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Trip Journal--Naples, Amalfi Coast, Capri

Trip Journal--Naples, Amalfi Coast, Capri

Dec 25th, 2007, 07:29 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 161
Trip Journal--Naples, Amalfi Coast, Capri

Part 1
(Long) journal for trip to Southern Italy (Naples, Amalfi Coast, Capri, Pompeii/Herculaneum), October 5-14, 2007 (finally got it written).

Euro = about $1.41

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2007 (Departure from Dulles)

We took Air France economy class from Dulles to Paris (CDG). Despite what I had been told by Air France over the phone, we were not allowed to carry on our rolling bags that we have always carried on before. Fortunately, we had a collapsible bag that we could take out of our suitcase to use for carry on. Otherwise, food was good and the flight was generally uneventful.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6 (Naples; sleep in Sorrento)

We arrived in CDG at about 11:50 AM with a 1:15 hour connection time for the Air France flight to Naples. Since getting back I have read on the Fodors board about the problems many people have had with short connections at CDG, and I will definitely try to get longer connection times in the future. Instructions and signs were not very clear, security lines were sometimes long (we got to the area for the Naples flight just before the security lines got much longer), and we were probably lucky to make our connection.

Flight to Naples was uneventful.

Although we had planned to take the bus directly from the airport to Sorrento, we decided that we were lively enough to spend some time in Naples, including having pizza and seeing the Archeological Museum (which we thought would have some advantages over seeing it on the last day of the trip, after going to Pompei).

We took the bus into town, which worked out well, but we had some challenges finding a place to check our luggage for the day. We decided to take the ferry to Sorrento at the end of the day, so we walked down to the ferry port and found out the schedule, and the ticket office offered to hold our luggage for us.

We walked through downtown and ate at Sorbillo Pizzeria at Tribunali 32--we thought it was the best pizza we had ever eaten--particularly the pesto, although the mushroom was also good (12 euros total). As seems to be standard at Naples pizzerias, there was a throng of people waiting outside for their name to be called.

We walked up to the Archeological Museum, where we decided after negotiation to use a guide, Pina Esposito, who had been recommended in the Rick Steves guidebook. We thought she was very good and worth doing if she happens to be there ([email protected], cell (0029) 338.763.42.24). The museum has a lot of great works from Pompei and Herculaneum, including a section of erotica that rivaled India.

We walked back down the very crowded, bustling Via Toledo shopping street, which becomes pedestrian-only closer to the huge Piazza del Plebiscito. As we got close to the port (Beverello), it was evident that a major rain storm was coming, and it soon started to rain. We just missed a boat, so we retrieved our luggage and stayed out of the rain at a coffee shop while waiting for the next boat.

By the time we left, it was raining hard, and the trip was fairly rough, though not terrible by any means. When we arrived in Sorrento, where the port is down below the main town and where there are supposed to be taxis and buses to get up to town where our hotel bus picks people up, water was flowing rapidly down the street from above. The only sign of life by the time we got off of the boat via a slippery gang plank (made more difficult because Cindy was still recovering from displacing a shoulder while in Iowa) was a small bar and snack shop, Bar Ruccio. Most of the people who got off before us must have taken a bus and/or cabs, but a few other people joined us in the bar. Due to the rain, it did not seem like any more buses or cabs were coming, and the bar was unable to reach our hotel (probably because of rain-induced problems with the bar phone). It was clear that we could not walk up the steep road with our luggage and the tremendous amount of rain coming down the street, and of course we were by then exhausted from our overnight flight from the US and the time change. Finally, the bar owner or employee took pity on us and offered to drive us up to town, packing us with not a millimeter to spare with our luggage on our laps in his very small car which he jokingly called a Ferrari; he was also giving a ride to a woman in the front passenger seat.

When we got up to town, it was evident that a significant flood was underway, with maybe six inches of rain on the main streets. He dropped us off at the train station, refusing to take any money, and we were able to contact the hotel via a pay phone across from the station. They told us that the roads were very bad but that they would come for us as soon as they could, and after a while they arrived, which was very nice of them given how awful the weather was.

We stayed at the Hotel Il Nido ([email protected]). Even though there are some inconveniences to being out of town on the road above Sorrento that becomes the Amalfi Coast road to Positano (maybe 15 minutes from Sorrento in normal weather conditions), the rooms are pleasant and the views are phenomenal, both from the rooms (with balconies overlooking the Gulf of Naples with Mount Vesuvius behind the water) and the restaurant where an excellent breakfast buffet is served (with views of Vesuvius, the Gulf of Naples, and down to Sorrento as well). And the price was certainly right at 80 euros per night (apparently due to an arrangement with Rick Steves, although we had not said anything about him). The hotel offers free pickup service from the train and bus station on the day of arrival from 3 to 11 PM, and they also have regular trips to and from town in the morning and evening. We did not take them, but there are also public buses that go in front of the hotel to Sorrento and some of the Amalfi Coast buses also go on that route (though it would be difficult to get on if they are crowded). www.ilnido.it, [email protected].

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7 (Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento)

We took an early morning hotel bus to the Sorrento train station and the Circumvesuviana train worked very well to Pompei Scavi (ruins) station, although there was no much graffiti painted on the windows that it was hard to find a car that we could see through.
Pompei is huge, with many fascinating buildings, well-preserved floor mosaics, wall paintings (particularly in buildings such as the bath house and the brothel), and bodies “preserved” by the fallen ash. The view of Vesuvius in the background is both pretty and a striking reminder of the destruction that occurred here.

We used the audioguide, which worked well, came with an excellent map, and allowed us to pick the buildings we were most interested in (the back of the map has suggested itineraries for visits of different lengths). Somewhat to our amazement, we ended up spending 5 hours there, and still did not come close to seeing everything (in particular, we did not get to the eastern half, where the amphitheater is). Cindy particularly liked the numerous marble bar counters that look much like fast food places do today.

We had heard that certain buildings required advance reservation, and for this date there was only one—Casa dell’Ara Massima—so I had made a free reservation on the internet. When we appeared there at the appointed time, there was a guard who was suspicious until we showed him the reservation form, upon which he unlocked the door to a house, let us in, and locked the door behind us. It turns out we had a house to ourselves with numerous erotica wall paintings, which was presumably why it required advance reservations.

We later saw a man from East Asia who was singing in various settings to his tour group. We had lunch during our stay at Pompei, in a rather expensive snack bar/restaurant.

We took the train a few more stops to Herculaneum, and walked a half mile or so through a working class suburb of Naples (with a lot of garbage piled on the sidewalks) to the archeological site. At the ticket office, we picked up a good map and booklet intended for use with the audioguide, which enabled us to figure out where to go and to read about the various buildings. Herculaneum is also very interesting. One key difference is that many of the buildings have wood in their structures, at least some of which is apparently original (we never figured out whether the wood that looked quite new is also preserved, but presumably not). There was also an old rope that was preserved in the volcano and an old bed.

We took the train back to Sorrento in time for our reservation at Ristorante Il Buco, which is in an attractive basement room with excellent service and very good food (raw and cooked tuna with eggplant; risotto with pumpkin, shrimp, and pesto; pork 3 ways; white fish with peppers; and a half bottle of delicious Aglianico red wine) for 129 euros including tip. A very nice experience, but probably fancier and more expensive than necessary given all of the good food we had at less fancy, more homestyle places during the rest of the trip. We walked around the cute town after dinner, including stopping for the first of many gelati on the trip (in this case at Davide Il Gelato at P.R. Giuliani, 41). The hotel has a specific location where they tell you to stand when you want to be taken back, which worked well and on schedule.

RCLCOLPB is offline  
Dec 25th, 2007, 07:31 PM
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Part 2

MONDAY, OCTOBER 8 (Capri, Anacapri)

Beautiful views again from our hotel room and restaurant. The hotel van, which was very prompt, took us to the center of Sorrento (which allowed us to see it during the daytime for a short time), which is an attractive town. (We had originally been torn about whether to stay only in Sorrento, or stay more of our nights in Positano, and Positano is so exceptional that we are glad we decided on the latter option. But Sorrento would certainly be better if climbing up hills and stairs were a problem.) We weren’t sure about how to take the bus down to the harbor, but it worked out fine.

Down at the harbor, it looked quite different than when we arrived in the flood. We could look back up at the town) and see the bar that had been our refuge and source of ride the night we arrived. (We had planned to go in to thank the man who gave us a ride, but he was not there.)

The ferry ride over to Capri offered good views back to Sorrento and the peninsula and of Capri and back to Vesuvius.

We stopped at the tourist office, which has an excellent map of the island (with detailed maps of Capri Town and Anacapri), as well as various other materials, including a brochure on hikes. On Capri and the Amalfi Coast, we used Sunflower Books’ Sorrento-Amalfi-Capri Car Tours and Walks, 4th edition, which is great, with many excellent walks with different levels of difficulty, instructions that are not too hard to follow (although we got lost a couple of times), and some fairly good maps of the major towns—though in most cases we found a better map, as discussed below. But it does not have detailed maps of the individual walks, so I would highly recommend getting as good a map as possible if you venture off the beaten path on the walks. We took the funiculare from the port (Marina Grande) up to Capri town, with beautiful views down to the sea.

We walked through the cute town loaded with the Italian subset of Rodeo Drive shops to our hotel at the south end of town.

We stayed at La Tosca in a quiet area just south of Capri town, based on favorable reviews on Tripadvisor. We were very pleased with it-- nothing fancy (no TV or safe), and certainly no pool, but the owner is delightful and helpful, it has pretty views of the water and rocks from a nice little patio and our room, and we thought the price was very good for Capri (125 euros). It is located ideally, I think, a few minutes walk south of the heart of Capri town, in a quiet area. Yet it is an easy walk to restaurants in the heart of town, hikes emanating from Capri Town, as well as buses to Anacapri and the funiculare to the harbor. The owner is a very communicative host (he has lived in the U.S.) with many good suggestions for enjoying the beautiful island. The rooms are clean. (Via Dalmazio Birago, 5; www.latoscahotel.com, [email protected].)

One interesting thing about Capri that David would appreciate is that they have a lot of convertible taxis of many brands.

We were not at all sure we wanted to go to the Blue Grotto, but in any case boats were not operating due to relatively rough seas, so the decision was made for us. However, weather during our stay in Capri was otherwise perfect—sunny, blue skies, high in the 70s (Fahrenheit).

After relaxing for a little while at the hotel, we picked up a delicious lunch of prosciutto, mozzarella, and tomato sandwiches to have later (at Salumeria Capri, Via Roma 30 near the bus stop), walked to the bus stop, and took a bus to Anacapri. The bus ride offers more beautiful views, which are so prevalent all over the island. Anacapri is nice too, and there are very frequent buses between Capri and Anacapri. But we were happy we ended up at a hotel in Capri town because we could go to a broader selection of restaurants and enjoy Capri town easily when there were many fewer tourists than during the day.

We took the Monte Solaro chairlift, which offered fabulous views from the top, particularly of the gorgeous Faraglione Islands that we could also see from our hotel patio. We ate our picnic lunch up there, walked around to enjoy the views, and had some coffee. Someone had created an unusual garden under the cable car, which we saw going both up and down.

We walked over to the Villa San Michele (but did not go in) to see the beautiful view from the terrace northeast of the villa down to the harbor, the rock formations on the northeast corner of Capri, and across the sea.

We went back to the center of Anacapri and began to follow the Anacapri-Belvedere Migliara walk in the Sunflower book. We first passed an odd red house built in the late 1800s by someone from New Orleans, and then went into St. Michael’s church, whose entire floor is tiled and shows paradise on earth with a wide range of animals. It is amazing how quickly you can get away of the touristy areas of Capri by taking walks out from the main towns, although the entire island feels very affluent. This walk, which was somewhat challenging to follow, went through pretty areas on paved small streets and then, once we found it, on paved and dirt paths east to the Belvedere. (You can also get to the Belvedere more simply by walking on Via Migliara roundtrip from Anacapri.) The views of the water at various points, and particularly the views of the Faraglione Islands from the belevedere, are beautiful.

On the way back to Anacapri, we stumbled on the Capri Philosophical Park, which we had not seen mentioned in any guidebook. It has 60 quotations on tiles from Western philosophers and thinkers from Delphi to today, organized into such categories as “Realismo,” on an 11,000 sq. meters site. Quite a trip! www.philosophicalpark.org.

We met some nice French people at the Belvedere whom we talked with on the walk back on Via Migliara to Anacapri, with my awful French and their somewhat better English. We passed one of several gardens we saw on the trip with a wide range of statues from Disney movies (Snow White and the 7 Dwarves), and there was a pretty sunset.

We took the bus from Piazza Caprile a half mile or so south of Anacapri back to Capri Town because it was closer for us. (The island was not as crowded as it apparently is in the summer, but in peak times it would probably make sense to come down here to get the bus back to Capri, rather than waiting in line at the main stop in Anacapri.)

We ate dinner at La Capannina in Capri Town, which was charming and delicious, with excellent service and a room full of plants. We had linguine with fish sauce; swordfish with peppers and tomatoes; veal scallopini with peppers “Campaninna”; and an incredible Rum Bhaba. (76 Euros)

Although the town is overloaded with tourists, and the stores are undoubtedly extremely expensive, it is also beautiful, and in the evening it was not as crowded with tourists.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9 (Capri to Positano)

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise view from our hotel room.

We walked through town and on a pleasant walk out to Villa Jovis, one of many villas that Emperor Tiberius lived in on Capri. The walk and ruined villa offer incredible views across the sea and down to rocky coves.

Most of the “streets” on the island are not passable by cars, and they seem to have successfully banned mopeds. But they use small electric vehicles to deliver boxes and construction materials.

We walked back to the edge of Capri Town and then out to Arco Naturale, which is very beautiful with various views of water through the arch. We saw an interesting banyan type tree on the walk back to town.

We had a good lunch at da Gemma, a very old line restaurant with a good view in the center of town (Zuppa di Mussels, Farfale with arugula and clams, 33 euros).

We walked back through the town, loaded with tourists/shoppers once again, and wandered around the nice, fancy Quisisana Hotel at the southern end of downtown. We then walked to the Garden of Augustus, with many more gorgeous views east to Faraglione Islands and west along the rocky southern coast. Unfortunately, Cindy cut herself, but fortunately we were very close to the hotel, and she was able to wash up there before we headed to the funiculare to return to town and the harbor.

We took a ferry directly to Positano, which offered good views of the western portion of the Amalfi Coast and of Positano as we approached it.

We stopped at the tourist office and then walked up to our hotel, which involved some uphill walking but was not a big deal with rolling bags. (Although the tourist office has a map with Amalfi, Positano, and Ravello on it, I did not find the Positano map to be particularly accurate or clear. I eventually found a far better map, which can be purchased in at least some newsstands and bookstores—such as the excellent bookstore on Via Cristoforo Colombo a block east of Albergo California, and the newsstand south of the SITA bus stop near Chiesa Nuova at via Pasitea 376--called Positano Carta Turistica/Tourist Map published by cart&guide—www.carteguide.com.)

We stayed at the Albergo California and thought it was very nice for a relatively affordable hotel. Try to get them to commit to give you a room on an upper floor with balcony; these rooms have incredible views of the city and the water. Another advantage is that it is conveniently located within an easy, almost flat walk of the SITA bus stop at the eastern end of town, and it is a relatively easy walk to the harbor. The owners, who used to live in NY, are characters; you may want to take their recommendations with some grains of salt though. The hotel, including the room next to ours, were used for filming a few scenes in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. [email protected]. 165 euros for top floor room with best view; 140 euros for the 2 nights that we were in a first floor room (still very nice views, but it would be impossible to match the views from the top-floor room).

Walked to dinner at da Vincenzo, which was wonderful. Huge red pepper stuffed with veggies, mushrooms, and olives; local grilled fish; and homemade pasta stragiatella with eggplant, plus ½ liter red wine, 61 euros including tip. Across the street there are beautiful views down to the harbor, and we walked down the steps to the harbor and back up to our hotel. Positano is an amazing setting for a city, with a one-way road that switches back and forth through the city (with local bus service on it); the main Amalfi Coast road running above most of the city; and a network of steps running up and down between the various sections of the switchback as well as the beaches. The three dimensional nature of the town makes maps much more confusing than normal.

(more to follow)
RCLCOLPB is offline  
Dec 25th, 2007, 07:33 PM
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Part 3

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 10 (Paestum, Positano)

Len woke up early and wandered around town trying to make sense of the tourist office map. Although it was initially sunny, by the time we were ready to leave it looked cloudy and probably rainy, but we decided to head for Amalfi and Ravello (by boat) anyway. It began to really pour on the boat, so we decided to continue on to Salerno so we could go to the Greek ruins at Paestum, which we had been vacillating about going to at all because it would take all day.

When we got to Salerno, we ran to look for buses to Paestum as we had no schedule, and found one quickly. However, it turned out that (despite what the Rick Steves guidebook said) the bus driver was not able to sell us tickets (which you are generally supposed to get at nearby tobacconists), but he let us on anyway (apparently, we figured out later, he was going to let us take a chance that a ticket inspector would not come on board during our trip). Our luck was not so good, and an inspector did come on and was about to give us an expensive ticket, but another passenger took pity on us and sold us tickets, and the inspector was nice enough to accept that.

Our luck also improved because just as we arrived at Paestum the weather cleared up and it became a beautiful day. After a nice little lunch at Bar Anna (panini with crudo prosciutto and mozzarella, and antipasta del casa with the excellent local buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, tomatoes, olives, etc., 12 euros). We then walked through the archeological site, which has a number of impressive Greek temples, and an area where just the top of buildings that had been largely buried over time are visible, in a pretty setting with mountains in the background, and the excellent museum across the pedestrian street (nice to have the items found on the site so close by).

We walked about a mile to the train station, where we realized that there was no place to buy tickets and Len remembered reading that you were supposed to buy them back at the café near the ruins. Len ran back to get tickets and got back to the train just in time (we had gotten a schedule at the tourist office, but they had not mentioned about buying tickets near the ruins). We took the train back to Salerno, and then the bus along Amalfi Drive to Amalfi where we changed to the bus to Positano. The road has beautiful views with some cute towns along it, and does not have particularly bad traffic this time of year. It certainly would have been possible to drive on it, but there would have been various scary times where the car would have obstructed a large bus, and the car is expected to back down to let the bus get by (somewhat of a challenge, particularly with manual transmission). Some beautiful sunset views on the ride back.

We walked over to Lo Guarracino restaurant on the coast towards Fornillo Beach on the west side of town. The Fornillo area seems less touristy than the main, eastern part—the restaurant appears to have a lot of regular customers. The waitress, who seemed to be a family member who would have preferred not to be working there, and was quite gruff, discretely pointed to her recommendations when we asked, and they were all wonderful. (focaccia (white pizza) with tomatoes, zuppa di seafood guarracino, homemade tagliolini agli scampi (langostino), red wine, 53 euros plus tip).

We stopped for lemon dessert and cappuccino at La Zagara on the way back to the hotel—they said that they typically sell out of cannoli earlier in the evening.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11 (Ravello, Amalfi, Positano)

Len took an early walk all around Positano, including walking down to Fornillo beach, with beautiful views from everywhere, particularly with the sunrise.

We walked over to the nearby SITA bus stop to take the bus to Amalfi. Beautiful views from the Amalfi Coast road. We changed buses in Amalfi; the bus stop for Ravello is about ½ block away, with lots of people waiting (probably more than there is room for on the bus), even in October. Must be really crazy during the season. We almost decided to take another option, which was a cute open air bus operated by a private company (CitySightseeing) with a roundtrip fare of 6 euros that was not too expensive and had departures every hour (which we were later glad we did not take, as they seemed to stop running in the afternoon when it was raining, but it might be a good alternative if there is no chance of rain).

Pretty views from the road. Ravello is a charming small town, beginning with beautiful views from the bus stop, and a nice central square where the cathedral is. We took a pretty walk. But we were glad we did not stay there instead of Positano, particularly considering how difficult the bus situation is.

We walked to Villa Cimbrone at the south side of town, which has nice gardens and flowers, and magnificent views down to the sea in several directions.

We walked back to town and went to the Villa Rufolo, where there are also beautiful gardens and views, except that despite the generally sunny weather so far today it began to rain (initially a sun shower).

We decided to eat at Villa Maria, which was good and had views of the bay in the rain (caprese salad, eggplant/anchovy millefeuille, 21 euros) and then went to the cathedral.

Taking the bus back to Amalfi was somewhat crazy, but we managed to get on the bus. It was raining hard when we arrived in Amalfi, but we wanted to see the town at least a little. We walked underneath the cathedral and visited it and then walked up the main street (Pietro Capuano) to the Paper Mill Museum (Museo della Carta). Amalfi is famous for its paper manufacturing, and the museum is in a 13th century mill building with antique equipment in the basement. Admission is a steep 3.50 euros, but it is worth it for the guide, who explained things in ways that were incomprehensible but got angry if you tried to ask questions that might help you make sense of what he was saying. Walked back to the water to take the bus back to Positano.

It was still wet, so we decided to eat at Ristorante Bruno near our hotel, which was fine but not up to the standards we had grown accustomed to with such great food at every meal (Italian “seviche” with orange and pomegranate, which was excellent; gnocchi with seafood which was not as good as the night before; veal with lemon; and wine, 48 euros).

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12 (road to and from Sorrento area; Positano)

Len took an early bud ride up to Nocelle, on a relatively new road that goes beyond Montepertuso. I had planned to follow the path down to the Amalfi Coast road based on instructions in the Sunflower guide, but I somehow go turned around and ended up on the road back to Montepertuso. So I walked along the virtually empty road to Montepertuso and then followed the path/steps in the Sunflower guide (path 19) down to Positano. In any case, there were beautiful views down to Positano and along the coast from many points on the route, as the sun rose.

After breakfast (view from our new room on the 1st floor), we took the bus from the stop near our hotel to above Sorrento (near the hotel we stayed in there), and then waited for a bus in the other direction back to the Positano bus stop near Chiesa Nuova, with beautiful views along the way and back.

We walked downhill, part of the way on the road (Via Pasitea) and part of the way on steps, to Fornillo Beach, with beautiful views along the way.

We decided to get lunch at Lo Guarracino, where we had eaten a couple nights before, and it was delicious again (pizza with buffalo mozzarella, octopus salad, and white wine) along with a good view of the water (28 euros plus tip).

We then walked along the coast to the port and main beach and stayed down there for a while.

We went back to our room to relax, with Len going out to the nearby bookstore and to see wedding photos being taken (Positano seems to be a popular place for wedding photos—not surprisingly—and presumably for weddings).

We had called ahead to Da Constantino, and they had said they would pick us up in front of our hotel. After a while, we gave up hope and walked down to call them again, at which point they arrived with a number of other people in the van. It was a very good, home style restaurant above Positano with a beautiful view of the lights of the city and harbor. We had vegetarian antipasti, homemade scalliatelli pasta with eggplant, whole seabass cooked in foil, BBQ swordfish, and (free) chocolate cake (60 euros).

The bus back went smoothly.


More beautiful views from our hotel. We were lucky that there were still boats going from Positano to Naples, which is certainly an easy way to travel between the two cities. (Service was going to end for the season in a few days.) On the way down to the harbor, we saw an interesting modern mosaic chair near the cathedral.

The boat trip offered pretty views of Positano, the coast (you can make out the Amalfi Coast road on the side of the mountains), Capri, various smaller islands, Vesuvius, and Naples.

We walked from the port (Beverello) to the huge Piazza Plebiscito and took turns looking into the old line Gambrinus café. We checked into the possibility of a tour of Teatro San Carlo, but they were not offered today. We continued our walk to the hotel by way of the Galleria Umberto.

We stayed at Hotel Piazza Bellini, which we found highly regarded on Tripadvisor. It turned out to be a great place in an excellent location at an affordable price (100 euros), [email protected]. The hotel is in the process of converting an entire building close to Piazza Bellini into a fun, modern, boutique hotel, but only a part of the building has been completed, so the rates are still reasonable. They expect them to be much higher next year when the work is done. The location is very convenient to the archeological museum and the main shopping and restaurant streets and other attractions, and the neighborhood seems lively and safe to walk in at night.

We walked down to di Matteo pizzeria, which was very good, though we didn’t think it was quite as good as Sorbillo where we ate the first day we were in Naples. As with Sorbillo, there were a lot of people waiting out on the street for their names to be called. Once we got upstairs, it took a long time for anyone to take our order for some reason. We had margharita with mushroom, and buffalo mozzarella, pizzas (14 euros).

We took a fun walking tour of Subterranean Naples, which is run by a nonprofit organization, walking in the long-buried Greco-Roman city that were also used as bomb shelters during WW II, and then walked around downtown as we headed back to our hotel by way of a pastry shop for delicicious sfagliatelli. The very narrow, supposedly pedestrian only streets had many cars (and pedestrians) on them.

We walked on the very bustling shopping street, Via Toledo, over to the restaurant we had reserved for dinner, la Stanza del Gusto, which was more modern, creative cuisine than we had been having since Sorrento (fried vegetables with ginger sauce; foam soup with smoked mozzarella and crouton; buffalo stuffed cabbage with white parmesan sauce; eggplant pasta (wheat); eggplant/potato/pesto; aglianico red wine; cheese platter; and puree chocolate cake (94 euros). Good and interesting, and very stylish.

We walked back to the hotel (everything was still very busy).

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14 (Fly home)

Len took an early morning outing on the subway up to Vomero, a nice predominantly residential neighborhood above downtown. Passed Piazza Bellini and the archway nearby, and saw the art in all of the subway stations and security TVs that show everyone what is being seen as well as info on the next stop. Walked around the neighborhood, which was pretty except for a lot of graffiti (some of it in English), with numerous trucks cleaning up the streets and people sweeping up the trash. Went into Villa Floridiana, which is a nice park, with a villa (which I saw from the outside) and views down to Naples, the sea, gulf, and Vesuvius. Walked a little more through the neighborhood to the funiculare station, which had modern trains and technology for an old mode of transportation. Walked back to the hotel and glanced at the Roman ruins in the Piazza Bellini and pretty row of buildings that our hotel is in.

We decided to let the hotel call us a cab for the airport; the hotel told us that there was a fixed rate to the airport, so it shouldn’t be a problem. The driver claimed that the hotel didn’t tell them that we wanted the fixed rate, but we ended up paying him the same amount anyway.

The Naples airport turned out to be a zoo, with extremely long lines to check in once we figured out which line to go in, and long lines to go through security. Then, after we finally made it through security, the guard said we needed to check our walking sticks even though we had carried them on a number of times before. We told them there was no way we could go back to the check-in line and still make our flight, and they took pity on us and walked Len to the front of the line (fortunately we had another bag that we could check with the poles in it) and then back through security.

The man next to Len was from Naples, and he said that avoiding crime is the same in Naples as in American cities—some neighborhoods, where you should not go at all, are dangerous, and otherwise the risk of being a victim of crime is low. Amazing views from the plane of the crater in Vesuvius, Crete, the Alps, and Paris.

As in the other direction, changing planes at Charles DeGaulle was difficult, and we should be sure to allow longer connection times for future trips.

A great trip.


RCLCOLPB is offline  
Dec 25th, 2007, 10:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Thank you so much for your excellent trip report. It is filled with so much great information, and it's such a pleasure to read!
I am half-asleep right now, but I couldn't stop reading it. Will return tomorrow to take notes for our upcoming trip.

Thanks again! Great report!!
dina4 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2007, 03:56 AM
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Thank you for taking the time to prepare/post your trip report. What a lovely part of the world! Can't wait to go back.
gabriele is offline  
Dec 26th, 2007, 05:22 AM
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Great trip report. We are traveling to the same area in May, staying in Sant Agata sui Due Golfi in a villa. Although we are renting a vehicle (starting and ending in Rome) based on reading several posts it seems like ferry/boat travel is the easiest mode of transport through the area. Do you agree that ferry/boat is easier than taking a car?...could you advise on the duration of the boat trips..for example Sorrento to Naples...Sorrento to Positano?..thank you very much.
mike1728 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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Much appreciated and most enjoyable report!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 26th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Len, thank you for the detailed report. I know it took a lot of time on your part to post it.

We are going to the same area next October but haven't solidified plans. Thanks for giving me something to think about.

I'm not sure about spending time in Naples; it gets mixed reviews. Were you glad you did?
Judi is offline  
Dec 26th, 2007, 12:58 PM
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Thanks so much for the detailed report! I'll be in Naples and on the coast in April. I'm currently thinking of staying in Amalfi rather than Sorrento - do you think that would be a mistake?
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 26th, 2007, 05:00 PM
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great report overall, lots of food for thought!
Especially glad you enjoyed Naples, the pizzerias and the Spaccanapoli neighborhood. I liked the crust of the pizza better at di Matteo than Sorbillo (the diM dough was the most wonderful Ive ever had), but was not impressed with di Matteo's margherita pie - the texture of the mozz was hard - the white pie with rucola and bresaola was much better and Sorbillo's pies were also excellent.

And the neighborhood is fascinating.
jjkbrook is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 04:21 PM
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thank you for that report! We are trying to decide where to go this summer and I loved reading about your trip!
treble is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 07:28 PM
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Many thanks for sharing the reports.
JudyC is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 08:18 PM
Original Poster
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Thanks very much for the nice comments.

Mike1728, we did find getting around by boat (and bus and train) to be easy and pleasant. I would say it takes about an hour by boat from Naples to Sorrento (though the train is a lot more frequent and takes a similar amount of time) and about 1/2 hour from Sorrento to Positano. It is very pretty along the Amalfi coast, so we didn't mind the time it took.

Judi, we were very glad we spent some time in Naples, but it really depends on what you like. It is a very busy, not particularly clean, but we thought vibrant and interesting city. And the pizza is fabulous.

Thursdaysd, we thought Positano was the most appealing city to stay in, but you do need to be able to deal with hills and steps. We were not wowed by Amalfi, but we were there while it was raining, so perhaps we are not judging it fairly.

RCLCOLPB is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 05:22 AM
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Thanks for the detailed report. I'm saving it for a future trip.
Ralstonlan is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 09:24 AM
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Len, thanks for the report. I didn't see it when you first posted it, probably because I was gone for a few days over Christmas. I'm going to Naples & Sorrento in July, so I appreciate all the info.

I hadn't thought about taking the boat from Naples to Sorrento. Is it easy with the luggage?
SusanP is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 10:27 AM
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ekscrunchy is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 10:49 AM
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Posts: 92
Great report - thanks!
ciaolaura is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 11:36 AM
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Terrific review. Just the details I'm looking for. I'm taking notes for my trip in 2 weeks! Thanks for taking the time to post.
zennie is offline  
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