|Subject: Re: Naples or Sorrento|
We were in the Naples/Sorrento/Amalfi area the past two years and stayed in
Naples. I wound up with a bit of a love/hate relationship. Because
unemployment is so high, people look for any way they can to make ends meet.
Although this includes petty thievery, for which Naples has perhaps too
strong a regulation, we were not bothered in that respect. The problem was
being recognized as a tourist at the train station and having dozens of
people, who were hogging the luggage carts, offer their help (at a price).
Still, I found Naples far more vibrant than Sorrento. With no disrespect to
the beauty of Sorrento or the many nearby attractions, I would still rather
stay in Naples, especially at the wonderful Hotel Paradiso with its
magnificent view of the harbor (high enough up to miss most of the nasties
floating therein, another part of the love/hate you have about Naples). Of
course, I would use it as a base for the various attractions in the area and
not spend all of my time in the city itself.
I understand Erina has a half day away from her guided tour. Let me suggest some options (which may be of value to others even if some of these duplicate the tour she is on). I understand she is taking a separate tour of Pompeii, which is why I do not list this as a separate option.
1. Take the regional bus to Amalfi from Sorrento, stopping in Positano. I like Positano better than Amalfi because the latter seemed more touristy, but this is one beautiful ride that you can take for next to nothing (being perhaps a bit of a coward, I do not suggest driving yourself, there, or any part of the Naples area).
2. Take a hydrofoil from Sorrento to Naples in the Mergillina area (there is another stop for the boats that might also be of interest, but this is a nice area). There is a funiculare (cable car) you can take to get a view of Naples that is spectacular, especially if you are a camera buff. Go back down and take a bus to the Piazza that has the San Carlo opera house and the Galleria (I am blocking on the complete name of the piazza--which is Trente e ? or the reverse and well marked on the bus, but you should have no trouble finding where it is). This piazza also has a wonderful bar, Grampinus where you can people watch, weather permitting or have dessert. It is on a street called Chiaia, and about 50-100 yards down the street is a superb and relatively inexpensive restaurant, Brandi's, which claims to have invented the Marguerita pizza. If by any chance you go there, say hello for us to our favorite waiter there, Mario Scorso.
3. You can also take hydrofoils from Sorrento to Capri, as I think others have noted, and Ischia. Capri is fun for a half day. Ischia is good but second, IMHO, to Capri if you can only see one.
4. Yet another possibility is to take the Circumvesuviana train to downtown Naples. Get off at the next-to-last stop, which is the central train station. The last stop is the Circumvesuviana station which is a bit out of the way. It is also seedy walking from the latter to the central station at night (which we had to do when we goofed on our first trip). There are ample taxis and buses at the main station but not at the Circumvesuviana. If I were going in either direction between Naples and Sorrento, I would take the hydrofoil, but you can take a bus from the central station to the piazza whose complete name I am blocking on). The bus is also marked with that name.
A couple of months ago, Marco De Angeli [deangeli ] posted an excellent list of places to go in Naples, which overlaps my suggestions. I think he is in New Zealand right now, but he is a superb source of information. Also, be sure to check the train and hydrofoil schedules--we almost missed the last one from Sorrento to Naples once.
Ira H. Bernstein, Ph. D. Professor of Psychology UT-Arlington