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A few questions about the Amalfi Coast (in May)

A few questions about the Amalfi Coast (in May)

Old Mar 9th, 2013, 05:50 AM
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A few questions about the Amalfi Coast (in May)

Good morning

Tickets are bought, let the planning begin.

I am spending nine nights on the Amalfi Coast in mid-May. I have three guidebooks (two centered around hiking, and one (gasp) is Rick Steves. Don't judge! This is my first time to the Amalfi Coast and he always has a decent high level overview of things to see and do for first timers. The other two are the Cicerone hiking guide and the Sunflower Landscapes series (hiking). I'll probably get one more guidebook before I set out. Or not, maybe the internet can fill in the gaps.

I am tentatively thinking of the first three nights on Capri (land at 1230 PM, probably arrive at my hotel around 4 PM) and have to find a hotel there.

Q: Should I look to Capri or Anacapri for my three nights? Where am I most likely to have things to do or see in the evenings - even if it's just people watching at a cafe with a glass of wine? I am hoping to do at least one hike while I am on Capri.

Q: Blue grotto: must do/do not miss it, or, don't lose sleep over it?

The next five nights will be Positano, most likely.

Q: Although I have hiking guidebooks, spending one day with a local guide for hiking would be useful. At least until I get the lay of the land. Bonus if this person collects you at your hotel. Any recos?

Q: So far I'm thinking "no car". Even a tiny 500. Will I regret this? The main reason it would be nice is for exploring (of course) and finding the trail heads. I am hoping to do at least two hikes while I am in Positano. The Pathway of the Gods would be one of them. I imagine a full day will be taken with Pompeii and Herculaneum, from Positano, and a second day with Paestum (which I'll combine with other sightseeing). That only leave two other days, really, to do any kind of hiking.

Q: With no car, I am likely to hire a driver for one full day of sightseeing. If you had a driver for a full day, how would you spend that particular day? Can I do Pompeii etc easily enough by public transport and thus save the driver for something else directly along the coast?

My flight home from Naples leaves at 130 PM. What I think this means is that I could be anywhere along the Amalfi Coast and be just fine with making it to the airport on time. Regardless of where I am, I will have a driver take me to the airport. No public transportation.

Q: I'm not convinced either way on spending my last night in Naples. Since my flight is in the afternoon, I could even spend the last night in Sorrento (and, if I got there early enough, visit Pompeii on that day, the day before I leave, and not even attempt it from Positano, although it would mean little time in Sorrento itself). Would you definitely spend 24 hours in Naples (knowing that you will go back if you miss it this time) or would you spend your last full day and night in Sorrento? I'm starting to lean to Sorrento and make this entirely a non-city trip.

Thank you!
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 05:57 AM
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ps. Just thought of two more questions!

Q: Any tips on non-sightseeing experiences would be great, too. For instance, a watercolor class. Or a cooking class. That sort of thing.

Thank you.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 06:08 AM
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Groan: the second Q:

Ravello. I almost chose this as my landing point for a few nights, but in researching I realized I'd be moving around too much if I added that unless I made it a two night stop at the end of the trip and had the driver take me from there to the airport.

Will I severely shortchange Ravello if it's just an afternoon visit, maybe lunch on a terrace overlooking the sea? Would it be crazy to make that a final two nights (one less in Positano) and have a driver take me to the airport from there?

I will have a driver transport me each time I am carrying luggage with me, so it doesn't matter if I have a driver take me from Positano to Sorrento and then Sorrento airport, or Positano to Ravello to airport.

I have yet to visit an area of Italy that I haven't added to the "must return" list so if I don't get to do a certain thing I'll be back.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 06:29 AM
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What do you plan to do besides hike?

IMHO Pompeii is one of the wonders of the world and not to be missed but will take most of a day. Naples also has a great archeo museum (but I would do anything rather than hike).

The blue grotto is worth seeing - but do realize that the experience is a short one - you climb into a rowboat, lay down, shoot through the entrance, do a quick circle and then back out. I believe the only way to spend more time is to swim in and out - but you need to be very careful f all the bots in and out. You can also take a private boat trip around the island and see all of the scenery plus other grottoes (we didn;t).

Not sure of hikes. We toured Capri town (mobbed in the day but adorable at night) and visited some of the Roman ruins on the island - a walk but not what I would call a hike. But we didn;t have 3 days.

In late May hotel pools should be open and the sea OK for swimming as long as you don;t want hot water.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 06:37 AM
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nytraveler, thanks.

I am definitely visiting Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum. Those are certainties and likely to be two full days out of this trip - mainland days, since I already know that three days are on Capri.

I do know about Naples archeo museum, so the main reasons I would spend my last day in Naples is that museum, pizza, and some wanderings in some interesting neighborhoods. Which may well be enough of a reason to spend the last day there - but wouldn't Sorrento be more pleasant? This won't be my last trip to the area.

Roman ruins - I am there!

What else do I plan to do? With all that time in Positano probably a lot of poking around Positano. I have four full days there (with 5 nights) and I already know two of them will be the day trips. I like boats so I might spent a lot of time seeing where the ferries will take me.

I heard that Da Adolpho is a good restaurant and experience - apparently you take a boat to it?

I would be interested to hear about experiences such as classes (cooking, watercolor, etc) as mentioned.

I also plan to peruse ekscrunchy's report for some good restaurants!

Thanks!
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 06:40 AM
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Q: Blue grotto: must do/do not miss it, or, don't lose sleep over it?

Since there is not too much else to do on Capri it is advisable to see the Blue Grotto. However, there is an alternative: the Grotta dello Smeraldo - Emerald Grotto which is in some ways even more attractive than the Blue Grotto.

http://www.wondermondo.com/Countries...taSmeraldo.htm

See at least one of the grottos (the one which fits into your itinerary better).
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 06:51 AM
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I loved Naples and vote you spend your last day there to get a taste of it. I also love Ravello and at least spend an afternoon and dine there. There is a bus you can take to Ravello. U get the ferry from Positano to Amlafi and get the bus there. Try to go mid week as I think it my be less crowded.
One of our favorite restaurants on the Amalfi coast is DaConstantino
http://www.dacostantino.com/inglese.htm
- its about 10 minutes out of town up a hill. they will pick you up and return you. We discovered it on our first trip to Positano maybe 20 years ago. We were talking to the daughter who is now in her 20's and laughing that she was the little girl running around when we first started eating there.
I thought the Blue Grotto pretty so why not check it out? If you miss it I wouldn't worry about it.
There is a thread from I believe Rosetravels who did hiking on the coast. she make have some good ideas for you.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 06:58 AM
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Judging from the time it took us to go from Sorrento to the Naples airport by hired driver last May, you should not plan on doing anything on the way to the airport except navigating traffic slowdowns.

We had planned on doing a boat tour around capri (including the Grotto) but there was a strike that day, so no help from me there. The descriptions of the tour were quite attractive, for what it's worth.

Pompeii and Herculaneum made for a long day for us non-hikers, but very well worth it. Start early so you get enough time. It would also be a loss not to see the Archological Museum in Naples, as the impressive art and artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum are there (half day). It was easy to plan all three on 2 different days as we were based in Sorrento, which is better situated for these daytrips. You may want to combine the Naples museum with Herculaneum on one day and Pompeii (and perhaps Vesuvius) on another.

We walked Capri and Anacapri, but did not do hotels. Capri is uniformly upscale and beautiful, Anacapri more varied (to us, more interesting), and quickly connected by bus.

We found Sorrento to be an excellent base for public transport (train, bus, and water) and from my distant memories of a drive along the Amalfi coast many years ago, I would never consider driving myself.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 08:28 AM
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I'll try to answer some:

Blue Grotto: Don't try to swim in. In May there probably will be a long backup to get into the BG. Consider hiring a boat in Positano to take you to Capri, with stops in some of the smaller grottoes and a tour of the island.

Car: You can make do in Positano w/o one. The better public transportation is in Sorrento, if you're thinking of going to Pompeii or some other site off the AC.

Ravello: It's nice, but I wouldn't spend more than a day there. Matter of opinion, I guess.

Cooking class: I know there is one in Positano because it's conducted in a glass front kitchen that's open to the street and passers-by. Looked like fun. Sorry, can't remember the name, but maybe if you Google "cooking classes, Positano," something might come up.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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From Amalfi you can hike up to Ravello and back down. Don't know how long it would take. All your responses here seem to be from non-hikers.

Also exploring Capri could be considered hiking. Here's some info, including the walk to Tiberius' villa: www.capri.net/en/itineraries.

Have you considered spending your last night in Naples? Much safer for catching your flight and an opportunity to visit the archeological museum, a must-see given your interests.

I think you've underestimated the possibility of problems in your route to the Naples airport and overestimated the ability of Italians to clear up such issues. Unlikely, yes, but what happens if you miss your flight? Will you have to buy another ticket, a full-fare ticket? And wait for the next flight with empty seats? In Italy I always recommend being in your departure city the night before your flight.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 09:22 AM
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Speaking of the Naples airport, if that is where you fly out of allow plenty of time. We got there very early and still almost didn't make our flight. there is absolutely no order and people are pushing and shoving their way into lines. Beldam. I have never seen anything quite like it.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 09:46 AM
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I think Naples is like any major international airport - you need to get there 3 hours in advance if you are flying to the US. Less than that is a real risk.

We stayed in Sorrento - since we like larger towns - more shops and restaurants - and easy to get to anywhere from there, WE had a car both times - and in May it was fine - but our hotel had free parking.

We drove the coast road in both directions, stopping at different places each time. It's not a difficult drive if you are competent, confident drivers -but do know EXACTLY how big your car is - and be prepared to parallel park on ether side in a place barely bigger than the car. (Caveat: To New Yorkers driving around for 20 minutes trying to find a place to put a car is normal - not a problem.)
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 09:56 AM
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@nytraveler-I have to disagree with u re Naples airport. We were there well over three hours in advance and it was chaos. I fly a lot and have never seen such a disorganized check in and security. so maybe we hiit it on an ESP bad day, but it was way worse than any airport i have ever been in. Perhaps the check in could be blamed on Lufthansa, there was almost a riot among the Germans waiting in line as many were going to other lanes and cutting ahead of people waiting for well over an hour. At security people were tossing their suitcases to others in line and then pushing and shoving ahead of others practically walking over them. BTw we were flying to Frankfurt for our flight home to the US so not even an international flight.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 09:57 AM
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>>>I think Naples is like any major international airport - you need to get there 3 hours in advance if you are flying to the US. Less than that is a real risk.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 10:40 AM
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We hiked from Ravello down to Atrani/Amalfi. It's about four miles, lots of steps, but doing it down only took a little over an hour. I would not have wanted to do it going up. In Ravello the two Villas (Rufulo and Cimbrone) were worth doing but other than that the town is very tiny so you can walk across it a couple of times in just an hour or so. Look at my photos, they show quite a few parts of the hike down from Ravello.

On Capri we hiked down from Anacapri to the waterfront, that was another good hike that I am glad I took going down instead of up.

Almost didn't do the blue grotto because I thought it was "too touristy" - one of the highlights of that trip (which was probably my favorite trip to Europe - and I've done 22 so far so that's saying something).

My trip report details some of the hikes, the name of the book we used (Sunflower or something like that, had lots of detailed hikes in it), and everything else we did in our 8 days there.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rful-weeks.cfm

http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/ital...aples__pompeii

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...is-amazing.cfm
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 10:44 AM
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What you describe is clearly an unsafe situation and should have been hauled under control by airline security. I have been through a huge number of airports many dozens of times and although I have seen a few people try to jump lines - they were all summarily dealt with.

However, I have seen the situation you describe in a couple of places in italy - including banks. No lines, nor order - just people pushing forward. The answer there was simple - use my NY subway skills - shoulders and elbows and a large intimidating companion - to get to the front of the mob in what seemed the appropriate time.

I would not try this in ANY airport.

Will you be going on the same flight this time? If so - I would get there early enough to be through the system before the mob arrives - and not have to worry about the chaos.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 11:06 AM
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The trip to Paestum will take almost an entire day. Ferry from Pos to Salerno and then train from Salerno to Paestum. Amazing site and nice little museum. When you buy your train ticket in Salerno, be sure to buy your return ticket because I think the Paestum train station is unmanned.

Da Adolfo is a great restaurant and a wonderful way to spend most of one day. You catch the small boat with the red fish on its mast at the dock in Pos. It is about a 10 minute boat ride to Laurito beach, where Da Adolfo is located. You can rent a sun lounger and relax for a while, then grab a table at the restaurant and have a great lunch and take the boat back whenever you are ready (I think they run every 30 minutes or so).

I know Buca di Bacco has a cooking class, as I am considering taking it when I am there in June.

One activity I recommend in Pos is to take a tour with Christine of www.discoverpositano.com. It is a 2 hour tour of the town, and you learn loads of history about the area, get to sample local products made by her husband's family and then you get discounts at certain merchants if you do some shopping later. It is a great thing to do when you first arrive, to get yourself educated and orientated.

Another walk that I would like to do sometime is through the valley of the water mills around the town of Amalfi. You could combine it with the Ravello day trip (which involves a ferry to Amalfi and a bus up to Ravello).

There is good public transportation, so no need for a car. In addition to the traffic, parking is scarce and expensive.

Have a great trip!
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 04:24 PM
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You've already gotten lots of great advice! My two cents:

Q: Should I look to Capri or Anacapri for my three nights?

Each has good people-watching options in the evening (at least assuming the weather is good). Capri is more upscale. Both are worth considering as places to stay. Definitely visit both!

Q: Blue grotto: must do/do not miss it, or, don't lose sleep over it?

If it's open when you're there, go for it! I did it as part of a boat ride around the island, which I loved.

Q: So far I'm thinking "no car".

Makes sense to me!

> I imagine a full day will be taken with Pompeii and Herculaneum, from Positano, and a second day with Paestum (which I'll combine with other sightseeing).

It is possible to visit both Pompeii and Herculaneum in a single day, but IME it does make for a LONG day! Getting to/from and visiting Paestum will take the better part of a day. IF you can fit in a bit of time for Salerno, it is worth seeing IMHO, but Salerno shuts down mid-day for a long siesta, so it might not work out.

Q: I'm not convinced either way on spending my last night in Naples.

As others are saying, do you really want to risk a problem getting to your departure flight? If anything prevents you from reaching the airport, the result would be costly! And there is SO much to see in Naples! (NOT just the wonderful archeological museum.) I know that many people don't like Naples, but I did - I thought it vibrant and dynamic and filled with hidden treasures.

> Will I severely shortchange Ravello if it's just an afternoon visit

Ravello was my favorite place on the Amalfi Coast and one of my favorite places in the world. That said, there isn't that much to do there, and you can see its highlights in part of a day. The gardens of both villas are worth visiting, as is the cathedral, which has a lovely ambo. I walked down to Amalfi, which didn't take to long, or at least wouldn't have if I hadn't gotten a bit lost.... Still, under 2 hours as I recall. I took the bus to get to Ravello.

It's a beautiful part of the world - enjoy!
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 04:28 PM
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Great advice above, so I'll only add a few more comments.

It's a hassle to get to Pompeii from Positano. You'll have to get to Sorrento first, either by bus, taxi, or boat, then transfer to the local train for the 30 minute ride to Pompeii.

But... if you spent your last day/night in Naples, you could easily visit Pompeii from there. It's very close to most of the city. And it would greatly facilitate your transfer to the airport the next morning! If it matters, we loved Naples when we visited for the first time last year, and really preferred it to Sorrento, which is more pleasant, but also seems less Italian, if that makes sense.

Now about the airport transfer: I totally agree with what other posters have said. Traffic along the coast and into Sorrento/Naples can be fierce starting in the late spring, and you don't want to miss that flight. We got stuck in crazy traffic last year ( end of May) between Sorrento and Naples, and what should have been about an hour ride, turned into 2.5!

About Positano: One of my favorite spots on Earth, despite the insane daytime crowds. Have been there four times, and hope to go back immediately! We did a great tour of the coast and Capri with a company called Salvatore e Gennore, based at the town dock. There are other companies to choose from, too, if their itinerary doesn't suit your schedule.

We found a great, great restaurant in Positano along the seaside path that leads out of town(just past Covo dei Sarceni hotel at town dock) to Fornillo Beach. It's called LO GUARACINO, and is on the right hand side of that path, as you head out of Positano. Wonderful food, and spectacular views of the coast.

Interesting for me to hear someone recommend DA ADOLPHO, because when we last visited it two years ago, we thought it was terrible. Lunch was average, and the promised boat service back to the dock at Positano was not running on any particular schedule. We had to hire a water taxi to get back to town.

Lastly, about Capri: We really enjoyed our Blue Grotto tour, and did pay extra so that we could swim inside the grotto. Some days you can't get into the grotto because of the tides, so make sure you check that out before you head over there. We stayed in Capri Town, which was beautiful in the evenings, but not so much fun during the day when tons of tourists arrived to shop shop shop at the exclusive stores on the main street.

IF we were to go back to Capri again - and not sure I would because it's just not my cup of tea- I would probably look for a hotel in Anacapri, just to escape some of those heavy crowds.

Anyway, hope you have a fantastic trip!
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 06:51 PM
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Bookmarking and taking notes
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