A travel guide from the South of France to the South of Italy

From the French Riviera to the Amalfi coast many sights, sounds, and taste await the traveler
by Paula Naoufal

25 August 2017 | 12:51

Source: by Annahar

  • by Paula Naoufal
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 25 August 2017 | 12:51

The Massena Museum adjacent to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. (Annahar Photo/Paula Nawfal)

BEIRUT: Touring the French Riviera, the Italian Riviera, and the Amalfi coast in 10 days seem impossible, but if planned cleverly, the trip is surely promising.

There are two easy routes to take from Lebanon, so travelers can either take a round trip from Beirut to Rome, or take a multiple destination trip from Beirut to Nice and the return destination would be Rome - Beirut. If travelers would choose the first option, a one-way European domestic flight from Rome to Nice can be booked at an estimated cost of 60 Euros, depending on the season.

The French Riviera

Voyagers are advised to have Nice as their home base to tour the French Riviera, since the airport and main train stations are located there; and its location overlooks most parts of the French Riviera.

Day one – Nice

On the first day, vacationers are recommended to go grab their towels and sunscreen and head to a public or private beach along the “Promenade des Anglais,” a promenade along the Mediterranean in Nice.

The sea water has an intense light blue color that reflects marvelously with the sky. Also, the Promenade is a suitable place to take a stroll and to see the fine-looking Hotel Negresco and the flower market Cours Saleya. As for dinner, La Petite Maison, at Place Massena, is recommended.

Day two - Cannes

Taking the train from Nice to Cannes is a breeze; it’s an estimate journey of approximately 30-minutes that costs almost six euros. Make sure to head early to Cannes to take advantage of full day.

Gotha beach is a topnotch luxurious beach to spend the day at, where travelers can rent a beach bed for a deluxe experience. For those on a tighter budget, renting a smaller sunbed is possible.

After a long day at the beach, Drinks at Zplage, in Hotel Martinez, are recommended. Zplage offers a unique view of the beach with creative drinks and talented DJs. Currently, Hotel Martinez is having a refurbishment with plenty of upcoming surprises for the next season; travelers are advised to stay tuned.

To end the night with a tasty dinner, “New York New York” restaurant is the perfect spot for that; and for ice cream lovers, the renowned Amorino is definitely recommended after dinner. Amorino is a chain branch that offers flower shaped ice cream.

Day three - Cannes

La Croissette, Le Suquet, and the famous Palais des Festivals et des Congrais are surely not to be missed; all located on a long strand near the port. Travelers can even take a picture on the red carpet at the Palais where hundreds of Hollywood stars have walked.

Café Roma, located in front of the Ferris wheel, is ideal for an afternoon lunch. For dinner, head to Baoli, which turns into a club after midnight with astounding music and prominent DJs. 

Day four – Juan Les Pins and Monaco

Hotel Cap Eden Roc is a must on every traveler’s list of visiting the French Riviera. It is one of the most exquisite properties situated at the furthest tip of cap d’Antibes; only 20- minutes away from Nice. The hotel land is composed of 22.5 acres and has accommodated crowned heads, politicians, artists, renowned intellectuals, and movie stars.

On site, there are several lounges and restaurants; both Eden Roc restaurant and Eden Roc grill offer exquisite cuisines with the panoramic view of the Lerin Islands.

The champagne lounge, located on a grand terrace, boasts a large variety of champagnes, including the rare and ultra expensive ones. The hotel offers thirty-one seafront cabanas that provide a tranquil retreat surrounded by pure wilderness and serenity; and on site there are 118 rooms and two villas.

On site, there are also tennis courts and a wellness center; and the best part is that there is a kids’ area for those wanting to have a relaxing day without the children. Finally, carved out of the rock, is the seawater infinity swimming pool overseeing the Mediterranean; without a doubt one of the most illustrative spots of the property.

At night, head from Nice to Monte Carlo, which is a 15-minute train ride that costs an estimate of four Euros. The casino is not to be missed, even if one is not a gambling fan; it is marvelous to see from the outside and inside. Also, the cars parked outside on the casino square are exquisite; ranging from vintage to modern cars.

If road trippers are looking for a more relaxing scene they are advised to sit at Café de Paris situated in the casino square. Surely, if holiday makers are to play for the night, they should take a taxi back to Nice as the trains stop at 12.

Honorable mention: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is located on a peninsula next to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and to Villefranche-sur-Mer and spreads out to Cap Ferrat. Its serenity and warm climate make it a desired holiday destination.

Italian Riviera

Day five – Portofino

Travelers are advised to head early to the main train station, “Nice La Gare” and have breakfast at Paul’s, while waiting for their train to head to Portofino. The trip from Nice to Portofino costs about 25 Euros and takes about 5 hours, depending on which train travelers choose.

Travelers are recommended to stay in either Paraggi or Santa Margherita Ligure since Portofino is quite expensive and doesn’t accommodate many options for hotels.

Upon arrival voyagers can head to one of the most beautiful squares in the world and have dinner at La Gritta for tasty Italian cuisine. The restaurant faces the beautiful port with its colored buildings, boats, and yachts. What is more sublime than following Dalida’s path and finding one’s love in Portofino?

Day six - St. Margharita Ligure

The beach in the Italian Riviera is crystal clear; and spending the day at a public or private beach is the ideal thing to do during a hot sunny day.

Also, there is a lighthouse named “Il faro” overlooking the Riviera that one can go up to. The path is picturesque as it leads to portray magnificent views over the Gulf, as well as villas. Once there, there is a magical panorama with a view from Punta Manarain Sestri Levante to Capo Noli.

Travelers are then advised to head to Santa Margherita Ligure for dinner. In order to head south and benefit from the little time provided, it is recommended to take the overnight train from Portofino to Salerno. The ideal route would be to take the overnight train to Salerno; this costs between 60 and 80 euros and lasts approximately eight hours, depending on the type of train and journey taken.

Honorable mention: Cinque Terre, an area that has five towns, is filled with colorful houses and vineyards cohere to steep terraces. It also accommodates harbors which are filled with fishing boats and trattorias with seafood. Usually travelers take the hiking trail to go to the towns.

South of Italy

First a home base is needed, and Maiori is heavily suggested since it falls in the middle of the Amalfi coast, and the commute is easy. Salerno can be another option for an inexpensive home base, also relatively close to the Amalfi coast.

Day seven – Amalfi

The first day, travelers are advised to spend it between Maiori, Minori, Amalfi town, and Ravello; all neighbor one another. The first two locations consist of beaches and scenic houses. The Amalfi town has a striking must see church, the Amalfi Cathedral.

Ravello, having Villa Rufolois is not to be missed. Villa Rufolo was owned by the wealthy Rufolo family and is currently a tourist hotspot with its magnificent gardens. Belmond hotel Caruso is also recommended for drinks with its exquisite pool and view overlooking the Amalfi coast.

Day eight- Positano

Positanois is up next. The town has several beautiful hotels such as Le Sirenuse and Villa Treville. Le Sirenuse has a champagne and oyster bar, a gourmet restaurant, and Franco’s bar. They are all topnotch and definitely worth every penny. Villa Treville provides a picturesque frame of Positano.

Another good recommendation for lunch or dinner is the Concadel Sogno. If travelers prefer to spend the day at the beach instead, Positano’s Spiaggia di Fornillo beach and Spiaggia Grande are good selections. The Geen Grotto, White Grotto, and Emerald Grotto are not to be missed.

Day nine: Sorrento + Capri

Sorrento is famous for its grottos and beaches, the Blue Marre, and Blue Grotto are some worthy preferences. Also, the historic center of Sorrento, including its Cathedral and the Basilica di San' Antonino, Medieval palazzos, and Piazza Tasso Sorrento are a must.

Voyagers can then head to Capri, which takes about 40 minutes and costs around 13 Euros. Capri lodges Tiberio palace and Gardens of Augustus. A boat tour is a route highly endorsed for tourists in order to see the Green Grotto, Blue Grotto, or Monte Solaro.

Day 10 – Salerno

Travelers are recommended to see Salerno and have a meal at an astounding Neapolitan Restaurant named Antonio la Trippa. At Antonio la Trippa the serving of the food is original and is somehow different from the general Italian cuisine, because of Napoli’s long lost history.

In the late afternoon heading back to Rome is easy, which is almost three hours away by train in order to catch the flight back home.

Honorable mention: If travelers have time, Pompeii is suggested. Pompeii is a gigantic archaeological site which was once buried under meters of ash and pumice after the disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The remaining sites feature excavated ruins of streets and houses.

Day 11 - Rome

If travelers have the full day in Rome before leaving home, it is recommended that they have a meal at Dar Poeta, a local Italian restaurant; drinks or dessert at Castelle san Angello, which is The Mausoleum of Hadrian.

The building was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Finally voyagers can end the night on the Trastevere side of the River for a last taste of fun and drinks

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