Postcards from Italy

Meet Our Guides: An Inside Look at Pompeii with Tony

Last week, we began a short series of posts highlighting our favorite guides in Italy and Switzerland. The series kicked off with Elvira, our top Florence guide and insider who knows the city’s highlights and hidden gems by heart. Elvira is just one of our carefully selected stable of professional guides whom we have entrusted with countless clients over the years.

This year, we are missing out on reconnecting with these guides as we lay low at home waiting for travel to make a comeback; our guides are also missing travelers from the US, and many have very little work this year as international tourism has bottomed out.

Antonio(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

We decided to take advantage of their relatively free schedules this summer with a number of interviews that touch on what each guide loves about their jobs, their cities, and their clients. This week we talked with Antonio Somma, known affectionately as Tony, who has taken scores of our travelers through the ancient city of Pompeii at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius. In addition to being a wonderful guide, he is an avid S.S.C. Napoli football fan and has accompanied clients to San Paolo Stadium for matches. Tony and his wife Carla are excellent cooks and have hosted guests for a home-cooked lunch. On a more personal note, Tony has a lovely lemon tree in his garden that supplies the lemon peel for our annual batch of homemade limonello. He is generous with his time and passionate about where he’s from. In somma, Tony is a true Pompeiano.

Napoli Game with Tony(Photo by CIU Travel via Flickr)

Stay tuned for more guide interviews to come!

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The Art of the South: The Top Museums and Collections in Naples

With the eyes of the world fixed on Covid-19, now is the time for us to do what’s best for our communities and avoid unnecessary travel. That said, there’s nothing that gets us through hard times like dreaming of our next jaunt to Italy! We’ll continue posting travel ideas for the Bel Paese and Switzerland for future trips, and we all hope to be wheels up as soon as possible....

Rome and Florence may be considered the capitals of Italy’s art world, but the teeming city of Naples ( is home to a surprising number of world-class museums, collections, and other cultural treasures. Known more for the atmospheric, shop-lined streets of the Centro Storico and grandiose monuments like the Castel d’Ovo and Piazza del Plebescito, “Bella Napoli” was the seat of the House of Bourbon during their rule of the Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in the 18th and 19th centuries, and a number of royal collections scattered across the city are testimony to the wealth and power of their reign.

Naples Panorama. Nikon D3100. DSC_0109-0115.(Photo by Robert Pittman via Flickr)

Before heading further south to the blockbuster destinations of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, linger awhile in this vibrant port city to take in the masterpieces hidden in its museums, palaces, and churches.

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Italy's Versailles: the Reggia di Caserta

It is said that when Charles VII of Naples first set eyes on the scale model of the magnificent royal palace he had commissioned his architect Luigi Vanvitelli to construct for him outside Naples in 1752, the Bourbon king was filled with such emotion that he feared his heart would be torn from his breast.

king-queen-lion-reggia-di-caserta-cr-ciutravel(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Though your heart is probably safe, your breath is sure to be taken away by the splendor and opulence of the finished Royal Palace of Caserta (or Reggia di Caserta), a triumph of late Italian Baroque architecture that is stunning both for its massive size and ornate style. The largest royal residence in the world, the palace is often compared to that of Versailles in France—with which it shares a number of stylistic and organizational features—and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited monuments in southern Italy.

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