Our favorite special-interest tour group in the region is the lively Naples-based Rising Incoming Organizer (RIO), Via Monte di Dio 9, 80132 Napoli (tel. 081-7644934; www.riorimontitours.com), a family business now in its third generation. It offers a variety of unique, off-the-beaten-path tours that cover all kinds of special interests, from classic art and ceramics -- a 12-day tour in Naples, Vietri, the Amalfi Coast, and Cerreto Sannita (near Benevento) that we particularly recommend -- to golf, sailing, and culinary adventures, including one featuring Neapolitan pastries.
Another operator we like is the Philadelphia-based Context Travel (tel. 800/691-6036 toll-free in the U.S., or 215/392-0303; www.contexttravel.com), offering tours and excursions guided by docents and experts. The list of available walking tours of Naples is impressive; each tour focuses on one area of interest, such as art, archaeology, architecture, history, theology, city ambience, shopping, or cuisine.
San Diego-based Cultural Italy (tel. 800/380-0014 or 619/822-1099; www.culturalitaly.com) is also a good source for a variety of tours.
Academic Trips & Language Classes
Our favorite language school in the area is Sorrento Lingue, Via S. Francesco 8, 80067 Sorrento (tel. 081-8075599; www.sorrentolingue.com). It also offers cooking and art classes. Our other favorite is Centro Italiano, Vico Santa Maria dell'Aiuto 17, 80134 Napoli (tel. 081-5524331; www.centroitaliano.it), which also offers excellent seminars on local culture as well as courses on archaeology, ceramics, wine, and yoga.
Both offer high academic value and comparable costs (weekly courses start at about 200€ per person). Another resource is the British-based LCA (Language Courses Abroad; www.languagesabroad.co.uk) which organizes language as well as cooking and art classes in the region.
Adventure & Wellness Trips
The Sorrento peninsula and Amalfi Coast are hikers' heavens, while the Cilento simultaneously offers the best to both hikers and bicycle enthusiasts. A great number of agencies, both local and international, offer hiking and biking trips, but you can also hire local guides to organize your own individual trip.
Our favorite locally based organization is Cycling Cilento Adventure (tel. 328-3652736; www.cyclingcilentoadventure.com), based in Cilento National Park. It offers a great -- both in number and quality -- choice of road bike, mountain bike, and hiking tours, all of which allow you to sample the local cuisine and see the best sights.
An excellent agency is Country Walkers (tel. 800/464-9255 or 802/244-1387; www.countrywalkers.com); based in Vermont, it organizes great walking tours with highly experienced local guides, from a more laid-back tour of Capri and the Amalfi Coast, to a more taxing hike of the Amalfi Coast.
Another excellent agency is the U.K.-based Sherpa Expeditions (tel. 20-8577-2717; www.sherpa-walking-holidays.co.uk), offering several guided and self-guided walking tours in Campania, both on the Amalfi Coast and in Cilento National Park.
La Dolce Vita Wine Tours (tel. 888/746-0022; www.dolcetours.com) organizes easier walking tours, including one that covers Capri, Mount Vesuvius, and Pompeii, as well as some of the best vineyards in the region.
Breakaway Adventures (tel. 800/567-6286; www.breakaway-adventures.com) organizes cycling and walking tours in the Sorrento peninsula and Amalfi Coast as well as in the Cilento.
The region is also a major wellness destination, with the local volcanic activity creating endless natural spa opportunities. The island of Ischia and Castellamare di Stabia are where you'll find the world-renown resorts.
Food & Wine Trips
As home to some of the best culinary traditions in Italy, Campania offers a number of food-oriented tours. Our personal favorites are those offered by the Sorrento Cooking School (tel. 081-8783255; www.sorrentocookingschool.com), whose program includes a large variety of choices both in length (from daily excursions to longer tours lasting up to 8 days) and content (from cooking classes and wine tours to gastronomic and cultural explorations).
We also like the Italian cooking school of Mami Camilla, Via Cocumella 06, Sant'Agnello di Sorrento (tel. 081-8782067; www.mamicamilla.com).
Other excellent classes are organized by Sorrento Lingue and Centro Italiano.
Specializing in culinary vacations, Epiculinary (tel. 847-9887056; www.epiculinary.com) hosts a large variety of Italian classes and tours, several of which are in the Sorrento and Amalfi Coast areas.
Chicago-based International Kitchen (tel. 800/945-8606; www.theinternationalkitchen.com) is one of the best companies devoted to culinary tours, and its program includes several destinations on the Amalfi Coast, such as the delightful Oasi Olympia Relais in Sant'Agata sui due Golfi, between Sorrento and Positano.
With its "taste your travel" slogan, Italy-based Pagine di Gusto (tel. 0461-383120; www.paginedigusto.com) organizes several discovery tours of Campania, highlighting its art, food, and wines.
Another good resource is Gourmet Traveler (www.gourmetravel.com), offering specialized tours of the Amalfi Coast.
As for wine, our favorite tour operator is the Benevento-based Savour the Sannio (tel. 0823-953663; www.savourthesannio.com), operated by Barbara and Federico. They organize delectable tours of the local wineries as well as excellent cooking classes and cultural excursions.
Volunteer & Working Trips
Legambiente (www.legambiente.eu) and its regional section for Campania (www.legambiente.campania.it) and FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano; www.fondoambiente.it) regularly organize working vacations during which you volunteer on a specific conservation project, paying only your basic lodging expenses. Another good resource is Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (www.wwoof.org), which organizes volunteer work on organic farms.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.