bus you need to give them the seat.


SIGHTSEEING


The Vatican: Book your ticket online. The Vatican is not a place you can use your Roma Pass. Entrance to The Vatican was €17 + €4 (if you want to skip the long line-which is worth it). We paid €21 for each adult, and €12 each for the kids. (Kids 6-18 are €8 without the skip the line fee.) The Sistine Chapel alone is worth it! The tickets are nonrefundable. You can visit St. Peter's Basilica for FREE. There are other options of things to see on their website. You can purchase tickets directly from The Vatican so you don't have to pay additional fees through another company.


Day 1 We decided to walk around Saint Peter's Square since it was so close to where we were staying. There is a fountain with a obelisk in the center and Saint Peter's Basilica on one end. The sculptures above the pillars are breathtaking.




With all of the walking you will be doing, it's nice to know there are fountains all over the city that you can refill your water bottle. Fresh cold water is constantly flowing from the fountains, so either take a reusable water bottle or buy a bottle of water when you get there and just keep refilling it. We went in June,

and it is hot!



One of our favorite things that became routine was stopping in at a cafe for an espresso. It's cheaper if you get it standing at the bar. To purchase your espresso, you pay at the register, then take your receipt to the bar.


We stopped and got pizza that first day and took it to sit on the steps in front of Saint Peter's Basilica. You buy pizza by telling them how big to slice it, and then they weigh it for you. Let me just say that it's the best pizza you will ever have.


Then we crossed over the Tiber River via the Bridge of Angels in search of gelato. Behind us you can see Saint Angelo's Castle. We got our Roma Passes just to the left of the Castle. We stopped at the Frigidarium which got rave reviews online, and were not disappointed. We walked with our gelato to our next stop...



Piazza Novana: There are three fountains here. The largest is the Four River Gods fountain in the middle. It represents the four quarters of the world.


There are TONS of restaurants and people in this piazza. They are overpriced, but you pay for the atmosphere here. The closer you are to the touristy spots the more expensive and less authentic the food. If you just walk a block or two in any direction away from a tourist spot, you will find delicious and reasonably priced authentic Italian dishes.



We went another day in the morning and got some great pictures of the fountains. It is definitely worth it to going early.



You can go into the Pantheon for FREE. If you go right when it opens there are a lot less people and no line. We took some outside shots this first day, and then went in the morning another day to look inside.




We headed over to Trevi Fountain. There are TONS of people at the fountain. We stayed a bit, admired the sculptures in the fountain, and then moved on. A perfect first day of sightseeing.



Day 2: We passed by Trajan's Market on our way to The Colosseum. It is the largest complex of ruins and the location of the first offices and shopping mall.



We used our Roma Passes to get into the Colosseum, which does allow you to skip a long line. Using the Roma Pass here gets you into the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Paletine Hill. You will go through security scanning at the entrance. Although the kids get in for free, you still have to go to a ticket window to get the free ticket and show proof of their age. Give yourself an hour or two at the Colosseum to take it all in. We listened to the Rick Steve's audio guide while there and really enjoyed it. Here is a list of all of the Italy audio guides that he has for Rome: RICK STEVE'S AUDIO TOURS.


You will see the Arch of Constantine right outside of the Colosseum. From there head to the Roman Forum. This is where justice was served in the days of emperors.


The Roman Forum: Go through the Arch of Titus and into the Forum. It's such an amazing place to walk through. There is a water fountain to refill your water bottle after you go through the entrance.

We stopped for some sandwiches at Pizza & Mortadella, not far from the Colosseum. Look at that pizza! It took everything not to get the pizza. The panini were amazing! Great place.




Victor Emmanual Monument: This monument is FREE to enter. And it's beautiful. You can pay €7 to take an elevator to the top for an amazing 360 degree view. We settled for as far as you can go without the extra fee. You can sit in the shade and relax a bit before heading to your next destination.


Day 3 Everywhere you look inside of the Vatican Museums is just stunning. The detail in the sculptures, the paintings on the walls...there's just so much to see. And it seems like every inch of the walls in the hallways are covered in paintings. The Sistine Chapel is a must do in Rome. You cannot take any pictures in the room. Take an audio guide or map with you so that you know what you are looking at. Then head to Saint Peter's Basilica.



Saint Peter's Basilica is FREE to enter. You can go all the way to the copula (dome) for a small fee. An elevator will cost you €10, or you can pay €8 and climb the stairs. We chose to climb the stairs. And it gets TIGHT, as you can see in the photos.


The pope speaks on Wednesdays, so if this is something you always wanted to do be sure and look up the time. There are chairs for the public to sit and listen right out front.





Saint Angelo's Castle: We used our Roma Passes to get a discount at the castle. It has a restaurant inside too, so if you need to get a bite to eat check it out. We had no idea and were bummed when we discovered we could have eaten there with a great view.