I just returned from a staycation and – wow – was it relaxing. 

Because I live in Southern Italy outside of Naples, an excursion to Mt Vesuvius is only about an hour’s drive away. This was my very first time heading to Vesuvius and I booked a wine tasting and an overnight stay. While I was in the planning process, I toyed with the idea of hiking, which is a popular option, but I wasn’t sure hiking was going to vibe with my theme of tranquility and relaxation.

Yesterday, I set off in the morning to go to Cantina del Vesuvio for a wine tasting and lunch. I was meeting my friend there and we booked a slot for 10:30am, one of the only available times on a busy Mother’s Day weekend. The early reservation ended up being a blessing because we were basically the only ones in the tasting room and the morning air was still fresh and cool. When I pulled into the property, I drove through acres of grapevines and it was already a pristine and tranquil setting. I oohed and ahhed to myself as my car wound its way up to the buildings. Mt Vesuvius was close and when I saw the telltale dark gray color of volcanic soil, I knew I was in for something special. 

I continued to drive my car, following signs that read “Wine Club”, and came to a gate. I popped out of my car and pushed the call button – I felt thrilled and confident that I could speak with the attendant in Italian. I was right! After I said that I had a reservation for lunch and gave my name, the gate opened and I drove through.

As I parked in the spacious parking lot, in the shade, and stepped out of my car, I saw my friend waving to me from the terrace. The terrace was nearly empty at that time of morning and she looked serene and happy sitting among leather clad stools arranged around round tables. I thought to myself, “let the morning of wine tasting and lunch commence!” I already knew this was going to be a fun and pleasant way to spend the day. 

We started by tasting their white wine on the terrace while our tour guide shared about the history of the winery and the grapes. My friend and I opted to hear the tour in Italian, so we could practice our language skills, although the guide could also easily give it in English. 

Then there was a short tour of the vineyard and wine making facilities, before moving up to the rooftop terrace to taste another white, a rose, a red and a dessert wine. Those wines were accompanied by antipasti, a pasta course, and dessert. The views from the rooftop were incredible. 

We lingered a little while enjoying the food and wine pairings and we ended up finishing the tour and lunch experience in about two-and-a-half hours, which was a little longer than expected.

I really enjoyed my first time wine tasting on Mt Vesuvius at Cantina Del Vesuvio. The grounds are beautiful, the wines are delicious and the tour is just long and informative enough. I would love to go back and take my visiting friends there. Next, it was time for the staycation portion of my trip.

I discovered a gem of a hotel, Hotel Pacha Mama, on a total whim. I found Hotel Pacha Mama when the hotel I’d had my eye on was fully booked. It’s amazing when something doesn’t work out and then you have something even better come into its place. How many great travel experiences have I had like that? Pacha Mama had great reviews and reserving through Priceline or Booking was easy. I chose Priceline because it gave me a free cancellation option. You can contact Hotel Pacha Mama on WhatsApp, which I took advantage of because it adds an element of ease when communicating as a non-native Italian speaker. Their WhatsApp team is responsive and friendly. When I checked in early, I was able to drop my bags and pick up my key. When I re-arrived back to the hotel after the wine tour, I was delighted to find my room ready and the jacuzzi revved up! I had a little trouble using my keycard to get into the front door, but I called the concierge and he was able to come and assist me.

I booked my one night stay at Hotel Pacha Mama for the prime purpose of relaxation, and it delivered. I chose a room with an outdoor jacuzzi that I blissfully soaked in for much of the afternoon. The terrace with the jacuzzi is private and I didn’t realize what a luxury it would be to have total privacy. After hours of jacuzzi soaking with a good novel, I brought my book inside and read on the comfortable bed. For dinner, I walked to a pizzeria behind the hotel and brought back a pizza and salad. I got a long nights rest and woke up feeling incredible. The bed was really comfortable. Italian mattresses tend to be very firm and instead, this one was pillowy and felt like memory foam.

When I woke up, I spent another hour or so reading in the jacuzzi in the soft morning light and brisk morning air. It was perfection.

I was one of the first guests up for breakfast and was so happy to see eggs on the buffet. The hotel pre-peeled and sliced the hard boiled eggs, which was a nice touch. I had eggs, meats and cheeses and then some citrus yogurt. I made a yogurt parfait with granola and added almonds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds. I loved how the buffet had options for proteins, grains, nuts, and seeds as well as toasts and pastries. I didn’t hike up Mt Vesuvius this time, but I could see how if you had a big day of hiking, you’d appreciate the nutritious options for breakfast. 

And just like that my one night stay was complete. After chatting to the concierge and getting a great recommendation for a nearby beach for next time, I was back in my car and driving home to Bacoli. I was relaxed and refreshed. Just what I ordered for Mother’s Day!

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Hi, I’m Diana — the Dolce Mom! 

In 2023 my husband took a job in southern Italy and we moved our family from Austin, Texas to Bacoli, Italy near Naples. I’m a professional home organizer by trade, but now spend my days immersing myself and our little one in Italian culture and travel. 

I believe a well-traveled life is as much about experiencing new things as it is a state of mind. I’m in a pursuit for the good life in all its forms. Here I share that pursuit and its innersection with real life. 

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