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Naples and the Amalfi Coast - Five Nights

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Nov 24th, 2013, 04:39 PM
  #1
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Naples and the Amalfi Coast - Five Nights

I need help thinking through a 5 night itinerary in this area and would appreciate your ideas. My husband and I (working 60-somethings) and 23 y/o daughter are looking to take the 10 night Celebrity Reflection cruise out of Civitavecchia/Rome in the first part of Sept, 2014. We will spend a day and a half in Rome prior to the departure (been there before). This will include these ports of call: Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Ephesus, Rhodes, Messina/Sicily, and Naples. Celebrity confirms we can disembark in Naples on the last day, rather than cruising overnight back to Civitavecchia. We have never been to this part of Italy. So, our idea is to spend Sept 14 - 18 (5 nights) in Naples/Sorrento/Amalfi Coast (Positano?) before going back to FCO for our noon flight home on the 19th. Figuring we should spend the night of the 18th at a hotel near FCO then we will have almost 5 full days. We would like to see Pompeii and Herculaneum and perhaps the archeological museum in Naples, but otherwise mostly relax and enjoy the Amalfi Coast. Not sure about whether to bother with Capri but open to suggestions. I have not yet researched how one gets from this area back to FCO. So your thoughts on that would also be appreciated.

I'm thinking of spending 2 nights in Naples or Sorrento and 3 nights in Positano. Although we have driven in Italy and other European countries, I'm a bit nervous about renting a car in this area. So ideas about how to get around would also be appreciated.
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Nov 24th, 2013, 08:05 PM
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It's great you've considered staying in Rome the night before your flight on 19th - never fun to rush to the airport.

And if you're a little nervous about driving in the area, then don't! It's a hair-raising, white-knuckle drive along the coast from Naples to Sorrento (and beyond!) which can detract somewhat (!) from the stunning views. Train and bus travel on this route is fine, so go with those options. There is a train from Naples train station to Sorrento, and if you continue on to Positano there is a bus service from Sorrento.

I'm a fan of Sorrento - not everyone on these Boards is - so I'd suggest staying there for 2 nights and Positano for 3 (or the other way around depending on your sightseeing requirements). Pompeii and Herculaneum are easily reached by train or bus from Sorrento, and if you do decide to visit Capri for the day there are ferry services from both Positano and Sorrento. Capri is stunning, whether you visit or not will depend on your interests - do you want to see it, do you want to visit the sights on the island (Blue Grotto, Villa Jovis, etc)? I'd recommend a day trip, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I like Naples too, but it's not for everyone, and unless the Archaeological Museum is a must-see for you all, I'd skip staying in Naples this time around.

September is still warm enough to swim and lie in the sun, but a few early Autumn storms can brew on the Med so take that into account.

Getting back to Rome could be done by public transport (bus, trains) but you could also book a car service (online or through your hotel) once you know where your departure point from the Amalfi Coast will be.
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Nov 24th, 2013, 08:06 PM
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No need to stay near FCO, just stay in Rome the last night. You would take the train from Naples to Rome.

Will your flight be included with the cruise or is it possible to book into Rome and home from Naples?

Do you want to stay all five nights in one location? If so, Sorrento (not technically the Amalfi Coast, but still coastal) might be the best base for the things you want to see. There's a local commuter train line, Circumvesuviana, between Naples/Sorrento which has stops at Pompeii and Herculaneum. To travel further down the coast from Sorrento, you would need to bus or take ferries.
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Nov 24th, 2013, 08:23 PM
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On a similar cruise, We also disembarked early in Naples to catch a flight.
While I personally like Naples, with only five days, I would not base there. You can make Sorrento work for at least a couple of nights and the other three someplace else.

Both of these may seem a bit much, but they are both easier than they may seem.

First possibility.
Get off the ship and see the archeological museum. Have some great Naples pizza (or a quick lunch on the ship), and retrieve your luggage from the ship. Catch the Curie bus (I think that is the name, but can check for you) to the train station. It is not far, but too far to walk with luggage. You could also taxi from the port to the train station, but do not be overcharged - they really sock it to people who look as if they do not know where they are. More on that later. Catch the Circumvesuviana line to Herculaneum.

Herculaneum is about a 10 minute slightly down hill walk from the station. Store your luggage at the site, and tour Herculaneum. Catch a taxi back up the hill if you need to, and the train on to Sorrento. Taxi to your hotel and enjoy a nice dinner.


Second option: Get off the ship by about 8:30 or 9:00 and catch the Curie bus (or taxi) to the train station. Take the Circumvesuviana line to Herculaneum, same as above. You should easily be at the site by 10:00. Tour for a couple of hours. Have a quick lunch in Herculaneum.

Catch the train on to Pompeii Scavi station. Again, store your luggage at the Pompeii site. You should be at the site by 2:00. At about 5:00, retrieve your luggage and catch the train on to Sorrento. You will be there in plenty of time to take a taxi to your hotel and have a nice dinner.

Either will be a full day, but you won't have to backtrack to see these sights and can do more on the AC.
It would be easier to backtrack from Sorrento to Pompeii than to Herculaneum and Naples. You could also spend the whole first day in Naples (and there is plenty to see there), go on to Sorrento that evening and backtrack to Herculaneum and Pompeii from Sorrento.

Ask the price of the taxi to the station, then say you will just take the Curie bus since it is so close, and the price will go down. Appear that you are somewhat familiar with Naples, and you will see a big difference.

This is something I have not done, but would certainly consider. Grab a taxi at the port and have them take you directly to Herculaneum. It would cost a bit more, but be easier than bus to train to archeological site. Again, say the price is too much for you. It is not that far. You will just take the Circumvesuviana . If the price seems OK, then go with it. If it seems high, bargain.

If you needed more time at one of the archeological sites, you could do just one the first day. I would do Herculaneum because it would be closer to double back to Pompeii from Sorrento than back to Herculaneum.

You can get ferries most places and it is lovely on the water, though many people use busses, so unless you enjoy driving, you do not have to. Personally, I hate the roads there and like using the train and boats.
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Nov 24th, 2013, 08:27 PM
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Great information! Thank you. I will look into a day trip from Sorrento to Capri. That sounds beautiful. We're using FF miles for the flights so I'm holding seats on a round trip to FCO at present, but I see a return from Naples might be possible also using our miles (very few options with AA miles right now).

Disembarking from the cruise ship the first day and maybe taking a guided excursion to Pompeii and Herculaneum (we will enjoy it more with a guide) I wasn't sure if we should store our things on the ship, then about 4 or 5 pm pick them up and go to the first hotel (now I'm thinking in Sorrento). We could either see more of Naples or take a day trip to Capri on day 2, then day three move on to the Amalfi Coast, perhaps by bus or car service to enjoy the views without the stress of driving ourselves. For the last day before departure, I'll check the cost of car service but train would be fine for us, too. Would we come back to Sorrento to catch the train to Rome? Are their trains from Salerno?
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Nov 24th, 2013, 08:36 PM
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Sassafrass - we must have been typing at the same time. I had not read your comments before submitting mine. I will study your suggestions. Thanks so much for the tips on negotiating cab fares. I have some questions:
1) re: storing luggage at the "site" - really? There are luggage storage facilities at Pompeii and Herculaneum? It somehow sounds like a lot of slogging of luggage throughout that first day, but I don't yet have a sense of where the cruise port is.
2) Are their guides that can be hired at those two sites? and 3) Several have mentioned trains. Is it really possible to enjoy the view from Sorrento to Positano by train? I have in my mind that wonderful scene in the movie "Only You" with Marissa Tomei and Robert Downey Junior, as their Italian host drove them along that coast in his convertible sports car!
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Nov 25th, 2013, 01:15 AM
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There are ferries that take you along the coast from Sorrento to Positano, Amalfi and other towns and then into Salerno. I for one wanted to avoid driving the Amalfi coast so we took the ferry from Salerno to Positano and had a wonderful day. Positano is loaded with people with golfcarts who will take your bags up the hill to your hotel for you. I have no idea how much they charge, but it's probably not cheap.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 04:02 AM
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Yes, I know there are licensed guides for hire right at Pompeii entrance, and I believe also at Herculaneum.

Yes, there is luggage storage at Pompeii, and unless it has changed recently, also at Herculaneum.

If you felt it was too much dragging luggage around, then just take a taxi straight from the port to Herculaneum. Easy peasy.

You would not want to leave your luggage in Naples on the ship and do the tour to Herculaneum or Pompeii. That would add a couple of travel hour to your day. You would be traveling from Naples to Pompeii, than back to Naples, then passing right by Pompeii again as you travel to Sorrento. Look at a map. You will see what I mean.

Circumvesuviana train ends in Sorrento. It will be bus, car or ferry to Positano.
I hate scary roads, so will not do the AC again by road, but love the ferries and the views from the water. You could hire a driver so you can enjoy the views
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Nov 25th, 2013, 04:05 AM
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Sorry, my ipad has a mind of it's own. You could take a bus. You could use the bus one way and ferry the other.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 04:23 AM
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Sassafrass - I have never heard of luggage storage at Herculaneum or seen it listed on their website. When did you use it?

I would depart for the coast as soon as you disembark. Leave Naples and the museum for the end and that way you don't have to worry about luggage storage as you can store it in the Naples train station.

Take a ferry or train + bus to the farthest place you want to stay on the coast. Work your way back towards Naples which will make it easier for departure to Rome (or Naples airport if you change your flight). If you do manage to get a flight from Naples, you could stay your last night there and not have to store your luggage.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 05:18 AM
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A few random thoughts:

First of all, the drive from Naples to Sorrento is hardly hair raising if you're a reasonably confident driver. Most of the first part is on the Autostrada. The rest has some twists and turns, but the road doesn't get truly winding until you get south of Sorrento. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm recommending that you drive, but just giving you info to go on.

One possibility is to rent a car in Naples, drive to Pompeii, and then drive to Sorrento, using it as a base to explore the Amalfi Coast via public transportation (bus). You could hand the car back in once you get to Sorrento. I think I'd pick Sorrento or Positano as a base, but wouldn't split my time staying at both. JMHO.

Capri is a possibility, via the ferry from Sorrento or Positano, as a day trip. You also can bus to Positano, or go on to Amalfi and/or Ravello.

For the return trip, you catch the train out of Sorrento to Naples, change there, and go on to Rome. Since you have to get to Sorrento to return, that may argue for using it as a base. If you stayed in Positano, I'd suggest using a driver to get the three of you and your luggage to the Sorrento station.

There are several transportation choices, depending on your budget, energy level and preferences -- ferry, bus, train, driver.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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Assuming you start in Sorrento, I would honestly hire a driver to take you from Sorrento to Positano. No need to be stuck with the (infrequent) ferry service between Sorrento and Pos and the buses will likely still be jammed in September. Also, the driver can drop you off close to you hotel. And you will get the full "Only You" experience!

Once in Positano, you can use the ferry for travel to the other villages, like Amalfi and Ravello. Another simple option for getting back to Rome is ferry from Positano to Salerno, then fast train from Salerno to Rome. Easy peasy!
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Nov 25th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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There are many options. Here is one more:

From the port in Naples take a boat to Sorrento. They are frequent and the fast ones only take a half hour. No schleping or storing luggage or worrying about bus/taxi to the train station.

I would spend all five nights in Sorrento - you can easily day trip to Pompeii ( 1/2 hour by train), Naples (another half hour by train), Capri (by boat, obviously), Amalfi and Positano and Rapallo by either bus (about an hour to Positano, another half hour or so to Amalfi) or boat.

Traveling around the region is very pleasurable but not if you are schlepping luggage. This way you schlep your luggage one time and then you have lots of freedom when you want to do which day trip. You can combine the archeological sites and Naples, or just do one - play it by ear.

I personally would go back to Rome for the last night, but with a total of only five days you could spend the last day in Sorrento/AC till after dinner and take a late(ish) train to Rome and on to the airport and stay at one of many hotels that have free shuttles.
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Nov 25th, 2013, 11:19 AM
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I like kybourbon's suggestion of going south on the coast and working your way north back to Naples. You could take the train from Naples Centrale to Salerno, then a boat, bus or taxi to Amalfi or Positano.

I believe the bus Sassafrass refers to is the Curreri Lines.

The train from Naples to Sorrento, stopping en route at Herculaneum and Pompei (Ercolano Scavi and Pompei Scavi respectively) is a local commuter train, the Circumvesuviana. If you have a lot of luggage from your cruise, I wouldn't want to take it on this train or have to drag it from the train station to the luggage storage, particularly at Herculaneum. For the latter you could take a taxi.

If you do have a lot of luggage, take this into consideration in your planning generally. Would it be possible to ship some home from the cruise port at Naples?
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Nov 26th, 2013, 08:10 AM
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Actually, I like the suggestion to take the ferry from Naples, and I like staying in Sorrento, but many people love staying further down the coast. Arriving in Sorrento or Positano by boat is incredible, the coast is so beautiful.

The only reason I made the suggestion I did was to get major sight seeing done that first day, but if you are seeing the coast, that is also great.
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Nov 26th, 2013, 10:20 AM
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I like the ferry from Naples to Sorrento suggestion, as you should be fairly near the embarkation point when you arrive (Porto Beverello looks like it has a ferry departing to Sorrento every two hours or so during the day).

Unless you have some reason to move, I'd stay in Sorrento because you can easily get to Pompeii, Herculaneum and Naples by the Circumvesuviana train, and can go down the coast either by car, bus or boat. I would take the time to see Capri from Sorrento. If you base in Positano, it takes a while to get back to Naples, as the train line stops at Sorrento.

Consider spending your last day in Naples, to see the Museum and some of the other sites. You can see Greek and Roman ruins right under the city http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/tr...anted=all&_r=0 and then see the Museum, or vice versa. All of these are a fairly short, easy walk from the main train station in the Piazza Garibaldi. Should be able to check your luggage at the train station.
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Nov 26th, 2013, 12:12 PM
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The reason to split your time between 2 places would be able to enjoy some time in a charming village on the Amalfi Coast. Sorrento is fine as a sightseeing base, if you want to see Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc. However, it is not on the Amalfi Coast which makes travel more onerous for seeing the Amalfi Coast villages than if you were staying in, say, Positano or Amalfi. And Sorrento certainly does not have the charm of the Amalfi Coast villages.
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Nov 27th, 2013, 06:28 AM
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The "stay in Sorrento vs Amalfi or Positano" debate is of course a matter of opinion. They are ALL worth seeing. And yes, Sorrento is larger (16,000) than Amalfi (5,000) or Positano (4,000) but it is by no means a 'city' and it certainly has charm. In fact since Amalfi and Positano are so small the percentage of tourists and tourist related businesses is so high that, at least 'in season' there is really no 'fishing village' ambiance. Of course one main reason for staying in Sorrento is the ease of getting there from Naples/Rome in the first place, and then ease of some of the day trips.
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Nov 27th, 2013, 07:21 AM
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I'm now definitely convinced to make a day trip to Capri. I think I also prefer to fly home from Naples, rather than having to return to Rome. The award seat availability on that cuts my nights / days from 5 to 4 but that is 4 full days beginning at 7:00 am when our ship arrives into Naples and a 9:00 am flight out on day 5. I would like to book 2 nights in Positano and 2 in Sorrento, possibly in this order so we will be within striking distance of the airport on our last night (does that make sense?) I suspect we will skip the museum in Naples, though I have heard it is great. We are interested in history, but, with all the ancient sites we expect to see in Athens, Kusadasi, and Rhodes, my husband and daughter might balk if I make them go both to Pompeii and Herculaneum AND to the museum. Staying on the Amalfi Coast is a bucket list item for my husband and myself and I don't like the sound of only making a day trip from Sorrento to see that area. We don't need more than 2 nights since I hear there is not much to do in Positano but shop and eat and I we hate shopping, especially in shops geared to the uber-rich. A little hiking will be of interest.

I have now found where the cruise port is and appreciate the distance from Sorrento and Herculaneum and Pompeii. Also, I cannot fathom dragging our luggage onto the Circumvesuviana.
What about this idea: Upon arrival in port, booking some kind of transport (possibly a private driver or via water) straight to Positano (2 nights) maybe make a day trip to Amalfi during that time; then going to Sorrento for the last two night (either bus, private driver or water). While in Sorrento, using one day for the trip to Capri and another to see Pompeii and possibly also Herculaneum?
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Nov 27th, 2013, 07:38 AM
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I rented a car in Naples and although driving is a little crazier there than in other parts of Europe, I had no problems. However, I have friends who found it to be a nightmare, so I guess it's just a matter of luck or your own driving preferences.

You could save some money by forgetting about the private driver. From Naples, I took the train to Pompeii and back (very easy and cheap), and to Capri I took the ferry from the port and walked around the island (it's quite small!). I drove to Sorrento and much of the Amalfi coast, and that's the only place where I suggest you consider a tour or driver if you feel you may be uncomfortable renting a car.
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