We sent our Key Account Manager, John Docherty to the Amalfi Coast, to experience an escorted tour for the very first time!
I've worked in the travel industry for a number of years now, well twenty seven to be exact, and during that time i have sold, and experienced many types of holiday ….But never an Escorted Tour. Read on to learn about my Travelsphere Escorted Tour to the Amalfi Coast."
I was delighted to be offered the chance to visit our top selling destination Italy, and in particular the picturesque Amalfi Coast. We have all seen photographs of the rugged coastline over the years and i remember learning about Pompeii at primary school, so this opportunity excited me. It was made even more exciting when my wife could join me and really experience the tour as our customers would.
We flew from Glasgow to Gatwick, and then Gatwick to Naples and after collecting our baggage, proceeded out of the arrivals hall to be greeted by Jane, holding a Travelsphere board with a huge smile, and she would be our Tour Manager for the week. As we transferred to the coach, we began to meet our fellow travellers, who would be experiencing the Amalfi Coast tour with us. As we had arrived in the evening, our transfer was in the dark, but one thing is for sure, the coach journey was not for the faint hearted, those coastal roads from Naples to the resort of Minori were narrow, winding and ridiculously close to the cliff edge, but I couldn’t help get excited and imagine what we would experience over the next week. We arrived at the 4* Villa Romano Hotel and went straight to dinner (The tour is on Half Board basis) followed by an early night in preparation for an exciting week. I must add, there is always one character in a group and while at dinner on the first night, Harry (or Henry as his wife called him when he was misbehaving), chose to sit with us, we had a new friend!
Now you may recall that I mentioned earlier that there is often a misconception about touring that you'll be living out of a suitcase, moving from hotel to hotel. Well, this like many Travelsphere escorted tours is referred to as a “Relaxed Tour” so I only needed to unpack once, and the Villa Romano would be my base for the week. The Amalfi coast tour has some included tours, giving me free time if I chose, but why would i come to this area and not visit Capri, the beautiful resort of Positano and not forgetting Pompeii on the optional tours too?!
Day 1, Amalfi and Ravello (Included Tour)
After a good sleep, and a substantial breakfast we were ready to explore. Breakfast in the hotel was fantastic, such a wide selection of cereal, fruit, pastries, hot food and cold meats and cheese, there was something for everyone. We took the short walk to the sea front of Minori and caught our first glimpse of the Amalfi coast - we were not disappointed. Lemon groves spread as far as the eye could see and the rugged coastline looked spectacular"
Antonio our coach driver was waiting to take us to Amalfi. Amalfi is the main town on the coastline and was the capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 9th and 11th centuries. The Duomo Sant'Andrea cathedral which is at the heart of town, survives from this era. A patron saint of Amalfi is Saint Andrew, whose relics are kept here at Sant'Andrea cathedral, which was the first place we visited.
As we stood in the Piazza Duomo looking up the long stair case, the cathedral was a sight to behold and for anyone visiting Amalfi, the three euro charge for entrance is well worth it. Before leaving we took a moment to light a candle in the very impressive chapel full of character, and amazing architecture and of course history. We took time to wander the winding streets, before settling down in Piazza Duomo for a coffee and fresh pastry before heading 350 metres above the Tyrrhenian Sea to the town of Ravello.
The main sights of Ravello are Duomo di Ravello (Cathedral of Ravello) and Villa Rufulo, built by Nicola Rufolo, one of the richest Patricians of Ravello, on a ledge and it has become a famous attraction for thousands of visitors. The villa was mentioned by Giovanni Boccaccio in his Decameron and it is the place where Richard Wagner in 1880 was inspired for the stage design of his opera Parsifal. We opted to visit Villa Rufulo and you can see why they were inspired by the stunning views over the Amalfi Coast and the Gulf of Salerno. The beautiful gardens are in bloom most of the year and well worth seeing and for seven euros, well worth it. We had earned a lovely lunch of fresh bruschetta and selection of cold meats, olives and fresh bread washed down with a glass of Italian wine.
In the evening we had our welcome meeting and drinks pre dinner where we got to meet up with our tour manager and speak with more of the group. I was extremely delighted to meet Mrs Thompson and her husband, who have travelled with Travelsphere for the past twenty two years and experienced so many of our trips.