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Kandace_York Oct 21st, 2017 11:03 AM

Pompei, Naples and...Sorrento?
Hi and thanks in advance for your help. Our Italy trip is getting closer and I'm questioning some of the plans I've made. One of these is a semi-finalized overnight trip out of Rome toward the middle of our trip.

We already have train tickets from Rome to Naples, arriving in Naples ~3 p.m., and departing from Naples the following evening ~6:30 p.m.

We were planning to visit the Naples Archaeological Museum that afternoon/evening since it stays open 'til 7:30 p.m.

The next morning, we thought we'd take the Circumvesuviana train to the Pompeii site as soon as it opens at 9 a.m. But I don't think that will take the whole day, so I was trying to add a quick, extra side trip. Maybe Sorrento? I figure we'll have 4-5 hours and can be as much as an hour away from Naples.

Husband and I are both reasonably healthy and fit, but husband is not into a lot of climbing or long hours without rest breaks. We like museums, nature preserves, farmers' markets and photography; we are NOT into churches, gourmet food, wine (I know, I know...). Example - a meal in London's Sky Garden was not much fun even though it came highly recommended, and we would have preferred to just wander longer in Borough Market, Covent Garden or Soho. Hiking to the rim of Vesuvius is too much for husband after a full morning at Pompeii, but a quiet couple hours in Sorrento sipping limoncellos or relaxing in an old town cafe would be doable.

I've looked at other Naples/Pompeii posts and it looks like Sorrento is considered more of a base than a destination - would another place be better? We aren't driving in Italy, so it needs to be close to a train station, and we need to be able to get back to Naples in ample time to catch the train back to our apartment in Rome.


raincitygirl Oct 21st, 2017 11:13 AM

I think Sorrento would be perfect for what you want. It is a very pleasant place to stroll around, lots of shops, places to eat and there are places with spectacular views out to the sea.
Plenty of shops where you can sample different limoncellos. The Amalfi lemons they use for that and some yummy desserts are really delicious.

I have to say though the best limoncello we have ever had was from a little shop in the old part of Naples...I will try to see if I can find the name. We sampled but did not buy as we were going on to have a week on the Amalfi and then a week in Sorrento, stupidly I thought oh there will be heaps of limoncello as good or better there. I was wrong, sure there were lots that were good, but not that good.

Oh and by the way, the Archeological museum is fantastic.

Kandace_York Oct 21st, 2017 11:15 AM

Oh, good to know, thanks so much!

raincitygirl Oct 21st, 2017 11:30 AM

Wonder of wonders it only took a second to find the card. The place is called Limone` (accent the other way actually but don't know how to make it.)

It is in Piazza S.Gaetano, 72

They make it there, plus they have other lemon flavoured products. It is in the old historical centre, actually not too far from the museum. (we stayed near there)
While you are in Naples/Sorrento make sure you try a pastry called sfogliatelle with your coffee. Oh my, so good!

Kandace_York Oct 21st, 2017 11:45 AM

Fantastic, raincitygirl - I'm adding it to our itinerary now. Thank you for all your recommendations!

tuscanlifeedit Oct 21st, 2017 12:04 PM

A thought about going to Sorrento in the afternoon: In any place in Italy, you are facing afternoon closings. If you go to Pompeii for the morning, you will get to Sorrento for lunch, but many shops may be closed until late afternoon.

It's happened to me.

I might hang out in Sorrento in the morning, have lunch, go to Pompeii for a couple of hours (although it is very tiring IME) and get to Naples in the late afternoon.

PalenQ Oct 21st, 2017 12:15 PM

Ercolo too? Or ascend Mt Vesuvius?

Jean Oct 21st, 2017 12:23 PM

If it happens to be raining, you might want to skip Pompeii altogether. Exploring the excavation involves walking almost entirely out in the open, and most of the paths and walkways are not paved.

FWIW, I like the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples at least as much as the archeology museum. And I'm not a shopper )nor a big fan of limoncello), so I'd rather see another museum than spend those hours in Sorrento. To each his/her own.

PalenQ Oct 21st, 2017 12:29 PM

I stayed several days in Sorrento and thought it uneventful except for a street lined with tourist shops and restaurants - nice strolling but from most of town no real sea views - not the Amalfi Coast type place but nice for eating I guess though there are less touristed places on CircumVesuviana line too - like the modern Pompeii just a few miles from the ruins (has train station but Trenitalia one for trains back to Naples).

massimop Oct 21st, 2017 12:32 PM

Unless it is a downpour, it's fine to explore Pompei in the rain if you have an umbrella. But it pays to follow the weather online the days before you are headed to Napoli/Pompei.If it looks like you will have dry sunny weather the afternoon of your arrival but rain the next day, change your train ticket to arrive in Napoli earlier & head to Pompei immediately.

Were it me, I would poke around Naples in the morning, seeing more of the city, and then go visit Pompei. If you are traveling soon, the daylight hours are getting shorter and it will be too chilly after dark to enjoy Sorrento.

Although I really enjoyed Museo di Capodimonte, it is time consuming to get there and tour (its huge) and it sounds like you are not museum goers anyway. There are fascinating small gems all around Naples, plus beautiful shops and fantastic food markets. It is easy to put together a picnic lunch + sfogliatelle & head to Pompei for a picnic.

massimop Oct 21st, 2017 12:36 PM

re-reading your first post I see I made a mistake in thinking you weren't museumgoers -- it's churches that aren't on your agenda (although churches in Napoli are often unique, and in particular the tiny cappella Sansevero is memorable). To my eyes, Napoli is a photographer's paradise.

AJPeabody Oct 21st, 2017 12:45 PM

Another possibility: Pompeii can be followed by Herculaneum. Pompeii is large and stripped to the stones and remaining mosaics. Herculaneum has wooden remains, is much smaller, and more like "alive." It can be seen in a one hour, in the afternoon and it is possible to see it and get to your train in Naples.

PalenQ Oct 21st, 2017 12:50 PM

Yes that's Ercolo in Italian and the deep pit is a short walk from CircumVesuviana train station. I enjoyed a lot for reasons AJP gives.

AJPeabody Oct 21st, 2017 03:34 PM


kja Oct 21st, 2017 06:54 PM

I would not consider a visit of 6 or more hours at Pompeii unusual.

If you do have extra time, Sorrento would not be my priority; YMMV. I would return to Naples and explore a bit more of that fascinating city. Or visit Herculaneum.

Debs Oct 21st, 2017 07:28 PM

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes when visiting Pompeii, as you'll be walking on cobblestones most of the time. Also, make sure you have a water bottle with you to stay hydrated. There's only one place to eat, but there are fountains where you can refill your water bottle. You can make a day of Pompeii, and although you also want to visit Ercolano, doing both on the same day would be a bit much. Recommend you pick one or the other.

The Naples Archaeological Museum is probably one of the best in the world. Don't rush thru it as there's just so much to see.

If you find yourself in Sorrento, and for a beautiful view of the Bay of Naples, head to the Foreigner's Club for lunch or dinner. The views are stunning!


CarrieAnn40 Oct 21st, 2017 11:46 PM

Sorrento is half an hour beyond Pompeii and over an hour back to Naples Station. You'd have to factor in potential delays and time to find your Rome train so would probably have to get the 16.37, arr Naples 17.44. The one scheduled to arrive at 18.15 would be way too tight for my comfort. It's a lot of time on a pretty basic, possibly very over-crowded train when you could be visiting somewhere or sipping limoncello in Naples. Or both!

I'd do Herculaneum or explore Naples. We enjoyed one of the underground tours.

bvlenci Oct 22nd, 2017 12:24 AM

Pal, it's not Ercolo, it's Ercolano (Herculaneum) in Italian. Ercolo is the Italian for Hercules.

Herculaneum was originally a Greek city named Heraklion. (Hercules was originally a Greek hero.) Herculaneum is a very interesting archaeological site, quite different from Pompeii, but if your husband gets tired from walking, he may not be able to enjoy Herculaneum. We went to both in one day, with a group from our town. At least half of the group admired Herculaneum from a vantage point near the entrance, just above the town, because they couldn't face another walk on uneven paving.

As for what to do after Pompeii, there are places in Naples where you can sit and look out over the Bay of Naples while sipping a limoncello. Actually you can decide of the day of your visit what you feel like doing for the rest of the day.

I also agree with Massimop that you might want to change the order of your visits based on the weather reports. So far, we've had a warm, dry autumn, but that could change at any minute. In fact, where I live, it's pretty grey, and a bit windy, right now.

Mimar Oct 22nd, 2017 07:23 AM

If you can arrange it, it's better to see the Archeological Museum in Naples after you visit Pompeii. Puts the displays in perspective.

PalenQ Oct 22nd, 2017 07:25 AM

Or maybe the museum before your visit? Or both?

Kandace_York Oct 22nd, 2017 09:14 AM

Thank you, everyone; you've given us some great options to consider!

MmePerdu Oct 22nd, 2017 09:30 AM

Regarding Sorrento weather in winter, though I don't see your travel dates so this may be moot, I stayed for several days the week before Christmas and loved it, did not find it too cold at all, daytime or evening. It was almost empty of other tourists, shops & restaurants were decorated for the holiday and it was families out & about so had a nice homey feel to it. I recommend a visit that time of year.

kawh Oct 22nd, 2017 12:59 PM

Sorrento... for a fabulous sea view, stroll about 10 minutes up hill following the ocean... many hotels along there have little bars & restaurants on their rooftops with stunning views!! I like to be on the water side of the main road... right on the cliffside!

kja Oct 22nd, 2017 01:25 PM

The view from Naples's Castel Sant'Elmo is, IMO, spectacular.

MissMandy Oct 26th, 2017 03:21 AM

Skip Sorrento, it is not pretty and only useful as a hotel base for part of a trip around the Amalfi Coast.

Definitely visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli before visiting either Herculaneum or Pompeii as this is after all, where a lot of the treasures from Herculaneum and Pompeii are now stored.

When you visit Herculaneum and Pompeii you will then be able to fully imagine what life use to be like.

We self-guided ourselves around Herculaneum but took an excellent tour with Walks of Italy for Pompeii, which commenced after lunch (2pm ish?)and lasted for 3 hours. Our tour guide was incredible and had previously worked at Pompeii for 10+ years. More information can be found here:

kja Oct 26th, 2017 02:22 PM

I think whether to visit the archeological museum in Naples before or after visiting the actual archeological sites is a matter of preference. Some people prefer to visit the museum first, so that – as MissMandy suggests – they can more easily visualize what the sites were like. I visited the museum later, and was glad to be able to visualize the artifacts in context. Neither order is right or wrong, IMO; it depends on the person.

And IME, a guide is not necessary for either Herculaneum or Pompeii – it depends on how much you are willing to read in advance, whether you use the audio guides (I thought both wonderful), etc.

Kandace_York Oct 26th, 2017 05:24 PM

Thanks so much, everyone!

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