Heather Young

JULY 2017

Buongiorno Manuela!

Sorry this has taken me so long to write!! I’ve been so busy since I got back.  I’ll just run down my trip with you but I was 100% satisfied with everything. 

The flight over was easy and I was impressed with Lufthansa.  This was my first time flying with them and their customer service was on point.  Was upgraded to business class on the way over and was QUITE happy about that.  Very comfortable!! Premium Economy on the way back was also comfortable and accommodating.

All of the drivers and guides were on time, courteous and professional but I did have some favorites that I’ll tell you about.

I loved the quaint atmosphere of the J & J house.  My favorite part is the garden!! I sat in that garden almost all evening with a bottle of wine.  The rooms are interesting..  At least mine was.  LOL…LOTS of steps but it was fun and interesting and perfect for a unique place to stay.  The breakfast buffet was very good and had a lot of selections and the coffee was AMAZING!!! (Don’t drink too much though). The staff was helpful, I have never been to Florence before so they helped me figure out where I was and which way to go on foot and I was able to find my way around and back quite easily.  I did a little shopping, had a lovely lunch.  I didn’t have a lot of time in Florence so I mostly walked around for 4-5 hours looking at everything (Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, etc.) and took advantage of the shopping.  I definitely want to go back and have more time in Florence my next trip.

On to Chianti….and OH MY LORD YES!!! It’s everything you ever dreamed it would be.  (I am spelling his name wrong but put it in my phone as Jackamo (phonetics), my driver for 2 days, he was an absolute pleasure to be around and I really enjoyed his company). He stopped a few good places so that I could get pictures overlooking Florence and there was a Fiat car show!! So fun.  He also stopped by the American Cemetery for the WWII Veterans for a few minutes and I really appreciated that as my Grandfather served in WWII.  It was a very humbling experience but so glad I got to see it.  We then stopped in Greve in Chianti for a little shopping and coffee and then to the first winery.  I don’t think this one was on the schedule but he called ahead and we stopped for a few minutes for a tasting (Montagliari).  We didn’t stay long, just enough for me to taste some wines and balsamic (of which I did purchase and bring back with me because OMG that’s some tasty stuff!!) Then we went to Querceto di Castellina for my lunch and wine tasting.  I thoroughly enjoyed this vineyard.  I had a private tour with one of the owners, one of the brothers and I don’t remember his name now.  I loved that this was a smaller winery that was family operated and let me tell you about the Pumpkin and Truffle lasagna with Béchamel and Parmesan cream sauce!!! Let’s just let that little dish marinate on your mind for a moment because it was AMAZING!! My favorite wine there was the Laura which was named after their mother, who I also discovered made the lasagna so I now love her! Then on to the Monte Ronaldi for a tour and tasting and I really enjoyed that property. It’s a shame no one lives in that Villa!!

On to Castello Di Spaltenna!! This is the LIFE!!! This hotel is so amazing I can’t even put it into words! The only thing missing was my Tiara and Prince!! The room, the views, the staff, service, the food….EVERYTHING Was perfect.  This is the way you vacation! I didn’t get a chance to take a dip in the pool but it looked lovely and inviting.  I enjoyed the veranda there the most.  Sitting outside with the smell of the roses and fresh air and the beautiful views was so peaceful and relaxing. The room was beautifully decorated and extremely comfortable with a small sitting room next to the bath area.   Breakfast here also had a good selection and was very fresh.  I will say this again, the coffee is so good you will want to drink a second pot.  Don’t do it!! You will literally be able to hear hummingbirds wings flap if you do. I could hear my own heart beat after so much coffee but it tasted so good I couldn’t stop myself.  I decided to counter act the effects of the coffee with wine.  When in doubt, drink more wine!!

This place did my soul good, It was exactly what I needed.  I would highly recommend it.  It’s amazing! I would tell everyone to stay here.  They make you feel very special and because the hotel doesn’t have many rooms; it feels very private.  It deserves it’s Five star rating. (There is a funny story about me and a swallow that had made her nest in the bricks in an alcove I was smoking in; she did not care for me being there with my nasty cigarettes, so she won!  If this was a turf war, the swallow was the winner of that little piece of real estate, so yeah, Imagine me being chased out of an alcove waiving my hands frantically at the tiniest of woodland creature screeching at me and dive bombing me….she wins!! )

My ½ day in Sienna was nice. The Basilica was beautiful! My only real tip about Siena is to wear some good walking shoes and get ready to climb some steps! I did a little shopping there also (I’m good for the Italian economy, clearly!!). I discovered Lemoncello Almonds…WOW!!! What is this magic in a little candy coated shell!?!  Had lunch at Papei and really enjoyed the staff there.  They are a lot of fun and very entertaining.

The train from Florence to Naples was a little intimidating for me because I’ve never done it before but once I figured out how everything flowed it was super simple.  It all moves faster than you think at first.  I was in the lobby area waiting to find out which platform I needed to be on and the next thing you know, you’re loaded and gone! So don’t dilly dally at the train or you’ll miss it.  This is wear my luggage started to become a problem.  I only brought one case with me thinking it wouldn’t be too hard to handle but after a day of shopping in Florence, the stops along the way to Chianti, Siena and the overabundance of stuff I brought, I am now manhandling a 60LB piece of pain in the butt! (Pro-Tip: When packing for Italy, lay out everything you will think you need, then take 2/3 of it and put it back in the closet). The train ride is an easy 3+ hours and it was comfortable.  The driver was there waiting on me and he was FULL of suggestions.  I really liked him.  I think his name was Pepe.

I will send you more pictures and finish telling you about the rest of my trip to Sorrento, Pompeii,  Positano, Amalfi, etc….Lot’s more to come!! I need to get some work done though.  I’ll try to finish my little story for you in the next few days.

Thank you again for all that you did and I am so happy with the trip you booked for me.  It was PERFECTION!!

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OK. I finally have a minute to tell you about the rest of the trip.  So…Hello Sorrento aka hello Rich People.  I’m glad they didn’t check my tax returns before I went because they would have never let me in.

So checked into the Parco Di Principe and the lobby, service and the property were gorgeous.  The rooms were a tad bland and small and my immediate reaction to seeing scuff marks on the doors and walls was not pleasant.  There were also cracks in one wall.  So that was my disappointment with the resort.

Other than that I liked the balcony I had and the view.  I could see Vesuvius from that side.  My first night in Sorrento I had dinner at Caruso’s in the square area.  Very high end, good quality, enjoyed that place immensely.  I had some carpaccio and a pasta and wild boar.  Then a citrus “soup” for dessert.  I would definitely put that place on a suggestions list.  It was a little expensive comparatively speaking but to me was worth it.

So woke up the next morning and was watching all of the yachts come in and dock along the coast and I mean YACHTS, not just normal rich people yachts, mega yachts!! What do you have to do in this life to make THAT much money? We are talking Beyoncé and Jay-Z kind of rich.  LOL  which I did find out from Pigi (my tour guide to Amalfi… Loved him too)  that they rented an island off the coast once for some astronomical amount of money.  I think it was down the road from Sofia Loren’s place.

So I met my tour guide Maria for my ½ day of Pompeii and the rest of the group (which was small and fun).  Maria has the best sense of humor!! She figured out I am basically a juvenile delinquent cleverly disguised as a responsible adult quickly and we had a lot of fun cutting up. So she is the one who gave me the run down on why the phallic symbol was used so much in this culture and in Roman and Greek history and also pointed out a few phallic symbols in Pompeii (kind of pointing to where the brothel was..he he) so I was on the hunt for phallic symbols on the walls and stone roads in Pompeii.  Plus she gave me the rundown of the Brothel which of course I found interesting along with everyone else because there was a rather long  line to see that particular part of Pompeii.  Otherwise enjoyed seeing this piece of history.  The mosaic tile floors that have been excavated that are still in amazing condition. The architecture is evident even in the ruins.  The water system, public baths, public fountains etc.  It’s all very interesting how advanced they really were.  It was a hot and dusty day so I’m glad I didn’t do the full day trip and only the ½.  I think some of the other tourists were jealous that I was headed back to the hotel to lay on the beach and have a cocktail while they were completing Vesuvius.  If there is any suggestion I will make about going to Pompeii for the day is take water.  It was so hot and the dust was kicking up.

So I got back to the hotel and changed into my bikini and went down the mountain to the beach.  Riding that elevator down through the mountain makes you think you are descending to hell.  Seriously.  It’s small and a little rickety and it just keeps going!! I literally did have one of those moments that I thought “this thing isn’t stopping and It’s taking me to the bowels of hell!!”.  But I made it.  I like the way they have the deck built out so you can enjoy the breezes while you sun bath.  I had a few drinks and played in the water for a while and went up to shower and change and went out to find some dinner.  I can’t remember where I ate now that night but it was nothing to write home about.  A family style place that was casual.

So let me tell you about my day trip on the Amalfi Coast.  Pigi was our guide so he picked me up with my other tourists which were 3 French Canadian couples. 3 of which, did not speak any English and the other 3 spoke some English.  It was interesting watching the American chick try to communicate with the French speaking Canadians and a tour guide who spoke decent English but with a heavy accent.  It was quite funny and interesting and at times sign language was used.  The Coast line is probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  At one point I just had to make myself stop taking pictures of every turn because I had taken so many they started to blend together.  Pigi filled us in on some of the more interesting Historical events on the coast line.  He was especially interested in the Pirates and I loved his enthusiasm as he told stories.  We got into Positano early so it wasn’t busy yet and of course I did some shopping.  Found some cute linen tops and a jacket for my mom (She Loved it when I gave it to her!).  We didn’t spend much time there but honestly there’s no need.  It’s small and picturesque and I took a few photos and did a little shopping and was happy.  Then to Amalfi and more shopping for me!! I walked around, enjoyed a gelato and contributed to the Italian economy some more.  I didn’t buy and ceramics because I just didn’t know exactly what I would want, however I did bust into some Lemoncello.  Pro-tip  Don’t drink too much Lemoncello in the sun because the headache is killer that comes with that!! We had lunch in Scala and then went to Ravelo where I did buy  myself some lovely linen table runners and napkins that have the bumble bee embroidery for my next dinner party!! I spent too much on it but I don’t care, I loved them.

Here’s one thing that I have to mention about the drive down the coast….WHO gave these Vespa drivers a license?? They are nuts!! There’s literally massive busses passing along the cliff side with inches to navigate and the guys on the scooters just cut right in front of them.  No fear!! I closed my eyes a lot on that ride.

I spent my last day shopping in Sorrento and I went and took some pictures of the gardens at the resort, which is very impressive.

I bought so much stuff I had to buy another Large suitcase to get it all home but my Mother and my girlfriends loved the gifts I brought back for them.  I did bring back some Lemoncello which was gone my first night back because a few came over to my house and we had to drink lemoncello while I told them stories.

I loved every minute of this trip and I am so glad I ended up going alone.  It was so nice to just be able to do what I wanted when I wanted.  I highly suggest to my friends to take an adventure alone.  I got a lot of messages from my girlfriends while I was there telling me how brave they thought I was for traveling to Italy alone.  I sort of laughed.  I was intimated at first but once I got there and started to make my way around, it was easy.  I will NEVER try to drive in Italy….EVER!! but other than that it was all very easy.

My Favorite place was definitely the Castle and the views there.  My Favorite tour guide was probably Jackamo (sp?) with Maria a close second.  My favorite dinner was at Querceto Di Castellina (actually lunch).  My favorite coffee and garden was at the J & J.  My favorite wine was all of it!!  The men flirt better in Sorrento than they do in Florence so that’s always fun.

Thank you for planning such an amazing trip for me.  I loved all of it and I can’t wait until I can  get you to plan me a new Italian adventure!!

Heather Young