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South of Italy with Family

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Hello everyone! I am going to Rome Dec. 26 with a group.
As of Jan. 2, we are on our own (my husband and 3 kids- ages 9,12 ,17) until Jan 6 in the evening.
I've decided to visit the south of Italy for those days. We like to eat! :) History, charming towns and beautiful scenery.

I would like to visit Pompeii, Naples, Sorrento and the amalfi coast. What do you recommend is a must see during those 4.5 days. I was thinking of going from Rome to Pompeii direct on Jan 2. And on Jan. 6, I must be back to Rome to catch a 6:30pm flight.

Which would be the best base to take day trips for those short amount of days? Since I am with children, I am considering booking at least a day trip with a travel agency so it's not as tiring.

I am a bit concerned with the cold weather visiting the coast. I wish I were going in the spring, but I have no choice in regards to the time of year I am visiting italy this time.

Hope to hear from you soon!

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    Very cold weather is not as much of a risk as rainy and windy weather. Weather permitting, it's a great time of the year to visit Pompeii. Also, with any sort of reasonable weather, the scenery of the Amalfi Coast is great, although most restaurants will be closed for the season. You probably should keep your plans flexible, so that you can switch days if it rains, but that kind of flexibility doesn't go well with tours.

    I would suggest one of two bases:

    Sorrento is right in the center of the things you want to see. It's a good base for visiting Pompeii, it's not very difficult to get to from Rome, and it's a little bigger than some of the Amalfi Coast towns, so not closed up as tight in the winter.

    Naples is a major city, full of life in winter as in summer. There are some great museums there, for rainy days. It's a good base for Pompeii, but a bit far north for the Amalfi Coast. You might really be better off with a tour for that if leaving from Naples. I'm sure all the hotels have brochures for tours, and at that time of the year, you may not need to book far in advance, so you can wait to see the weather forecast.

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    Weather in Naples can be rather mild in that time frame if it is not raining or storming. I was once in Naples near Christmas time and it clapped thunder and hailed for 20 minutes, and it was actually fun. We all ran into the nearest pastry shop and ate baba and sfogliatelle! But on other days the temps were mild enough to only need a jacket, even if it was cloudy. It was a pleasure to walk around Pompeii and not have it be broiling hot.

    You can plan to go directly from Rome to Pompeii (you can store your luggage at the entrance to the sight), but you should be prepared to change your plans if it is raining Jan 2 and go another day.

    As much as I love Naples, I think I would opt for staying in Sorrento if I was shepherding kids. The motor traffic in Naples is just too intense and unruly. Pompeii is so easy to see on your own as a day trip from Sorrento, I would not book with a travel agency for that. If you think the kids would enjoy a guide, just hire one of the official guides at that entrance to Pompei.

    If you are going to spend money on a guide, then maybe the place to spend it is on a walking tour of Naples. You can usually find guides online, and they would be willing to customize a walking tour for kids, to include underground sites and pizza and pastry stops. The fish market is fun too. You could see a museum on your own before or after the tour.

    It might also be worthwhile, if you get a brilliantly sunny day, to use a driver for lunch and a look see along the Amalfi coast. If any of your kids is prone to motion sickness it is sometimes easier on sensitive stomachs to be in a car rather than on a bus (and you can always ask a private driver to stop if need be). Or, if any of you are nervous about heights, a car is less nerve wracking than a bus.

    Even if you all are fearless with cast iron stomachs, it is still a good idea to go easy on food and coffee or drinks before getting in a conveyance to ride along the Amalfi cliffs.

    Another possibility if the weather is clear and not filled with chilly winds is a hike up Vesuvius. You can do that on your own too.

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