Positano is a fairy tale come true. The dwellings spill down the sides of hills and the brilliant flowers frame the terraces and balconies where you can see the ocean and the incredible scenery all around you. I didn't notice the time of year when you plan to visit this part of Italy, but be aware that in the summer months, that part of the country is full of its citizens on vacation as well as tourists. Crowded!!! There are so many great hotels, big and small, that share the view. As long as you have a balcony, you will be in heaven.
Yes, Capri is worth a boat ride over from the mainland (I think the boats go out of Sorrento) but staying in Positano is much, much better. Get a copy of Karen Brown's guidefor Italy which have titles about Small Inns or for Bed and Breakfast hotels. She covers the reasonably priced as well as the luxiourously priced, and she gives the websites of most of the hotels she writes about. Her recommendations are great.
Youshould take a train directly from Rome to Naples andperhaps even stop in Pompeii if you can possibly manage the time. (Your husband's right about not spending time in Naples where the same guy who offers for a fee to watch your car while you sightsee would be the same guy who steals your car if you don't hire him to protect it.) Then, depending upon your inclination, you either rent a car in Naples and drive yourselves to Sorrento and then on to Positano... or you make reservations at a Positano hotel and have them arrange to have you met by a local private car and driver at the Naples train station. There are plenty of local taxi drivers in the small Amalfi coast towns who do this.
Also, make sure that you arrange with one of these drivers for adaytrip south of Positano by private car while you're there because the small towns are absolutely beautiful. The driving is a bit of a literal cliff-hanger but I know several people who were brave enough to dothe driving themselves. It really doesn't cost that much to hire a car and driver for the day to look around the Amalfi coast and its magnificent hilltowns. Then, if no one has the chore of being the one at the wheel, everyone can be taking in the scenery. I vote for having a hired chauffeur.
Re: Sorrento or Positano for touring Amalfi area? How much time would you spend at Pompei?
My wife and I and another couple recently returned from the Amalfi area. We stayed five nights at the Hotel Eden Roc (www.edenroc.it) in Positano and three nights at the Hotel La Minerva (www.laminervacapri.com) on the island of Capri. We took a train from Rome to Naples. The Hotel Eden Roc provided a driver and a Mercedes Minivan (180 Euros) to drive us from the train station in Naples to Positano. Although we rented a car in Rome and drove in the Tuscany area for a week, I would not recommend driving in Naples nor along the Amalfi coast.The traffic is terrible, the drivers are rude, andthe roads along the Amalfi coastare narrow and winding, albeit with breathtaking views. It is said that traffic signs in Italy are only suggestions. The Hotel Eden Roc was occupiedby mostly Americans (which can be good and bad).Our Junior Suitehad a wonderful view overlooking theAmalfi Bayfromthe terrace (259 Euros per night which includes breakfast).The hotel is located alonga busy street in Positano--noise from the scooters and cars was bothersome. The Hotel La Minerva(220 Euros per night including breakfast) on Capriis reachable by hydrofoil from Positano. The hotel is away from the crowds and overlooks the sea. I would recommend staying overnight on Capri to enjoy the island when the day-trippers have left the island (the island becomes peaceful andcalmwhen the last hydrofoil leaves the island in the early evening).
Regarding Pompei, a day trip is more than enough to see the ruins unless you arean archeologist or historian interested in ruins. I would recommend an English speaking private tour guide to fully enjoy and appreciate the sights.
We stayed in Positano for part of our honeymoon at the Eden Roc hotel which was fantastic. Great views and the staff couldn't do enough for you. It was family run and quite small which we found ideal. The rooms were large and well appointed, the only slight negative was that the swimming pool was quite small and cold!
Positano is an ideal place from which to explore, I would avoid Naples at all costs - not a nice place. Sorrento, Positano, Capriand Amalfi are all magnificient.