The trouble with holidays is that everyone wants something different. In any family, you’ll get the one who wants to lie in the sun all day, the active one, the sightseer, the adventurer… Mixing all these requirements into one holiday is often a challenge, so it’s sometimes best to book a holiday with a little bit of everything. I always think Italy is good for this. Pick somewhere like Sorrento and you should be able to please everybody. The summer months are scorchio, there’s fabulous shopping, amazing food, and a fascinating old town with loads of bars and cafés perfect for people watching. Choose your hotel well, not all resorts have beaches as the coastline tends to be a bit rocky – I like the Hotel Atlantic Palace ( First Choice have holidays here) as it’s got a gorgeous pool area, plus a shuttle bus that will drop you at the nearest beach. It’s also just a 40 minute train ride from the incredible ancient ruins at Pompeii.
We visited Pompeii last summer as part of our Disney Magic Mediterranean cruise, and it’s a perfect day trip for kids of all ages. But if you’re coming from Sorrento, a train ride is a fabulous way to travel, and once there, there’s loads to see and do, and plenty of scope for running around too. The ancient city, covered in ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD has been incredibly well preserved and the site is huge. You’re free to wander around and discover everything at your own pace, and we really enjoyed bimbling along ancient streets, nosing into the homes of both ordinary people and the mansions of the incredibly rich citizens that once inhabited the area.
Highlights include the amphitheatre, where gladiators battled as crowds roared, and you can climb up all the stairs until your legs beg for mercy, the ‘gymnasium’, a huge area surrounded by colonnades and, our favourite, the baths which are still there – and still covered – and decorated with beautiful mosaics. It’s not always the obvious things that are fascinating at Pompeii though, it’s the everyday items: ovens, sinks, tracks worn in the street by the wheels of carriages… all sorts of things to discover. There’s also an area where you can see artifacts recovered from the ruins, and – amazingly – people that were preserved in the ash.
There are all sorts of guide books available, plus you can book an accompanied tour (or just wander near someone else’s tour and listen in to what they’re saying). There’s also a lovely shop (pick up some limoncello) and café area. Allow a good few hours to really soak up the atmosphere and have a proper wander. One word of warning, if you’ve got smaller children: there are quite a few dogs wandering around the city. They all seem perfectly friendly, but you just never know. Best to keep an eye out. Entry to Pompeii is €11 (cash only). Children go free.