Hello Curtiejoe: We were inthe Amalfi region in October and had an amazing time. I highly recommend learning a few words of Italian before you go as few speak good English and most do not speak English at all.
Weused Salerno asour base for the region when visiting Naples, Pompeii, Paestum, andAmalfi coast. It is a university town - very lively and safe with lots of history and good food and wine. The prices aremore affordable than touristy Sorrento, Positano and Capri.
We also stayed at LL's Messotorre Resort onthe island of Ischia. The resort hasamazing spatreatments and gourmet meals. The island is quite large, touristy and well connected to the mainland (and Capri) by ferries and hydrofoils.
It's recommended that you use a local English speaking guide for the hairyAmalfi coast ride.Thatway you can enjoy the scenery without theworry of about what's around the next heart-stoppingcorner.We wouldn't suggest anyone drivingthis stretch of the road unless you're the local bus driver. Rick Steves' guide bookhas some good recommendations on local Amalfi guides with their own cars and limos. Price is around 150 euros per day for car and guide.
There's a little known palace north of Naples that rivals Versailles inFrance and the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia.It was built in the 1600's byKing Charles ofBourbon In our opinion, this palace isbetter than both in many ways and well worth a visit. It's known as the reggia in Caserta - a 40 minute train ride from Naples will take you there.
There's so much history, cuisineand winein the Amalfi region that our 2 weeks' stay was justnot long enough.We're certain to return soon and with a better grasp of the Italian language!
Bellissimo! Great to hear from you, an experienced traveller to Italy. I am seriously thinking of renting a car at each of the Italian, French and Spanish cities we'll be visiting. But, I've heard some horror stories about Italian drivers, especially those in Rome. What's been your experience? I love to drive and the freedom it gives you to go where you want to go. And, I've driven quite a bit in New York City over the years, and found it no problem, though a lot of folks saydrivers in the Big Apple are crazy. The other thing I would need help with is to secure transfer transportation between the cruise ports and the central cities. We've booked a Western Mediterranean cruise for May of 2008 and will be docking at the port city of Civitavecchia about 50 miles from Rome, and at Livorno about the same distance from Florence. I've surfed the Internet for bus and train schedules and rates for transfers but find very little information. There's lots on private transfers by minivans or limousines, but these tend to be quite expensive (unless you have a party of 8 to 10 people to share the vehicle). Any help/info would be appreciated. Thanks.
Your post on the Amalfi Coast of italy south of Naples is full of great information. I really appreciate the benefit of your travel experiences in that incredibly scenic region of Italy. Unfortunately, on our up-coming visit to Sorrento/Naples we've got only one day in the area, as we'll be on a Western Mediterranean cruise. It docks at Sorrento early one morning and leaves at 7 pm, so we have about 12 hours for exploring the fabulous area. Based on suggestions from family and friends who have visited Italy, we've decided to use our limited time to visit the fabled island of Capri and to spend most of the day there walking around on foot to the many wonderful sights. Towards the end of the day, we'll be walking around Sorrento's main square and crooked little streets and alleys for two to three hours before boarding our cruise ship which heads to Rome overnight. Thanks for all your suggestions, especially the intriguing one about the "Reggia in Caserta" (it sounds amazing!). I'll store this jewel of information, and all your other great ideas, for another time, when we can spend a lot more time exploring the Amalfi Coast in earnest.
I agree with you on the private driver and guide for about 150 Euro a day. We were in Naples this past March and our private driver was worth its weight in gold. We saw with him places we would have never seen on his own. One of the places he took us was the Bourbon Palace in Caserta. The palace was well worth a visit. Beside the Bourbon history there, the art galleries are exceptional, and the vaste gardens were delightful as well. You can even take a horse drawn carrage ride through the gardens to the cascades in the back.
Why on earth would you want to rent a car and drive in Rome/Italy. There are plenty of transportation modes available when your cruiseship docs in Civitavecchia and Liverno or in France and Spain. You should be able to fill up a mini-van with other passengers from your cruiseship without a problem, and all of that can be done on the spot. A car in Rome or Florence for that matter, can be a real headache, where do you park it, etc. Furthermore, traffic can be quite bad getting back to your cruiseship you could risk being stuck in traffic and missing your boat.... I would suggest you stick with public transportation, taxis or mini-vans to make sure you get back to your boat on time.
I really appreciate sage advice from travellers experienced in European travel like yourself. And, I like your suggestion about rounding up some other passengers from our cruise ship to fill up a minivan for the transfer from Civitavecchia to Rome and back. That way, as you note, we'll be guaranteed to make it back at the end of the day to board the ship on time. My only concern is that there'll likely be many hundreds of cruise passengers pouring off the ship early in the morning, all of them wanting to grab a transfer van for the ride to the Eternal City. It's likely to be quite chaotic and I'd hate to waste any precious time scurrying around on the dock trying to match up with others. As this is our first cruise of this kind in Europe, I'm not familiar with how these sorts of things work and would like all the helpful advice and ideas I can get. Thanks.
I no longer have any doubts about your predictions in late 2007 about "big" changes at LL in 2008. However, in my view the drastic halving of the VIP Gift Certificate to a mere $250 per quarter makes no sense whatsoever to me. To me it's a cheap move and a real disincentive. Instead, I would have much preferred that the number of GCs be reduced to say the top three LL Contributors in each quarter but that the amount of the GC be increased to $1,000 or more. This approach would mean overall savings for LL while providing a very substantial incentive for people on the LL Community to continue to share their travel experiences in substantial posts. Just do the math: 3 x $1,000 = $3,000 in my scheme. $250 x 15 or 20 VIPs = $3,750 or $5,000 in the new LL scheme!