Rome, Positano & Naples

Old Oct 4th, 2011, 03:14 PM
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Rome, Positano & Naples

The trip was for 11 nights. We spent five nights in Rome and stayed at Caesar House B &B near the Forum. I reviewed this and all the hotels on Trip Advisor. We arrived early at Rome airport after a direct flight on Alitalia- seats were comfortable- service indifferent and food was average plane food. We arrived a half hour early and had arranged a car from the B & B. We waited five minutes after the official arrival time and driver had not shown so I called the Caesar House with a credit card on the pay phone-BIG MISTAKE- The guy at the desk said take a cab -he was very nice but we had some communication problems. Phone call , which lasted about three minutes cost $41-lesson learned- don't use a credit card for a phone in Italy. A guy at the exit offered a cab to Rome for $75 euros, even though the car charge was 55 Euros I agreed- remember I am jet lagged. Driver was very nice but this is not a cab- it is a private car- clearly marked as such inside but we didn't notice for several minutes. I paid the &75 Euros- no tip- I am recovering a bit from jet lag. Later we find out that the driver from the B & B had arrived but just missed us. Caesar House turned out to be a great room- see the Trip Advisor review. The room was not ready so we spent three hours walking through Rome past the Forum, some beautiful churches and the Pantheon. We got into the hotel about noon, slept for a few hours and then went touring again. We spent the next five days walking all over Rome which is a beautiful city and very walkable and managed to see all the major sights and some of the lesser ones. We took three tours- A walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto and Trastavere with Enjoy Rome- three hours- great tour and great guide-highly recommended. We toured the Vatican Museum and St. Perer's with a company called When in Rome. Another great guide but the Vatican Museum was incredibly crowded-you could hardly move. By going with the tour company we did not have to wait in line-and that line was hours long . It was Monday and the crowds might have been worse because the museums in Rome are closed on Monday so if you go avoid Monday. On Tuesday we again used When in Rome for a tour of ancient Rome and the TRevi Fountain- same guide and another great tour. We could have easily spent at least two or three more days in Rome.
Eating- We found several restaurants that we liked in or near the Piazza Pesquina right off the Piazza Navona- we tried to eat at Cul de Sac twice (recommended in Frommers) but it was full- then found another wine bar a little bit up the Governor Vecchio on the right-it was very good- can't remember the name. Our favorite was il Corollo on Via Corollo off the Governor Vecchio- great food and reasonable- about 30 Euros with wine. Nearby is Rome's smallest piazza- a pizzateta- something like that- there is a church squeezed in the piazza and a restaurant right under the church- also excellent. Guide recommended a lunch place right behind (in the shadow of) the Pantheon- great salad and reasonable. Walk down the right side of the Pantheon as you are facing it and you will walk into this restaurant. At the other end of the scale we had to stop on the Via Vento for lunch- two nice salads, a small beer and water cost $55.
We only took taxis twice when we were pressed for time and the drivers used the meters- not real expensive but more than walking which we did almost everywhere.
On Thurs we took the fast train to Naples- second class- 45 Euros each- worth every euro- fast and comfortable. At Naples train station we switched to the Circumvesuviana (commuter train) to Sorrento- it had been hot since we arrived in Italy and this train was crowded and hot- we had to stand for the first 35 minutes- but very cheap.The ride was about 70 minutes-lots of stops. At Sorrento we had to take a bus to Positano- mob scene- so many people we couldn't get on the first bus but another came quickly. Beautiful ride to Positano- they let you off on the main road above the town- we walked- downhill thank God- and found the Villa Nettuno- it took awhile because it was about two in the afternoon and most places were closed. Reviewed this small hotel on Trip Advisor- highly recommended -inexpensive,-80 euros- clean large room, priceless view but 89 steps from the front door to the room. Positano is a beautiful resort but expect stairs or hills wherever you go.
We explored the town, spent one afternoon on the beach- normally 25 euros for chairs and an umbrella for two- we paid 20 because there was a small cloud in the sky- or so they said- beach is rocks or brown sand but the water was warm and clean. We had purchased sandwiches at the deli and had lunch on the beach- great afternoon. On the last day we took the bus to Amalfi and a bus to Ravello- a small beautiful town about three miles up the mountain from Amalfi-had the best pizza of the trip there at Victoria and enjoyed to town- highly recommended.
Back in Positano we ate for a second time at the restaurant Mediterraneano- just a short walk from the Villa Nettuno- great food and a lot of fun- family run and the waiters all had great personalities and interact will the diners.
We wanted to travel to Naples by ferry and avoid the busses and the circuvesuviana but the Nettuno owner said the times weren't right through Sorrento-the normal route. He suggested we take a ferry South to Salerno and then the train to Naples- the ferry ride was wonderful- if we go to the Amalfi Coast again we will travel by ferry whenever possible- the train station was a short walk from the ferry terminal and a about an hour ride to Naples.
Naples is an experience. Our hotel- the Piazza Hotel Bellini- was on the edge of the medieval quarter- I reviewed it in Trip Advisor- beautiful hotel. We got to Naples mid afternoon Sunday and walked the medieval quarter- very quiet- people were around but not hordes of them and the stores were closed. The medieval quarter has litter- lots of- almost everywhere and an amazing amount of graffitti covering almost every building. Most of the churches that were on the walking tour in my book were closed and maintained very poorly on the outside.Rome by contrast was very clean. That night we went out again and couldn't believe the difference- stores were open and there were hordes of people on the streets- the Piazza Dante had several soccer games going on and people of all ages were out walking- this really makes you feel safe even when the buildings in the neighborhood don't look so good. The next day we walked to the Central station and took the Circumvesuviana to Pompei. An easy trip- cooler, less crowded and shorter than our previous trip and again cheap. We wandered around Pompeii with my guide book for a few hours- highly recommended- however if I did it again I would get a guide- the only guided tours that we saw were 4 or 6 hours and we didn't have the time.
Back to Naples by two and we took the open air red tour bus on a tour through Santa Clara and up the hill to Posippilo(?} -these are the "nicer" areas of Naples- not so much litter and graffiti with some nice hotels and restaurants and beautiful views- no time to give these areas justice.
On our last night we ate at one of the four pizza restaurants recommended by Frommer- three of them were on a street right near the hotel- we ate at Sorbillo which competes with Michelle for the best pizza award- excellent pizza but I liked the one in Ravello better- however they were two different types -Ravello was Siciiian and Sorbillo called their pizza the Luciano pizza- it had spaghetti on top. One of these pizza places in Naples had a picture of Bill Clinton- he had pizza there when he was president-funny picture.
I really liked Naples and felt we didn't have time to do it justice- despite the stories about pickpockets I felt very safe- everywhere in Italy people were nice and helpful when we needed help and Naples was no exception. My wife was put off by the litter and grafitti at the first but mellowed a bit later.
Left from Naples airport for home- the ride to the airport was disappointing- lots of garbage in the suburb we rode through but the airport is beautiful but boarding the plane is a mob scene.We are on Air France and change at Paris- beautiful international lounge- vast and uncrowded. Boarding is very organized- the way I like it. Service is phenomenal- the attendants treat you as though you are in first clas- you are offered drinks before dinner- champagne, mixed drinks- I had a gin and tonic or wine. Excellent dinner. Service never faltered and al least one man near us was very demanding. I will fly them whenever I can.
Our next trip will probably be to Tuscany or Venice and the Veneto- we will try to go to Cinque Terre on one of them but also might spend a few days in Rome again. The only downside is that this is not the Italy i knew in the 1970's when it was cheap- an expensive place but well worth it.
PatrickSch is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2011, 03:27 PM
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Super nice report GREAT detail thanks for posting.
qwovadis is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2011, 04:35 PM
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Just returned from about the same trip! You were courageous to go from Rome to Positano in one stretch!I had trouble getting from the outskirts of Sorrento to Amalfi in that crowded bus! ;-)
We also liked Naples, found it lively, interesting and operatic!
Nice trip report!
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 08:02 AM
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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It sounds as if both hotels in Positano (despite the steps)and Naples were good ones to stay.
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 01:01 AM
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Glad to see you liked Naples, too! I had heard all kinds of bad things about it and when I actually got there I really liked the vibe of the place... its really busy, lots to see and very friendly people... held a more "Italian" feel for me (versus Rome).
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 01:45 AM
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The more i read about Naples, the more i want to spend time there--not just as a transfer point. Thank you for describing that city, and the rest of your trip.
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Old Oct 8th, 2011, 08:24 AM
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Thanks for the compliments Quovadis and Calynurse. Stevelyon- yes all three hotels were excellent. I do think that some travellers would be put off by the neighborhood of the Bellini, others might not be able to handle the steps at the Nettuno. Caesar house was expensive- $250 night but anything cheaper was less convenient to the major sights or got negative reviews here or on Trip Advisor. We are well beyond the backpacker stage and need our own bathroom. We don't want to have to take cabs or even the subway everywhere we go in a city, others might not mind. Jojonana- we did the trip this way because we were flying out of Naples to go home and like to be relatively close to the airport when we are leaving. Otherwise we would have done Naples first and then Positano. Elsee- I agree with you but someone on this board said you either love Naples or hate it- my wife is d4finitely not totally on board yet but recognizes that we didn't do the city justice.
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Old Oct 8th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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Great report. I too just got back from there. Luftansa is another airline that has great service with before, during and after dinner drinks. Plus the bathrooms on the plane are in the underbelly, so you have room to stretch and stand around without getting in everyone's way.

We too experienced the horrendous mob scene of trying to get the bus from Sorrento to Positano; my story about it will be posted very soon. I urge everybody to find an alternate way of getting there (but don't drive). By sea seems to be the most humane, but you'll never be able to figure out if it's an available option till you get there.
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Old Oct 8th, 2011, 07:01 PM
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Ibecker reminded me of a bad experience on the Alitalia flight- the lines for the bathrooms were long and the attendants made everyone sit down and no one could go to the bathroom. The pilot left the seat belt signs on for the remainder of the flight and it was enforced. I have never seen that on a flight before- there certainly was no turbulence. We think that the Alitalia plane did not have enough bathrooms. On the Air France flight there wee almost no lines for the bathroom and it was a vary large plane.
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Old Oct 9th, 2011, 02:20 AM
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I'm happy to read this trip report. I've been reading trip reports about Italy as a research for my future planned tour. Glad you enjoyed your stay.
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