Amalfi coast home base with 3 kids

Old Jan 24th, 2020, 01:08 PM
  #1  
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Amalfi coast home base with 3 kids

I'm trying to decide which town to stay in this April. Our family of five will arrive in Salerno April 8 and stay on the coast for 5 nights before heading back to Rome to fly back to the States. We plan on using our last day to explore Pompeii on our way up to Rome. My daughters are 6, 9, and 11 and don't complain too much of walking around. I know the beach probably won't be too warm yet, but we'd like to maybe do a cooking class, an afternoon walk to Ravello, the paper mill in Amalfi, a day trip to Positano and/or Capri (if it's not too expensive to get out to Capri), and meander around the shops and restaurants.

My question is, do you think Cetara or Atrani would be a better home base for our family? I've found apartments in our budget in both towns. I originally thought Cetara because it has the port, but now I'm thinking maybe Atrani would be a better location if we wanted to get out to Capri since it's so close to Amalfi. What do you think? If we do stay in Atrani, should we make a trip out to see Cetara for a morning or afternoon? We'll probably use ferries more than the buses.

Thank you!
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Old Jan 24th, 2020, 01:49 PM
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https://www.walksofitaly.com/blog/am...st-towns-guide

I found this guide which compares the towns. There's also Minori and Maiori which have sandy beaches and may be less expensive.

We found the paper mill in Amalfi interesting. Ravello is a lovely little town with the most spectacular views, our landlord said locals call it the balcony of the world. Be aware it's about 1500 steps to walk up there; the bus goes there also.
You can take the ferry from Amalfi to Positano, it's lovely to approach it from the sea like that.
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Old Jan 24th, 2020, 05:37 PM
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I would take the bus to Ravello and walk back down. There are multiple paths so it may pay to ask at the tourist office in Ravello for advice.

I don't know Cetara but recommend making sure there are reasonable bus/boat connections before deciding.
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Old Jan 24th, 2020, 06:54 PM
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I haven't spent any time in Cetara (so take my words with a grain of salt), but think Atrani would be a better option from what you say of your interests.

And I agree with dreamon that taking a bus to Ravello and walking down can make for a very, very pleasant day -- particularly if armed with a well marked map. Walking UP is not for the faint of heart.

BTW, you might also consider a day in Naples for its wonderful archeological museum or a day to Paestum for its stunning Greek temples and a stop for the region's wonderful buffalo mozzarella.
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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 10:48 AM
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I stayed in Amalfi, hopped off the bus from Ravello for a look-see at Atrani (wish I’d had more time for a longer visit) on the way back to Amalfi, and passed through Cetara on my way by car to Paestum. Atrani’s more central position in one of the most beautiful sections of the coast with easy access to Amalfi for day trips would make it my choice.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 04:02 AM
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I second recommendation for Paestum and the water buffalo farm. We had a tour at the farm, visited the ruins and the shops then went back to the farm for a wonderful lunch. It was a long drive from where our small group was staying. I also loved our visits to Minori and Maiori. I took a cooking class with InRome Cooking School which started off with a visit to the market at Campo de Fiori. Loved it. We walked thru Piaza Navona to the building where the school was located. It was a lovely plaza with beautiful statues. When I visited the Trevi fountain it was almost impossible to see due to the crowds. What a difference.
Capri was my least favorite but I enjoyed the boat ride. I was with a small group that hired drivers/vans and one driver was a licensed guide who re-arranged the itinerary to avoid the busiest times at the places we visited. You might want to make choices based on crowds. The only thing I did not like about my trip was the double decker tourist bus in Rome. I had much more fun using the regular public buses to get places in Rome. The buses were crowded so with a family it might be better to use a cab. To get to Capri we took the ferry from Minori.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 03:54 PM
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Thanks for the advice so far.

I'm leaning toward Atrani since it's a bit more centralized, but man...Cetara sure looks beautiful. Hmm...decisions...decisions...

We'll do one morning in Pompeii on our way back up to Rome, but don't think we'll hit up Naples. I always hear that it's a bit seedy. I'll look to see if Paestum may be a good option for us. A water buffalo farm sounds very interesting!

We're doing two days in Rome and two in Florence before the Amalfi Coast and I think I've got those two covered with activities and places to stay, but thanks for the recommendations @dfroshtnh.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by GillsinEurope View Post
don't think we'll hit up Naples. I always hear that it's a bit seedy.
Some people do call Naples "seedy." I describe it as vibrant, energetic, and dynamic. It hasn't been "prettied up" for tourists the way some places have been -- and I, for one, am grateful for that.

Originally Posted by GillsinEurope View Post
We're doing two days in Rome and two in Florence before the Amalfi Coast .
Only two days in Rome? Only two days in Florence? Now THAT is fast-pasted, particularly for a family! Your trip, your call.
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 06:07 AM
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I second @kja re: Paestum and Naples. We visited Paestum in September (its a quick train ride from Salerno) and it was a wonderful day! I imagine it is a great day for kids too, being able to climb on history and run around.

We ended our trip in Naples and were blown away by how much we enjoyed it! A visit to the archaeological museum and some pizza makes for a great day!


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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 09:07 AM
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Yes only 2 days in each. Hubs and I have been to both cities before. We didn't care too much for Rome the first time, but loved Florence. Trying to get more time on the AC since we've never been and we're "trying" to relax on this vacation.

All suggestions are welcome though!

I looked into a day on Capri and boat tickets are much higher than I anticipated. So that plan may have to be ditched. Bummer. Hiking is usually free so we may do that instead.

I've been looking at videos and weather sites for April in the Amalfi Coast and it seems a little unpredictable. We're hoping for some sunshine!
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 09:16 AM
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Atrani would be better if you plan to visit Capri, but Cetara would put you close to the mainland for a visit to Paestum.
Look carefully at hiking options, because some may be too much for the six year old. You might get a sunny play on the rocks/sand day, but the sea will be too cold for only intrepid children.
The appeal in Cetara to me was proximity to the mainland (I visited Pompeii form there) and restaurants. With kids, Minori and Maiori looked great--I always mix them up, but the larger one had a wide beach.
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by GillsinEurope View Post
I looked into a day on Capri and boat tickets are much higher than I anticipated. So that plan may have to be ditched. Bummer. Hiking is usually free so we may do that instead.

I've been looking at videos and weather sites for April in the Amalfi Coast and it seems a little unpredictable. We're hoping for some sunshine!
Re: Capri -- are you looking at routinely schedule ferries or at privately arranged boats? I'm not trying to question your budget, just making sure you are considering the options that might make most sense. For routine ferries, consult rome2rio.com and check through to the underlying links.

Weather patterns have been seriously destabilized in recent years, but you can get good historic climate data -- for whatever that's worth -- at weatherbase.com
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 02:41 PM
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Hi Gills,
We too are AC-bound in April, so the research is fresh on (in?) my mind. Mrs Z and I haven't been there in 30 years. I'm also tryna look at it from the perspective of a once-Special needs-teacher who had to meticulously plan his class field trips i.e. your kids are 6, 9 and 11. So.....

Atrani would give you the benefit of being immediately next door to Amalfi, with its 'bigger town' advantages: bus depot HQ; taxis: Grande Mela (Big Apple) supermarket; ferries in all directions inc. Positano; proximity to Atrani's own black sand beach (unlikely to be swimmable in early April but perhaps worthy of walking with children?); close to cooking classes (there's one especially popular gal in Ravello) & that paper mill (sounds like a great activity for kids, yeah?). Note that the SITA buses can get very full and crowded, so maybe a better plan for visiting Ravello would be to take the red, open-air tour bus up to there---they apparently only ever sell the number of tickets for their seats i.e. never any standing riders.

Cetera is more, from what we gather, a less-touristed place for folks who just wanna stay put and chill: VG beach, noted cafes and restaurants, proximity to the noted local-fave beach at neighbouring Erchie (see 'Caugo' beach), maybe the ceramics at nearby Vietre? Cetera was just featured on a TV cooking show here, in an episode presented by a local from Salerno. He claimed that Cetera and Minori are by far, the 2 best and most authentic (his words) places along that coast, let alone the ones with the most reasonable price point for well, everything. Cetera was also Bourdain's choice to present on his TV series. It seems that Maiori has an an ecxellent beach for kids, plus the largest weekly farmers market along the coast.

Have fun! Maybe give us all a TR after you get back?

I am done. The end.

Last edited by zebec; Jan 28th, 2020 at 02:47 PM. Reason: assaulted by anchovies while typing
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 05:28 PM
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Are you deadset on returning to Rome and Florence? If you want to relax, perhaps stay longer on the Amalfi Coast. Eliminate Rome and/or Florence. Move around less. With three kids, packing/traveling/changing lodging is stressful, IMO. Also travel for five costs $$$$$

Last edited by MoBro; Jan 28th, 2020 at 06:25 PM.
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Old Jan 30th, 2020, 10:31 AM
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Thank you Zebec. Great points about each place. Definitely makes me want to visit both!

I found a pasta making class that doesn't break the bank in Vietri so I'm looking into it. I'm still not sure if I'm seeing the correct (cheapest) prices for a ferry to Capri, but perhaps I am and it's just a high price because there's five of us and things add up quickly. What do you guys think of this itinerary? Yes, it's a bit fast paced in the beginning, but my kids are used to it. Also, my kids tend to get bored easily so lazy days aren't always relaxing for mom and and dad when three kids are up in our face asking "what are we doing next?" over and over and over.

April 3-5: Rome (evening train to Florence on the 5th)
April 5-8: Florence (morning train to Vietri on the 8th)
April 8-9: Vietri sul Mare (afternoon to relax upon arrival. Morning pasta making class the next day)
April 9: Bus to Cetara. Explore. Then ferry to Amalfi. Walk to apartment in Atrani.
April 10: Explore Amalfi, paper mill tour, cathedral, etc. Bus to Ravello. Hike down to Atrani. Evening in Atrani.
April 11: Ferry to Positano. Explore. Suggestions?
April 12: EASTER SUNDAY. Try to get a ferry to Capri if it's not too $$$. If it is, just enjoy Atrani and Amalfi.
April 13: Morning ferry to Salerno. Train to Pompeii. (Anyone know how long of a walk it is from train station to ruins and if there is luggage storage at the station?) 3-4 hours in Pompeii. Late afternoon train back to Fiumicino.
April 14: Morning flight back home.

You guys are the best.

Here's a funny story for you that just happened last week:
My husband and I are in our mid 30s and have been traveling with and without kids for 13 years. We married young. Anyway, we have even younger friends (mid-late 20s) who recently found out how I plan our trips. I use tripadvisor, fodors (obviously), actual books with pages, etc. They were speechless, jaws on the floor, flabbergasted that I used things called "forums" and that I READ about places to go. They could NOT believe that I didn't use youtube. <insert eye roll> I NEVER go on youtube. It's a rare, rare day when I search for sometime on youtube. Apparently the thing to do now is just watch "vloggers" travel the world and plan trips around what you see them do. No thanks. I like you guys.
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Old Jan 30th, 2020, 11:05 AM
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I could not agree with you more about YouTube--I am a fast reader but lack the attention span to watch a video, ever. I like to still be a little surprised when I get to a place!

Day 9--I liked staying in Cetara, but there is not much to see there really. Unless you plan on having lunch there, if you all are really go-getters, you could do something else out of Vietri--train to Pompeii (if you think that would give you enough time given you have to get back for transit to Atrani) or Paestum, which would be quite manageable with half a day.

Someone else can chime in on luggage storage at Pompeii, but the walk is about 15 minutes.
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Old Jan 30th, 2020, 12:04 PM
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I use all of the above, plus just a bit of YouTube. We street-Googled our rental property, then used some previous renter's private video tour from their experience there last year, coz we needed to see just how much hassle the sidewalk-less walk from that spot to Minori wazzam (was and still is) going to be. Cue two middle-aged Canadians dodging buses, cars and Vespas along that route in April: "Cor Blimey! 'At was a close one, yeah?!"

I am done. The end.
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Old Jan 30th, 2020, 01:35 PM
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I just checked one company (there are several) for tickets from Amalfi-Capri-Amalfi in April and the total price for 2 adults and 3 children under 13 years is 193euro. I didn't check Easter Sunday though. As you say, for a family, it does add up but everything does, especially eating out!

I enjoyed taking both the bus and the ferry between Positano and Amalfi as each gives a very different perspective. The ferry was more comfortable but the bus more interesting, with better scenery.

We only briefly visited Atrani and for what it's worth, the beach is not very nice. Personally, I wouldn't visit the Amalfi coast for the beaches but it's very beautiful in so many other respects.

I would be tempted to travel to Florence on arrival in Italy and group your time in Rome at the end. This reduces the number of stops and also shortens the journey south.

I bet you have a fabulous time.
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Old Jan 30th, 2020, 02:02 PM
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The itinerary you posted:

April 3-5: Rome (evening train to Florence on the 5th)
April 5-8: Florence (morning train to Vietri on the 8th)
April 8-9: Vietri sul Mare (afternoon to relax upon arrival. Morning pasta making class the next day)
April 9: Bus to Cetara. Explore. Then ferry to Amalfi. Walk to apartment in Atrani.
April 10: Explore Amalfi, paper mill tour, cathedral, etc. Bus to Ravello. Hike down to Atrani. Evening in Atrani.
April 11: Ferry to Positano. Explore. Suggestions?
April 12: EASTER SUNDAY. Try to get a ferry to Capri if it's not too $$$. If it is, just enjoy Atrani and Amalfi.
April 13: Morning ferry to Salerno. Train to Pompeii. (Anyone know how long of a walk it is from train station to ruins and if there is luggage storage at the station?) 3-4 hours in Pompeii. Late afternoon train back to Fiumicino.

April 14: Morning flight back home.

Is there a reason you're going first north to Florence and then back south to Vietri sul Mare? It seems like a long way around. Is Florence essential? Why not focus further south? Or visit a town like Orvieto, which isn't too far from Rome and is really a cool place for both kids and adults.

I had actually written a long post about Atrani which disappeared into the internet abyss. We recently stayed there and absolutely loved the town. It's convenient to Amalfi, which has plenty of transportation, and yet feels very "authentic" (I hate that word, but it does seem to be appropriate here). Tourists do come to Atrani, but you will feel like you're in a living/breathing town. It's charming and very real life. No the beach isn't beautiful, but it's got a lot of life around it, and besides, you won't be going swimming when you go, anyway. I loved Atrani and would go back in a heartbeat.

Pompeii is about a 10 minute walk from the train station, and I'm pretty sure that there is luggage storage there. We saw several people traveling with luggage from Pompeii. The trains do get crowded in the afternoon, so you may need to prepare for standing.

And, as someone else wrote above, the SITA bus can get pretty crowded; the red tourist bus is a good deal and it will be a lot easier getting on!

Oh, and Paestum is fantastic -- much, much smaller than Pompeii. It's both a Greek and Roman site - and much easier to appreciate. Frankly, Pompeii is tiring as it's very crowded and spread out. I would actually recommend Herculaneum over Pompeii - smaller, less crowded, in better shape, and easier to get a better sense of a small city. I do appreciate going to Pompeii, and I'm glad I did, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the others.

And the Bufalo farm is a wonderful experience -- and we had an amazing meal and the richest ice cream ever!

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Old Jan 30th, 2020, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post
I just checked one company (there are several) for tickets from Amalfi-Capri-Amalfi in April and the total price for 2 adults and 3 children under 13 years is 193euro.
This is what I found as well. Over $200 just to get to and from Capri. Doesn't sound that enticing for a day trip, but we'll see. Playing that one by ear...


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