Subject: Re: Advice on Italy
Ciao Mark, I have read the answers to your question and I believe I can add a bit more. I spent 5 1/2 weeks in Italy this last November and December, my 8th trip. Of course, I love Venice and staying in Padua sounds good in your situation. But since I travel mostly alone I prefer the city itself because I know it and can go out at night in familiar territory. Venice, Padua, Verona are all beautiful places to visit in that part of the country.

I spent 4 nights in Sorrento and 2 in Naples during the trip. From Sorrento or Naples you can easily go to Pompeii and Herculaneum by Circumvesuviana train. You can also find tours in Sorrento and I am sure in Naples too. I have taken trips to Capri from Sorrento and also down the Amalfi road. Again there are tours available or you can do it on your own. I really suggest you not drive the Amalfi Drive yourself. There are 1250 curves between its start near Sorrento and its end in Salerno. You want to enjoy the scenery. I hired a driver, and I have talked to other people who have done this. On a past trip I also took the local bus from Sorrento to the town of Amalfi. I believe you can also get off at Positano if you want to head down hill there. The bus stops on the road above the town. The bus may also go beyond Amalfi to Ravello, but I am not sure.

Of course, there are tours available too from Sorrento and probably Naples. However you decide to go down the Amalfi Drive, sit on the side opposite the driver on the way to Amalfi and behind the driver on the way back ( unless, of course, you do not like heights!).

I have stayed in Naples several times. I have generally stayed near the train station because I know I can walk to several of the places I want to see. I walked right through Spacanapoli (old Naples) alone, and I am obviously a tourist since I carry two cameras. I have also stayed in Sorrento and taken the train into Naples and walked to the Archeological museum. However, check for its open hours because at the time it closed at 2 pm, and I got there too late. I think it is open longer now.

Of course, there is crime in Naples but you just have to be sensible. I have not carried a purse or billfold for over 20 years ever since my billfold was taken out of my bag on a bus in Rome. I wear a clip on the inside of skirt or pants band and extra money around my neck.

One thought in comparison of Naples and Sorrento--again since I travel alone I prefer Sorrento if I am going to be there more than a day or two. Because I stay near the main square I am perfectly comfortable going out at night. The train station near Naples is not the best area. The hotel I stayed in had its own restaurant.

I was also disappointed in November because I thought that Naples was dirtier than I had found it before. This, however, was not necessarily on the narrow old streets, but on the bigger ones. If you stay in Naples for a couple of days, do walk down Via Gregorio Armeni, a two or three block street of Christmas items.

I hope you have a marvelous trip, and I hope I have helped though this got a bit long. I would go back tomorrow if I could--and Rome is my favorite city in all the world.

Enjoy your planning and your trip. Joan Rockford, IL