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Trip Report Our trip to Rome & the Amalfi Coast (with all transportation logistics included!)

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Here are the details of my trip to Rome & the Amalfi Coast (with a base in Positano) with my husband in May 2009. Yes, this is a very late trip report! But better late than never :) The logistics of this trip were all found & created with the help of the Fodor’s forums!

ROME

Day 1 - We visited the Coliseum, Forum and Palatine Hill. We bought our tickets for all 3 at the Forum to avoid the long lines at the Coliseum. All 3 places are connected, so once you see the Coliseum ask someone where the Forum is or if you see the Forum information center – it’s right across the street from it. It took us about 3-4 hours or so to visit all 3 places. The cost of the ticket for Forum, Palatine Hill and Coliseum was 12 euros total per person.

Day 2 – We visited the Pantheon and had lunch right in front of it. Then went to Piazza Navona. Then walked along Via Condotti and walked to the Spanish Steps. From there we went to dinner in front of Trevi Fountain and then sat at the fountain.

Day 3 – We visited the Vatican. I had bought admission tickets for a tour guide in advance from the Vatican website (http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do?action=booking) b/c buying tickets online is the only way to avoid the long lines at the entrance. The tour guide took us through the Vatican Museum. Then we visited the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica on our own. The Vatican is the only place in Rome we did not walk to. We took the metro and got off at the Ottaviano stop and walked from there (signs point to it, you can see it, and it was about less than 10 min walk). It took us 4 hours to visit the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica. The admission price plus tour guide, service & fees cost total 60 euros for both of us when I bought them in advance online. Otherwise, admission only is 14 euros per person.

Day 4-7 – Amalfi Coast (See AMALFI COAST section below)

Day 8 – Pompeii on the way back to Rome (See AMALFI COAST section below for how to get to Pompeii). Back in Rome - We walked the bridges over the Tiber River.

Day 9 – We visited the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain again.

Day 10 – Left Rome for Chicago. So sad…! We loved Italy!

PS…
1. Nobody knows what crushed red pepper is! They usually call it chili or sometimes pepperoncini. They also have chili oil which is crushed red pepper marinated in oil.

2. In Rome, we had dinner in the Campo de Fiori square a few times...it’s a cool open area with a bunch of bars and restaurants where the young people and locals hang out.

3. We had gelato twice a day…it was soo good!

4. We bought all our sight-seeing tickets while in Italy except for the Vatican. I bought those about 1.5 weeks in advance online b/c I had read that the lines for the Vatican can be very long and having ticket vouchers in hand allows you to bypass the lines. Also, the reason we started at the Forum instead of the Coliseum is b/c I had read that the lines at the Coliseum are very long. Hardly anyone knows that you can buy tickets at the Forum, so there is absolutely no line there

TRANSPORTATION LOGISTICS to get from ROME to POSITANO
(this information was so hard to find/gather/plan! Also, it looks like a lot, but it was super easy)

1. Rome to Naples: Trenitalia from Rome’s Termini to Napoli Centrale (about 2 hours)
I think we took the 8:15 AM train from Rome
2. Naples to Sorrento: Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Garibaldi (Stazione Centrale f.s.) (about 1 hour)
I think we took the 10:40 or 11:10 AM
3. Sorrento to Positano: SITA bus from the square in front of the Circumvesuviana station in Sorrento to the stop closest to your hotel in Positano (we got off at the Chiesa Nuova stop and walked down the road to our hotel)

PS…….
For both trips to Italy, we bought all train tickets the same day right before we needed to take a train, except for any early morning trains – we bought those the night before (like for the morning train from Rome to Naples).

AMALFI COAST

My biggest dilemma when planning our trip to the Amalfi Coast was whether to be based in Positano or Sorrento. Sorrento is a great base if you’re planning on going to Paestum and Pompeii and Positano is just beautiful and allows easy access to Amalfi, Ravello and Capri. I’m glad I ended up choosing to stay in Positano, and I recommend staying there. Here’s how we spent our time on the coast. A lot of people also stay on Capri but they only like it in the evenings after all the day trippers have left.

Day 1. Arrived in Positano, got settled in
Day 2. Day trip to Capri & Anacapri
Day 3. Day trip to Amalfi & Ravello
Day 4. Chilled in Positano
Day 5. Stopped in Pompeii on our way back to Rome

We made all our day trips by ferry/boat and we booked them the night before at the beach in Positano (you can negotiate prices).

Day 1. Arrived in Positano
If you decide to stay in Positano, I recommend staying at or near the beach level. If you don’t, there is A LOT of walking up and down stairs to get from your hotel to the beach level every day (which is what we had to do b/c the hotels I wanted to stay at near beach level weren’t available!).
There’s a restaurant at the top of Positano called La Tagliata. You can ask your hotel to make reservations for you – they will pick you up from your hotel and drop you off after lunch or dinner. It’s kind of overrated for vegetarians, so I wouldn’t go back there, but it’s a pretty cool one-time experience if you don’t have anything else to do for lunch or dinner one day. There are no menus – they just keep serving you food and wine non-stop for a few hours! We went for dinner but I’ve read that lunch may be better b/c you can see beautiful scenery from there during the daytime.

Day 2. Day trip to Capri & Anacapri
We took the boat tour of the island that takes you inside the Blue Grotto – amazing experience. It stops at the Green and White Grottos and ends at Capri.
Right when we got to Capri, we went straight up to Anacapri and took the chairlift to Monte Solare for spectacular views of Capri and the coast.
Then we visited Axel Munthe’s Villa San Michele – it’s a beautiful private garden.
We hung out and walked around Capri for the rest of the day before taking our return boat ride to Positano.

Day 3. Day Trip to Amalfi & Ravello
Took the ferry to Amalfi.
We had breakfast at an outdoor café/pastry shop and walked around Amalfi for a bit. There’s a huge church or something right in the middle of the main square that we went up to.
Then we took a bus up to Ravello and walked up to Villa Cimbrone. It is just breathtakingly beautiful and the smell of the gardens is simply amazing. One of my most favorite places ever.

Day 4. Chilled in Positano
Slept in, laid at the beach, walked around town, ate.

Day 5. We stopped in Pompeii on our way back to Rome

TRANSPORTATION LOGISTICS from POSITANO to ROME (with stop in POMPEII)

In Positano, Bar Internazionale is in the area known as Chiesa Nuova and it’s the place we bought our SITA bus tickets to head out of Positano and back to Sorrento. We just reversed the directions I provided above to go from Sorrento to Naples and Naples to Rome.

To go to Pompeii –
We didn’t plan to go to Pompeii - we made a decision to get off the train when they called the stop for Pompeii! So I can’t remember which train the stop to Pompeii is on (the one from Sorrento to Naples or the one from Naples to Rome), but whichever train it is, you can get off at the Pompeii stop, walk to the site of the ruins (less than 5 min walk), buy your admission tickets on the spot and leave your luggage with them, visit the ruins (you can finish in less than 2 hours), and then walk back to the train stop and get back on your route to Rome.

If you want to skip Pompeii, you can continue to go straight to Rome.

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