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HOTEL REVIEW: Back-Roads Enchanting South Italy stays

If you recently read about Zoe Macfarlane’s experiences touring with Back-Roads, you’ll know that they offer small group journeys that showcase destinations in more meaningful, richer ways. How does that extend to the tour accommodation, though? Zoe reviews Back-Roads 8-day Enchanting Southern Italy accommodation in Naples, Paestum, and the Amalfi Coast.  

Naples: Palazzo Alabardieri  

Palazzo Alabardieri
Travellers on the Back-Roads Enchanting Southern Italy tour spend the first night at the Palazzo Alabardieri lobby. ©Palazzo Alabardieri

Tucked off a narrow street filled with mustard-coloured buildings, a small courtyard, leafy entrance, and gold-plated Palazzo Alabardieri sign alerts you that something special could be inside. 

Centred around the former Santa Caterina a Chiaia Monastery, the Palazzo Alabardieri exudes class and history. This is thanks to its marble floors, opulent chandeliers, baroque-style furnishings and reproduction frescoes. The light, airy lobby opens to a cosy lounge, narrow wood-panelled bar, and quaint reading room. 

My smallish room could be best described as pretty. This is thanks to the cream walls, antique-style lamps, and dainty wall-stencilled flowers. After two pre-tour nights on a lumpy mattress in Rome, I was especially grateful for the heavenly mattress, plump pillows, and lightweight duvet.  

Palazzo Alabardieri
Décor varies from room to room at the Palazzo Alabardieri. ©Palazzo Alabardieri

The bathroom was spacious, modern, and spotless, with complimentary Ortigia Sicilia products. There was even a bottle of ‘Intimate Cleanser’ resting on the bidet (standard in Italian homes and hotels). 

Located close to Naples’ enormous public square and close to Via Chiaia’s trendy boutiques, Palazzo Alabardieri is a haven from the bustle of Naples. It was perfect for our first night on tour, thanks to those cosy jetlag-reducing beds! 

Paestum: Il Graniao del Casabella 

Il Graniao del Casabella
A gorgeous stay at Il Graniao del Casabella next to the ancient ruins of Paestum. ©Il Graniao del Casabella

The Casabella Granary is a perfect example of accommodation the Back-Roads way. Rather than putting passengers in a bog-standard hotel away from the touring site of interest, they find the best accommodation that best reflects the area.  

Il Graniao del Casabella is a country-style property next to the ancient Greek temples of Paestum, 100 kilometres from Naples. It was so close the arched window from my loft room overlooked a 2,400-year-old temple!  

It wasn’t only the Temple of Hera that filled my view, but a bucolic setting fit for a classic Italian romance novel. Minus the Italian stud. While the rooms were basic, they had everything you’d need for a cosy night’s stay: big bed, wooden furnishings, and a simple en-suite bathroom. 

Il Graniao del Casabella ©Zoe Macfarlane
That view ©Zoe Macfarlane

If you’re a light sleeper or jetlagged (most of our 13-strong group were Aussies and Kiwis), the shutters here (and on many Italian properties) afforded a great night’s sleep. Far better than black-out blinds at home. 

Breakfast at the Casabella Granary was an appealing spread of fresh fruit, cheeses, and hams. The yummy plates of baked goodies looked straight off a cake stall at a country fair! It was my favourite on our tour. All served by the warm and inviting owner and her staff.  

Outside, quaint bistros and trattorias lined the route offering traditional Southern Italian meals, on-trend cocktails, and rural Italian vibes.  

It was a stay that proved that you don’t need a swanky property for an enjoyable, restful stay. One I’d happily do again, even without the ruins of ancient Paestum around the corner! 

The Amalfi Coast: Hotel Minori Palace 

Hotel Minori Palace
A dazzling 5-night stay. ©Hotel Minori Palace

The idea of being on tour and having five nights in the same hotel seems like it could be an itinerary typo, right? Five whole nights to unpack, maybe do some sink washing (okay, definitely do some sink washing), and knowing where you are the next morning is practically unheard of. But not on Back-Roads’ Enchanting Southern Italy tour! 

The 13 villages and towns along the Amalfi Coast run for 55 kilometres, and Back-Roads do the smart thing and offer one base to explore them easily. And in true Back-Roads style, it was the one that reflected the true ambience of the region. Cue, five nights in Minori.  

Hotel Minori Palace is one of the largest accommodation offerings in Minori, a 44-room dazzling white (inside and out) property. Rooms are of varying sizes and vantage points. Mine was a small room with a Minori town outlook against the backdrop of lemon orchard-groved hills. 

Hotel Minori Palace
Room sizes and views vary, but the design, comfort & amenities are the same. ©Hotel Minori Palace

You might think it was the balcony view, comfy bed, or en-suite bathroom that gave me the most comfort over those five nights. Nope, it was the kettle, a feature so rare it could be a Janare, a bewitching creature unique to Amalfi legend! It’s the little things.  

Minori is a quaint spot only 15 minutes by road or boat from Amalfi. This former fishing village is one of the sleepier towns along the coast, proving the perfect respite after exploring some of the bustling towns (ahem, Positano and Amalfi). Plus, it’s home to the yummy treats at the famous Sal de Riso bakery! 

Sleeping the Back-Roads way 

There’s no one-beige-hotel-fits-all approach to accommodation when travelling with Back-Roads. With tours focused on connecting to destinations more meaningfully, this can result in smaller properties – less fancy at times – with the group spread across different categories (and views). It’s worth it.   

Knowing this up-front is key to enjoying every room you stay in. 

Learn more 

Il Graniao del Casabella
Local stays can mean home-baked breakfasts, like this one at Il Graniao del Casabella. ©Zoe Macfarlane

To discover more about travelling the Back-Roads way, check this review out.

For more Back-Roads touring and accommodation inspiration, visit backroadstouring.com.