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Stay in Naples, Sorrento, or some nights in both?

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Last week I booked a mileage flight rt Rome for next April (2013), arriving at 7:30AM on the Thurs. after Easter and leaving 20 days later. Apart from 8 days in Venice 10 years ago, we have not been in Italy since an 11 wk. Europe on $5 a Day trip in 1971 when we were in grad school. So I guess you could say that it’s our first trip to Italy for all practical purposes.

From Rome we plan to go first to Naples/Sorrento for 6 nights and then to Tuscany for 7 nights. We want to use Marriott and Hilton hotel points for over half of our 19 nights. Since our preferred Marriott in Rome was showing not too much reward availability in April, I reserved our 5 nights in Rome while I still could. Since we also want to use points for either the Naples Renaissance or the Sorrento Hilton or both, I thought maybe I’d better reserve those now, too.

The rough agenda for the Naples/Amalfi region is a day to Capri; a day going down the coast (maybe bus down, boat back); a day at the Archeological Museum and whatever else we can fit in in Naples; most of a day at Pompeii; and a day at Herculaneum and vicinity, maybe to Vesuvius. We also have however much of the day that is left after taking the train from Rome to either Naples or Sorrento. Currently I’m leaving things a bit loose since there are some “minor” things we’d like to do – a market (now I’ve forgotten where), for instance. We really don’t want the hassle of a car for this part of the trip and plan to use public transportation.

Neither the Naples Renaissance nor the Sorrento Hilton is ideally located - both require a bit of a walk to the center of town but are do-able. The Hilton has more negative reviews and the awards “cost” is twice the number of points as the Renaissance in Naples. (The difference would be enough for 3 nights in Florence, for instance.) Thus, I considered spending 3 nights in Sorrento and doing the Amalfi and Capri trips from there, then going to Naples for the last 3 nights. If we were staying in Sorrento the whole time, we would still have to get to Naples for the museums/churches but we would have to add maybe an hour to go to the hotel first to get rid of luggage if we were relocating. But once we were in Naples, we wouldn’t have to go back to Sorrento. It appears that Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc. would be as easy to do from Naples as from Sorrento.

Although there are some neutral comments on Naples, I've also read a lot of very negative remarks about Naples – dirty, crowded, theft, etc. So I’m wondering if any Fodorites would venture opinions of whether we should just suck it up and use a lot more points to stay in Sorrento all 6 nights or if Naples is not so bad to use as a base for day trips.

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