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Stay in Naples, Sorrento, or some nights in both?

Stay in Naples, Sorrento, or some nights in both?

Old Aug 6th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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Stay in Naples, Sorrento, or some nights in both?

Last week I booked a mileage flight rt Rome for next April (2013), arriving at 7:30AM on the Thurs. after Easter and leaving 20 days later. Apart from 8 days in Venice 10 years ago, we have not been in Italy since an 11 wk. Europe on $5 a Day trip in 1971 when we were in grad school. So I guess you could say that it’s our first trip to Italy for all practical purposes.

From Rome we plan to go first to Naples/Sorrento for 6 nights and then to Tuscany for 7 nights. We want to use Marriott and Hilton hotel points for over half of our 19 nights. Since our preferred Marriott in Rome was showing not too much reward availability in April, I reserved our 5 nights in Rome while I still could. Since we also want to use points for either the Naples Renaissance or the Sorrento Hilton or both, I thought maybe I’d better reserve those now, too.

The rough agenda for the Naples/Amalfi region is a day to Capri; a day going down the coast (maybe bus down, boat back); a day at the Archeological Museum and whatever else we can fit in in Naples; most of a day at Pompeii; and a day at Herculaneum and vicinity, maybe to Vesuvius. We also have however much of the day that is left after taking the train from Rome to either Naples or Sorrento. Currently I’m leaving things a bit loose since there are some “minor” things we’d like to do – a market (now I’ve forgotten where), for instance. We really don’t want the hassle of a car for this part of the trip and plan to use public transportation.

Neither the Naples Renaissance nor the Sorrento Hilton is ideally located - both require a bit of a walk to the center of town but are do-able. The Hilton has more negative reviews and the awards “cost” is twice the number of points as the Renaissance in Naples. (The difference would be enough for 3 nights in Florence, for instance.) Thus, I considered spending 3 nights in Sorrento and doing the Amalfi and Capri trips from there, then going to Naples for the last 3 nights. If we were staying in Sorrento the whole time, we would still have to get to Naples for the museums/churches but we would have to add maybe an hour to go to the hotel first to get rid of luggage if we were relocating. But once we were in Naples, we wouldn’t have to go back to Sorrento. It appears that Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc. would be as easy to do from Naples as from Sorrento.

Although there are some neutral comments on Naples, I've also read a lot of very negative remarks about Naples – dirty, crowded, theft, etc. So I’m wondering if any Fodorites would venture opinions of whether we should just suck it up and use a lot more points to stay in Sorrento all 6 nights or if Naples is not so bad to use as a base for day trips.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 02:04 PM
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When we went to Italy a number of years ago, we were in Naples just for an hour or so waiting to catch a train to Sorrento where we were staying for 3 days. Just that little time in Naples convinced us that we made the right decision not to stay there. It was nasty dirty.

My college-aged kids then did a backpacking trip through Italy last year and could not afford the hostels in Sorrento, so they stayed in Naples for their day trips to Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc. They said that the city had not improved any through the years. As they phrased it, "Naples is a real armpit."

Stay in Sorrento.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 04:13 PM
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I'm a great fan of Naples - I found it dynamic and energetic and full of life and interest. And there was a lot that I wanted to see there, so I was glad to spend a few nights in Naples.

For the record, I don't mind moving around with some frequency, and actually prefer it to making a lot of day trips. So I also spent a few nights on the Amalfi Coast and a night in Capri, which I found particularly magical after day-trippers had left.

BTW, you might want to consider visiting Paestum while in the area - awesome!

Hope that helps!
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 05:44 PM
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I would like to visit Paestum but when I started checking on getting there sans car, it looked like a bit far for a day trip from Sorrento.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 07:45 PM
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Really tough choice IMO. I like Naples very much. Yes, it is dirty and gritty, and you can be quickly ripped off, but it is also real, vibrant, exciting and very alive, and I've met some very warm and kind people. We've had great food there and seen wonderful art work.

It is super easy (and fast) to visit Herculaneum from there and certainly as easy to visit Pompeii as well. I've stayed in Naples twice and would stay again. Just don't expect clean, bright, pretty, sanitized. Expect crowded, noisy, dirty, kids playing in the street, tiny trucks with fruits and vegetables, vespas roaring around (somtimes with two or three people on them), great food and very kind people.
Only you know how much you enjoy local life without gloss when you travel.

While many see it only as touristy and crowded, I also like Sorrento. The situation of cliffs and sea with views of Vesuvius is wonderful.

If those are your only options for hotels, I would consider a split of two in Naples and four in Sorrento, especially considering you will have a lot of time the first day. You could go directly to one of the museums or do a walk in the central area, then head over to Herculaneum for the afternoon. The next day - anything else you want to see in Naples, then Pompeii and Vesuvius. You could do the day trip to Capri from Naples, and do the tour of Pompeii on the way down to Sorrento, so not have to double back for that.

Do take the boat at least one way down the AC and do not miss Positano.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 08:07 PM
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> I would like to visit Paestum but when I started checking on getting there sans car, it looked like a bit far for a day trip from Sorrento.

I wouldn't be surprised if it was easier to get there by train from Naples, but I don't know for sure. And for what it's worth, I also thought Salerno vastly under-ratted.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 08:16 PM
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Kja, under-ratted would be good! What did you like about Salerno?
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 08:29 PM
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Don't know if you have a Hilton American Express card but when I went to Italy 3 years ago, these promo codes were available:

AXON5 - 4 nights in a Cat 5 hotel for 125,000 points
AXON6 - 4 nights in a Cat 6 hotel for 140,000 points

You need to call 1-800-920-5649 to book.

I had a wonderful time at the Sorrento Hilton! They really took care of me. My room was gorgeous. And, the view from my balcony of Vesuvius and the Bay was terrific!

BTW, I'm also a Marriott Lifetime Plat member. The Grand Flora in Rome was murderous to try to book with points! Just keep sending email after email to Customer Service and ask for the name of someone higher each time when they tell you they can't do anything for you. I finally heard from the Grand Flora's Asst. Mgr... he booked me a Jr. Suite for the dates that I needed.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 09:59 PM
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> What did you like about Salerno?

IMHO:
- The lungomare is lovely.
- Its old town isn't the prettiest, but I thought it more authentic than many.
- Its cathedral has some stunning treasures, including 2 awesome ambos.
- The Diocesan Museum is home to the "Salerno Ivories," which I feel very fortunate to have seen.

Whether to make time for Salerno really depends on your interests and preferred travel pace. My VERY full itinerary included:

-2.5 days in Naples, including a very full day in Pompeii and Herculaneum (I reached Naples VERY early one morning, spent that day in Pompeii and Herculaneum, and then spent the next 1.5 days in Naples. I wish I'd had a least 1, if not 2, more days in Naples).

- 1 day in Capri. I took a late afternoon ferry from Naples and then, the next day, a late afternoon ferry to Amalfi.

- 2 nights + in Ravello - I had plenty of time to reach Ravello from Amalfi, check in, eat dinner, and enjoy my pre-booked concert at the Villa Rufolo. I spent the next day exploring Ravello and walking down to and then exploring Amalfi. I would have liked to have another day in the area.

- a night/ most of a day in Salerno/Paestum - I left Ravello for Salerno, checked in, took the train to Paestum, and returned to Salerno in time for a sunset walk along the lungomare. The next morning, I visited the cathedral and museum before leaving mid-day for Matera.

Naples and the Amalfi Coast offer some wonderful, and wonderfully diverse, opportunities. There are some that won'e suit everyone (e.g., Naples is too "gritty" for some), but if you pick and choose based on your interests, you should have a great trip.

Enjoy!
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 10:55 PM
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Thanks for all the helpful comments. Feel better about some nights in Naples and have a lot of info to add to my notes for when I start the specific planning.

I've been in some slightly gritty parts of cities - Athens and Cairo come immediately to mind - but with wonderful people, so maybe I can withstand Naples grit. Friend who was there about 4 years ago just hated Naples but, then, she didn't much like Rome either, and wasn't all that crazy about Florence. She only really liked Positano and little towns on the Amalfi coast and in Tuscany. We like cities - art, architecture, etc. - as well as the smaller towns and the countryside, so we can probably handle Naples. What we don't like if we can avoid it is a lot of moving around unless we have a car, but 3 and 3 or 2 and 4 isn't so bad. (But we're not great at getting out early in the morning. We are not the same people we were 40+ years ago when we schlepped around Europe for weeks sleeping on trains and eating spaghetti with 1 meatball for $1 every night at Da Pepino's in Rome. Fortunately, now we can afford a taxi here and there as well as 2 meatballs for dinner. )

Joannyc, I must not have been clear about the Rome hotel. I did get the Grand Flora in Rome for 5 nights starting on the 4th, day we arrive, but Apr. 6th was the last night we could check in and get 5 nights. Someone suggested in another thread that I do Rome at the end, but it's easier to go with the flow and take the rooms when we could get them easily. The fact that I was booking at the end of their availability made me think I should probably take care of the rest of the point bookings now instead of waiting till maybe the rewards rooms were gone, though. No we don't have a Hilton AmEx, only hotel affinity card is a Marriott VISA. DH is also lifetime Plat. w. Marriott but only Gold with Hilton. However, we have more Hilton points at the moment, in part because we recently transferred a lot of AmEx points to our Hilton account. Still, I hate using 50k per night in Sorrento as opposed to 25k in Naples; most Hiltons lower the points per night starting with the 4th night but I gather the Sorrento hotel is 50k per if you stay there the rest of your life. Glad to hear you liked the Sorrento Hilton. A lot of the TripAdvisor Hilton reviews (and some Marriott), for both Rome and Sorrento hotels, were by people staying on points who complained that they didn't get the status perks in Italy - exec. lounge privileges, free internet, etc. - that they get in the the US and other countries.
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 03:40 AM
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@polly229,

The Renaissance hotel in Naples is actually in a very good location to see the city. There are two places very worth seeing very near your hotel in addition to the other sights you want to see.

You can take a 20 minute tour of the inside of Teatro San Carlo, the opera house. This is a very Neapolitan place, very ornate and beautiful. It is more fun to see than the Duomo, even if you are not a big fan of opera.

There is also the beautiful cloisters of Santa Chiara convent near your hotel. This is a very special unique treasure, covered in painted tiles, and you can visit in less than one half hour.

I would also recommend that you eat at Hostaria Toledo, which is close to your hotel. Many tourists eat there but that shouldn't stop you. It is actually one of the very best of the old places to eat serving delicious food at a fair price. The owners are wonderful and they treat everybody very nicely.
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 07:44 AM
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Kja, thanks for your observations about Salerno, hopefully we have a few hours to stop and check it out when we go in early Oct.

Polly in case you do want to visit Paestum, the train from Naples to Paestum takes about 1 1/2 hours.
The train station is about a 15 min. walk from the sites though.
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 11:17 AM
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Also near your hotel in Naples is Sansevero Chapel Museum (Cappella Sansevero), it is a gem. Please, please don’t miss it. I’d seen pictures on the internet of the sculptures and being pretty close to overload from what we’d seen in Rome, Florence, and other parts of Italy the previous three weeks, thought this would be walk through and on our way. Wrong! None of the pictures I’ve seen on the internet, the museum website, or were for sale in the shop, do justice—quite the opposite. I’m not a sculpture fan but I was in jaw-dropping-admiration mode. I’m glad my sister had allowed plenty of time. I’d go back there in a heartbeat. There is a small, 7 euros, admission fee (the price this past March) and closed on Tuesdays.
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 04:44 PM
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The Grand Flora doesn't have an Executive Lounge but you'll receive free breakfast (nothing to write home about, I thought it was quite poor) with a gorgeous view overlooking Rome!

The Hilton's Exec Lounge was being refurbished when I was there. But, I received unlimited free cocktails, wine, appetizers, deserts, etc. at the lounge on the lobby level. I don't know if you actually have to have a 'Hilton' AmEx to use those promo codes or if any AmEx account will suffice. Worth a try if your interested.

I didn't go to Naples so can't comment on the Ren.

Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 08:51 PM
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Thanks for the info on the opera, the cloisters, and Capella Sansevero. Those are probably things I wouldn't have considered but since we can only do so much in a day, it's nice to have some sights convenient to the hotel that we could do before or after Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc. Also, nearby restaurant suggestions are always welcome.

Joannyc, we've usually gotten breakfast at Marriott properties without lounges, most recently a Renaissance in Paris, and it was better than most of the lounges (though the one at Marriott County Hall in London had a pretty good lounge breakfast and the one at Holborn - think it was a Renaissance but whatever, it's no longer a Marriott - was a close second). But some of the reviewers on TripAdvisor complained that they were told they got no perks if using points at Marriotts and Hiltons. Others were treated "normally". Some got internet but not breakfast/lounge access. Some got nothing. So it may be hit or miss - who's at the desk and how they feel that day. Marriott has recently affiliated with some - I assume boutique - hotels in Italy, an AC chain, and we may try one of those in Florence, but it appears we may get no perks there from what I've read.
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 09:07 PM
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Second the suggestion of Sansevero - fantastic, beautiful, sublime sculpture! You will never forget it.
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Old Aug 8th, 2012, 04:31 PM
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Polly,

Yes, I'm staying at one of the AC Hotels in Madrid in October using points. I'm not expecting much in the way of perks.

I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Florence which is about a 12 minute bus ride from the main square (with the carousel). I did get a free pantry item and free breakfast each day. I don't know where the AC is located but it is probably more centrally located.

Have you been on marriottrewardsinsiders.com to see what folks there say about the hotels?

Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 9th, 2012, 10:12 AM
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Look into the Naples Artecarde Tutto la Regione 3 day card. It covers the local transit (in Naples and the Circumvesuviana and other public transport) and the first 2 sites (we used it for Pompeii and herculaneum) and 1/2 off the others. It more than paid for itself.

We stayed in Sorrento. It was a great base. I didn't mind Naples, but I didn't mind living in New York City either.
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Old Aug 9th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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>>>But some of the reviewers on TripAdvisor complained that they were told they got no perks if using points at Marriotts and Hiltons.
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Old Aug 9th, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Didn't know about the Marriott insiders site, Joannyc, and thanks. Also to Kybourbon for the flyertalk links. I find wading through that site onerous sometimes, so the links should be a help.

Kybourbon, Joannyc and my DH are both lifetime Platinum Marriott. Only Gold Hilton for DH and I'm not sure about Joannyc. By the time we get to Italy next spring we will be at the next Hilton level after Gold, whatever that is. Numerous of the hotel reviewers for various Hiltons and Marriotts on TripAdvisor did have status and complained that they didn't get the perk in some of the Italian hotels that they get in the US and other European countries, particularly when they were staying on reward points. We have never used Hiltons in Europe since attaining Gold status but we have always gotten Marriott exec. lounge privilege or breakfast if no lounge in Europe (and Cairo) and usually better rooms, if not suites, even though we were not paying for the rooms. (Actually, the Presidential Suite of 4 huge rooms and 4 balconies overlooking the Nile in Cairo, occupied by the US Sect'y of State the week before. But no other upgrades quite like that.)

I was planning to get a Naples Artecard since that looks like it will be a savings and work logistically (though still trying to work out the logistics for the Roma card and how we can make the 3 days where it will be most useful consecutive). A 4-day card would certainly work better for us both places, especially in Rome.

Joannyc, what was your take on the HGI in Florence and being so far out of town? Would like to use a Hilton in Florence but as is often the case with both Hiltons and Marriotts, they're not exactly centrally located. Seem to recall reading that the HGI is near the airport.
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