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4 days in Sorrento, 4 days in Rome--expert advice needed!

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Mar 5th, 2015, 06:55 AM
  #1
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4 days in Sorrento, 4 days in Rome--expert advice needed!

Ok, 4 U.S. travelers--Husband, wife, daughter (23), son (16) will be in Italy this summer--arriving Aug. 10, departing Aug. 18. (I know, we tried but we couldn't identify a hotter, more crowded time to visit )

On arrival day (Aug. 10) we fly into Rome and then will proceed by combination of train and private car (from Naples train station) to Sorrento. We arrive in Rome at 8:30, so all things considered I'm guestimating a mid- to late-afternoon arrival in Sorrento for the first of 4 nights there.

So, how best do we use Sorrento time? Pompeii and Vesuvius are on our list, as is the Amalfi Coast and possibly Capri. Can all 3 of those things be achieved? Best method(s)? Timing?
Also, we have conditionally booked Maison Tofani and Palazzo Montefusco, but am concerned we are missing a "better" option?

TRANSITION DAY TO ROME IS FRIDAY, AUG. 14--I assume we will arrive in Rome early afternoon and want to check into hotel (the Independent) near the Termini. This will be the first of 4 nights. On our priority list are the obvious: Colosseum, Forum, St. Peter's Basillica and Vatican Museums, as well as Spanish Steps. As well as the less obvious and not as time consuming (even very quick) stops to see where Paul was imprisoned and to visit the Scala Santa (Holy Stairs).

I have come to discover that I've really put us behind the 8-ball as it relates to Vatican-related activities due to the Aug. 15 (Saturday) holiday closing and Sunday closing--which I understand will make Friday and Monday EXTRA CROWDED. On the bright side, we have secured Scavi tour reservations for Monday at 9:15. This holds the advantage of getting into the Basillica without waiting in line. But on the flip side, it upends any notions of getting in line for the Vatican museums super early to avoid the massive lines. This, from my understanding, will make the Sistine Chapel more like the Sardine Chapel. Even if I were fortunate to book an afternoon guided tour, I would assume the crowds will be massively tough to negotiate. Is there ANY alternative based on my Friday afternoon arrival and Monday Scavi tour that would make the Vatican museum experience less of an ordeal and more enjoyable? Again, I know I could have picked a better time of year--but with family considerations we had no other option. So I'm guessing I just need to suck it up?

Please share your thoughts for planning my Sorrento and/or Rome touring time. Thanks in advance for your wisdom and patience with a rookie traveler and my associated cluelessness.

Thanks!
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Mar 5th, 2015, 07:49 AM
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Hi! I can help you with Sorrento, I live there!
You can achieve all of the excursions: Pompeii vesuvius only by car or van because is a little difficult to get there (vesuvius in particular) by public transportation. The visit of Pompeii takes about 2 hours (you need a guide) and for visiting Vesuvius you have to reach a parking area where you'll start a 20 minute walk to get to the cone.
For Amalfi too you need a car. There's a public bus called Sita but in August is very busy.It's a full day so you should leave from Sorrento at 09.00, not later. During the tour of Amalfi coast don't forget to visit Ravello, simply the best place. Capri is reachable by hydrofoil from Sorrento. The ticket costs 37 euro per person and takes 25 minutes. Capri center and Anacapri are the best places. On the island the transfers are provided by taxi, funicular or minibus. Hope to be helpful!
Ilaria
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Mar 5th, 2015, 08:12 AM
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I disagree that Pompeii will only take two hours. To see the place properly you need at least 4/5 hours, otherwise you are doing a quick walk round to see the main places and then go. You do need a guide to get the best out of Pompeii, but there is an audio guide that you can get at the entrance. Alternatively, hire one of the guides who frequent the entrance, get a group of 8/10 together and share the cost. The ruins are easily reached by train from Sorrento, get off at Pompeii Scavi.

The Amalfi coast road is very busy in August and parking will be a PIA, so try for the ferry that connects the towns along the coast as an easy and pleasant journey.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 08:18 AM
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So is the Sorrento strategy:
Day 1 Pompeii and Vesuvius
Day 2 Amalfi Coast
Day 3 Capri

(In any order?)
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Mar 5th, 2015, 09:34 AM
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I don't think you can do Pompeii and Vesuvius on the same day in AUGUST because of the heat. You probably need to choose one or the other, since you don't have that much time in the area.

Whatever you decide, you need to get a very early start. Neither place offers much shade, and it will be broiling hot.

My only other suggestion is to look into whether or not night time tours of Pompeii are still offered in the summer months. We did one a few years ago. You won't see it all, but it's a good way to avoid the August heat!

About the Amalfi Coast: In August, traffic can be bumper to bumper all the way from Sorrento to the Amalfi Coast towns.

Take the earliest boat possible from Sorrento to Amalfi. From Amalfi, you can take a bus or cab up to Ravello.

Then, if you're really ambitious and not withered from the heat, you can take the boat from Amalfi to Positano, and finally back to Sorrento.

Of course all the above depends on coordinating the boat schedules between towns.

The only other way to explore the coast is with a personal driver for the day, but it's very expensive, and in August you may do more sitting in traffic than sightseeing.

Lastly, for Capri, again get the earliest start possible. It's insanely crowded during the day in the summer months, so you want to avoid that as much as you can.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 10:03 AM
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is there any reason why you want a private transfer from Naples to Sorrento?

as you will be at Naples station, you need only walk downstairs and catch the local train, the "circumvesuviana" to Sorrento.

in the middle of summer, it probably won't be any slower than a car.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 10:16 AM
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My two cents. Seeing a dormant volcano crater is a huge yawn. Skip hiking Vesuvius especially in Aug

Go early to Pompeii and the audio guides are very good. Take lots of your own water sun hats or umbrellas.

Don't attempt the Sita buses. They will be h***. Travel by boat only with advance bookings.

Honestly if I ever visited the Amalfi Coast in summer I would park myself in villa with a view and a pool and would not attempt to go anywhere!
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Mar 5th, 2015, 10:24 AM
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For part of the year, the Vatican museums are open late on Friday nights, which tend to be much less crowded. Check to see if it will be open for your dates.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 11:47 AM
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Your request for info may be helped by reading my trip report from 2012. We had 6 days in Rome and 4 in Sorrento, but the goals were similar. We started with some ideas like yours, but eventually ditched Vesuvius and went to Herculaneum. Also, we started in Rome and flew home from Naples, avoiding a second trip between Naples and Rome.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...o-italy.cfm?48
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Mar 5th, 2015, 11:59 AM
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I am with Dayle on Vesuvius. In August, skip it. You will have great views of it anyway. Hiking to the top is just a walking trail of gray, dusty cinder and a big, dark hole at the top. I did it once in April, would not even think about it in Summer. Lots of more fun things to do with your time.

Take the train to Pompeii from Sorrento - easy, cheap, fast, absolutely no need for a driver.

Having been to Pompeii three times, I would allow four to six hours. If you buy a really good guide book and do some reading ahead, you can do it yourself. If you want a guide, just hire one when you get there, easier and cheaper. While Pompeii is interesting, buildings in Herculaneum are more complete, it is smaller and you could do it in a couple of hours. It is just as interesting as Pompeii and also quite beautiful. Pompeii is more famous because of writings about it and the excavations started so much earlier.

Forget busses. Use the ferries. The views are stunning and being on the water is a lot nicer than sitting on busses.

From Naples to Sorento, just take the train - easy and cheap, no need for private transfer.

I haven't looked at your hotels in Sorrento, but will. You will want a pool there!
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Mar 5th, 2015, 12:01 PM
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Well, I know that Pompeii takes more time but in August 4/5 hours is crazy. Consider that 2.30 if enough to see the best of Pompeii. A lot of beautiful villas area still closed and under restoration Audioguides give just general information and visiting the archaeological site with a guide is the best choice.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 12:17 PM
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We spent the same number of days in Rome and Sorrento last year, although in reverse order, and had no problems seeing the places on your list. We did not feel rushed, even with 2 kids (9 and 12). The high speed train between Rome and Naples was very comfortable. We booked early and saved a lot, but didn't have to worry about flight delays and catching the train. From Naples we took the local train (circumvesuviana) to Sorrento. It was a little hot and crowded for part of the trip, but still an easy ride. We really liked staying at Hotel Antiche Mura. It was very well located but still quiet. Good breakfast and a pool. The next 3 days looked like this...

1 - Positano - SITA bus (we caught it from the train station) to Positano, returned on the ferry. Different views from the road and the water, both beautiful and worthwhile. You can continue on to other places on the Amalfi Coast, but we were happy to just wander around town and the kids enjoyed swimming.

2 - Pompeii - local train there and back. Despite an early start, it was still very HOT. No shade. We really enjoyed Pompeii but don't think we could've done Vesuvius on the same day because of the heat. It was nice to come back to the hotel and pool.

3 - Capri & Anacapri - we took a small excursion through our hotel that picked us up, then boat ride around the island (including optional stop at blue grotto) then 5 free hours on the island. Price was not much more than the hydrofoil, but if I had it to do over, I would take the hydrofoil and splurge on a private boat for a few hours. I think the kids would've enjoyed diving off the boat and exploring the small grottoes. From the marina in capri, we took an open top cab to Anacapri. The chairlift and views from the top was one of the highlights for us. We took the bus back to Capri for a late lunch and to explore the many shops.

We found it very easy to get around Rome, but we stayed closer to Piazza Navona/Pantheon. We stayed at Hotel Adriano. We walked everywhere including the Vatican and Colosseum. I think Termini in not as centrally located.

Have a wonderful trip! We loved both Rome and Sorrento.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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Disagree with illaria the guide about visiting Pompeii from Sorrento--it can easily and quickly be reached by the circumvesuviano train.

Vesuvius itself may need a car, but since I've never tried going there, don't know. And agree with Dayle on why not.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 12:41 PM
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Wow! Thanks for all this great food for thought..
A few of my random replies...

Thinking driver from the train station in Naples to Sorrento because of
a) anticipated fatigue from international travel into Rome and then to Naples
b) MUCH discussion on how uncomfortable, crime-infested the train from Naples to Sorrento is--true or not?

Also, am disappointed to hear Vesuvius "isn't worth it" (at least in the August heat). Do you think a 16 year old boy would opt Vesuvius over Pompeii or vice versa?

Further, it sounds like a POOL option will be fairly important for Sorrento lodging--even if we are on the move a lot?

THANK YOU ALL!!
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Mar 5th, 2015, 12:41 PM
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I definitely agree that 4-5 hours at Pompeii is going to be very hard-going in August - it was hard enough in February. it is a very hot dusty place - I felt sorry for the inhabitants even before disaster struck. I've not been to Herculaneum so I can't judge how it compares, but possibly you could do both in the same day, so long as you and somewhere to cool off in between.

Do leave some time to explore Sorrento - there are some lovely little back streets that run parallel with the main shopping street with interesting shops, cafes and bars.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 01:34 PM
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Prestonator, the private car versus local train dilemma from Naples was something I went back and forth with. We didn't feel unsafe, but it was definitely hot and crowded and you may not get a seat. If we were coming off a long flight and jet-lagged, we probably would've also opted for a car service.

The pool came in handy for us since my kids are younger and they enjoyed the down time after exploring. Since your kids are lot older, that may not be as important for you.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 01:44 PM
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Personally, I don't think anyone, except perhaps a Vulcanologist, would choose Vesuvius over Pompeii as an excursion. I did visit Pompeii once in mid-July. That was actually when I spent the most time. I had lots of water and a big hat. At the other end of Pompeii opposite the entrance, there are a few trees and a few rocky places you could sit for a few minutes. If you hire a guide and pick only your top places to see, a couple of hours would do. Go as early as possible.

You could go to Pompeii in the morning and on over to Herculaneum in the afternoon. Have lunch at one of the little cafes as you walk from the train to the archeological site. The great thing is this. You do not have to decide until you are there. Go to Pompeii and if you decide just to return to your hotel and hang out by the pool, you can. Nothing has to be set in stone. You can relax and enjoy the ambience of the whole Bay of Naples and the AC.

I do see your point about the travel after your already long trip, and if you were arriving by air, I would say, yes, sure, get a driver, or take the bus, but you will already be at the train station, so not sure if it is worth it.
I have taken the Circumvesuviana train at least a dozen times over the years with not a single problem. Of course, we do watch our luggage, and it can get crowded, but we have also had great experiences when people saw we were tourists and reminded us of our stops, and once even gave us some fruit from their market bag. IMHO, and IME, traveling with local people is one of the best experiences of being in another country. Just be sure to get on the right line, to Sorrento.

Yes, get a hotel with a pool. Allow some time to relax and play.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 01:58 PM
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IME, people of any age can enjoy a pool in which to cool off in Sorrento in August, but certainly young people aged 23 and 16 would appreciate it.

You'll be glad that you followed that advice at least.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 05:39 PM
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We have been to the AC several times, and I am always tempted by the siren song of the Circumvesuviano train, but invariably, I default to a driver. Especially after a US-Italy flight--there is something comforting about coming into the arrival hall at an airport and seeing your name on a driver's clipboard.

We have traveled between Italian cities on the train frequently, but always have had a reserved seat so we knew that there would be a place for us.
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Mar 5th, 2015, 07:29 PM
  #20
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Agree with the posts above that you should look for a hotel w/ pool in Sorrento. We really liked HOTEL TRAMONTANO, which had a nice pool out front, great views of The Bay of Naples, and is within walking distance of the old part of town,etc.
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