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Need advice on tentative Amalfi Coast/Capri itinerary! (lots of Qs)

Need advice on tentative Amalfi Coast/Capri itinerary! (lots of Qs)

Mar 9th, 2011, 07:12 AM
  #1  
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Need advice on tentative Amalfi Coast/Capri itinerary! (lots of Qs)

Background: we are in our 20s, live in NYC, and this will be our second trip to Italy. (last time we did Rome/Florence/Venice with all of the big sites and museums). I will be 24-25 weeks pregnant for this trip, and we are looking for something more relaxing. We will be going in early May.

0: fly direct from NYC to Rome
1: arrive in Rome, spend the day in Rome, night in Rome (to break up travel as there are no direct flights to Naples)
2: leave Rome early morning, express train to Naples (1 hour), train/bus/boat to Positano, arrive in Positano, night in Positano
3: day/night in Positano
4: day/night in Positano
5: leave Positano in morning, head to Capri, day/night in Capri
6: day/night in Capri
7: day/night in Capri
8: leave Capri, head to Sorrento (or substitute somewhere else?), day/night in Sorrento
9: day trip to Pompeii, night in Sorrento
10: day/night in Sorrento
11: leave Sorrento in morning, highspeed train to Naples. (store luggage at train station?) day in Naples. high speed train to Rome at night. night in Rome. (better to spend night in Naples and take train to Rome the next morning?)
12: direct flight home from Rome to NYC

Does this work? I put Positano at the beginning of the trip because I've heard it was the most beautiful area and would make a good first impression, and because it can be hilly so I figured better to go there at 24 weeks pregnant than 25 weeks pregnant. Should we do 3 or 4 nights in Positano? 2 or 3 in Capri? 2 or 3 in Sorrento? Is there somewhere better to stay than Sorrento? Would you spend the last night in Naples or Rome? Is there a safe place to store luggage in Naples?

Finally... aside from Pompeii day trip, we don't really have anything "planned" - just exploring and relaxing. Are there any must-see or must-do things in these areas that we should try to incorporate?

Thanks in advance!
summer08bride is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 07:36 AM
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Hello again. I'm with you on the arrive in Rome and overnight there and as you have seen the city on your previous trip then head south.

If you don't want to stay in Naples, (where there are some great museums) the thing to realise is that Sorrento and Positano are really close together. I understand that the hills might be a bit much for you as we discussed on your previous question, but I don't see the point in staying in both places. I definitely don't see the point of 3 nights on Capri if you're chilling rather than walking. A day trip or at most an overnight would be my choice.

Hire a car if you can and see Pompeii, Herculaneum (Ercolano) and Paestum for lots of ruins. Otherwise visit Amalfi, Ravello etc.

So from Rome, I'd head to Capri (if you must overnight) then the rest of the time in one location before the return journey to Rome. I'd definitely overnight there to be close to the airport.
Lifeman is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 07:51 AM
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I think Positano's terrain is going to be taxing whether you're 24 weeks preganant or 25 weeks pregnant (how much differnece can one week make?).

And there's no high speed train from Sorrento to Naples - there's only the Circumvesuviana, with its many stops.

Also, I spend the last night in Naples if you're flying out of Rome the next day - what if there's a train strike that day? Are you prepared to pay a driver to take you if that happens?
hazel1 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 07:52 AM
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Make that "I wouldn't spend the night in Naples...
hazel1 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 08:05 AM
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The train from Sorrento to Naples, the Circumvesuviana, is a commuter train. It is what you'll take from Sorrento to Pompei Scavi also.

Sorrento is flatter (except the road to the port is steep), and would make a good base for you. Both Positano and Capri are pretty hilly. But, if you're in good shape, the hills may not bother you.

Yes, there is a luggage storage office in Naples Centrale.

And I want to underline what hazel1 said. Do not take the train into Rome the day of your flight home. Travel in Italy requires some ease in the schedule. Things happen, like strikes and accidents. You don't want to undermine your relaxing vacation by a last-minute mad rush. Nor do you want to have to buy full-fare tickets home because you missed you flight.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 08:40 AM
  #6  
 
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"Does this work?"

Generally, yes, it looks fine.

Staying in Rome your 1st night and (especially) your last night is an excellent idea. A taxi from central Rome (do NOT stay near the airport) is about 40 Euro and 40 minutes (or less). Revisit and soak in that little neighborhood you fell in love with your previous visit without the pressure to see any major tourist sites.

A very minor tweaking point, specifically:
2 nights in Capri is plenty - it's a VERY small island. Use the "extra" night wherever you are most interested in: Positano, Sorrento, or even Naples (where I could easily spend a week).
bardo1 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 10:05 AM
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On our trip to the area last year we choose to spend it all in Sorrento and do day trips (Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Capri, Pompeii, Naples). With the exception of the train to Naples (and that is only one hour) all the rest of the 'traveling' was part of the experience. Taking the bus to Positano or Amalfi, the boat back, the boat to Capri, etc. That's part of the enjoyment. So we felt it would be more 'relaxing' to base in one hotel and not lug luggage from one town to the next and we were very happy with our decision. I know most people prefer to stay in Positano but I just don't see why. It was great to visit it but we felt Sorrento was actually a better place to base. You could break up the week by putting Pompeii and Naples day trips in the middle of the AC and Capri trips. There is more choice of dining options, etc, plus we just really liked Sorrento. They are all touristy but Sorrento felt more 'real' than any of the towns on the AC itself or certainly than Capri.

I also strongly suggest you spend the last evening in Rome.

Here's my trip report in case you are interested. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rful-weeks.cfm
isabel is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 10:24 AM
  #8  
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Thanks everyone. We will definitely plan to spend the last night in Rome. Not worth risking missing our flight or the extra stress.

The only place we have currently booked is B&B Aiano Capri for 3 nights but we have time to cancel if we want to stay somewhere else or shorten our stay.

How hilly is Positano really? Is there a website I can look at with pictures or will Google Earth help? Positano looks gorgeous and I'd really like to stay there, even if it's just for 2.5 days. This is my first pregnancy so I don't know how I will feel but my husband and I are in great shape, walk all the time (we live in NYC, dont own cars, walk everywhere, I walk to/from work every day, etc) and generally walk everywhere on vacation unless we are traveling between cities or carrying our luggage to/from the hotel. Of course, if this is too ambitious I'd rather know, but I'm really hoping it wouldn't be a problem.

To me relaxing means we dont have an itinerary that has us changing cities daily, pressure to fit in 3 "must see" attractions a day, worrying about where we are "supposed to be" at any given time, and or constantly waiting on line -- relaxing to me means a slower pace, more wandering around and exploring, the option to sleep in if we feel like it, and not as much pressure to do or see things constantly and more to just enjoy our surroundings and eat great food. We aren't really the type to lay around all day and do nothing, although a little of that wouldn't be a bad thing, and we do plan to walk and explore (if we just wanted to lay on the beach we'd go to the Bahamas but that gets boring especially if I cant drink!). I like that the different cities in the Amalfi Coast region are pretty close to eachother and easy to get to, so depending on how I feel we can decide to take more day trips or not.

What are the main differences between Amalfi, Ravello, Positano, Sorrento, and Capri? Which are better done as day-trips and which are better places to stay?
summer08bride is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 10:42 AM
  #9  
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is it worth trying to fit in a day trip to Ischia? If so, what is the best way to do this?
summer08bride is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 10:45 AM
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I think knowing a couple of things might help with your planning -

The whole area you're talking about is very small
Positano and Amalfi are very small towns - not cities
Sorrento is a larger town with a great choice of restaurants and shops
Capri and Anacapri are also both small tows
Naples is really the only city

Early May is possibly to early for pools (may not be open) or swimming - even on these poor beaches (we usually do end of May and so far that has been warm enough)

Positano, Amalfi and Capri are all VERY hilly. The former are carved out of the side of a mountain, the latter is a funicular or taxi ride up from the harbor. the center of Sorrento is flat - but many hotels are in the hills above the town and the harbor is a steep climb below the town.

We stay in sorrento - with a car to tour - and out hotel both private parking and a private elevator from the hotel (on a cliff above the harbor (near center of town) down to the dock.

Naples has a great archeological Museum - but much of the city is somewhat gritty (think ungentrified upper Manhattan) and there is a lot of petty crime.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 10:56 AM
  #11  
 
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Positano is vertical and spectacular:

http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...y.php?cat=4481
bobthenavigator is offline  
Mar 9th, 2011, 11:30 AM
  #12  
 
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Summer08bride:
Your schedule looks pretty good;and here are some suggestions:
The last night in Rome is a good suggestion.
To me,2 nights in Capri is all you need.
Amalfi is much less vertical than Positano,and quieter than Sorrento.Even more,almost all buses in the Amalfi coast have their base at Amalfi.
Don`t miss Ravello(as a half day trip from Amalfi),weather permitting,take the red open top bus to and from Ravello.

We spent a most beautiful week in AC in 2009; you can see my complete report by clicking on my name; or at
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...1-to-oct-3.cfm
Enjoy your trip!!!!
jelopez33 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 07:51 AM
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To fill in the town descriptions you asked for, Ravello is a very very small town, up in the hills away from the coast, but with spectacular views of the coastline. Not a good base but maybe a half-day visit. "Downtown" Amalfi is close to the beach and relatively flat, but starts going uphill quickly. People say Amalfi feels more like a real town, less touristy. In contrast, Positano has more upscale hotels, lots of expensive boutiques.

To give you an idea of Sorrento, I was trying to find, on the Internet, the Sorrento webcam, where you could watch daily life 24 hours/day in one corner of Sorrento. But it seems to have been subsumed into a site with webcams all over the world; this site requires creating an account, which I refuse to do. But, on this site there are a number of webcams in the Amalfi coast area, mostly from hotels advertising their view.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 09:20 AM
  #14  
 
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I'll add my two cents from our trip last year in early May. (We're NYers closer to 40 than 20 LOL.) Overall, I think your itinerary in the OP is really good!

- Like others have said, bookending the trip with a night in Rome at each end is a really good idea. I'd wanted to spend my first night at a luxe hotel in Rome to take advantage of their spa - but the Icelandic volcano shifted our trip a bit and that was dropped.
- It's easy enough to get from Point A to Point B in the area. From the high-speed train from Rome, you'd go right downstairs to the Circumvesuviana commuter train to get out to the peninsula: either take one line to Salerno then a Sita bus to Positano (or Amalfi), or another line to Sorrento followed by the Sita bus around the peninsula. It's not all that different from switching from Amtrak to the A/C subway at Penn Station!
- We split our time between Amalfi first (2 nights) then Sorrento (3 nights). While they are fairly close together, IMO there's a very different feel on the Amalfi Coast side of the peninsula compared to the Bay of Naples side. We chose Amalfi because the hotel prices were a little lower than Positano, but I'm really glad for the decision as we really liked the "real town" feel of Amalfi.
- Again IMO, I really preferred Amalfi to Sorrento. The main part of town is very busy, being the end of the Circumvesuviana train line, a Sita bus hub, a cruise ship port, and everyone's jumping off point for areas of interest in the vicinity (for us as well). Our hotel right in town was nice, but contrary to what others have said, our dinners in Sorrento were the least favorable of our trip. (Though really, how can you go wrong with Italian food?)
- Sorrento is super-convenient to seeing Pompeii and Herculaneum, both easy to access from the Circumvesuviana train. We didn't have any specific itinerary either during our time there, and ended up taking a day in Naples as well, returning to our Sorrento hotel later at night without issue. (Dinner time in Naples doesn't start until 8pm, and we really wanted authentic Napoleatan pizza!!)
- Naples is awesome. As a NYer who's lived here a long time, to me Naples is a lot like NYC was about 15 years ago. Grittier, sure, but low key and vibrant, and there's some great art in the churches, plus the archeological museum has loads of cool items (even if the setting is rather stuffy).
- IMO, both Amalfi and Sorrento are less steep than Positano. In both of the former, you can get around the main part of each town without any steep inclines - probably a bit like the hill in Park Slope, if you know that neighborhood.
ggreen is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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Oh, and a couple more tips (as if I didn't already write long enough! LOL):
- From what I understand, swimming pools open up on May 1. The one at our hotel in Amalfi was really cold! My bf went into the sea there, but I was happy just sunbathing.
- There is a period of time in the afternoons when dining establishments are closed, especially in Naples. We never planned our days closely, and a few times ended up hungry and out of luck. (I think this is true elsewhere in Italy too, but somehow we really felt it in Naples.)
- The left-luggage area at Naples Termini station is very secure; we had no problem leaving our bags there while we spent time in Naples before boarding a train to Rome. You could do as we did and take the "subway" up to the archeological museum, then make your way downhill back to the Termini...
- If you have the time and inclination, browse through Marija's (lengthy) trip report on Naples for a real flavor of the area! Lots of good eating recommendations: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-and-paris.cfm
ggreen is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 09:41 AM
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Yep, 'downtown' Amalfi is pretty flat, and Positano is very steep. But even without that consideration for you, I would still recommend Amalfi over Positano. Amalfi is more real, less resorty. It works much better than Positano as a transportation hub. It was a maritime power in the Middle Ages, and has an interesting cathedral.

I did enjoy Positano as a day trip, but I liked staying in Amalfi.

Whatever you do, do not miss the gardens of the Villa Cimbrone in Ravello.
robertino is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 10:29 AM
  #17  
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Thanks everyone, especially ggreen (that was very helpful!) From what I've heard about Sorrento I could take it or leave it and it looks like Amalfi might be more what we are looking for? Sigh. I'm being persuaded against Positano which makes me sad because I really did want to spend a few nights there. Even 2 nights is a bad idea?

I would like to work in a day trip to Ravello. I didnt realize dinner in Naples is so late. (Not late for us, we are late eaters, but late if we want to train it to Rome that night) Is it still worth doing a day in Naples or would you do an extra day at one of the coastal towns instead?

Also, I don't really plan to swim. I expect the water will be pretty cold and who knows if I will want to be out in a bathingsuit anyway would prefer to lay out in a beach chair if anything.

I thought this trip would be so easy to plan! It looks like I am back to the drawing board with the exception of first and last night in Rome. We do have the Capri B&B Aiano booked right now for nights 5-7 but can knock it down to two.

I appreciate all of your help thus far. Just trying to make sense of it all... correct me if I am wrong:

Naples: grittier, city, birthplace of pizza, dinner is late, connection point between Rome and Amalfi coast, can leave luggage at train station if not spending the night

Rome: spent 6 nights last trip, would relax and revisit favorites or just explore and rebound from flight, should definitely spend first and last nights there for flight convenience

Positano: beautiful, very hilly, can be more $$$, touristy?

Ravello: good for a half day trip

Amalfi: more quiet/remote than sorrento?, convenient as base for day trips

Sorrento: flatter, more of a city, convenient as base for day trips

Capri: island, beautiful, capri is more touristy, anacapri is more remote

Now I have even more Qs....

- better to stay in more places and take fewer day trips or stay in 1-2 places and take more day trips?
- assuming we aren't spending most of our time at the beach, what is there to do in these cities?
- which cities have more of a "real town" feel and less touristy? As an example, I usually try to avoid Times Sq area and prefer the Village. I'm not interested in upscale shopping because the exchange rate is terrible and NYC has the same things. Would be interested in unique markets and artisan shops that sell things not available in NY. Also not looking to wait on line everywhere or fight crowds. Not interested in "vibrant" nightlife/club scene. Local low-key bars, restaurants, and areas safe to wander at night would be a plus.

If we want a day trip from Pompeii, is it best to do this from Sorrento? Where is it best to visit Ravello from?

Finally.. are there any pasta factories etc in the area? we heard about one in Tuscany and sounds interesting

Hoping to sit down and really plan, and hit a bookstore, this weekend. I've learned a lot from this post.
summer08bride is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 11:10 AM
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You're very welcome, summer08bride! We loved our time in that area, and sharing my experiences lets me relive it a tiny bit!

- Nightlife: There's not much on the AC, so no worries there.
- Shopping: Lots of local pottery shops, and you can't go home without some limoncello! On others' advice, we opted for the less ornate limoncello bottles - the quality of what's inside being inversely proportionate to the beauty on the outside LOL.
- Positano: Such a hard call! I was trying to think of someplace to compare it to, but not having much luck. It's just definitely steeper than Amalfi or Sorrento, and I'd imagine might be tiring by Week 24. That said, since your heart is set on it, why not stay there for a day or two? Pick a hotel that has an elevator and a nice patio or balcony to hang out on, near to a good restaurant, near to Sita bus, etc. to minimize the climbing up and down.
- Not that it's any kind of comparison(!), but I'll go there nonetheless: if Sorrento is to, say, midtown (but not as insane as Times Square), Positano is like the West Village but with a bit more tourists - cute, quaint, low key, pretty boutiques, pricier. Amalfi would be more like Brooklyn: you'll find tourists, but they're more "local" (Italian) tourists, like Manhattanites visiting Prospect Park but not package-vacationers.
- Naples: IMO, definitely lots to see there. We loved walking the narrow streets of the old district. We had to go inside the cathedral of San Gennaro, since he's such a big deal here in NYC! Gorgeous baroque interior (and I didn't even care much for baroque before this trip!). Also another church with a beautiful Carravaggio. And IMO, musty as it is, the archeological museum is a must-see to put the ancient sites in context. Definitely read Marija's post - I realized I missed a lot of Naples, not least of which is its pastries!
- I do think your idea of staying in 3 different places (e.g., Positano, Sorrento, Capri) makes for a good mix, and the right balance of staying put vs. day trips. The train and bus transit is very easy to use.
- In early May, I don't think any of these places will be "waiting on line or fighting crowds" - at least that was my experience. (I can't speak for Capri as we didn't make it there.) It's a nice time of year because things are opening up but the big crowds haven't yet arrived.
- As for what to do other than sit on the (kind of rocky) beach... well, it's just so gorgeous that it's great to just spend time sitting in a cafe watching the world go by! In our few days on the AC side, we spent one exploring Amalfi and another on an amazing hike that you'll probably have to leave for another trip (check out the Walk of the Gods to see what I mean).
- Then from Sorrento, we spent a day in Naples and the better part of a day at Herculaneum. Sorrento is a great base to easily get to Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc. The Circumvesuviana train goes right from Sorrento to Pompeii Scavi, the entrance to the archeological ruins.

For guidebooks, check out the Lonely Planet Naples and the Amalfi Coast. The Fodors guide for The Amalfi Coast, Capri and Naples was pretty good too, especially for its Naples information...
ggreen is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 11:30 AM
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summer08bride:
Definitely;Amalfi is best as starting point for a half day visit to Ravello;once in Ravello don't miss villa Ruffolo and villa Cimbrione;the bus stop is really close to Ruffolo,you will have a somewhat long walk to Cimbrione(considering your 24 weeks,as we are in our 60 and did it without problems).
You can buy beautiful ceramics in Amalfi and Vetri sul Mare;ditto for Limoncello.
Anacapri is not at all remote,you can take a bus at Capri's Piazetta.
Last:Consider all recommendations and go as per what you finally think,you can't go wrong on the Amalfi Coast,(including Capri and Sorrento)!!!!!!
jelopez33 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 08:17 PM
  #20  
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What if we did (day/night):

Rome/Rome
Amalfi/Amalfi
Ravello/Amalfi
Amalfi/Amalfi
Capri/Capri
Capri/Capri
Positano/Positano
Positano/Positano
Sorrento/Sorrento
Pompeii/Sorrento
Naples/Rome

If Positano really needs to be cut we could do:

Rome/Rome
Sorrento/Sorrento
Pompeii/Sorrento
Sorrento/Sorrento
Capri/Capri
Capri/Capri
Amalfi/Amalfi
Positano/Amalfi
Ravello/Amalfi
Amalfi/Amalfi
Naples/Rome

Would that work? Is that moving around too much and are we better off staying longer in fewer places?
summer08bride is offline  

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