This video is an excerpt from a much
longer Italy Travel talk. To view other topics or to watch my Italy talk in its
entirety, visit ricksteves.Com, or check out my Rick Steves YouTube channel.
Enjoy. My mark of a good traveler is how they enjoy Italy.
And I want to remind you, Italy is a challenge. Italy is a little
bit of chaos, Italy is unpredictable.
Italy, you gotta take it in stride. If you can
embrace Italy on its terms, you can enjoy it, but still you gotta be well-prepared.
I always like to say, "if you like Italy as far south as Rome, go further south
because it'll get better. If Italy is getting on your nerves by the time you
get down to Rome, don't go further south because it gets worse," okay. Italy intensifies as you plunge
Let's take a few minutes and look at Italy, south of Rome. You know
when you go down to Naples you find an urban jungle of Italy. It is Italy in the
extreme, and for a lot of people it's just too much, but I absolutely love
Naples. It's a wonderful place to enjoy, it's the birthplace of pizza, it's the
birthplace, I believe, of Sophia Loren, it's a place where you've got incredible
street markets, and it's a place where, if you have good information, you can enjoy
it and you can enjoy it safely, in spite of its rough-and-tumble reputation.
couple I met with ripped out pages from my cruise guide, I want to remind you
that the cruise ships park right there, a 10 minute walk from all the
rough-and-tumble you'd imagine in Naples, and you can get out, if you're
well-organized, and enjoy Naples, either as a side trip, you can settle in, and you can
do it as a day from your cruise ship. There's something called "life in the
street" that people even with a lot of money choose to have. They want to live
right downtown. In Naples, people like the noise at night, they want to be close to
it, they live in the streets.
There's a lot of problems. I'm routinely in Naples
when there's a strike and they're not emptying the garbage. And the garbage is
stacking up in the streets, and it starts to smell a little bit ripe. I'm not
gonna sweet, you know, sugar coat it, Italy is rough- and-tumble, but in that package is some
of the most rewarding travel you can enjoy in Italy and in all of Europe.
is Spaccanapoli, it's a street that goes back to back when the Greeks named that city Neapolis, the new
city, 2,500 years ago. Step into the markets. Wonderful markets
in Italy, wonderful characters wonderful colors, a great chance for a photographer.
Remember Mount Vesuvius erupted 79 years after Christ, and it–
from the top of that hill a whole lot of a mud flow came down and buried Pompeii.
This is an ancient painting of Mount Vesuvius before it erupted. It lost the
top third of that peak, and you can go to the top of Mt.
Vesuvius today, it's hot,
and look into the steaming cauldron of that crater. And then you can go down to
Pompeii, the city that it buried in 79 AD. Pompeii is a city that gives us an amazing,
intimate look at what Ancient Rome was all about when it was stopped in its
tracks with that eruption, 79 AD. You wander through the streets of Pompeii,
you go to the theaters, you drop by what were fast food stands, you step into the
sauna and you understand where people would soak, and you go into the rich people's
homes, and you marvel at the frescoes on the walls.
All from the 1st century,
two thousand years ago. If you're going to Pompeii, I want to remind you that the
most important art treasures of Pompeii are in Naples, in the National Museum. So
you really need to think of Pompeii as a two-part visit. Yeah, you gotta see
the site, but all the art treasures, like this mosaic, are going to be in the city
While I think Naples is a great city, it's a little bit too greedy for a
lot of people's comfort zone, and what's very interesting is just an hour to the
south, just a short train ride on what called the "Circumvesuviana," the
commuter train that circles Mount Vesuvius, you get down to Sorrento.
Sorrento is a limoncello kind of resort. It's just a delight, lemon trees
everywhere, there's none of the intensity of Naples, a wonderful scene as people do
the passeggiata in the evening. And from there, it's the jumping-off point
for enjoying the Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast is the treacherous, exotic,
expensive, jet-setty, celebrity resort coast of
It's so congested, the roads are so narrow, that have a system where can
just go one direction one day and another direction the other day. I do not like
driving on the Amalfi Coast, even if you can manage the driving, you can't really
enjoy the scenery 'cause you're trying to stay on that cliff side road, and there's
no place to park when you get to the towns that you want to explore. It makes
more sense for you to take a bus or to hire a local taxi or driver to take you
out. Plenty of beautiful restaurants, gorgeous towns.
Positano would be my
favorite town on the Amalfi Coast Positano is a jet-setty resort town with a
beautiful beach, lots of hills, and expensive hotels and restaurants. I
like to hire a taxi. This is my friend Rafael, and he and his buddies take you
around on the coast. You hire him, it's kind of expensive, but he'll wait for you
in three different places, and you have time to roam around, then you hop in the
car to go to the next place, it makes a lot of sense.
One thing we try to do
with our guidebooks is let our travelers pool their resources. I have no financial
interest in this, I just like to let my travelers share the luxury of the
minibus with the guide. We've partnered with a company called Mondo Tours that,
for a very small price, will let you be one of eight people on a minibus leaving
Sorrento every morning, and sharing the cost of the guide and the minibus tour
all along the Amalfi Coast. It's a very good thing to look into if you'd like to
do the Amalfi, and it's reliable.
We've tested them, we were skeptical at first,
they were really good, and it's a huge economy to be able to share that minibus
and that guide with eight people. I hope you can sign up for that, you'll get the details
in my Rick Steves Italy book. From Sorrento, you can take a quick boat out
to Capri, and ever since ancient Roman times this has been a hangout for
emperors, and socialites, and big shots. Roman emperors like to go out here for their
You can take the short boat from Sorrento out to Capri, and the
popular thing to do in Capri, there's lots to see on the island but the real
attraction for a lot of tourists, is the famous Blue Grotto. And you'll go there
with a tourist boat, and then you get off the big boat, you get into a little dingy, and you nervously scooch down into the
bottom of your dinghy as you got your ruffian boatman that tells you, "get deep
down or you're going to lose your fingers," and then when the swell gets to a low
ebb, he pulls the chain and he pulls you through this tiny little hole in the
wall, and bam, you're in the Blue Grotto. And it's just glorious. And he'll sing "o solo
mio," and then he'll say "I'm not going to take you out here unless you give me
more money," and it's that kind of a gimmick, its a tourist trap, but it's a beautiful
And if you're going to Capri, it's a delightful thing. Nearby, you've
got Paestum, an amazing Rome–Ancient Greek ruin. A reminder that 500 years before Christ, southern Italy was called Magna Graecia. It was a Greek
And if you really want to see Greek ruins but you don't have time to
go over to Greece, you can see them just an hour south of Naples at Paestum. Plenty
of opportunities to enjoy South Italy. If you like, we have a tour of South Italy
that really is popular, and it goes to a lot of delightful stops south of Naples.
And while I don't have time to talk about it today, Sicily is a popular destination in Italy.
This is a beautiful tour, winter or summer, there's plenty to see and do in
Sicily, and if you want to know more about Sicily go to our website ricksteves.Com, go into the TV corner, and we've got a thirty minute program
just on Sicily. You could download the script, and that would be what I have to
offer about Sicily, along with our itinerary.
are thinking about traveling in southern Italy,
I want to remind you, Italy is your intense
urban jungle– or, Naples is your intense urban
jungle of Italy, and then an hour south you've got one of
the most delightful resort towns anywhere, Sorrento, which makes
a beautiful home base for exploring the
wonders of South Italy. Thank you very much, and happy travels. Grazie, thank you,
buon viaggio, buon viaggio. If you've enjoyed this video
you'll find lots more at ricksteves.Com, and
on my Rick Steves YouTube channel.
travels, and thanks for joining us..