Fits on the Road: “Spring Break” in Italy with my Family! –

Fits on the Road: “Spring Break” in Italy with my Family!

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*I’m linking up with Kim and Deborah for their weekly fitness recaps; this isn’t quite a fitness recap, but I do mention how I fit in some running while on holiday, so hopefully this is okay! You can check out all the other amazing fitness bloggers by going to Kim or Deborah’s blogs!

My husband and I joined one of my sisters (who lives in Chicago) and her two teenagers, her husband, and my dad for their spring break to Italy March 22 through March 29th (7 nights).

This is a recap of our trip and itinerary, with the hope that it may be helpful to others planning a visit to Italy! There is SO much more to do in Italy, but we only had a week, so we focused on Rome and the Amalfi Coast, with the idea that we would start with all the traditional historical sites in Rome before a bit more relaxing on the Amalfi Coast. We ended up getting more history (with a day trip to Pompeii) on the second half and a bonus night in Rome on the way home. Here’s a recap and summary with some tips and things we learned at the end!

3 nights in Rome:
Dustin and I flew from London to Rome from the Heathrow airport (2.5 hour flight on British Airways), arriving in Rome midday and taking a taxi to our shared rental house in the Campo de Fiori neighborhood. (We stayed here, which slept all 7 of us with plenty of space.)

We dropped off our luggage and then made our way to the Pantheon for a short guided tour.

The guide wasn’t really necessary, as the Pantheon is pretty straightforward to visit and understand, but the guided tour allowed us to skip the long line to get in, which was vital. Definitely book Skip the Line!

After the Pantheon, we wandered around to a few nearby cathedrals and explored a bit more by foot.

Our first dinner in Rome was at a really delicious little place called Ponte e Parione; the website doesn’t look like much, but there was a long line of locals outside which was a good sign! It was one of my favorite meals of the trip, to be honest.

Saturday, March 23:
Dustin and I were up early for a quick 5 mile run along the Tiber River!

…followed by breakfast at the little cafe below our rental. There were plenty of cafes and shops right nearby, and all the main tourist sites were walkable.

Our group walked to the Vatican for a guided tour that included the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. It was a long day of touring, but really interesting and I’m glad we visited.

(FYI- no pictures allowed inside the Sistine Chapel, and they ask everyone for silence…but that request was mostly disregarded. So many people were talking…)

And again, with the guide, we were able to skip the long long line. Our guide (instagram: MacroRomeTours) was so great! I really enjoyed him and would recommend. He was funny and kept things going, particularly for the two teenagers who might have lost interest otherwise.

Here is one of the Swiss guides at the Vatican. Did you know the Vatican is its own country, separate from Italy? The smallest country in the world!

We contemplated climbing the stairs of the cathedral for the view, but the line for that was quite long, so we skipped and went to lunch instead. More pizza for me! I did not tire of the pizza and pasta in Italy. Or the delicious wine!

After lunch, Dustin and I wandered around to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain as the others took a rest/nap (benefit of not having jet lag!)

Even though it was not “high season” for tourists in Rome, the Trevi Fountain was still very busy. The best viewing spot was actually across the street inside the United Colors of Benetton store on the second floor. But we weren’t the only ones who saw this tip on social media, there was a line at the window!

We all met up for dinner at another delicious restaurant where I had some very tasty cacio e pepe. Followed by gelato!

March 24:
Sunday, another day of touring! We had a guided tour of the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Coliseum booked, but that tour didn’t start until 10:30 am, so Dustin and I fit in a 9 mile run past most of those same sights beforehand.

Trevi Fountain wasn’t quite as busy at 7 am, but there were plenty of influencers there having photo shoots!

Spanish Steps without the crowds!

Lovers’ fountain next to the Trevi Fountain!

Speaking of fountains, there are a bunch of drinking fountains all over Rome that are safe to drink- they are called Nasone (“big nose?”). Great way to stay hydrated!

Dustin and I ran up and around Vatican City- it was hilly! But wild to see the entrance without a line (it was closed on Sunday for church.)

(I was glad we had the chance to explore via running and I was happy with 9 miles. But this was a peak week of training for Dustin for the London marathon, so the cutback week in mileage wasn’t ideal, but overall his training has gone well and I think he’ll be just fine on April 21!)

Next up was the guided tour of the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Coliseum.

There was a small hiccup with our guided tour where Dustin and I were booked as under-18’s and my niece and nephew were booked as adults. You have to show your passport/ID to get into the sights and the guide was very worried that they wouldn’t let us in on children’s tickets, but it all worked out since we had paid for the right amount of adult tickets. Whew!

But forewarning, that you do need to show a passport to get into these sites! (We all had pictures of ours on our phones.)

After the tour, my sister, dad, Dustin, and I grabbed lunch and then went to the Borghese Gallery. We actually had a guide for this as well- and he was so good! He did an amazing job of explaining the sculptures and artists and offered the right amount of context to help even the non-art experts in the group (like me!)

(My brother-in-law and my niece and nephew skipped the Borghese tour, and I think its best that they did, as it may have been a bit boring for teenagers, particularly after the full morning at the other tourist sites!)

It was a really nice afternoon though for the “adults”….we ended up back the Spanish steps for sunset!

That evening was one more delicious dinner of pasta, wine, followed by gelato…

Monday, March 25th:
Dustin did his own longer run at his pace, and I fit in a short 5k along the river. I ran into these fluffy and well-fed kitties on the trail!

Then we all took a taxi to the train station to catch our train to Salerno (on the Amalfi Coast.)

In Salerno, we had arranged for a driver to take us all to our rental house in Maiori. The rental was lovely! It was quite large, with a private pool with a great view of the ocean. Dustin and I actually had our own little separate house/cottage with a bathroom.

We relaxed at the house for the day before taking a taxi into Maiori for dinner. We had hoped to have a private chef at the house, but she had the flu, so we always had to take a taxi into town where the restaurants were (though one night my brother-in-law cooked for us all.)

Tuesday, March 26:
Dustin and I set out early to try to run along the road, but it was so, so dangerous that we turned around pretty quickly. The road was so narrow and in the U.S. it would never have been a two-way road, but here, it was. There was no shoulder to run on. We had hoped that if we ran early enough, there wouldn’t be traffic, but there was, and it just wasn’t worth the risk to run, so we went back to the rental and hiked up and down the stairs to the sea instead!

That day we took a tour of Pompeii, which I loved. It was so fascinating; I highly recommend visiting! Even in the pouring rain, we had a really good time.

Our tour was two hours long, but Pompeii is enormous and you could spend several hours there.

(All of our guides handed out headphones/sets so that they could speak at a normal volume into a small microphone and we could all hear them clearly, without a bunch of guides speaking over each other at these sites! It worked quite well.)

It’s just so fascinating to see this fully preserved village from 76 B.C. (I think that’s right?) The organization and insight in life then was so cool.

After Pompeii, our driver took us to a winery called Cantina Tangliafierro for lunch and a wine tasting. This was a highlight of the trip, the food and wine were really great!

The rest of the day was low-key with another dinner in the village later that evening.

Wednesday, March 27th:
Since running wasn’t a safe option, I ran the 1/4 mile driveway from the rental to the road for some hill repeats (it was actually quite steep) to get about 3.3 miles total. Not the most exciting run, but it worked in a pinch!

Then my dad, sister, Dustin and I took a taxi to Maiori where we started the Lemon Trail hike that went from Maiori to Minori.

We stopped along the way to taste some fresh lemonade and lemon treats at a little “farm.”

They offered us little lemon pieces with salt, olive oil, and mint, and we were encouraged to eat the lemon rind.

Lemoncello is very popular here, and is apparently made from the rinds.

This hike was another highlight of the trip! I really enjoyed it.

We did have to share the trail with some donkeys!

And we made it back to Maiori just in time for a big storm to roll in. The rest of the day was a rainy mess, but we had fun relaxing at the rental and playing games.

Thursday, March 28th:
Train back to Rome! Dustin and I squeezed in a 10k through the Borghese ‘park’ when we returned to Rome. We ran through some sort of dog park and of course I met some friends, including a vizsla!

We ended our Italian trip with a Michelin starred dinner at Ristorante Moma (just Dustin and me.)

I was sad to say goodbye to my family, but I know I’ll be seeing them again soon and we had such a lovely time together. It was really special to have this time with my dad as well; my mom was greatly missed, as always, but I know she would have been really happy that my dad was included. He’s the easiest person to travel with, up for anything, and very go-with-the-flow.

(You’re always invited, Dad!)

Friday, March 29th:
Good Friday holiday and back to London! I ran 7 tired miles when we returned home. I was surprisingly tired after the week, so it was so nice to have the long weekend to recover!

Summary / Tips:

  • Itinerary: 3 nights in Rome, train to Salerno, 3 nights in Maiori, train back to Rome, + 1 more night in Rome before returning to London (or back to the U.S. for my family.)
  • We booked our train tickets well in advance and paid the slightly higher price for premium seats, which meant we had assigned seats and space for luggage.
  • Visiting Italy in March is definitely early season for tourists, so the crowds were nothing like they would be in the high season (May through August) but Rome was still VERY crowded, particularly because we were there right before Easter. Definitely book your tours/sites ahead of time and pay for skip-the-line + guides if you can. The line to get into the Vatican without skip-the-line was over 3 hours long. Wild.
  • We were warned that pickpockets were bad in Rome, but we didn’t encounter any issues. It didn’t feel any different to London really, just be careful. I usually wore a cross body bag in the front with a zipper.
  • The food is all good. The pelota is all good. I really didn’t have a bad meal! We usually made reservations ahead of time since we were a group of 7, but it may not have been necessary during the early season.
  • There’s a reason March is not the high season- the weather wasn’t great, a bit chilly for the pool and it rained a fair amount. But we also had some warm sunny days as well. And we are midwestern Americans, we can handle the weather! But with it being the “off-season,” our accommodations were all more affordable- our place on the Amalfi coast will double in price in the high season!
  • You’ll need a driver to get around on the Amalfi coast. I would not want to drive myself (i.e. rent a car) but our VRBO had a contact for us a great driver with a van who was always available when we needed him. (Uber wasn’t an option there.) If I were to go back, I would probably stay in one of the villages, but then we wouldn’t have had the nice place on the cliff with the pool with the view…so it depends on what you want! (Had we stayed in a town, we may have been able to run a bit.)

I hope this is helpful to anyone thinking about a trip to Italy! Happy to share any other information on our trip and planning. It’s a wonderful place to visit and I am grateful that we were able to join my family for the experience!

I’m linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner; check out their blogs to connect with other fitness bloggers for workout ideas and inspiration!

(Visited 5 time, 8 visit today)

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