Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

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rjbraun
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Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

SO and I have round-trip tickets booked to Rome for January 2018. We are trying to decide what if any visits to other areas to take during our two week stay in Italy.

We are considering Naples, including a visit to Pompeii. Neither of us has visited the area before. We have spent over a week in neighboring Basilicata and have visited Italy on a number of occasions (typically, independently as opposed to on a tour), just not Naples.

A recent Economist article about crime in Naples caught our eye, so we want to make a thoughtful decision about a possible visiting. We would also love to visit the Amalfi Coast but are not sure how feasible or desirable it will be to do both. In January, the weather could be variable and restaurants / services more limited. Also, we won't have a car and will need to rely on public transportation or perhaps consider hiring a driver or joining a local tour (if even available off-seaon).

1. We would appreciate input on people knowledgeable about Naples and the reported crime in the Economist article. If we stay in the center of town (Centro Storico) should that be okay?
2. Is it too much to do both Naples (Pompeii) and the Amalfi Coast on this trip? We like Rome a lot and could find plenty to enjoy if we stayed there the full two weeks, even though it will be our fourth visit in as many years.
3. If we decide to go to Naples and / or the Amalfi Coast, we would be interested in suggestions for places to visit and possible itineraries.

https://www.economist.com/blogs/economi ... xplains-19

Thanks in advance!
Iliketoridemybike
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Iliketoridemybike »

We stayed in Naples near the Dell Ova Castle out on the coast and felt very safe. We walked a lot, back alleys, to the ferry docks, to dinner at night, never felt unsafe, but we also kept a keen eye out. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to Naples. With that being said Naples is not Rome or Tuscany and appears scruffier than other parts of Italy. So don't expect it to be "nice". It's very rough around the edges.
The museum in Naples paired with Pompeii is highly recommended. Many of the artifacts of Pompeii are in the museum. So seeing both tells the whole story. A day in Pompeii is plenty.
The Amalfi coast in January might be pretty desolate, but that may not be bad. You'll probably find places closed, but it is a dramatic part of Italy and well worth several days seeing Sorento, Positano, Amalfi, Revello, etc....
HongKonger
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by HongKonger »

I lived in Sorrento and on Capri. January will be chilly and grey but my input would be to include Ercolano which has better artifacts than Pompeii. Take the Circumvesuviano train from Naples to Sorrento and explore there. From Sorrento you can get the public bus to Positano (its hair raising). From Naples port get the boat to Capri for the day.
navyitaly
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by navyitaly »

I lived there for 3 1/2 years moving back a couple months ago...

Crime: Petty theft will occur...just don't be a victim..never happened to me in 3 1/2 years...ie leave nothing in a car ever...and never ever leave your bag out etc.

Yes you can do both Amalfi and Pompeii same trip...a good locals alternative to Pompeii is Capua...Ruins of Capua..you'd have to google it.

There's very little to no violent crime in Italy..just petty theft, have a great time!
Numa
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Numa »

Naples is grittier and more chaotic than most tourist destinations in Italy, but it is a beautiful city and one with a lot of history and culture. Do not miss the Capodimonte and the Museo Archeologico. There are lots of interesting historical churches and other monuments to explore. It would be worth it to go to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum while in the area (if you've never been). Two weeks is enough time to also visit the Amalfi coast, although I would want a car to do that. I agree with others that January might not be the best time to visit. Are there other parts of Italy you are considering?

I would not let crime prevent me from returning to Naples. However, be cautious--do not carry valuables with you and be very careful about where you keep your credit cards/documents. While it's true that it is not usually violent crime you have to worry about, I also know of people who have had more serious encounters with thieves in that city (e.g., my brother-in-law's car was broken into while his family was inside it--scary). Watch out for scam artists and take all precautions to protect against theft, and have a plan in place in case you are robbed.

Have a great trip.
Limoncello402
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Limoncello402 »

If you decide not to stay in Naples, you can easily take the train to Naples, then in the station go several flights down to the Circumvesuviana railroad to Pompei. Easy to do. Then you can take it on to Sorrento where the bus will take you up the Amalfi coast. I typically stay in Positano, at the Vittoria Hotel (which I LOVE). Expect that things will be shut down at that time, but this may also be a very nice non-touristy opportunity.
Some people find it faster to just hire a car from Rome to the Coast. There is a direct bus from Rome but, I believe, only in high tourist season.

Naples is nice to see, but if your time is limited I'd skip it. The center is safe; outlying areas quite iffy. If you do stay there you might want to take a bus tour.
renue74
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by renue74 »

DW and I went to Italy 2 years ago. Venice, Florence, Rome and Pompei.

We took a Rick Steves tour for the first 3 cities and then at the end...took the fast train down to Naples and the regional train over to Pompei for a day.

We didn't stay in Naples very long....but after our Pompei visit, we took the regional train back to the Naples train station and then a bus to the airport to fly back to Milan. ($30 one way flight from Naples to Milan! Great deal.)

Upon walking out of the train station, the city was pretty dirty and not like the rest of Italy.

My wife got pick pocketed and her iPad was stolen from her rolling case while we were walking to the bus.

I know...one person's account of our experience....but really, there are so many other beautiful places in Italy, I frankly wouldn't spend my time in Naples. My wife hated her experience.

Sorrento, Capri, Florence, Umbria hill country....so many other beautiful places with great wine, food, and people
Iliketoridemybike
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Iliketoridemybike »

I know someone who got her purse taken right off her arm in a crowd on the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Just be smart. Don't give thieves opportunities. Get a neck or belt wallet. Never lose sight of your bags.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

HongKonger wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:26 pm I lived in Sorrento and on Capri. January will be chilly and grey but my input would be to include Ercolano which has better artifacts than Pompeii. Take the Circumvesuviano train from Naples to Sorrento and explore there. From Sorrento you can get the public bus to Positano (its hair raising). From Naples port get the boat to Capri for the day.
Good point, thank you. We would certainly want to include a visit to Ercolano (Herculaneum). We will need to factor that into the schedule.

Will the public bus to Positano run regularly in January? And the boat to Capri as well?
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

navyitaly wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:55 pm I lived there for 3 1/2 years moving back a couple months ago...

Crime: Petty theft will occur...just don't be a victim..never happened to me in 3 1/2 years...ie leave nothing in a car ever...and never ever leave your bag out etc.

Yes you can do both Amalfi and Pompeii same trip...a good locals alternative to Pompeii is Capua...Ruins of Capua..you'd have to google it.

There's very little to no violent crime in Italy..just petty theft, have a great time!
Ruins of Capua. Looks interesting, will look into a visit -- in addition to Pompeii, I would think.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

Numa wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:22 pm Naples is grittier and more chaotic than most tourist destinations in Italy, but it is a beautiful city and one with a lot of history and culture. Do not miss the Capodimonte and the Museo Archeologico. There are lots of interesting historical churches and other monuments to explore. It would be worth it to go to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum while in the area (if you've never been). Two weeks is enough time to also visit the Amalfi coast, although I would want a car to do that. I agree with others that January might not be the best time to visit. Are there other parts of Italy you are considering?

I would not let crime prevent me from returning to Naples. However, be cautious--do not carry valuables with you and be very careful about where you keep your credit cards/documents. While it's true that it is not usually violent crime you have to worry about, I also know of people who have had more serious encounters with thieves in that city (e.g., my brother-in-law's car was broken into while his family was inside it--scary). Watch out for scam artists and take all precautions to protect against theft, and have a plan in place in case you are robbed.

Have a great trip.
Capodimonte is in Lazio and would be a day trip from Rome, right?

Definitely want to visit the Museo Archeologico in Naples to tie-in with a Pompeii visit. That argues for going to Naples (and just protecting our belongings and remaining vigilant -- wow, scary indeed with your BIL's car break-in) if we decide to head south (from Rome).

As for your question about other parts of Italy, the original plan was to spend time in Rome. We have spent a week there in winter the past three years, intentionally staying put to explore locally rather than running around from location to location. As we have two weeks this time, we started thinking about making visiting Pompeii. Neither SO nor I has managed to go despite a number of past trips to Italy. But now, if we visit Pompeii we will also want to include Herculaneum and also Naples. Naples seems to have a fair amount to offer, so that leg of the trip has become 3-4 nights already. Add on the Amalfi Coast, and it's easily a week or so, right?

So, if we put on hold Naples et al / Amalfi Coast, we might instead consider some day trips from Rome. Maybe Frascati and Tivoli? And now, Capodimonte? Also, Sperlonga was listed in a travel magazine - is it worth a visit?

SO expressed an interest to visit Orvieto. He's not been, I have but would return. Trenitalia only showed one decent train (~1 hour), though, on the random day I selected. Everything else was 2 or more hours, which wouldn't make sense for a day trip.

One place we considered was Umbria and, in particular, Gubbio (not as a day trip). It was a while ago, and I can't recall why we eliminated it. I guess it would have involved more traveling and "going from town to town" than we wanted to do this trip. We're happy hopscotching around, it's just the idea with Rome was that the city has so much to offer that there's no need to leave.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

Limoncello402 wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:20 pm If you decide not to stay in Naples, you can easily take the train to Naples, then in the station go several flights down to the Circumvesuviana railroad to Pompei. Easy to do. Then you can take it on to Sorrento where the bus will take you up the Amalfi coast. I typically stay in Positano, at the Vittoria Hotel (which I LOVE). Expect that things will be shut down at that time, but this may also be a very nice non-touristy opportunity.
Some people find it faster to just hire a car from Rome to the Coast. There is a direct bus from Rome but, I believe, only in high tourist season.

Naples is nice to see, but if your time is limited I'd skip it. The center is safe; outlying areas quite iffy. If you do stay there you might want to take a bus tour.
Good idea about a bus tour of Naples. We typically don't do that, but I know other travelers find bus tours can give a nice overview when arriving in a city, in addition to giving your feet a rest. A bus tour would also allow to relax a bit more since safety would be less of an issue.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

renue74 wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:26 pm DW and I went to Italy 2 years ago. Venice, Florence, Rome and Pompei.

We took a Rick Steves tour for the first 3 cities and then at the end...took the fast train down to Naples and the regional train over to Pompei for a day.

We didn't stay in Naples very long....but after our Pompei visit, we took the regional train back to the Naples train station and then a bus to the airport to fly back to Milan. ($30 one way flight from Naples to Milan! Great deal.)

Upon walking out of the train station, the city was pretty dirty and not like the rest of Italy.

My wife got pick pocketed and her iPad was stolen from her rolling case while we were walking to the bus.

I know...one person's account of our experience....but really, there are so many other beautiful places in Italy, I frankly wouldn't spend my time in Naples. My wife hated her experience.

Sorrento, Capri, Florence, Umbria hill country....so many other beautiful places with great wine, food, and people
Sorry your wife had stuff stolen. We've been relatively fortunate in Italy, but I know how bad experiences can color a place. SO almost got his wallet lifted on the metro in Milan. In hindsight, we were an easy target. We stood out as we were preoccupied with a map, trying to figure out how to get to a restaurant. :oops:

We literally got fined three times in Budapest. The fines probably totaled $10 max, but they have tainted my view of the place (which is unfortunate). All the fines occurred when we took public transportation. In one case, I think we had transferred inside the metro station and didn't realize that we had to use another ticket (presumably), so we got fined. The second time we were taking the equivalent of a commuter train that was already in the station. We confirmed with passengers already seated that we could buy the ticket onboard, to avoid missing the train. But when the conductor came around he said that wasn't the case and made this big thing about us getting fined. Even the couple who gave us the incorrect advice tried to intervene to help us. The last time was the best. Basically, none of the machines to stamp the entry ticket were working, so we just boarded the tram. Of course, once we got to our destination we were greeted by a police officer who asked to see our cancelled ticket. We explained what happened, he patiently listened and said he understood and then proceeded to fine us. All of these fines in about a 4-day visit :annoyed

Hope to visit Umbria one day
HongKonger
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by HongKonger »

rjbraun wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:02 pm
HongKonger wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:26 pm I lived in Sorrento and on Capri. January will be chilly and grey but my input would be to include Ercolano which has better artifacts than Pompeii. Take the Circumvesuviano train from Naples to Sorrento and explore there. From Sorrento you can get the public bus to Positano (its hair raising). From Naples port get the boat to Capri for the day.
Good point, thank you. We would certainly want to include a visit to Ercolano (Herculaneum). We will need to factor that into the schedule.

Will the public bus to Positano run regularly in January? And the boat to Capri as well?
Yes they will. These are public transport. Just don't miss the last boat back unless you have a room booked. The ferry service from Naples also runs to Sorrento(but its usually a smelly hovercraft affair) and from Sorrento to Capri.
Numa
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Numa »

rjbraun wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:38 pm Capodimonte is in Lazio and would be a day trip from Rome, right?
I was referring to the Capodimonte museum in Naples, which is just outstanding. http://www.museocapodimonte.benicultura ... mation-en/. This and archaeological museum have absolutely world class collections, and each on its own would merit a trip to Naples. Tie the latter with a trip to Pompeii, and it would be an amazing experience.
rjbraun wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:38 pm As for your question about other parts of Italy, the original plan was to spend time in Rome. We have spent a week there in winter the past three years, intentionally staying put to explore locally rather than running around from location to location. As we have two weeks this time, we started thinking about making visiting Pompeii. Neither SO nor I has managed to go despite a number of past trips to Italy. But now, if we visit Pompeii we will also want to include Herculaneum and also Naples. Naples seems to have a fair amount to offer, so that leg of the trip has become 3-4 nights already. Add on the Amalfi Coast, and it's easily a week or so, right?
Yes, but I thought you had two weeks? Or maybe you wanted to spend a week in Rome and a week further south. If it were me, I'd spend more time in Rome and skip the coast in January. January is perfect for visiting urban areas and archaeological sites, especially Rome which should be neither too cold nor too crowded. Definitely visit the Amalfi coast one day, but go in spring or fall if you can.
rjbraun wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:38 pm So, if we put on hold Naples et al / Amalfi Coast, we might instead consider some day trips from Rome. Maybe Frascati and Tivoli? And now, Capodimonte? Also, Sperlonga was listed in a travel magazine - is it worth a visit?
If you are interested in ancient, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Fascist, or Catholic history, you can easily occupy yourselves for months in Rome alone. So I agree, if you enjoyed Rome in the past, it might be worth it just spend more time there. You could take a few days to just see some of Naples and Pompeii, skipping the Amalfi coast for a future trip.

I've never been to Frascati or Tivoli but I know about Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli. It's on my list for a future trip. If you do decide to stay in Rome, I would consider adding the Roman sanctuary of Palestrina to the list, as well as the Etruscan necropoleis of Cerveteri and Tarquinia. All of these would be easy day trips distance-wise, but I'm not sure what the public transportation situation would be like. Or, if you decide to skip Naples/Pompeii but want a taste of an ancient city, there's Ostia Antica, which can be easily reached with Rome's light rail.

Sperlonga would be awesome. I've never been there either but it too is on my bucket list! If you can get there I would go for sure. I'm really into ancient Rome, though, so for me it's all worth seeing!

If I were going to Umbria, I would definitely rent a car and go town hopping. Without a car you miss all the unexpected stops along the way, and you don't get as much of a taste of the beauty of the countryside.

Whatever you decide, it's going to be a fantastic trip!
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

Numa wrote: Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:05 pm I was referring to the Capodimonte museum in Naples, which is just outstanding. http://www.museocapodimonte.benicultura ... mation-en/. This and archaeological museum have absolutely world class collections, and each on its own would merit a trip to Naples. Tie the latter with a trip to Pompeii, and it would be an amazing experience.
That makes sense. The museum looks great. Definitely argues for tying time in Naples with Pompeii and Herculaneum visits.
Numa wrote: Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:05 pm Yes, but I thought you had two weeks? Or maybe you wanted to spend a week in Rome and a week further south. If it were me, I'd spend more time in Rome and skip the coast in January. January is perfect for visiting urban areas and archaeological sites, especially Rome which should be neither too cold nor too crowded. Definitely visit the Amalfi coast one day, but go in spring or fall if you can.
You're right, it's two weeks, but I suppose "we want to have our cake and eat it too." :wink: We want to spend good time in Rome and also find time to perhaps visit elsewhere. Will have to sketch out an itinerary on paper, but it seems that the Amalfi Coast this trip will be too much and perhaps better saved for spring or fall, as you suggested.
rjbraun wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:38 pm So, if we put on hold Naples et al / Amalfi Coast, we might instead consider some day trips from Rome. Maybe Frascati and Tivoli? And now, Capodimonte? Also, Sperlonga was listed in a travel magazine - is it worth a visit?
Numa wrote: Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:05 pm If you are interested in ancient, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Fascist, or Catholic history, you can easily occupy yourselves for months in Rome alone. So I agree, if you enjoyed Rome in the past, it might be worth it just spend more time there. You could take a few days to just see some of Naples and Pompeii, skipping the Amalfi coast for a future trip.

I've never been to Frascati or Tivoli but I know about Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli. It's on my list for a future trip. If you do decide to stay in Rome, I would consider adding the Roman sanctuary of Palestrina to the list, as well as the Etruscan necropoleis of Cerveteri and Tarquinia. All of these would be easy day trips distance-wise, but I'm not sure what the public transportation situation would be like. Or, if you decide to skip Naples/Pompeii but want a taste of an ancient city, there's Ostia Antica, which can be easily reached with Rome's light rail.

Sperlonga would be awesome. I've never been there either but it too is on my bucket list! If you can get there I would go for sure. I'm really into ancient Rome, though, so for me it's all worth seeing!
Yes, SO especially likes ancient Rome. We have been amazed at just how much Rome offers. Every visit we find more and more stuff to see and do. Were fortunate to get a guided tour to Domus Aurea our last visit -- very, very cool. Hoping to book the Colosseum subterranean tour for our upcoming trip.

Will look into viability of public transport to the Roman sanctuary of Palestrina and the Etruscan necropolis of Cerveteri and Tarquinia. We visited Ostia Antica a couple of years ago. Easy and enjoyable trip, even stopped by Eataly on the way back :beer
Numa wrote: Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:05 pm If I were going to Umbria, I would definitely rent a car and go town hopping. Without a car you miss all the unexpected stops along the way, and you don't get as much of a taste of the beauty of the countryside.
Yes, would love to visit Umbria one day. I take your point about the convenience of a car but would still prefer to avoid driving, if possible.

Thanks for all the helpful feedback :happy
Church Lady
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Church Lady »

Pardon me if you know this already... each of you should have one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-RFI ... +belt+rfid

or something like it. I'd pay a little extra for comfortable fabric. Your 'day wallet' is where you keep enough cash for the day.

Have a great trip!
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

Church Lady wrote: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:07 pm Pardon me if you know this already... each of you should have one of these:

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-RFI ... +belt+rfid

or something like it. I'd pay a little extra for comfortable fabric. Your 'day wallet' is where you keep enough cash for the day.

Have a great trip!
Yup, already own one and use regularly.

Grazie, Church Lady!
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JaneyLH
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by JaneyLH »

rjbraun wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:03 pm
renue74 wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:26 pm DW and I went to Italy 2 years ago. Venice, Florence, Rome and Pompei.

We took a Rick Steves tour for the first 3 cities and then at the end...took the fast train down to Naples and the regional train over to Pompei for a day.

We didn't stay in Naples very long....but after our Pompei visit, we took the regional train back to the Naples train station and then a bus to the airport to fly back to Milan. ($30 one way flight from Naples to Milan! Great deal.)

Upon walking out of the train station, the city was pretty dirty and not like the rest of Italy.

My wife got pick pocketed and her iPad was stolen from her rolling case while we were walking to the bus.

I know...one person's account of our experience....but really, there are so many other beautiful places in Italy, I frankly wouldn't spend my time in Naples. My wife hated her experience.

Sorrento, Capri, Florence, Umbria hill country....so many other beautiful places with great wine, food, and people
Sorry your wife had stuff stolen. We've been relatively fortunate in Italy, but I know how bad experiences can color a place. SO almost got his wallet lifted on the metro in Milan. In hindsight, we were an easy target. We stood out as we were preoccupied with a map, trying to figure out how to get to a restaurant. :oops:

We literally got fined three times in Budapest. The fines probably totaled $10 max, but they have tainted my view of the place (which is unfortunate). All the fines occurred when we took public transportation. In one case, I think we had transferred inside the metro station and didn't realize that we had to use another ticket (presumably), so we got fined. The second time we were taking the equivalent of a commuter train that was already in the station. We confirmed with passengers already seated that we could buy the ticket onboard, to avoid missing the train. But when the conductor came around he said that wasn't the case and made this big thing about us getting fined. Even the couple who gave us the incorrect advice tried to intervene to help us. The last time was the best. Basically, none of the machines to stamp the entry ticket were working, so we just boarded the tram. Of course, once we got to our destination we were greeted by a police officer who asked to see our cancelled ticket. We explained what happened, he patiently listened and said he understood and then proceeded to fine us. All of these fines in about a 4-day visit :annoyed

Hope to visit Umbria one day
Wow! Visited a Budapest for a week and took the subway everywhere with no fines! Loved it. Would highly recommend Onyx, a Michelin star restaurant there.
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SkierMom
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by SkierMom »

Actually, just of the jet here from two weeks in Italy.

Our favorite part of Italy was the Dolomites and the Sud Tyrol. If you have never made your way to the small northern Italian towns like Cortina, Villabassa and Belluno, Grappa -- towns are very clean, picturesque, food great and the people awesome.

January would be snowy but beautiful.
renue74
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by renue74 »

rjbraun wrote: Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:03 pm Sorry your wife had stuff stolen. We've been relatively fortunate in Italy, but I know how bad experiences can color a place. SO almost got his wallet lifted on the metro in Milan. In hindsight, we were an easy target. We stood out as we were preoccupied with a map, trying to figure out how to get to a restaurant. :oops:

We literally got fined three times in Budapest. The fines probably totaled $10 max, but they have tainted my view of the place (which is unfortunate). All the fines occurred when we took public transportation. In one case, I think we had transferred inside the metro station and didn't realize that we had to use another ticket (presumably), so we got fined. The second time we were taking the equivalent of a commuter train that was already in the station. We confirmed with passengers already seated that we could buy the ticket onboard, to avoid missing the train. But when the conductor came around he said that wasn't the case and made this big thing about us getting fined. Even the couple who gave us the incorrect advice tried to intervene to help us. The last time was the best. Basically, none of the machines to stamp the entry ticket were working, so we just boarded the tram. Of course, once we got to our destination we were greeted by a police officer who asked to see our cancelled ticket. We explained what happened, he patiently listened and said he understood and then proceeded to fine us. All of these fines in about a 4-day visit :annoyed

Hope to visit Umbria one day
I have no ill feelings towards Naples. I know this could happen in any city, any country. But judging from the area around the Naples train station, it was definitely more urban and rough than other areas.

I think we are all either "city people," or "country people." From the cities and countryside I visited on our trip to Italy and Switzerland, most of the best memories are the countryside or times w/o so many people. I remember the great lunch we had at an agritourismo in Tuscany where the farmer and his wife discussed their day to day business and how they farmed olives. We drank great wine and the views were wonderful.

I remember the 5am mornings I got up in Venice and walked the city. It's a whole different city when not mobbed by the tourist hoards. I remember taking the train to Verenna in Lake Como and city by the lake eating pasta and drinking wine.

I hear Sorrento is awesome and Capri is pretty. But, if I were going to spend my precious vacation time, I wouldn't go back to Naples.

BTW....they fine you in italy for not validating your ticket before you get on the train as well. I only had great experiences using the Italian trains.
birdy
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by birdy »

Was in Italy 3 months ago. As part of the tour we were on, we were supposed to go to Naples also. The tour company took us in the bus around the dock area and that was it. They said in Naples the people do not obey the street signs/law and too much crime for us to get off the bus. We didn't even get to go to the wonderful museum in Naples. I was disappointed of course because if they say it is part of the itinerary we should get more than a 10 minute in and out.....

birdy
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

birdy wrote: Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:11 pm Was in Italy 3 months ago. As part of the tour we were on, we were supposed to go to Naples also. The tour company took us in the bus around the dock area and that was it. They said in Naples the people do not obey the street signs/law and too much crime for us to get off the bus. We didn't even get to go to the wonderful museum in Naples. I was disappointed of course because if they say it is part of the itinerary we should get more than a 10 minute in and out.....

birdy
Wow. I would be plenty disappointed too.

I have done very few organized tours, but I just can't imagine that happening unless there was some very specific situation going on that led to the decision (large-scale civil unrest, street riots, etc.) Kind of surprised that no one on the tour protested (or, perhaps people did). After all, as you indicated people presumably joined the tour with the understanding that they would visit the museum.
carolinaman
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by carolinaman »

I was in Italy 2 years ago in September. Spent most of my time in Tuscany and Rome. While in Rome, I took a day trip to Pompeii and Amalfi coast. It was too much to do in one day but was my only chance to do it. I was somewhat disappointed with Pompeii. I understand that most of artifacts from volcanic eruption are in Naples museum. The drive along Amalfi coast was outstanding and I thoroughly enjoyed brief visit to Positano. If I ever return to Italy, I hope to spend more time along Amalfi coast, Sorrento and Capri. However, unsure of weather in January. Others state weather is not too good that time of year.

If you have never been to Tuscany, I would recommend you consider that for a few days. Florence is terrific and there are lots of hill towns to see. I took high speed train between Florence and Rome. But in Tuscany, you really need a car to get around. I am not sure if they have chance of snow/ice in winter.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

carolinaman wrote: Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:32 am I was in Italy 2 years ago in September. Spent most of my time in Tuscany and Rome. While in Rome, I took a day trip to Pompeii and Amalfi coast. It was too much to do in one day but was my only chance to do it. I was somewhat disappointed with Pompeii. I understand that most of artifacts from volcanic eruption are in Naples museum. The drive along Amalfi coast was outstanding and I thoroughly enjoyed brief visit to Positano. If I ever return to Italy, I hope to spend more time along Amalfi coast, Sorrento and Capri. However, unsure of weather in January. Others state weather is not too good that time of year.

If you have never been to Tuscany, I would recommend you consider that for a few days. Florence is terrific and there are lots of hill towns to see. I took high speed train between Florence and Rome. But in Tuscany, you really need a car to get around. I am not sure if they have chance of snow/ice in winter.
Thanks, that's helpful input. We are still on the fence about whether to visit Naples / Pompeii & Herculaneum but have pretty much decided to save the Amalfi Coast for another trip (mainly due to weather concerns, time constraints, traveling in off-season with places closed, etc.).

I feel that if we "do Pompeii" I don't want to simply "squeeze it in" as a day trip or so. To me (and to SO who is more into the history) that would mean spending the day prior to visiting at least the archaeological museum (and possibly others) in Naples, and then dedicating a day to Pompeii and Herculaneum. When all is said and done, I think we're likely talking about three nights.

Granted, two weeks potentially for Rome alone is nice and more than many people get. Still, I am ambivalent about putting a side-trip to Naples et al in the middle of the two weeks, especially if the "interruption" will detract from the Rome stay. We will stay in an apartment and while it's not a big deal, I guess, if we leave in the middle (we would check out to avoid paying for an apt we are not using) we will need to clear out the fridge, be mindful of not overbuying food unless we want to toss it or carry it with us. None of this is a big deal, really, but it's just a bit disruptive and detracts from the experience, at least somewhat.

Yes, we've been to Tuscany, the most recent time being a week in Florence this past January, which was followed by a week in Rome. We love the Freccia, high-speed service, especially when we can get the "super economy" fares :greedy. We spent the week entirely in Florence (still not enough time for everything we wanted to do) but had access to a car on a prior visit. Yes, the hill towns are just lovely, we'd love to return one day. Siena, Volterra, ... Florence was plenty cold when we were there. I think it dropped to the (upper) 20s on some days. If I'm not mistaken, southern Italy was, uncharacteristically, even colder and crops suffered from heavy snowfall.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

SkierMom wrote: Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:32 am Actually, just of the jet here from two weeks in Italy.

Our favorite part of Italy was the Dolomites and the Sud Tyrol. If you have never made your way to the small northern Italian towns like Cortina, Villabassa and Belluno, Grappa -- towns are very clean, picturesque, food great and the people awesome.

January would be snowy but beautiful.
Sounds really nice, would love to spend time in the small northern towns you listed. In the Veneto we've been to Verona, Padua and Vicenza (plus Venice, of course) and really enjoyed them.

For this upcoming winter trip, though, I think we will either stay out, head south briefly or consider a couple of day trips from Rome.
Numa
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Numa »

rjbraun wrote: Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:18 pm
I feel that if we "do Pompeii" I don't want to simply "squeeze it in" as a day trip or so. To me (and to SO who is more into the history) that would mean spending the day prior to visiting at least the archaeological museum (and possibly others) in Naples, and then dedicating a day to Pompeii and Herculaneum. When all is said and done, I think we're likely talking about three nights.

Granted, two weeks potentially for Rome alone is nice and more than many people get. Still, I am ambivalent about putting a side-trip to Naples et al in the middle of the two weeks, especially if the "interruption" will detract from the Rome stay. We will stay in an apartment and while it's not a big deal, I guess, if we leave in the middle (we would check out to avoid paying for an apt we are not using) we will need to clear out the fridge, be mindful of not overbuying food unless we want to toss it or carry it with us. None of this is a big deal, really, but it's just a bit disruptive and detracts from the experience, at least somewhat.
You could arrive in Rome and stay there for most of your two weeks, and then a few days before you fly home, you could check out of your apartment and get a train to Naples. Leave your bags at a hotel there, see the sites, have a great dinner, and then go out to Pompeii in the morning. Return to Rome that evening, crash at a hotel near the airport, and get up early for your return flight.

I love Diana Kleiner's Open Yale course on Roman architecture (available online for free). There are quite a few lessons dedicated to Pompeii, if you're interested. Could be nice preparation for the trip. Mary Beard's Fires of Vesuvius is a good read.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

Numa wrote: Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:42 pm
rjbraun wrote: Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:18 pm
I feel that if we "do Pompeii" I don't want to simply "squeeze it in" as a day trip or so. To me (and to SO who is more into the history) that would mean spending the day prior to visiting at least the archaeological museum (and possibly others) in Naples, and then dedicating a day to Pompeii and Herculaneum. When all is said and done, I think we're likely talking about three nights.

Granted, two weeks potentially for Rome alone is nice and more than many people get. Still, I am ambivalent about putting a side-trip to Naples et al in the middle of the two weeks, especially if the "interruption" will detract from the Rome stay. We will stay in an apartment and while it's not a big deal, I guess, if we leave in the middle (we would check out to avoid paying for an apt we are not using) we will need to clear out the fridge, be mindful of not overbuying food unless we want to toss it or carry it with us. None of this is a big deal, really, but it's just a bit disruptive and detracts from the experience, at least somewhat.
You could arrive in Rome and stay there for most of your two weeks, and then a few days before you fly home, you could check out of your apartment and get a train to Naples. Leave your bags at a hotel there, see the sites, have a great dinner, and then go out to Pompeii in the morning. Return to Rome that evening, crash at a hotel near the airport, and get up early for your return flight.

I love Diana Kleiner's Open Yale course on Roman architecture (available online for free). There are quite a few lessons dedicated to Pompeii, if you're interested. Could be nice preparation for the trip. Mary Beard's Fires of Vesuvius is a good read.
That's an interesting idea, Numa. I don't think we would be inclined to do that for this upcoming trip, but it's a strategy worth keeping in mind for the future. For this trip, I specifically booked a mid-afternoon return flight departure so as to be able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and morning in Rome. Wouldn't want to use that precious time hanging out at an airport hotel!

At this point, we are inclined to spend a couple of nights in Naples mid-trip. We would plan to take all of our stuff with us, but I figure we could always store a small bag of non-perishable foodstuff at the hotel (which lets the apartment we stay in).

Thank you for the fantastic tip about the Roman architecture online Yale course. Will certainly look into that, especially nice as it is something SO and I could do together. Will also recommend Beard's Fires of Vesuvius book to him. He enjoyed her book on the Colosseum and also read SPQR.

Edit: Wow, Diana Kleiner's website at Yale shows some amazing resources, in particular the interactive e-book.
Last edited by rjbraun on Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
Super Hans
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Super Hans »

I won't repeat a lot of the great insight that others have shared already, but I wanted to weigh in by pointing out that I thoroughly enjoyed Naples and Pompeii in January 2017 with my family. Along with my wife and toddler, we rode out the 2017 US Presidential Inauguration in Italy for about ten days. Our home base was Rome, but we took the Frecciarosa train down to Napoli for a few days. The pizza was excellent everywhere (as one would expect in pizza's birthplace), and Caffe Gambrinus was really nice for a morning cappuccino and croissant. We stayed at the Excelsior, which "Sopranos" fans may recognize from the episode "Commendatori." We didn't bring a car seat and thus never used a taxi. Wandering aimlessly at night with a stroller from the Excelsior to the Museo Archeologico and to dinner, among other adventures, we never felt unsafe and weren't victims of any crime. Similarly, despite hearing horror stories, commuter rail out to Pompeii seemed fine to me. I'd like to go back and spend more time--maybe I'll see you there if we can score cheap air tickets again!
cartman
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by cartman »

Regarding Naples, I have lost touch with a dear friend who returned to his home town of Naples a number of years ago. Any suggestions how I can locate him?

Thank you.
navyitaly
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by navyitaly »

Look friend up on Facebook or other social media?
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

Super Hans wrote: Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:00 am I won't repeat a lot of the great insight that others have shared already, but I wanted to weigh in by pointing out that I thoroughly enjoyed Naples and Pompeii in January 2017 with my family. Along with my wife and toddler, we rode out the 2017 US Presidential Inauguration in Italy for about ten days. Our home base was Rome, but we took the Frecciarosa train down to Napoli for a few days. The pizza was excellent everywhere (as one would expect in pizza's birthplace), and Caffe Gambrinus was really nice for a morning cappuccino and croissant. We stayed at the Excelsior, which "Sopranos" fans may recognize from the episode "Commendatori." We didn't bring a car seat and thus never used a taxi. Wandering aimlessly at night with a stroller from the Excelsior to the Museo Archeologico and to dinner, among other adventures, we never felt unsafe and weren't victims of any crime. Similarly, despite hearing horror stories, commuter rail out to Pompeii seemed fine to me. I'd like to go back and spend more time--maybe I'll see you there if we can score cheap air tickets again!
Thanks, good information. Have noted to visit Caffe Gambrinus.

Looks as if we were in Rome at the same time this year, SO and I also missed the inauguration (returned the day of the Women's March). We have found January, in general, a pretty nice time to visit Italy. Of course, weather can always be a wildcard, but that can be offset by fewer tourists/crowds. My initial trips were often in August. While they were also enjoyable, not nearly as much as those taken in other months (January, June/July, Oct/Nov, Dec).

Good luck scoring another cheap ticket; airfares seem pretty decent of late.
Capsu78
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Capsu78 »

Lots of good info, but let me add my preference- I wouldn't stay in Naples but rather Sorrento as a base for everything you want to do in Naples via train and as a base for the rest of the Amalfi coast. We used the Hoho bus for the coast ride which puts you up both high and scary on some of those narrow roads.
The great reason to visit is most cruise ships are down in the Carribean during that month.
I found Sorrento to be a large enough city to get a good vibe.
brajalle
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by brajalle »

Someone mentioned taking a Rick Steve's tour, but I can't believe nobody has mentioned the guidebook.

Buy. The. Guidebook.

We took a trip to Italy in 2012, and had a blast. The Rick Steve's book covered pretty much every bus stop, discount, tourist pitfall, hints, and restaurants you could want. I think the only mistake I found it in it was a bus-stop in Sorrento that had moved a block. Internet access was a bit of a pita then, it made it a ton easier to have everything in the book.

His book will go over this, but -

Naples - it's not a romantic city at all as others have stated. You'll use it to pass through on the rail stations. It does have a neat museum and the route laid out for the quick day-tour in Rick Steve's (which includes some great gellato & pizza shops) might be worth it. Do have your valuables a bit locked up. We stayed in Sorrento mostly, but spent a night in Naples before heading to Rome, which let us take this little tour. There's several nice hotels in the guidebook, but we liked the one that was right next to main train station.

Sorrento - Great town, great place to base yourself out of for the Amalfi coast. I'd highly recommend the Rick Steve's recommended plan - take the ferry down along the coast. Take the bus back. We stayed in the 7th heaven on the cliff, but most of the hotels looked great/similar.

Restaurants - The book has great suggestions there, and will help you avoid the toursty crap places (hey, the italians have bad food in tourist spots for outrageous prices too!).

Tips - We hauled our luggage around. The book really helped in knowing what to expect there, and was spot-on in what it recommended taking and how much. We had a roll-on and a backpack each basically (you don't really want to carry around more!). For example, you really do want to arrive 1st thing at Pompeii in order to stow luggage in that tiny office. Renting a car...you'd be insane. The driving on the coast and in Rome is insane. Take the trains! Practice walking. I had my laundry done in a little place from the guidebook near the Rome train station, but others in our party opted to do some of their own washing in the hotel.
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Raybo
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by Raybo »

I agree with the suggestion to base yourself in Sorrento, instead of Naples. The circumvesuiana train that runs between Naples and Sorrento will get you to Naples, Herculaneum, and Pompeii. I have walked and bicycled around Naples and I suspect that most crime problems occur in tourist areas and when dealing with taxis and the like.

Naples is not an unattractive place. It has pretty fountains

Image

a stunning old castle on the waterfront

Image

and a vibrant shopping area.

If you are looking for something a bit different than Roman ruins, I can recommend Paestum, south of the Amalfi Coast and Salerno. It was a Greek town with some impressive reconstructed temples and a museum.

Image

As a final piece of advice, that I suspect will be ignored, if you really want to experience the Amalfi Coast, ride a bike down it! It is perfectly safe and such an immersive experience that you will be left with an indelible memory of the sights, sounds, and smells of the place. Taking a bus to Positano provides some visuals, but little else. I brought my own bicycle there. But, I would bet you could rent a bike in Sorrento, get a cab to the top of the hill, ride to Positano, and then get a cab back to Sorrento. It might even be cheaper than buying a bus ticket! You can even rent an e-bike!
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by tacster »

Didn't see Oplontis mentioned in this thread. If you're going to Ercolaneo and Pompeii, it's in the same area. It was a villa belonging to Nero's wife. There's quite a bit of painting remaining on the villa walls if you're interested in getting a sense of how Roman houses were decorated.

Earlier this year I spent a few days in Naples, wandering around by myself, and riding the Circumvesuviana train between Naples and Sorrento. Nobody bothered me - not even the street vendors. I had nothing stolen. Naples does not look very good because of trash and graffiti, but it has a number of sites well worth a visit.
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rjbraun
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

Capsu78 / Raybo: What is the basis for staying in Sorrento over Naples? As the trip will be in January, for now I think traveling the Amalfi Coast will have to wait for another trip, unfortunately (we would basically have to forego or at least severely curtail the Rome segment to make it happen). In that case, does Sorrento as a base still make sense? And the rationale would be that it's more scenic, presumably less frenetic but no less convenient than Naples - is that it? SO would like to visit Paestum. Is that easier to do from Sorrento?

Raybo: I love the idea of renting a bike to ride along the Amalfi Coast! I know you said it's perfectly safe, but I really haven't ridden a bike as an adult. In fact, the last time I rode was briefly a couple of years ago when we attended a wedding in LA and rented bikes to ride along Manhattan Beach. I did not like it and felt very uncomfortable from a safety standpoint (not in terms of fitness). While I live in an urban environment, all the bike traffic made me nervous, I guess as I don't feel confident as a rider. I read your trip diary for northern Italy and think I also probably read your one for southern Italy as well, now that I think about it, so I know this may all seem very odd to you. Anyway, I will still look into your suggestion. As long as the roads have a good shoulder for bikes and I could ride at my own pace, I think that would be fine. Thanks for the idea!
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Re: Possible January trip to Naples, Italy / Amalfi Coast

Post by rjbraun »

tacster wrote: Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:21 am Didn't see Oplontis mentioned in this thread. If you're going to Ercolaneo and Pompeii, it's in the same area. It was a villa belonging to Nero's wife. There's quite a bit of painting remaining on the villa walls if you're interested in getting a sense of how Roman houses were decorated.

Earlier this year I spent a few days in Naples, wandering around by myself, and riding the Circumvesuviana train between Naples and Sorrento. Nobody bothered me - not even the street vendors. I had nothing stolen. Naples does not look very good because of trash and graffiti, but it has a number of sites well worth a visit.
Was not familiar with Oplontis, thanks. As mentioned upthread we really enjoyed visiting Nero's Palace (Domus Aurea) in Rome. Would be fun to see his wife's villa 8-)
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