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Help with a short post-cruise stay in (potentially) Sorrento

Help with a short post-cruise stay in (potentially) Sorrento

Old Nov 13th, 2014, 05:56 AM
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Help with a short post-cruise stay in (potentially) Sorrento

We're currently planning to take a Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Rome in June 2015. I've been to Rome before, so going there post-cruise is not particularly what I want to do. But I've never been to Pompeii and really want to see that and some of the Amalfi coast. So here's where I could use some advice. I will add we love ancient Greek and Roman sites, that's a prime interest.

Assume we have 3-4 nights. We would be arriving at Civitavecchia fairly early on a Saturday morning. And we can fly home out of Naples or Rome. I'm willing to go by car or by train. And there would be 3 adults.

How would you use this time, if the main focus was to see Pompeii, some scenery and perhaps other ancient sites? My preliminary thinking is rent a car, drive to Sorrento with a stop at Ostia Antica (because it appears to be right on the way, and I've never been), and then base in Sorrento for a few days. We'd take one day for Pompeii, and possibly Herculanum, one day to see Positano and/or Amalfi, and then maybe head home.

How would you put an intinerary together? Is Sorrento the best base, or should I go stay in Postano? Is driving a good idea, or should I try to cobble together a train trip from Civitavecchia? If we have a car, and stay in Sorrento, should we drive to Pompeii, or is it better to take the train? Basically I'm open to all sorts of suggestions for how to structure it, what to see, where to stay....lay it on me.

Hotel suggestions would be most welcome. We are trying for a moderate budget, so under $200 a night would be great. Thanks!
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 06:15 AM
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I don't see a car being beneficial for this trip (especially in June) except for Ostia (if you fly from Rome, Ostia is easily reachable by public transport). Both Pompeii and Herculaneum are about 30 minutes from Sorrento on the local train line that runs between Sorrento/Naples.

Positano is about an hour drive from Sorrento and the traffic will be very bad that time of year with parking a problem (most hotels don't have it).

4 nights somewhere only gives you three sightseeing days
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 07:04 AM
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i think it was the getting from the Civitavechhia, and the fact that we have 3 people that made me think driving would be easier. How do we get from the port to Sorrento by train...taxi from port to train station, train from Civitavecchia to Rome, train to Naples, Circumvesuviano to Sorrento? This seemed to me like a major hassle with baggage. Am I overestimating it or missing something?

or are you suggesting that once we arrive in Sorrento, we just park the car for the few days? that seems feasible to me.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 07:21 AM
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I guess alot depends on how much baggage you have. We have docked in Civit. several times and walked to the train station, then gone into Rome from there. So if it were me, with med. sized bags, I'd do the train thing; drifing in Italy just would not be my cup of tea! If you do rent a car, be sure the hotel in Sorrento has parking - I think finding a hotel there with parking would be much easier than Positano. Then you could do your day trips by train without your bags
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 07:43 AM
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The Civitavvechia train station is just outside the entrance to the port but the port stretches a long way - I think there are shuttle buses to the entrance and train station area.

I agree with kybourbon about not wanting or needing a car for this - a car in the Amalfi is frustrating for reasons given above - you can get discounted train tickets at www.trenitalia.com for Rome to Naples if you book way in advance - they are train specific though and I believe are hard or impossible to change from that specific train but can save a lot over just walking up and buying tickets.

for lots of great info on Italian trains check these IMO superb sites: www.seat61.com (good info on discounted train tickets); www.seat61.com and www.ricksteves.com. and kybourbon who posts above is a guru on Trenitia.com as that site has flummoxed many folks it seems but kybourbon or other helpful Fodorites will walk you thru it.

Train Sorrento to Pompeii - no brainer - goes right to the entrance. One problem with cars is that you cannot leave any valuables in thes, especially at places like Pompeii.

Sorrento is a logical base for Capri and the Amalfi and Pompeii or even to ascend Mt Vesuvius by mini-bus.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 07:56 AM
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Given the logistics you describe, maybe a car to Sorrento would be OK. The drive gets a little winding near the end of the trip, but it's not too bad -- gets much worse south of Sorrento. I'd think about just getting rid of the car in Sorrento after you arrive and using public transportation for the rest of the trip to Pompeii, etc.

Then you could fly out of Naples, using public transportation to get to the airport or hiring a driver for about 100 euros to take you from Sorrento. If three people are splitting the cost, that seems like a reasonable and convenient choice.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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The train will be several changes - but a car in Sorrento/Amalfi coast is not a realistic option unless you hotel has parking - and very few do. You could easily drive to and from Pompeii - but driving the coast road at that time of year can be excrutiatingly painful. We've done is a couple of time - but in May - and that was slow enough. At one point we were parked solid for 30 minutes since a tour bus and a truck had come head to head at a narrow point in the road and neither wanted to back up.

If you can get a hotel with parking in Sorrento (not at all sure at that budget for 3 people) you could take the ferry down the coast.

I would reco flying home from Naples - but make sure the flight is not super early or you will have to leave Sorrento at 4 am.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 08:52 AM
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thanks, I really appreciate all the suggestions. A 1-way car rental might be a decent option. I should probably have mentioned that one of the 3 travelers is my 80 year old mother. Now, she is very mobile and handles her luggage pretty well, but getting it on and off trains might be a little tough for her. So that was one of my considerations.

I did think if we used a car, I might look at one of the hotels a little bit outside Sorrento's city center, since these tend to have parking and offer shuttles into the center. But I'm not sure I really like that idea. I like being in the middle of things. So maybe the train...oh I'm still ambivalent. I think reading trip reports where people talk about how crowded the Circumvesuviana is and hard to get a seat, and then doing that with bags and an older person just seems difficult. My DH is an accomplished Boston driver who has done crazy things like driving in downtown London and Athens, and in tiny roads in Ireland and Wales, and even drove from Orvieto into Rome once, so I know he can handle whatever the road conditions are. But traffic is a drag. See, I keep going back and forth. So I really do appreciate your opinions. It gives me lots to think about.

the flight out of Naples is around 2PM, I think. I was actually pleased to see that I could fly AerLingus into Barcelona and out of Naples. It is both the cheapest and the shortest flight time for my itinerary out of Boston. So I think that's our most likely option. I had originally assumed I'd have to go back to Rome, but this will be perfect.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 09:19 AM
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>>>i think it was the getting from the Civitavechhia, and the fact that we have 3 people that made me think driving would be easier.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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>>You would have to get from the port to the car rental so I don't see that any different than getting to the train station.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 10:36 AM
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Given that you do not wish to visit Rome this time, what cruises are you considering? Sometimes they go to Naples first, then back up to Rome. Some also stop in Sicily, then Naples, then Rome. If you find one of those you like, you can ditch the last night of the cruise and depart the ship in Naples.

We have departed early on two cruises that ended in Civitavechhia. Once, we got off the ship in Naples because we were flying out of there, just as you are, and it saved the travel from Civitavecchia to Rome to Naples. Getting around Naples is easy and cheap compared with getting into and out of Rome.

We also departed a ship in Livorno because we were going to the CT and Florence, so saved backtracking from Rome.

You lose a night sleeping on the ship, but on the overall trip, you may save most of a day of travel and a lot of hassle and money.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 10:43 AM
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when we were in Sorrento in February we took a bus up to Sant'Agata just above Sorrento and then walked back down. There are some nice hotels up there and I'd bet they have parking. OK they aren't in Sorrento proper but there are taxis and buses, or your car for getting about. i wouldn't normally recommend that but with granny in tow, [and thinking of my own quite fit mother who is 81] I think I'd go for that option.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 11:14 AM
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How about a private driver from the port to Sorrento - will be costly but hassle-free for all. then you have no car to ditch in Sorrento where cars are not a good idea.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 11:38 AM
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Once you got to the train station in Naples, you could have a drive take you to your hotel in Sorrento to avoid the Circumvesuviana train.

It isn't necessarily the road on the AC that is the problem (other than it being a narrow 2-lane road with the mountain on one side and a drop to the ocean on the other with no space on either side), it is the traffic in June, which can be really terrible. I love to drive, and I stay in Positano for a week each June and would never consider having a car on the AC.

If you are into Greek ruins, then a visit to Paestum should be high on your list.
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Old Nov 13th, 2014, 11:48 AM
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Note: As I mentioned before, there's a big difference in the road when you go south of Sorrento. North of Sorrento and into the city isn't so bad, IMHO, and I've made the drive twice.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 01:45 AM
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Sassafras, a nice idea, but we've picked the cruise and it doesn't stop in Naples. We go from Barcelona to Marseille to Tunis, then they do Sicily, genoa, Livorno, Civit. So not really a good opportunity for early exit.

Pal, a driver is a nice idea, but it looks like it would cost around 400-500 Euro, which is probably too much for me. Now, there' say possibility my brother and SIL will be with us, and then that option becomes more likely.

Ekc, Paestum is definitely on the list. How would one get there without a car, from Sorrento? I'm just not sure we'll have time, but if we take 4 nights instead of 3, then it may just fit. I know my mom would really like to go there.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 07:25 AM
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There are private coach bus tours that go to Paestum from Sorrento. You can also take the Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Naples, then take the Trenitalia train from Naples to Paestum (through Salerno). If you take the train, be sure to purchase your return (Paestum-Naples) ticket in Naples, as the train station in Paestum is unmanned.
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 10:06 AM
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chinacat -definitely 4 nights at the very least, if you want to see Positano, Herculaneum, Pompeii and Paestum - and when are you going to see Sorrento?
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 10:28 AM
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ekc, thanks. I do hope we manage to fit it in.

annhig, you are absolutely right, even with 4 nights I don't think we'll fit it in. I don't really think I can do Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day, even though I know people do.

I suppose we'll fit Sorrento in in the evenings...

If you had to choose between Paestum and Herculaneum which would you pick?
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 10:42 AM
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china-cat - I've not been to Herculaneum [or Paestum come to that] but I have been to Pompeii and I can't imagine trying to do that and somewhere else similar in the same day, even without an 80 year old in tow. Pompeii was hot [for me] in February and you will be there in June. That time of year I would want to get any sightseeing done by lunch-time, then have a long lunch in the shade, a rest, then a stroll around the interesting streets of Sorrento before dinner.

I would also suggest hiring a guide at Pompeii - worth every penny.
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