First timer to Amalfi Coast and Capri

Nov 30th, 2005, 10:46 PM
  #1  
oceankayaker7
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First timer to Amalfi Coast and Capri

Right now I have plans on visiting the Amalfi coast and Capri for our honeymoon in May/06. At this time we are booked for 3 nights at the Le Sirenuse in Positano, 3 nights at the Caesar Augustus in Capri and 5 nights at the Hotel Caruso in Ravello. What I need to know is this the best order to visit these places ? I have read that most people take the train from Rome to Naples and then get picked up there for the drive to there first hotel. Does it make sense to want to rent a car for the drive to Positano from the Rome airport or is this the hard way of doing things? I want to have a car to drive around our first 3 days in Positano. Would it be easier to have a guide drive us around? We really love to explore. I have read a lot about how hard it is to park around the AC towns.
Before I forget, we really want the best views in regards to where we are staying. I have read the negative feed back on tripadviser.com about Caesar Augustus lack of good service. I would really appreciate all of your feed back. Sorry for the long message as I want this to be a smooth trip for my beauty and me.
 
Dec 1st, 2005, 02:51 AM
  #2  
 
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I regretted staying a few nights in Ravello - it's *very* quiet and the sights (basically, 1 beautiful garden, 1 OK garden & a moderately picturesque Italian village) can be seen in a day. Also, in June, I found it a bit chilly in the evenings or in the shade during the day, presumably because of the altitude.

Given 11 nights, & that you want to drive around on the mainland, I'd do 6 nights in Positano and 5 nights on Capri. Or add Amalfi if you want to stay 3 places.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 03:11 AM
  #3  
ira
 
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Hi O,

You might find a car useful on the AC, but there is very good bus and ferry service between Sorrento and Salerno.

The Caruso looks like a lovely destination hotel. You will have to take a bus or cab up the hill from Amalfi.

I recommend against renting a car to drive to Positano immediately after arriving in jet-lagged condition.

If money is not a problem, you can have a limo take you to the AC for about 400E (I think).

Otherwise, you can train to Salerno and take the ferry to Positano. It's a pleasant, scenic ride, and it's easier to handle your luggage.

You can also do the Naples/limo to Positano route. About 100E for the transfer.

Have a lovely visit.

ira is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 03:15 AM
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P.S. The Santa Caterina in Amalfi is v. nice - I've stayed there twice & would go again.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 08:06 AM
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I am going to assume that you have done research and know what to expect weather-wise and don't expect that you will be wearing shorts or spending any time by a pool and that this is OK with you. I also assume you realize that that Capri may be quite cold and windy and there is a good chance you won't get into the Blue Grotto. On the plus side, many of the spring flowers will be out and if you are lucky the gorgeous wisteria will be blooming. If your trip is toward the end of May then you will have a much better chance of warmer temps and less rain.

You might look into flying right into Naples from Rome, you might still be able to add this to you int'l ticket for just a small additional fee. If you aren't staying in Rome at all, it would make a lot more sense to just change planes in Rome and fly down to Naples. Alitalia has very frequent flights, and you can usually coordinate with an inbound US flight, esp if you are flying in from the US on Alitalia. Same with your return flight.

If you can't do that, I do think it is the "hard' way to rent a car at the Rome airport and drive down. In the first place you will be jet lagged after the overnight flight, the wedding excitement, etc and hitting an Italian autostrada in that state is probably not the best way to start a honeymoon, let alone a marriage...in the second place, the drive is not that pretty until you get past Naples anyway. I would either take the train to Naples, or have a car and driver take you down. You can have a driver meet you in Naples and you can really enjoy the beautiful part of the drive. The car and driver from Rome airport would be the easiest but most expensive. Run a search here for suggestions or I can recco some.

In terms of order, I would not go to Capri first, as that will involve a boat ride after the train ride or drive and you will be tired enough from the flight and drive/train IMO. Also, if the wind is up (which happens in May) the surf can be quite rough you may not want to add that to the already long trip. I would go first to Positano or Ravello. Really you can't do wrong with going to either town first. I think I would do Capri last, so you can take the ferry to Naples and head out from there (in rough weather, ferries don't go into Positano at all which would mess up plans to get to a Positano hotel, but no problems with Naples a bigger port).

Have to agree that 5 days in Ravello seems like a lot. In fact 11 days on the coast at that time of year seems like a lot, have you considered doing to Rome first for a few days and then to the coast? Rome would be great in May and easier in terms of jet lag, etc and not so weather dependent.

I am of two minds as to having a car on the AC. It is good at night if you want to go to a restaurant in another town (although many restaurants will send a car for you) It is convenient not having to match yourself to a bus or ferry schedule or wait for an empty bus. On the down side parking is a pain to find and can be expensive. Also I don't think the driver has a whole lot of fun and does not see that much of the beauty (at least I don't) and the passengers don't really relax when a relative or friend is driving (at least I don't). Again, perhaps not the best way to start a marriage. . . .. Finally, some of the best ways to see the coast are on foot and by boat, so the car does not really help there. All things consididered, I am not sure it is worth the cost and trouble of renting (and US$7 a gallon for gas). If you rent a car, you do not need a guide. There is very little to see in terms of churches, museums, etc other than the natural beauty. A good guidebook is helpful. Fodors is good, the sunflower books on walks on the coast is very good as well, go to http://www.sunflowerbooks.co.uk/walking_titles.htm

Also agree on the Santa Caterina, I love that hotel. In many ways I prefer it to the Sirenuse, although in May the Sirenuse is OK because the pool is not much in use and the town is not so noisy as it is in summer. Be sure to ask about room size, however, because they have a lot of very small rooms at ridiculously high prices. You can get a much bigger room with a great view at other hotels in town if you want to be in Positano.

If you are having second thoughts about the Caesar Augustus, some others I can recco would be:

Punta Tragara
http://www.hoteltragara.com/home.html

La Scalinatella
http://www.scalinatella.com/

La Pazziella
http://www.hotellapazziella.com

Cicerone is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 08:21 AM
  #6  
 
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Sorry, I guess a compromise to not renting a car could be hiring a car and driver for a day or a few hours and hitting the various towns. This might end up costing more than renting if you want to shop, eat lunch etc., but would be hassle-free.
Cicerone is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 09:12 AM
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I don't have anything to add, but I must say that Cicerone's post above is the most helpful, complete and thoughtful answer I've read here in a while. Nice job.
Brian_in_Charlotte is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 10:08 AM
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Wow, great post by Cicerone! We did hire a driver a couple times to take us from Rome to Positano because of jet lag, traveling with kids, and way too much luggage. Two years ago, it ran just under $400. Given the huge jump in gas prices across Europe, I can't imagine what it costs now. I would seriously consider either the Eurostar, or flying down to Naples, then getting picked up there for the ride to your hotel. Two drivers to recommend: Francesco Marrapese at: fmarrapese.com, and Giovanni Gargiulo at tourofitaly.com.

As for having a car generally in Positano, I wouldn't recommend it. Some hotels have garages, others don't. But the town itself has tiny narrow streets that are hard for the locals to navigate, and few parking spaces. Also, since you're going in May, I think you'll avoid the throngs of crowds on buses and boats, so you might as well take advantage of those for day trips, etc.

As for Ravello, I couldn't imagine spending five days there, even though the gardens are magnificent. I would recommend going there as a day trip from Positano.

I agree with Cicerone's advice about the Sirenuse. I've heard that some of the rooms can be really disappointing, even in the higher-priced categories, so try to get a firm idea of what you're reserving if possible before you book.

If you don't have your heart set on Sirenuse, I can highly recommend from personal experience the Hotel Poseidon. It's a few blocks uphill from Sirenuse, and has lovely views from its junior suites, as well as amazing food and very good service. It's a small, family-run hotel, and is quite popular, although May shouldn't be as busy. The cost should be at least a few hundred dollars less than Sirenuse.

YOu could also check out the very popular Albergo Miramare, which apparently has a few rooms ( and bathrooms!) with stunning views over the sea.

For Capri, if you'd like to look at a few other hotels, I'd check out Hotel Luna and Casa Morgano, which is owned by the same owners as the famous Quissiana ( spelling?). We stayed at Luna, and it has beautiful sea view rooms ( make sure you confirm that you've reserved them because there are rooms in the hotel that face an interior courtyard!), a gorgeous pool set in a large garden, and is only a few minutes walk from the main piazzetta.

Good luck, and congratulations!
Weadles is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 10:38 AM
  #9  
Pausanias
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On the Sirenuse --

I've stayed there several times, and my family has been going for over thirty years. At today's prices I don't know if I'll be going back. I've never seen a disappointing room there, though I imagine they have some. The hotel is pretty near to perfect, though the trendier folks prefer the San Pietro (or did, until the last Town & Country review) -- well, ok, the pool is small.

It is elegant without being stuffy. The restaurant is superb. The view is the visual equivalent of the song of the Sirens, though of course other nearby places share it.

You cannot go wrong there, in my experience, but they now charge half again as much for a standard room as I used to spend for a deluxe with demi-pension, and I just won't pay it.

At the same time I can't imagine staying anywhere else in Positano, so I haven't been back for a while. It may just be that we're done with Positano. It is certainly hard to return to a place where you've been that happy without disappointment.
 
Dec 1st, 2005, 11:21 AM
  #10  
 
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Hi -

I did my honeymoon in Italy in June of this year. I would differ from some of the other posters in a couple of things.

First, I found Capri a huge waste of time and money. We did Capri for the day, and did get in to the Blue Grotto, but for us, it was just not that amazing. To be honest, we are from CT/NY and it reminded me ALOT of Port Jefferson, Long Island. I warned a friend who went in August, but she felt the need to see for herself. She came back saying that I was absolutely right, a complete waste of time!

Also, while we only did a day trip in Ravello, we loved it! We ate lunch at the pricey, but amazing hotel Palazzo Sasso (my travel agent had recommend we stay here, but I was nervous about being in such a small town). If you can afford it, I would definitely look into staying here, atleast for a few days! I would suggest this as the first stop of your trip when you will really appreciate the time to relax by the pool.

We ended up staying in Positano at Le Agavi. A little off the beaten path but the hotel had AMAZING views. (Again, its on the pricey side).


Where I agree with other people, think about spending a few days in Rome. It is amazing and 11 days on the Amalfi Coast might be a little too much.

Finally, I would have a car service pick you up and pre-arrange some day trips for you. We had some great experiences because of a fabulous car service, etc. I have the name of a great travel agent in Sorrento who can help you arrange things. I will look up his name, etc when I get home later and post it for you.

Let me know if I can answer any questions. I have ALOT of great recommendations.
bighil is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 11:32 AM
  #11  
 
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First of all, congratulations on your wedding/honeymoon!

We stayed in Positano and Capri in June. You can read our full trip report and see some of our pix here:

http://www.onelittleworld.com/campania_1.html

We enjoyed this area a lot, and I hope you do as well.
mr_go is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 06:41 PM
  #12  
 
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I am planning a trip to Italy in the middle of April. I would love to spend most of the time in Capri. However, I am nervous about the weather. I am looking to spend time by the water and relax in the sun. Will it be warm enough?

thanks for the help
travel2006 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 06:58 PM
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In a word: yes, Capri and the rest of the coast will most likely still be too cold to sit by the water in April. Take a look at weatherbase.com and worldclimate.com for historical temps and rainfall, use Naples as the nearest point. You have to extrapolate a little bit because Capri is out in the water a bit. It is very much like going to the Jersey Shore or the beaches of Long Island or Maryland in April. (Naples is on roughly the same latitude as NYC, it is on the warmer Med so doesn't have the cold winters but is very far north in relative terms) .) Now you may get lucky and get a very warm spell and everything will be lovely; but the odds are against you. More likely it will be in the high 50s to low 60s, misty and even worse foggy. Water temps will be cool, not as cold as the Atlantic of course, but IMO not swimmable.

The other thing is that many restaurants and hotels will still be shut. For starters, click on "Hotels' and Restaurants" above, then choose "Europe", then scroll down to Italy and click on "Amalfi Coast and Capri" and then take a look at the number of restaurants on Capri that are closed from November through April. For example, the two best restaurants in Capri, Le Grottelle and La Fontelina are closed. Three of the better restaurants in Positano, Cove Dei Saraceni, La Cambusa and O' Guarracino are closed. Finally, eating outdoors is one of the pure pleasures of dining out along the coast, and in April, even with heaters, it could be too cold and/or rainy to do that. That is one of the main reasons I would save the Amalfi coast for better weather. Also the ferries run on an abbreviated schedule so getting out for day trips to the mainland (i.e. Pompeii) can be problematic). If it is rough, the ferries don't run at all.

Bihil, I totally agree that as a day tripper you would not enjoy the Capri experience, and the port where the ferry docks would remind you of Long Island, and the real zoo of getting out to the Blue Grotto by a public boat would not be fun. To see what people rave about, and why Italians own homes they and keep gong back, you would need to go back and stay on the island for a few days, away from the main port, and see it when the day trippers have left and take some of the wonderful walks and hikes, and hire your own boat to take you around. It is a very different place at that time and under those circumstances.



Cicerone is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 07:22 PM
  #14  
oceankayaker7
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I really appreciate all of your input. Right now I am not sure if the weather will be good enough during our stay. I planned on us being there from May 8 to the 18th. All of my plans could be changed as I have a back up plan.
For Cicerone and the others, do you think I should wait to go to AF at a later date? When we go to Post Ranch in Big Sur we expect it to be cool at night.
I understand about what you said about Ravello but the Hotel Caruso reminds me a lot of the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur with the high above view and the peaceful surroundings.
As for Le Sirenuse goes, I have heard about the small rooms. Can anyone tell me if they serve dinner outside here in early May?
If we still do this trip we will fly from Rome into Naples and then get picked up. All of your input made me come up with this decision.
As for as Capri goes, my fiance really wanted to see the island. My only concern is that it will be too cold to cruise around the island by boat. I am a sailor and she is not so her being too cold is a concern for me. Windy conditions would make this very difficult. Anymore input would be appreciated.
 
Dec 1st, 2005, 08:24 PM
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Cool at night is one thing, but the AF will be cool/cold during the DAY and cold at night. I have been to Big Sur and the Post Ranch (wow so beautiful) and the difference there I think is that you expect the cool foggy weather and you have fireplaces and warm cozy rooms and the great pine/juniper almost fall-like smell in the air, and it really is the same weather all year isn't it? In the AF that is not the case, it is just the down season. Rooms are Italian tile floors and can be downright chilly, very few fireplaces, at least working ones.

In early May it will be quite cool in the evenings on the terrace on the Sirenuse but with heaters (which you would definitely want), I think La Sponda would serve outdoors. Even indoors would be wonderful as you have the illusion of being outdoors because the walls are covered in vines and lit entirely by candles. It is very beautiful. The hotel would be the best source of info as to when they start serving outdoors.

This is really a hard choice, because you could totally luck out and weather could be beautiful. By mid-May most restaurants and hotels in Capri are open so that tells you more about the odds of good weather, but I have been there in May and experienced cold, foggy weather and times when ferries weren't running; and then when you are there again in September you feel so bad for your friends who were with you in May and didn't really get to see it at its best. . . .as for hiring a boat to go around Capri in mid-May, I personally would not do it, mainly because you would not want to swim in those chilly waters in May, and IMO swimming off a boat in Capri is really glorious (through the Spumanti, you can go out to Le Siren and swim there, swimming at sunset, swimming in the Blue Grotto, there are numerous opportunities) that I would wait until full summertime when your wife, who is not a sailor, might enjoy the boat experience a lot more. I was there once in May 2004 and had hired a boat for the day from Positano and it was so rough that our captain would not take us out. (I have reccos if you are inerested, I have used this guy a few times.)
Cicerone is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 10:09 PM
  #16  
oceankayaker7
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Thanks Cicerone for your input. Here is the tough question. Should I change our plans and go to Santorini and a few other Greek islands? I have read great things about Katikies. Its always been between the two places. Thanks for telling me how cool it would be compared to Post Ranch. Its too bad becuase Caruso Ravello looks incredible after a major renonvation plus I read a review comparing it to an Aman. resort which I was fortunate to have stayed in.
I can't help but get a little personal but I was very ill from 1990 up until 3 years ago. The neurological illness I have is still a major issue but things are a lot better. Finding my soon to be wife is a blessing in itself. I really don't want to take any chances with this trip for a number of reasons. I wanted to do AF and Santorini for our trip but she thought that would be too much moving around. I know I am going on and on here but would appreciate your input. Thank you!
 
Dec 2nd, 2005, 12:25 PM
  #17  
 
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My wife and I went to Positano and AC in late May of 2004. We flew into Naples, hired a car to Positano. Do not rent a car. The roads are so narrow, sometimes, 2 small cars cannot pass. And you won't need it in Positano. Either walk around Positano or hire a taxi. But you'll be better off, just walking. It will be GREAT. YOu can get to AC by boat or bus, which is a very nice boat ride, seeing the coastline and once you get there, Amalfi and Ravello, you take buses up the hills. Again, NARROW roads. We only spent a day in Amalfi AND Ravello. You can spend a day at each place and stay in Positano as home base. You can also go to Capri and Anacapri from Positano by a nice boat ride. A car from Naples cost us about 80eu. And it was a pleasure not having to drive w/ jetlag. Capri, AC are ALL doable from Positano as a base. We stayed at Buca diBacco. Never wished we had a car. Weather was perfect (60's) but too cool to swim. 5 nights in Ravello is much too much. Stay put in Positano and ration out the days/destination as you see fit. We even went to Pompei from Positano. Each place went went was a day visit. You can go back for more, but I don't think you need to stay overnight at each place. You can alway go back and the boat/bus rides are about 30-40 minutes. Positano is just magical, you don't want to leave. Sirenuse is supposed to be the best, but Buca has the same views, but a little lower to the ocean. So little of Positano is accessible by car that you really don't need it. You can take a boat right by the water by Buca di Bacco to Capri, and Amalfi/Ravello. Pompei is a bus and a train ride away, 1:20 door to ruins.
cc48 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2005, 02:21 PM
  #18  
 
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Cicerone,
Thanks so much for the info on Capri. It's for my honeymoon that I am planning in the middle of April. Do you have any other suggestions? I do definitely want to go to Italy at some point, but probably will wait until a warmer time of year.

So for April, I would like to stick to somewhere warm where we can enjoy the beach and we love to go out to eat and enjoy good food. We are trying to stay away from Hawaii and the Carribean. Would you have any other suggestions that might work for us?
travel2006 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2005, 02:41 PM
  #19  
 
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I have been on the AC in May when it was very hot, especially the middle to end of the month.

For a honeymoon I think the AC would be perfect, including Capri. Nothing is more romantic than walking around Capri at night and looking back at the lights on the mainland. Not to mention the moon on the water....ach....I am getting nostalgic just thinking about it.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2005, 06:35 PM
  #20  
 
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Sorry to be daft, but I was reading this thread and I don't know what AF means. AC stands for Amalfi Coast, but what is AF?
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