Just Back From

It Never Gets Old: Rome and the Amalfi Coast

by Robert Christian Malmberg
Positano All photos by Robert Christian Malmberg.

Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Robert Christian Malmberg travels for the new life experiences, memories, and adventures that he captures behind the lens. Recently, he took his dream trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast.

So, what brought you to Italy?

My then-fiancé (now wife) and I wanted to make the most of a ten-day break before getting hitched. We decided to explore Rome for a few days and unplug in the countryside and on the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

What was the best tip you got before you left?

We reached out to friends that all sent awesome suggestions: Everything from local places to eat and drink to tips for navigating Naples en-route to the coast. We compiled a list of great options to have on standby while still leaving plenty of room for spontaneity. We also received a Honeymoon Guide to Rome from our friend and Fathom co-founder, Jeralyn!

How did you get there? And how did you get around?

We walked about nine miles a day in Rome. Exploring on foot is such a gift, it really enables you to get an inside feeling for a place. We took taxis and Uber for some of the late dinners. We then took the train from Rome to Naples, where we rented a car (an automatic transmission, which was crucial). Driving around was an adventure in itself. The advice I received from the guy at Hertz was, “Drive slow and stay right.” Good advice.

What camera did you pack? Tell us how you got this visual effect on all of your photos.

I brought a digital camera and medium format film camera. The film camera shoots a square, and I've figured out a way to overlap the frames to make creative double exposures, my way of creating an analog, "panoramic" of the landscape. It's been fun to merge two different vantage points and subject matter into in one image. By the way, all of these images are for sale in limited edition, printed and signed in-house at my studio in Brooklyn.

What did you do?

Day One: Arrived to Rome at 9 a.m. via a red-eye flight from JFK. We checked into the artsy J.K. Place Rome in the city center where we stayed for two nights. Following a much needed nap, we had a hearty lunch at Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina and sampled some classic Roman dishes, our favorite being carbonara (handmade spaghetti tossed with crispy pork cheek). Afterwards, we walked around fairly aimlessly which was great fun, visiting epic locations like the Trevi Fountain and random basilicas.

Day Two: Got heavily caffeinated on espresso, Americano, and cappuccino before our guided tour of Vatican City. We bypassed all of the long lines and had a laid-back guide who made lots of jokes about the statues. It was rad. Dinner was at Cesare al Casaletto, an unassuming family spot with homemade Roman specialties and giant carafes of red wine.

Day Three: We left our bags with the concierge and headed out for our last day in Rome. Stopped for lunch at a local market, ordered a panini and salad from a very sweet women at the counter. Afterwards we explored the Colosseum and some more ruins before our train to Naples in the late afternoon. We spent one evening in Naples in a nice hotel in a dicey port-side hood and ate some of the best pizza we’ve ever had.

Day Four: We woke up early and rented a car to begin our drive for the coast, taking a two-hour pitstop at Pompeii, which was touristy, but incredible. Our afternoon was spent driving two hours through the country, arriving at a remote B&B in Bellosguardo at sunset.

Day Five: From the country to the coast, we drove further to the hilltop commune of Castellabate (the history and views were unreal). We had an incredible local lunch of mussels and seafood pasta, which we followed with an afternoon nap and hike around the ruins of Castellabate.

Day Six: We checked intoIl San Pietro Di Positano. Admiring the view, we ate fresh seafood, drank wine, took an afternoon swim and another nap.

Day Seven: We hiked around Positano all day and took photographs (lots of stairs!), then ate dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurantZass (inside Il San Pietro). A true culinary experience with live piano and an opera singer.

Day Eight and Nine: We cruised down to Amalfi and checked into Hotel Santa Caterina. We basically hung at the pool for two days — a glass elevator goes down fifteen stories through the cliffs with a salt pool built into the rocks at sea level— an amazing private experience. Our days alternated between swims in the sea and the pool.

Day Ten: We returned to Rome and flew back to NYC.

This was especially great:

Hanging at the salt pool at Hotel Santa Caterina.

But this wasn’t:

The train station in Naples.

This was touristy and worth it:

Vatican City and Pompeii.

The local speciality you loved:

All about the food and wine. And the people were so warm.

Speed round of favorites

1.Meal: We stumbled upon the best mom-and-pop restaurant in Trastevere, Rome, eating gnocchi and rabbit. I won’t tell you the name because it makes me happy knowing it's there being real and local.

2. Neighborhood to explore: Trastevere, Rome.

3. Site/place/thing you did: Staying in Castellabate.

4. Cafe/casual hangout: Cliffside gelato in a Positano cafe.

One thing/place you didn't get to visit, but wanted to: We wanted to go boating a few times in Amalfi but the oceans were quite rough due to a recent storm.

You can’t stop thinking about:

The sky. The clouds puff and swirl like a great masters' oil painting.

The Instagram moment:

I am sharing lots of photos now that we are back. But honestly, not being online for ten days was one of the best parts of the whole trip. It’s crucial to take a nice break from time to time, and simply be device-free.

What's the #1 tip you'd give a friend who wanted to go?

Eat and drink everything and take naps whenever you can.

Would you go back?

We cannot wait.

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