Call it luck or call it great planning, but James and I had the best experiences with our hotels. They all had something special to offer. I have no complaints with views, the locations, and the comfort of each place we stayed. We were not into roughing it on this trip so our rooms are not that budgety, but they are still pretty affordable. James had to have SOLID air conditioning, a private bathroom, and a big American breakfast. I just wanted a great view and perfect location. He found places that satisfied us both. I’ve compiled a few pictures and a little information to share the best parts of each hotel. I also included the links for viewing the rooms and booking your stays. Prices fluctuate according to availability and the time you book so look for James’ next post on tips for finding the best rooms for your money. He’ll also have more details on locations and transportation to and from hotels. If you need detailed assistance on booking and getting around, he provides travel coaching by phone or appointment for a small fee. But, for now, here’s a quick overview. I hope this is helpful.
Stop #1: Venice
Residenza Ae Ostreghe or the pricey : Locanda_De_La_Spada
We stayed at Residenza Ae Ostreghe for four nights. We loved the location of this hotel, and the staff was so helpful. Of course, the view from the pricier Locanda de la Spada was better, but not worth the price difference for us. We did get to enjoy its view each morning during breakfast, and the breakfast served at this hotel was the best in all of Italy. You don’t want to miss it. If you want to step off the Vaporetta and take a few steps to your hotel, be near the Gondola stops, near good restaurants and have only a short walk to St. Mark’s Square, this is the place for you. We loved it! Many reviews we read stated that this property was hard to get to, but if you need more details on how to get to this place, contact us. James even knows the number of steps to get to the check-in desk from the Vaporetta.
Our Pictures of the hotel area:
Contact us for more booking information.
Stop #2: Cinque Terre, Vernanza
The Hotel- Casa Cato’:
Casa Cato’ is a small hotel in the village of Vernanza. You can see the bright yellow building from the train station. There is a nice little uphill hike with your luggage when you first arrive (thank god for packing light), but after that, it’s pretty easy to get around. Of course, like all of Italy, there will be steps and walking. We thought the train would bother us, but we heard no noise from trains. Just a huge gush of wind every now and again. No whistles or loud track noises. I guess trains aren’t as noisy as they are in the U.S. This room had a really nice view and a good location. The owners, Lisa and Giacomo, were so hospitable and helpful in every way. We had a small balcony and a huge deck where breakfast was served every morning. We also used the deck in the afternoons to have apertivo and watch the sunset. The rooms were clean and comfortable. I wasn’t ready to leave this place, and Cinque Terre’ and especially Vernanza was a relaxing, happy place. I will definitely return, and Lisa and Giacomo’s Casa Cato’ is where I’ll stay.
Vernanza, Cinque Terre- To book this hotel, here’s the link: http://www.casacatocinqueterre.com
Our pictures of the views:
In my opinion this was the best view in Vernanza. Great location and very helpful owners. Loved staying with Lisa and Giacomo
The Hotel: Palazzo Guadagni Hotel:
This hotel is located in the Piazza San Spirito which is a square on the other side of the Arno River. Some say this isn’t a good area, but we loved the area, and it is filled with great restaurants and places the locals visit. Our favorite restaurant, pizzeria, market, and gelatoria were all just a stones throw away. We had to walk to the major sights, but it wasn’t that far because Florence is a small city. I liked being able to retreat to a less touristy area in the evenings to relax and take in the local atmosphere. It would be a tough call, but if I had to pick a favorite hotel during my month in Italy, this would be the one. I loved the balcony/porch area with the great views. This common area balcony was located just outside our door, and it felt like it was part of our room. Every afternoon we had this place almost to ourselves. This hotel has such historical, character. Our room (#9) had beautiful antique furnishings and frescoes painted on extremely tall ceilings. It was as if we were staying in a museum.
Florence, San Spirito Square- To book this hotel, we used booking.com, here’s the link: http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/palazzo-guadagni.en-us.html
Updated Note: Just yesterday we checked the price of this hotel and it was crazy expensive. We will keep checking and let you know what we find out. Probably time of booking or the hotel is almost fully booked for our next travel dates. I’m really disappointed, but I’m sure James will work it out. He’s my miracle worker. Jul’14
Views from the balcony:
Stop #4- Siena
The Hotel: Hotel Athena
This hotel was chosen for its view of the Tuscany hillside. And yes, there was a nice terrace with a small bar to enjoy a glass of wine or dinner. The vineyards, the olive groves and the rolling green hills spread out as far as one could see. It’s just beautiful and relaxing. The rooms, the big American breakfast, and the facilities were very luxurious, too. There was about a 10-15 minute walk to the Piazza del Campo. However, it didn’t seem that far to us because we were getting used to the Italy hikes, and besides, I like staying out of the noisy, more touristy places. Of course, from the train station you will need to take a cab. There’s a fun adventure story with that last statement. We will have to share it with you later. Also, this was our home base to tour the Tuscan countryside in a Fiat 500. A wonderful idea that we loved…(also, another post will tell of that adventure). And I can’t leave out the funny story of the famous Paleo Horse Race and the big fight James and I had over it. Well…not a big fight…just a serious fuss that turned into a comical story. (another post for later)
Pictures taken from the hotel terrace:
Siena- To book this hotel, we used booking.com, here’s the link: http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/hotelathenasiena.en-us.html
Stop #5: Rome
The Hotel: Hotel Mecenate Palace
This hotel is a short walk from the train station so there’s no need to get a cab. It was also a great location to get to the metro, the subway that takes you to all major sites in Rome. The rooms were nice and comfortable. The best part of this hotel was the rooftop bar. The views were spectacular, and the restaurant and bar staff were exceptional. The restaurant had really good food, and some nights there was live music at sunset. We enjoyed the views of the city and especially our time with Vito and Lucca, a couple of staff members that treated us so well during our stay.
Pictures from the rooftop bar:
Rome: To book this hotel, we used booking.com, here’s the link: http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/gtmecenate.en-us.html
Stop #6: Sorrento
The Hotel: Hotel Jaccarinno
This hotel is actually located outside of Sorrento at Sant’Agata. We chose this area, not only because it was convenient to Sorrento, but the hotel backed up to a small village, and it was also a great home base to explore the Amalfi Coast. You can also take day trips to Capri from here. From the train station you must take a bus up the mountain to the hotel. There is a shuttle that runs from the hotel each day to Sorrento, but make sure and put your name on the list the day before. It’s about a 10 minute drive, and it was no problem for us to ride to and from the city center. Right behind our hotel was the best little village with cheap wine, food and shopping. It was less pricier than Sorrento, and we enjoyed the villagers so much. They were all friendly and so excited to talk with us. I found a small market in the village where we bought $3 bottles of local wine to have on our balcony each evening. The olives, cheese, and bread were also delicious and priced so cheap. The hotel views were exceptional. Each afternoon we looked out over the Bay of Naples, enjoying an apertivo from the market. Also, a few steps behind our hotel in the village was one of the best restaurants we ate at in Italy.
To book this hotel near Sorrento, we used booking.com. Here’s the link: http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/jaccarino.en-us.html
Stop #7: Capri
The Hotel: Hotel Weber
Hotel Weber is located on Marina Piccola. Marina Piccola, in my opinion, is the best area to stay in Capri. A short walk down a few steps and there you are: the most amazing views, a relaxing beach, nice restaurants, and a nice little port to catch a tour of the island. The hotel provides a free shuttle to the city center and if you need to get to the main port of Capri, there is a walking path. The room wasn’t overly fancy, but it was nice enough. The hotel facilities and the view from our balcony made the less-than-fancy room unnoticeable. We loved it, and we will definately stay there again. The American breakfast here was almost as good as Venice, and they served Prosecco for breakfast so we made mimosas for free! Here are a few pictures of our views:
Last stop…We had to take the ferry to Naples to catch an airplane to Sicily. I know it seems like a lot of trouble, but it was worth it. I loved Sicily!
Stop #8: Cefalu, Sicily
The Hotel: Hotel Le Calette, the link is www.booking.com/Hotel-Le-Calette
If you want a different Sicilian experience, you must check out Bella Sicilia. It’s for the travelers wanting to experience “real” Sicilian culture, food, family, and history. We learned so much from these people and without them, Sicily wouldn’t have been the same. We plan on staying there on our next visit. They speak English and can show you everything you need to know about the area. If you are American, having someone to speak English in Sicily is so important. Their link is: bellasiciliavacations.com
The hotel we stayed in was Hotel Le Calette. It is just a short walk from the city center of Cefalu. It was a super nice luxurious place with breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding cliffs. The rock formations all along the beach at this hotel provide you with unique, rugged views that are so much a part of the Sicilian landscape. There were three different beaches and the facilities were super nice. I loved the loungers on the deck overlooking beach #2. There is also a sandy beach owned by this hotel located in Cefalu. A shuttle runs to and from each day. The other beaches are located on the property. The food at this restaurant was really amazing, and the breakfast was in the top three of all our hotels. You must experience the Sicilian barbeque. Here are a few pictures: