When planning our visit to Italy, we had a really hard time knowing where to go first. It was so difficult because we wanted to pretty much go everywhere and had to narrow it down to where we wanted to go most.
Josh ended up going over to Italy about a week prior to Eli and I joining (I flew alone with him there…thinking back, I have absolutely no idea how I did that) and he was located in Sicily (the southern part of Italy). Since he was already in the south, we looked at an easy place to fly into and meet up with him.
I took Latin in Middle School and remembered learning about Pompeii and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. I remembered seeing pictures of the city and when I learned that was outside of Naples, I knew that’s one place I wanted to visit. Since it was an easy and cheap flight (Josh flew on Easy Jet for around $50, which was a quick flight and put him right in the city-center of Naples) for Josh to get there, we decided that was where we would start.
So Eli and I flew into Naples and Josh met us at the airport. Let me tell you how terrifying that was as all our communication had been the day prior and planning on where to meet without ever visiting. We had no phones (we brought them but turned off our service), no maps, etc. It all worked out perfectly, though and Josh met us at the airport and took us to our Hotel.
When choosing hotels for our trip, we tried to stay near easy transportation, such as train stations, as we were not bringing along a car-seat and couldn’t take a taxi. This worked out well, but next time I may consider bringing our car-seat or renting one so we have more options on areas of town to stay.
Eli did so amazing with the jet-lag and wasn’t hardly tired at all when we arrived. Since he was doing so well, we decided to venture out and find dinner. We ran into an amazing Pizza place near-by that we remembered seeing on Yelp. We ended up being the only customers in the restaurant as it was pretty late, but man that pizza was good, and Josh and Eli had so much fun as they hadn’t seen each other in over a week!
Before traveling, we decided which cities we would visit on what days and booked all our hotels (using hotels.com) and trains. I highly suggest booking train tickets online prior to leaving as that made it so easy for us. We didn’t have to worry about going to the train station and hoping there were empty seats. We knew exactly which train we were taking to where and at what time and it made it so much easier and less stressful.
Our first morning in Italy we headed to Pompeii to see the ruins of the city. We stopped by the bakery below our hotel and got a Cappuccino and Sfogliatella (pastry common in Naples, which is AMAZING) and walked to the train station. We found the train station no problem (we were staying across the street from the main station) and boarded our train. Thank goodness for the information desk as our train was a regional one and located in a small area of the train station!! I highly recommend utilizing the information desks in each train station as they can point you to the correct train and platform as it can get really confusing.
Thinking back, I’ve come up with two pieces of advice that would have made our lives so much easier while visiting Pompeii.
- Book transportation to the ruins. When our train arrived in Pompeii, we really began our adventure. We didn’t bring a map or download one on our phone as we figured there’d be signs to get to the ruins (and didn’t think it would be that far). This was stupid on our part. We had a crazy hard time finding the ruins and the entrance to them, and ended up walking all over the city to find them. Anyone we asked tried to sell us a tour guide to get us there, which we didn’t want.I highly recommend either taking a taxi (if this doesn’t require a car-seat), booking transportation right when you exit the train, or bring/buy a map. If we had done any of these things, it would have saved us almost an hour of our day! Eventually we found a sign and the entrance to the ruins, after over an hour of walking. We bought our tickets and got a map of the area and started walking.
- Do not bring a stroller. I did lots of research, but didn’t find much regarding bringing a stroller to Pompeii. Based on the website, it seemed like it was fairly accessible, and since it required a ton of walking, we brought ours. The beginning of the ruins were fantastic, it was easy to navigate and there were sidewalks for strollers. However, we quickly found out that the main parts of the city were not stroller friendly by any means! We ended up having to miss parts of the ruins and carry his stroller throughout. It was miserable. After a few hours, we decided to head back on an earlier return train because of the hassle.If visiting with small children, I recommend carrying them with an infant carrier (like this one) or wrap (like this one). I ended up carrying Eli in our wrap the majority of the time anyways to get him to sleep, and we didn’t hardly use the stroller.
Once we arrived back in Naples, we went on Yelp in search of some Italian food, and boy did we find the most amazing restaurant, Pizzeria Franco!! I think this restaurant was one of my favorites in all of Italy. We ordered Arancini as an appetizer (stuffed rice balls that are deep fried) and pizza and pasta as our entrees. I ordered the Table wine (always order the table red or white…it’s delicious, about 3 Euro, and they fill it to the brim) and was in heaven. The food and wine were incredible, and they didn’t mind we brought along our 9 month old (who also loved the pizza).
The next morning we awoke and boarded a train to Florence, the next stop on our trip. More on that next week!