Five days: Florence or Naples?

Feb 29th, 2016, 11:31 AM
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Five days: Florence or Naples?

In April, my husband and I will be riding bikes in Puglia for 8 days. We will start in Matera and end in Lecce. We have three weeks in all. We have reservations for five nights in Rome. We will then have five more nights before we need to arrive in Matera. I am wondering if we should go to Florence and Orvieto for 5 days or head to Naples/Sorento/ Amalfi coast. We have never been to Italy before. We do not rent cars and love trains and buses.
pitter is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 11:52 AM
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That's something you will need to figure out on your own with guide book and online research.
Florence is a Renaissance powerhouse so if architecture and art interest you then go there. You are surrounded by the Tuscan countryside but that is best seen with a car. You can take a train to Lucca/Pisa and buses to Siena but Florence has enough to occupy five days if you love art.

I would choose Naples and that region. Transport is easy with trains and ferries to get you around, there is a lot to see and the city of Naples will be a great contrast with the Puglian countryside.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 03:29 PM
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I like both your itineraries equally, but they are really very different regions, and what might tip the balance for you is -- (these are oversimplifications, but the broad brush might bring out some important points to consider)

The food is very different between the 2 regions. Meat eaters should head inland, and seafood lovers should head to the coast.

There are many more treasures of antiquity in and near Naples, and many more treasures of the Renaissance in Florence and nearby

There is a lot more wealth even today in Florence and Orvieto than there is in Naples and nearby -- although the Amalfi coast area is geared toward affluent luxury travelers. If you would like to see the wealthier side of today's Italy, then you might want to look at Florence.

If you love exploring cities, then Naples is much bigger than Florence and much less organized to be a tourist showcase. Entering into Naples you unmistakably move into the space of a foreign city with its own priorities, rhthyms, problems, business to get done. Florence is on display for tourist delectation-- and it is very , very delicious and understandably preserved as a world treasure -- but it is more like a great campus (the business of the city thrives at its fringes) and many spots in the small city have a quiet, earnest and studious feeling to them-- whereas Naples really is high decibel.

Anyway, maybe something of that broad brush will jump out at you if you want certain foods, or like high energy, or antiquity, or prefer some contemplative moments with Renaissance masters...
sandralist is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 05:06 PM
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I have no idea what prompted this bizarre comment but OP - you can ignore it. It was posted by someone who has had a fleeting glimpse of the Amalfi Coast and who thinks Naples is some god-forsaken place filled with beggars to rival Mumbai.

Sandralist - I have no idea what 'wealth' has to do with the OP's intentions - maybe you can explain.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 05:39 PM
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As already noted, it really depends on your interests, as these two areas are very different. And IMO, either would nicely complement your time in Puglia, Matera, and Rome, both with offer some wonderful options for food and wine, and each can be easily visited with public transportation.

In case it helps: I spent 5 full days in Florence, loving every minute with extraordinary works of art and architecture, but I'm probably at the upper end of the interest-in-art scale and have never come close to wearying of time spent admiring such things. In that time, I didn't leave the city at all, although I'm sure I would enjoy other parts of Tuscany or Umbria, too, and most people easily fit a day trip or two into their time in the area.

For my interests, 5 days would be pushing it for Naples and the Amalfi Coast. A day or two on the coast itself, maybe a day on Capri, a couple of days for the magnificent ruins in the area (Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum), and you've barely time to see the magnificent archeological museum in Naples, let alone any of that vibrant city's other amazing treats.

Just my opinion!

I agree that you would do well to devote some time to various guidebooks, perhaps at a local library, to decide what most appeals to you.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 07:27 PM
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Sure. Naples is one of the poorest cities in Europe and certainly the largest poorest city in Italy, with glaring poverty in its public life and many of the associated ills. For most observant people, that makes a difference to their travel experience, and people travel for different purposes at different moments in their lives, and choose accordingly.

We've been through this before, blueeyedcod. I love the attractions Naples and Florence equally and am not trying to influence who does or doesn't go. But I'm not also participating in a public whitewash of the serious problems of Naples that blight the lives of its residents, howevermuch you want to see it censored from the Fodor's travel board. Insults don't deter much around here (but you don't notice much).
sandralist is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 07:39 PM
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On wealth in Northern Italy and poverty in southern Italy, and how Naples is falling behind. Not a pretty picture for a great city:
sandralist is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 09:07 PM
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You're failing to address the issues at hand - the OP is a tourist. Not sure what parts of Naples you have been to - from memory it is Vomero and that's it. Tourists have no need to be immersed in any poor areas so why bring it up? Please specify exactly how the North/South wealth divide (one of your pet hobby horses) is relevant ?
You're full of generalisations - because your experience of Naples amounts to practically zero.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Feb 29th, 2016, 10:30 PM
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Pitter (OP)

Image of Via Partenope toward Castel dell Ovo - the pedestrian zone Lungomare - a place where locals and tourists like to linger, have dinner, lunch, walk and spend time

View looking along Via San Gregorio Armeno - the 'Christmas Alley' where artisans hand craft nativity scenes.

The Mergellina area looking toward the famous Chalet Ciro for coffee, wine and cake and a beautiful view

Via Tribunali - heart of the Historic Centre

These are the places tourists will go. The shabby outskirts you may see on the train to Pompeii but you won't be walking through there. It won't affect your stay one iota. The side streets of Napoli Centrale station are graffiti-ridden and seedy - but so are the streets around any central station of any big city. Roma Termini is no different. Paris Gare du Nord is the same.

And just a couple of articles.

As with any European city, be mindful of your belongings especially in crowds and on crowded public transportation. As for beggars - you will see them in Rome too - and Florence. In fact I recently stayed on Via Nazionale in Florence and it wasn't the gentrified image portrayed in the post above.

I wish you well and no matter what area you choose, both are sumptuous.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 01:30 AM
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I have been to Naples many times, and not just to Vomero. I've been all over the city and posted about it here. Let alone your distortion of me, I'm not even going to get into your distortions of how Naples is like any other European city when it comes to beggars and theft, however angry that makes you. Only you seem to have been able to find a way to go to Naples and close your eyes to the grinding poverty of the city. Seeing that poverty doesn't stop other people from appreciating the tremendous value of Naples. This is your problem -- and a rather uninteresting problem at that when you consider the real problems Italians have coping with changing this.

Not all tourists fit into the mold you are describing. First of all, most tourists don't make their first trip to Italy a bike tour of Puglia.

I put gave the OP the link the North-South divide in Italy because they might be a traveler as well as being a tourist. They might travel for understanding more than just to see tourist attractions, but to learn something about Italy and Europe in a larger way.

Since the OP is already going to the south, I thought they might like to know that one of the advantages of going to Florence is that it is an opportunity to see that not all of Italy is mainly poor and struggling, but that some of it is quite wealthy. Apparently that is something you have a huge problem with, but it's nobody else's but yours.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 01:55 AM
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Sandralist -

I have asked you twice now to name exactly where in Naples this poverty is in terms of where a tourist would go. So far you have talked in riddles and have not answered my question. That's because you don't have an answer.

I live in Naples a few months every year. My family are Italian. It's insulting to say that I am closing my eyes - simply because where a tourist goes they won't see this poverty because.... *it is not there*.

I have never said there is no poverty in Naples - read my post to the OP - there are shanty towns clinging mournfully to the CV rail line heading out of town. How does this affect a tourist? News flash. It doesn't.

The OP may have gone bike riding in Puglia but only a fool would draw the long bow and think that a leisurely tour of Secondigliano is on the cards.

It's disingenuous for you to peddle your misinformation, especially to the people of the city who are trying to encourage more visitors, not drive them away with untruths and urban myths.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 01:56 AM
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We were in Naples over Easter 2013 and really enjoyed it. Gritty is a word a lot of people use to describe Naples and I think it is fairly accurate, you can see our photos here:[email protected]

We actually were expecting it to be more gritty than it was, and we really enjoyed it. The food was great, it was affordable and the atmosphere was amazing.

I happen to not like Florence. Have been twice (mind you not for a long periods of time) and I really dislike the crowds. And I admit I am not a bit art museum person. But I can understand if you are why you would love Florence. Here are a few pics from Florence:[email protected]

You can see how different they are just from a few pictures.

You can't go wrong, so choose the one that appeals to you the most.

Happy planning!
jamikins is online now  
Mar 1st, 2016, 02:16 AM
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And to say that the OP needs to go north to see wealth is beyond insulting to the many people who call Naples home and are very affluent. The areas of Posillipo, Chiaia, Mergellina - plenty of obvious wealth there. Vomero as well although it is home to many American military in the mix.

However, clearly it suits your agenda to peddle the north is rich and south is poor - and at the end of the day it does not matter one iota to a tourist - who will probably spend a day in the Historic Centre, take a walk along the Lungomare, head up Via Toledo for some shopping and have some dinner. If everyone who travelled stayed away because a city has it's low socio-economic parts then the only place left in the world anyone would visit would be Disneyland.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 02:18 AM
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Jamikins - your Naples photos are gorgeous. The close-ups of the surface of Gesu Nuovo are wonderful. Thanks for sharing. You have a great eye for the unique.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Mar 1st, 2016, 02:40 AM
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Oh - and Sandralist - perhaps you should check links before posting - your 'north vs south' is all about the UK.....
Blueeyedcod is offline  

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