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Driving on the Amalfi Coast

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Oct 9th, 2014, 08:45 PM
  #1
THR
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Driving on the Amalfi Coast

Hi all,

So, I'm staying on the Amalfi Coast in June next year. We have made our base Salerno for five nights, before we spend two nights in Positano, two nights in Capri and two nights in Ischia, before we leave for Rome.

Our plans while in Salerno include Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum, Naples, and visiting coastal towns, amongst other (to be defined) things.

Our current thinking while staying in Salerno is to hire a car for 5 days, and we have gone ahead and hired one (early bird rates, but still refundable) so I have a couple of questions on this:

1) The car we have hired is listed as one of Mercedes A-Class, BMW 120D, Volvo V40 or Peugeot 3008 (hopefully it is one of the first three! And hopefully we don't get upgraded to a larger vehicle).

Is this type of vehicle too large to get around the Amalfi? I know the coastal roads are meant to be quite tight (I suspect that the Mercedes, BMW and Volvo aren't too large but perhaps the Peugeot might be)?

2) Given our desire to go to places like Pompeii etc, and to visit some of the other parts of the coast (e.g. Ravello), is a car useful? I know the drive can be a bit daunting, perhaps especially in June, but I also hear that the buses can be crowded.

I know this topic has been done a million times (and I have searched and read most related articles), but these were the two aspects I was not entirely sure of ...

Any assistance appreciated, as always!
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Oct 9th, 2014, 10:39 PM
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The problem is you encounter buses on narrow portions and even if everyone folds in their mirrors, it's tight in places. Often everyone has to back up and there are cars parked on the sides of the roads or cliffs which can cause scrapes.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 04:00 AM
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One problem is that three of the places you want to see while in Salerno (Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Naples) are very inconvenient from Salerno. Salerno is ideal for Paestum, though. If I were you, I'd cut the time in Salerno, and stay for several night in Sorrento, which is much more convenient for the other places you want to visit.

I can't say what car would be ideal for the Amalfi Coast. I live in Italy, and have visited the Amalfi Coast twice, but I wouldn't dream of driving there, and neither would my husband. There are alternative routes that avoid the coastal road, but they're useful mainly for getting to places outside the peninsula.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 05:27 AM
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One thing I can say: This trip is not going to be a lot of fun for the driver.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 05:47 AM
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There is nothing inconvenient about going from Salerno to Pompei and Herculaneum. It is a 30 minute drive with plenty of parking upon arrival.

For Napoli, it would be better to take the train from Salerno, just to avoid having to track down easy parking.

As for driving along the Amalfi Drive itself, some people truly enjoy it, others just hate it. Fortunately, they tend to marry someone who feels like they do. But if you are staying Positano for 2 nights, why don't you extend it one night so you can visit Ravello and then rent the car only while you are in Salerno so you can conveniently visit Paestum, Pompei and Herculaneum?

I wouldn't worry about the size of the car.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 05:54 AM
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Salerno is VERY inconvenient for the places that are near Napels - agree you should stay in Sorrento instead.

We have visited the area twice - with a mid size car - but in May. Didn't have any problems with driving or parking (BUT our hotel in Sorrento had free parking - most don't and this is definitely something you will need). Also, we are from NYC and used to driving in very close quarter and parking ins space barely bigger than the car. Also to driving around for 10 or 15 minutes looking for places to park. If you are doing this be sure that you have practiced your parallel parking in small places - on both sides - and be sure to follow the city parking rules (always fold in car mirrors, never leave ANYTHING inside the car, and don;t park in places cars can be easily rifled)

We drove the coast road a couple of times and enjoyed it - but be prepared for very slow speeds, lots of blind driveways and the need to back up in some places to make room for a huge tour bus. At one point we were stuck for about 30 minutes when a tour bus and large local truck came face to face and neither wanted to give way - stopping traffic in both directions.

Also note the best views of the coast are from the sea - and you need to stop frequently so the driver (we took turns) gets to see some of the better views.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 06:03 AM
  #7
WWK
 
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Trust me. If you rent a car for the Amalfi Coast Drive in June, you'll need a vacation afterwards. The traffic is horrendous, there are lots of blind spots, trucks/tour buses attempting to pass on tight curves, limited parking. Need I say more?

Take sandralist's advice and only rent the car for the Salerno portion of your trip.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 06:22 AM
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While you might be able to get to Pompeii or Paestum from Salerno in 30 minutes, that would be on inland roads a good distance from the Amalfi coast. Taking Amalfi coast roads, it would take 1 1/2- 2 hours just to reach Sorrento from Salerno. Look at a map. Salerno is south of everything you want to see except Paestum.

Sorrento makes more sense for what you want to visit and you would only need a car for a day or two (one to go to Paestum and one to drive the coast). The local train between Sorrento and Naples departs every 30 minutes with stops at Pompeii (the entrance is right across the street) and Herculaneum (a couple of blocks from the station). You would also be able to catch ferries to Amalfi and transfer to the bus to Ravello (or grab a taxi once in Amalfi if you don't want to take buses).
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Oct 10th, 2014, 06:29 AM
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Why 5 nights in Salerno? It is the least desirable location among the others you considering. I would skip it and spend that time in Sorrento and Positano. And, I would not drive that coast in June. I have in April and Oct. and that was bad enough. It is not the danger---it is the inconvenience.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 06:35 AM
  #10
THR
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Thanks all for your comments thus far.

I'm the driver and confident and competent enough to drive the route (albeit, it is the opposite side of the road for us, so the perspective/relativity of closeness to the other side of the road (the wall, I suppose) is always a little out).

We've booked our accommodation in Salerno and are happy with that choice. And agree that we would look to train to Naples.

As for extending in Positano, I think two nights is enough. That is our splurge hotel and we can't afford another night anyway (at the rates they charge).

Thanks for all the assistance so far. The car is relatively cheap anyway (compared to Australian prices), so if we have it for an extra day or two and dno't use it, that would be okay.

Very much food for thought. Not ignoring all of the feedback - some serious considerations!
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Oct 10th, 2014, 06:43 AM
  #11
 
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OK--so you did not really want advice you really wanted validation. Have a great trip--hard to beat the destinations.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 06:47 AM
  #12
THR
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Thanks for the attitude.

Of cousre I wanted the advice; hence the "food for thought" comment. I am reconsidering the need for the vehicle on the basis of the above. Like everything though, it needs research on each of the separate comments, given the conflicting nature of some of the information.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 06:50 AM
  #13
THR
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And I did not see your comment prior to my post (obviously I had already loaded the page bob). It's a fair point re the 5 days in Salerno. It was reasonably priced and seemed to be a good base. Unfortunately some say it is a good location to stay as a base and some don't. I guess that's the nature of various peoples stays...

Perhaps Sorrento would have been a better choice. I don't know.

But I guess we might just catch the ferries around and the train to the other destinations.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 07:09 AM
  #14
ekc
 
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I think Salerno is a great base for what you want to see. Train to Naples is easy and quick (30 minutes) as is the train to Pompeii (although it does involve a 10-15 minute walk from the station to Pompeii Scavi). Once in Naples you can also catch the Circumvesuviana train to Herculaneum (and Pompeii for that matter).

One amazing site that is not on your list while you are in Salerno is Paestum, which is very easily reached via direct train from Salerno. It is a do-not-miss IMO. I have stayed in Positano for a week in June for the last 3 years and have visited Paestum twice!

You can also visit Vietri Sul Mare via train from Salerno - a charming coastal village famous for its ceramics. There is also a winery in Raito (a "suburb" of Vietri) where you can tour and have lunch, and they will pick you up in Salerno or Vietri.

As you will note from my above comments, all of the sites are (relatively) easily reached by train. IMO, a car is a terrible liability on the Amalfi Coast. Traffic is horrendous and parking is scarce and expensive. It is easy to travel between Salerno, Amalfi/Ravello and Positano via ferry in June. It is a gorgeous way to see the coast with none of the headache of driving.

I LOVE to drive (drove from Oregon to North Dakota for a long weekend once) and I would never attempt driving along the AC in June. Save your money on the rental and spend it on trains and ferries - it is part of the Italian experience!
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Oct 10th, 2014, 10:20 AM
  #15
 
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Agree that I would not get a car FOR the Amalfi coast. We had a car there both times since we were in the middle of road trips (but that is our preferred method of travel) for places where cars were really necessary for convenience. If we were to go just there is summer we would not rent a car.
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Oct 10th, 2014, 10:47 AM
  #16
THR
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Thanks everyone. Ekc, some of those ideas sound great. Will add them to our itinerary.

General consensus seems to be to drop the car so that is what we will do!
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Oct 10th, 2014, 11:53 AM
  #17
ekc
 
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Nice job THR!
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Oct 10th, 2014, 02:03 PM
  #18
ekc
 
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If you have more questions or need specifics, let me know. I visit Positano each year and have friends who live near Salerno.
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