Which island off Naples to visit?

Old Jun 30th, 2014, 03:38 PM
  #1  
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Which island off Naples to visit?

I know a tough question - they all look beautiful and have their different merits! However I was hoping that maybe someone might help us make a decision best for our needs?

We are a family of seven (5 children - 16, 14, 13, 13 and 7 year) and are in Naples for 5 nights in August (the only time we can go!). I have researched the three main islands and of course the guidebooks etc make them all out to be wonderful which I am sure they are - but doesn't make it easy to narrow our decision. However we really only have time for a visit to one, maybe two during our stay.

So our priorities:
Firstly the kids want to swim - the main aim of our visit. They are all strong swimmers (including the 7 year old) so are happy with sandy beach or rock diving into pools of water. We wouldn't be looking at a spa/mud bath option either...And that is really it! They will have seen and will be seeing the cultural and historical splendours of Italy on the rest of the trip so we are not looking for this sort of thing on this visit.

We also won't be making it a priority to enjoy a great meal as lovely as it would be for my husband and I! And I guess we would idealistically enjoy a little bit of peace/space (probably not easy in August)! Plus we would be interested in a walk although in summer heat - nothing too taxing!

I know that the Blue Grotto of course looks incredible - but I am thinking we might not cope too well with the August crowds and with us being such a large group, best left to another time?

So - the perfect island day? Bus or a walk to a beach where the kids can swim endlessly, pick up of fresh food for picnic supplies. Late afternoon stroll/bus ride around part of the island for a look, maybe another swim and finally a drink at an atmospheric bar before ferry back to Naples.

Ideas on which island could be 'right' for us?
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 05:03 PM
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I think you can count on all the islands to be extremely crowded in August, so put that concern aside.

Have you thought about dividing your stay, say three nights Naples, two nights island? It would give the kids more beach time and less travel, and the chance to see the islands after the day trippers have left.

I would personally favor Capri, but I know Ischia has its fans -- never been.
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 05:17 PM
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We had a great day at Meta Beach. It's on the mainland, close to Sorrento. Saw mostly Italian families, very few non-Italians around. It was a perfect beach, sand and pebbles, gentle waves, beautiful surrounding area. It's not secluded or private, but was very family friendly. We ate lunch, rented a couple of loungers and an umbrella. Hubby played volleyball with the local guys.

Capri was stunning, but I'm not sure where a visitor could swim? Blue Grotto was also very cool, but it's strictly in and out in 5-10 minutes. We didn't visit the other islands.

We did spend a day in Positano, and another in Amalfi, and thought the beach at Meta was better than either of those, as the water was much cleaner in Meta. Of course Positano and Amalfi have a lot of other things to offer!

We had an apartment near the Meta Station on the Circumvesuviana line, so it was a 15 minute walk to the beach.

Hope this helps! Have fun!
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 05:44 PM
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"Capri was stunning, but I'm not sure where a visitor could swim?"

Marina Piccola, among others.
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 07:21 PM
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If your kids are strong swimmers, they can do what lots of Italians do and swim off the side of boats. Not sure why you're basing in Naples for five days if you crave some island or swimming time. I haven't heard of Meta Beach, but it sounds very nice.

There's a wonderful beach that we've gone to many times within a short walk of the Positano town dock. It's called FORNILLO BEACH, and seems to attract mostly Italian families. There are a couple of bars/small restaurants and a hotel right on the beach, so you can easily grab snacks or lunch. We've spent the day there many times. It's pretty crowded in August, but if you got there early, you might avoid some of that.

You could also think about taking a water taxi from Positano to Nerano, stopping to swim in one of the "cave" beaches along the way. We did that last year, then went on to lunch in Nerano before returning to Positano. Loved it, although it was not cheap!
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 07:22 PM
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BTW, if you decide to walk from the town dock in Positano to Fornillo Beach, there's an amazing family-style pizzeria on the way with the best food and great water views. It's called LO GUARACINO, and it's easily one of our favorite restaurants in Positano. They serve brick oven pizzas, handmade pastas, etc., and it's very reasonably priced.
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 07:49 PM
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I was also going to suggest Meta di Sorrento. I am a big fan of Naples, but I don't see it as a family-friendly destination, and the city will be oppressive in August. Its beaches are urban beaches and not well regarded.

If I am not mistaken, there is a train stop in Meta di Sorrento that will enable you to get to the Sorrento ferry docks. If you are enjoying swlmming in Meta, then you don't need to go swimming as part of your island visit, so pick a ferry ride day trip that sounds right for you. In August, I would not be a happy camper faced with all the staircases of the Amalfi coast, and nor would I want the tourist zoo of Capri, but your kids might not care. They might be more tickled (and cooler) with a ski lift chair ride up to some of the peaks of Capri and Anacapri.

But I would try to stay somewhere other than Naples. Even consider the beaches of Paestum as an alternative, although you won't be able to go island hopping from there very easily. (You'd need to get a ferry out of Salerno, and it would make for an extremely time consuming day.)
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Old Jul 1st, 2014, 07:32 AM
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Ischia has very good beaches; you can take ferry from Naples to Ischia port and then ride the public bus to Negombo, a ride of about 20 minutes or so. It's a water park/thermal spa, but you can ignore the spa portion and head for the beach, which is lovely. There are places to eat inside the park. The feasibility of this depends on finding ferry times that would work for you.
Personally I would prefer to stay at least one night on the island.

Here is a photo:

http://www.ischiatopblog.it/wp-conte...cco-Ameno1.jpg
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Old Jul 1st, 2014, 02:56 PM
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Thank you for your replies and feedback. We are committed to our time in Naples for various reasons as lovely as spending nights on one of the islands would be.

Meta Beach sounds interesting - so I will look into that. As does Negombo on Ischia - which looks worth considering.

We are also now considering the boat option - that kids would really enjoy - jumping off the sides!

Still not sure though which island?!
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Old Jul 1st, 2014, 07:52 PM
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You might think about a private tour of Capri, which would get you away from the day trippers, and possibly give you the option of swimming off the side of a boat.

Last June we went out with WHALES DI WENDY, based at Marina Grande, where the boats arrive in Capri. It was a wonderful day out on the water ( 4 hours), and I'd highly recommend them. You need to e-mail ahead if interested.
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Old Jul 1st, 2014, 07:59 PM
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BTW, since you are staying in Naples just a heads-up that some of the seafood restaurants on the waterfront at CASTEL DEL UOVO are ridiculous tourist traps! However, that area which is now pedestrianized is a fun place to explore for kids, and does have a couple of good gelaterias.

Since you're with the kids, you will want to try some of Naples famous pizza. We thought the pizza at PIZZERIA MICHELE was much better than the pizza at PIZZERIA BRANDI, which is famous because it's the birthplace of pizza margherita.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2014, 06:22 AM
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There is no reason to go to Meta beach, I think, unless it is to stay there in a low-key family accommodation. You might as well go to Ischia or another island to get in your swimming. Or like you said: jumping off the side of a boat.

Something else kids might find amusing about Napoli is to use the funiculare and, once up there, march around the formidable Castel St Elmo for the amazing views of the city and look at the royal barges and carriages parked in Certosa di San Martino. You might even catch a breeze up there. For art, if it isn't already on your list, both the Capella San Severo and the Cloister of Santa Chiara have art to grab and hold kids' attention for at least 20 to 30 minutes, and the Cloister is just a very nice oasis in the city away from the non-stop hurly burly. They are sites unique to Naples.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2014, 02:57 PM
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Thanks again for the suggestions. Just planning in detail the Naples part of the trip, so all very helpful. I am thinking that we will stick to an island visit for our swimming - Meta just looks like a bit of a trek for us for a day and we are not the best beach family - more of a move around and explore family with a cool off in the water! Will add in the funicular and are definitely wanting to visit Capella San Severo - will look into the Cloister.

Any other suggestion are all gratefully received - family trips to Naples are a little harder to research than other destinations in Italy!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2014, 06:39 AM
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If you have never been to Naples the thing you need to be aware of with kids is the intensity and chaotic nature of motor traffic. You will need some breaks from it, and also to ask your kids in advance to cooperate with you in staying close to you in the busiest parts of town, even your older kids, and everybody will need to watch out for the 7 year old without making him or her feel like a baby. You might want to hook up with a guided walking tour for a half day just to make some of the sightseeing easy (you with kids and a map in your hand not sure where you are going is more stressful than a fun Neapolitan native easing you through the most congested parts of the city).

Pizza is actually a dinner dish in Italy and many of the best pizzerie don't open until after 4 in the afternoon. The absolutely sinful sfogliatelle pastry is actually a breakfast food, and I wouldn't deprive my kids for a short stay in Naples in having this breakfast of champions. But also be aware that Naples is one of the great pasta capitals of Italy, whether we are talking pasta with seafood or pasta with meat sauce (pasta alla genovese), so don't stick to just pizza.

Some of the frequently mentioned guidebook sights for me are a bit boring, in particular to the 2 castles on the waterfront, and the area around the Piazzal del Popolo and likewise the glassed in Galleria, which is mainly empty. However, if your kids are a certain type, they might enjoy the 30 minute guided tour of the colorful and fancy opera house. It is easy and quick (and cheap as I recall) if you are in the neighborhood.

Do some research about "underground" tours in Naples. They make sense to do with kids but the free ones might be just as good as the commercial ones.

You don't have to make a project of seeing the Archeological museum (and be alert there is one room with erotic pictures) but the great statue of the Farnese bull and its opposing Hercules will most likely impress your kids. The mosaics rescued from Pompei are also easy for kids to relate to. All that can be seen in less than 45 minutes in the museum, along with coins and jewelry found clutched in the fingers of the those annihilated in Pompei. For your youngest kids (and maybe even you!) some of the highly superstitious and theatrical church art with its riot of decoration can be overwhelming after a while. Walks along the seaside, hikes on Vesuvius if it is not too hot, boat trips to islands provide some relief.

Hope you all get a kick out of Napoli. If you get in the groove, it can be quite a memorable and exciting place to be, and really very lovable. But it is a challenge.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2014, 06:44 AM
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Also, in the heat of summer the food markets, in particular the fish markets, keep limited morning hours, but you might enjoy them if you are up early (or have an apartment and need to shop!)

http://www.napoliunplugged.com/shopp...s-markets.html

http://www.napoliunplugged.com/locat...-nolana-market
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Old Jul 3rd, 2014, 03:25 PM
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Sandralist - thank you so much for the advice. Will look in to a tour guide for Naples - sounds a sensible thing to do! I appreciate that it seems a somewhat unusual choice for a family to spend time in Naples in August - but it just really appeals to my husband and I - not ones for resort style places I guess! With the attitude to 'get into the groove' and mixing our days there with trips out of the city I am sure we will also find it a memorable place to visit. Will definitely make sure the kids are aware of the traffic - thanks for reminding me about that.

We are all liking the pizza / pasta and now sfogliatelle pastry treats ahead!

We are looking at the Underground Tour - but will research the free ones. The Archeologcal Museum is definitely on the list - will take your advice on limiting it a bit! As is hiking Vesuvius and a trip to the islands. Will take note too re an early start to the markets - we are in an apartment so we will need to shop.

Really appreciate your comments- thank you.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2014, 04:03 PM
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Naples is a fantastic place and one of my favorite travel destinations in not only Italy but Europe. It has a fantastic history -- including a fantastic geological history -- and it beautifully situated. It just explodes with contemporary urban life -- some of which will seem familiar if you have ever spent much time in New York or Boston or Philly and other US towns with Neapolitan immigrants. The food is delicious. You can buy fresh cheese and tomatoes at the markets that is amazing. If you have a big enough pot, you can buy pasta that is 3 feet long (or at least take it home) plus every shape imaginable. Naples is the hometown of machine made dry pastas in the shapes of wheels, radiators, pens, corkscrews, shirtsleeves, hats, gun barrels, on and on.

But it is not Under the Tuscan Sun and, like I said, even I would be very protective of kids in traffic (watch Neapolitan moms dragging their kids by the hand through streets) and plenty of resident lunatics, as much as I enjoy the city.

You needn't limit the archeological museum if everybody is wowed. It is actually not a large museum. But if the crowd is clamoring for more pizza, you can herd everybody through and catch the most startling stuff in less than an hour if need be.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 05:37 AM
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"explodes with contemporary urban life -- some of which will seem familiar if you have ever spent much time in New York or Boston or Philly and other US towns with Neapolitan immigrants." - maybe that is the appeal! With time spent in all those US cities and Italian family in south Philly, there must be some inner reason I am drawn.

Finally one other question - we are planning a nice family meal out to celebrate my daughter's exam results that will come through while we are in Naples. Is there a place you recommend - not overly fancy but authentic and with a great atmosphere where we can perhaps sit a little rather than rush through a pizza meal?

Thank you again.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 07:36 AM
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A few places pop to mind depending on where you are staying: Hostaria Toledo, Ciro a Santa Brigida (which also serves pizza but is a true restaurant), Mimi alla Ferrovia (best food, but near the train station in an off-putting neighborhood). If you don't go to Hostaria Toledo for the celebration, you might go another night. It is a very sweet natured place that is very much family run. For August you need to check who is open. There is a fabulous tiny place up in Vomero called Donna Teresa, and it is insanely cheap for the deliciousness of the food, but everybody has to be prepared for the limited menu, which is usually only two choices per course, all market based. A group your size would take up most of the restuarant, so if you can't get in


A place I've never been in Naples, but might be motivated to visit if it wasn't broiling hot, is the Campi Flegrei volcanic area. I don't know how difficult the travel logistics are from Naples center.

It also occurs to me to suggest you research the islands of Gaiola, and the underwater park there. I've never been, but In the past I have come across information about glass-bottomed boat tours and snorkeling around the tiny islands.

http://www.travelhunch.com/2012/11/d...f-gaiola-4383/

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/06...etro-and-boat/

Another place I've never been near Naples is the Campi Flegrei volcanic area, which might be great with a family. I don't know how difficult the travel logistics are from Naples center.

http://www.visititaly.com/holiday/na...ater-park.aspx
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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I forgot to plug in the name of the restaurant in Vomero near Donna Teresa to go to if your group can't fit in there. It is Cantina di Sica on via Bernini. Here's a link describing Donna Teresa, with pictures, so you can see how tiny it is and how simple the food is -- which might not be right for a celebration. No English spoken here

http://www.lucianopignataro.it/a/nap...al-1913/15734/

If you think it would be fun to go up to Vomero for dinner, make sure you know the timing of the last funicular back down.






And here is an interesting recent list of affordable trattorie in Napoli with quality classic food, not just pizza


http://www.scattidigusto.it/2014/03/...ttorie-napoli/
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