The Contiki bus going through Italy.
The Bay of Naples.
If you're aged 18 to 35 and want to go on a holiday and have the time of your life, then Contiki is the answer... and Italy is the destination.
Everywhere Getaway travels our crews seem to run into happy groups of Contiki travellers, so we joined one of their tours to some great places in Italy.
18 to 35 year olds have been travelling Contiki’s world for about 40 years and here is how the company describes itself. “…offer you a unique combination seeing all the essential sights with our professional and fun-loving crew, plus time to do your own thing, a variety of great hotels and resorts and good times that will keep you talking for years to come. Our secret formula – a strong commitment to providing you with the best holiday possible at a price that doesn’t break the bank. It’s that simple”.
Contiki tour managers have been trained to show their passengers a broad view of the places they travel through. This includes history, art, culture, food, nightlife, beaches and museums. Everyone has a different idea as to what makes a holiday perfect, and Contiki has a range to choose from to suit every taste.
There is a four-day short break, a 34-day 12 European countries tour, trips that concentrate on one country or trips that feature a particular activity, such as skiing.
Your tour manager is your guide, friend, party organiser and coordinator. They ensure everything goes to plan, but don’t forget, when they tell you to be at the bus at leaving time, they really mean it. Also, if you are a single traveller, they can pair you with another single, same-sex traveller so you can take advantage of twin-share rates.
Assissi is Italy’s fourth most historically important city. Its serenity stems from St Francis, a monk who lived there from around 1182 until 1226. He founded the Franciscan order of the Catholic church and was devoted to asceticism, poverty and chastity. He is buried in the crypt of the basilica bearing his name, and it is the most visited sight in Umbria. Over 3 million pilgrims and tourists pay homage to him and his church each year. It was built about 750 years ago and is decorated with 28 frescoes by Giotto describing St Francis’ life. The rose-coloured medieval city has cobblestone streets, piazzas, churches, fountains, towers and Roman ruins and is beautifully preserved. It also has wonderful restaurants!
Sorrento overlooks the Bay of Naples and while its beaches aren’t the best in the area it has some interesting sights and some of the Amalfi Coast’s best shopping. It has good accommodation, wonderful eating, a beautiful old city and lots of ferries taking tourists on trips around the bay.
The legendary Isle of Capri is a 30 minute ferry ride from Sorrento. It has been home to emperors, seat of monasteries, place of exile, haunt of goats and fishermen but its fortunes changed in the 19th century when English and German expatriates found its charms. Since then there hasn’t really been a low season with farmers running little hotels and fishermen renting pleasure boats.
Capri Town is the main settlement, and Anacapri is the second town up on a higher plateau. Its attractions are The Church of San Michele which has an 18th century tile floor depicting the Garden of Eden and its constant sunshine.
Villa San Michele which was built in the 1880s by Dr Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor, is a museum with bright, airy rooms and landscaped gardens. Dr Munthe was very caring of impoverished inhabitants of Anacapri and funded bird sanctuaries all over Italy.
Villa Jovis is what remains of Caesar Tiberius’ palace. It is a 30 minute walk from the centre of Capri Town and from there you can see Mt Vesuvius which erupted in 79AD and buried the city of Pompeii.
The Blue Grotto is probably Capri’s most famous attraction. It was “discovered” in 1826, but a Triton statue and a Poseidon found at the bottom of the grotto gives credence to Romans knowing of the place well before then. Sunlight passes through an underwater cavity and shines through the seawater giving an aqua reflection which illuminates the cave.