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Help for Travel to Italy

We’re thinking of going to Italy again. This time we want to visit the Amalfi Coast (Vesuvius, etc). Our big question is transportation: How do we travel? Do we rent a car and drive through Naples? Or … Anyone out there know this kind of trip well?

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Dana Ames

posted November 14, 2007 at 1:09 am

Sadly I did not get that far south. Hopefully you will get lots of good advice from others.
I wonder if Capri, or another of the islands off the Neapolitan coast, is worth a visit these days? That’s something I would check into if I were going. Pompeii, of course, as well.
I’ve just finished Frank Schaeffer’s latest; quite an interesting read… He loves any place in Italy, that’s for sure.
Tanti auguri-

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Matt Wiebe

posted November 14, 2007 at 7:31 am

Scot, there is only one way to get around the Amalfi Coast.
Scooter. Vespa.
The roads along the coast are some of the best views in the world. You don’t want any car blocking out views like this or this. Besides, the roads along the coast are so narrow that cars feel dangerous!
I am possibly coming down with envy. Possibly.
I had friends who went to Capri and really enjoyed it. Sorrento’s a lovely town. Enjoy some Limoncello, and be sure to ask for samples first!

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posted November 14, 2007 at 7:34 am

oh, how i wish i could give you advice. we would’ve been living in naples now, but had to request chicago for family reasons. *sigh*
sicily would be a nice stop also, just a ferry ride from naples or capri.
the little that i do know—they are maniac drivers there, running into your car and not stopping! the price of rental and gas prices are so high…we have friends who lived there for three years. i’ll ask them what they would recommend for your trip.

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tony jones

posted November 14, 2007 at 7:55 am

I’ve done this part of Italy four times, and a car is your best bet. Trains are good from Rome to Naples, but not so good beyond there. And driving a car in Naples is one of the scariest experiences one can have!

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Scot McKnight

posted November 14, 2007 at 7:56 am

Did you drive around those coastal places or scooter or walk?

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posted November 14, 2007 at 9:19 am

Definitely fly to Naples and rent a car. Just watch out for the buses in your lane on the narrow roads around the coast. Those buses are one reason not to ride a Vespa. If they do not hit you they will blow you off the road and down the mountainside.
A great place to stay is Ravello. A beautiful village in the mountains above Amalfi. Great views of the sea and wonderfully friendly people.

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posted November 14, 2007 at 9:56 am

Go by car. You can divert off into funnew places. Check out Eurocar for rentals.

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posted November 14, 2007 at 10:25 am

I’ve never been to Italy – but the major biennial meeting in my field will be in Stresa on Lago Maggiore in June (2008) so it is likely I will be making my first visit. Having now lived through two of your Italy travelogues, I am looking foward to it. (No where near Naples or Vesuvius of course.)

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posted November 14, 2007 at 10:55 am

I’m a big fan of the trains. They’re quick and cheap. You will need to take a different railway (Circumvesuviana) from Naples to get to Sorrento and Pompeii.
I highly recommend Sorrento as a place to relax and take in the atmosphere.
You can take bus tours from Sorrento to Vesuvius. You will walk a fair distance after the bus stop. You can also take a bus tour of the Almafi coast. (Doing this on a vespa is not for the faint of heart–or anyone with common sense.)
You can also take a hydrofoil (or slower boat) from Sorrento to Capri.
Not only are cars expensive, but they are also difficult to manage in the cities. Parking is a serious problem.
When you get to Pompeii, I recommend that you take a picnic lunch and eat in the well-preserved amphitheater.
I’m going to be in Sicily in April.

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Julie Clawson

posted November 14, 2007 at 11:40 am

For our honeymoon we leased a car and spent 10 weeks camping around Europe. Driving was easy and made getting wherever we wanted really easy. I highly recommend the driving option.
We didn’t go as far south as Naples on that trip. I had been there when I was 12 and didn’t really want to go back. On that trip I had taken the train from Rome which arrived lated making us miss the connection to Pompei. So we had to wander around Naples for the afternoon (i.e. during siesta or whatever it is called in Italy). During that time my aunt was assaulted and had her jewelry ripped off her body. So not so fond memories of Naples. But I’d choose to return to Siena or the Cinque Terre anyday.

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Rick Schnetz

posted November 14, 2007 at 2:21 pm

I was going to look in Rick Steve’s Italy guidebook for
some tips, but realized that my daughter has it –she is
touring Naples and Amalfi today. Anyway, I’m sure you’re
familiar with his books and videos.

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posted November 14, 2007 at 4:20 pm


posted November 14, 2007 at 4:58 pm

I was in Pompeii for a short time over the summer and being a passenger in a car was enough of an adventure?let alone driving. However, I cannot speak for the country.

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Mark Berry

posted November 14, 2007 at 5:16 pm

Driving in Italy is OK, just make sure you are fully covered insurance wise… for a country that has produced some of the most beautiful cars they have scant regard for bodywork! They think rear bumpers are designed to be bumped! Trains are worth looking at for general travel in Italy, they are good (in my experience) and VERY cheap! Well compared to the UK anyway.

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posted November 15, 2007 at 12:00 am

The train worked fine for us–from Naples to SOrrento. Then the bus from SOrrento to where we wanted on the coast (and we took a boat back–it was great). The roads there are VERY narrow, windy, and on cliffs. I would not enjoy driving on them. You can easily visit Pompei and Herculenium (sp) by the train too. Naples is a little, uh, scary, so be a little careful there. I agree that Sorrento is a great place to use as a base.

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Matt Wiebe

posted November 15, 2007 at 10:11 am

Bunch of killjoys! 😉

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posted November 16, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Hire car would be fine but at times dicey.
The south is much more wild and rugged than central Italy. Napoli is not the most beautiful of places it has to be said… and pretty rough!
However, if you can get on a boat, the isole aeolie (Lipari, Panarea, Vulcano etc.) are gorgeous. It is a bit of a way but worth it. There are plenty of gems in Calabria and Sicily too but suggest you do your homework on places beforehand to get the most out of the trip.

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Andrew Ford

posted November 16, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Get Rick Steves book on Italy – it helped us when we went to the Cinque Terre (Five Lands) up north of Le Spezia. We traveled by train from Rome and it was a pleasant experience – once we got on the right train. Our goal was to get out of Rome as quickly as possible while still getting a taste of that big city and all it offers.
I can tell you much about the Cinque Terra but not much else.

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posted November 17, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Rich, Alex (age 6) and I took a train from Rome to Naples. At the train depot there was a man with a sign (a driver) to the coast. We had booked a hotel in Positano (Hotel Marincanto)we paid about 70.00 and he drove us from Naples to Positano – over an hour. It was incredible. We passed through Sorrento and I wish we could have spent some time there. Leaving Positano we took a boat (think open ferry) back to Naples (7.00 per person)…the boat ride was beautiful and we arrived in time to get a taxi to the train station and back to Rome. If you get Rick Steeves book on Italy he lists all he transfers and prices…it was helpful…and may I echo — I am jealous — I loved our time in Italy — fantastico!

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posted November 19, 2007 at 7:34 am

Visit You can find all the italianwebsites in enghlish version. Tourismo, food, transport….

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