We will be travelling from Florence to Sorrento in mid May. Though my husband and I are pretty experienced travelling in the Rome/ Tuscany area, this will be our first trip that far South and we will have my niece and her eight year old daughter plus another friend with us. I am looking at two options. Train to Tibertina then a bus to Sorrento. Train to Naples then taking the local Circumvesuviana train. I've heard from some people that the train change in Naples is somewhat confusing, and the local train is not particualarly "luggage friendly" I would really appreciate any opinions.
I would go with a high speed train from Florence to Naples.
The Circumvesuviana train is at the same station but underground. It's a commuter train similar to the one you have in St. Louis (Metrolink).
Thanks Roberto. My husband and I are usually more adventuresome travellers, but the addition of "the girls" has me wanting to preengineer as much as possible. They will only be with us for the first ten days, then we'll have the remaining six weeks solo.
Maggie, make sure that you read Rick's warnings about the Circumvesuviana. Watch out for pickpocket's etc. We used it, and had no problems. PS Sorrento is fun. Try some of the great little restaurants down at the seafront/docks.
We have taken the Circumvesuviana line several times. It is not terribly confusing, but since it is a private train line you can't buy tickets in advance at one of the Trenitalia ticket machines. There are 2 endpoints for the trains leaving from Naples, only one of which is Sorrento, so you want to make sure you are getting on the right train. Easy to do, just watch the signboards. I have never seen a problem onboard although RS does give warnings about pickpockets and the like. Since it starts in the city I'd use normal precautions. In particular I like to sit in the middle of the train to avoid someone grabbing a bag as the doors are closing. But, again, I've never seen that or anything else happen. If you have a choice, sit on the right side of the train when leaving Naples for Sorrento since that gets the nice views over the ocean in a few short stretches.
We read RS warnings about the Circumvesuviana before our first trip and were scared to death but used it anyway, with our hearts in our throat. It was not scary at all. Not in the least. Just use common sense, like you would anywhere. We've been to Sorrento 3 times now, for a week each time, and have ridden the Circumvesuviana train probably 20 times. It's easy, convenient and not scary. In fact, we've met many nice people on the train and had fun conversations. One couple we met 8 yrs ago on the train (and ended up touring Herculaneum together) we're still friends with and we write and email on a regular basis. Like someone else said, you just go downstairs from the Naples station, buy a ticket at the window and get on the train. Enjoy Sorrento, it's our favorite place in Italy!
Maggie, if you're comfortable with train travel in general (figuring out confusing stations, transfers, validating tickets, etc.) then you're probably OK training all the way to Sorrento. There are several YouTube videos on the Naples > Circumvesuviana transfer - where to buy tickets, what the walk through the entire two stations looks like, etc., so it'll look familiar to you when you arrive. Watch for the 'slow count' at the ticket booth :-( It was a little confusing to us about which train to take, but then we figured it out after watching a bit. Actually, we just second-guessed ourselves a bit, becuase of the more-than-usual Southern Italian chaos LOL! As already mentioned, not everything is going to Sorrento! We also ended up taking the Circum. Train late afternoon from Naples = very busy! Yeah, the luggage situation on that packed train was interesting (!), but the scenery made up for it. Good news - Sorrento is the beginning of the line, so the entire train is blissfully empty when you get on it for the rest of your trips 8^D You may want to split up into two groups for actually riding on the Circum., since it may be waaaay too packed for all of you to count on sitting together. It may be pretty crowded until Sorrento...but at least you're not panicky about watching for your stop since it's the last stop. After the hoopla over the Circum. Train itself (definitely not an urban legend), I realized I hadn't given pickpockets, etc., a.single.thought. until after I was back home in the USA! I suppose we just watched our stuff as diligently as usual... The Florence > Naples fares are much cheaper online, starting 3 months out, if you can commit to a time!
Thanks for all of the great advice. I may be "overthinking" it because of having my 8 year old niece with us. We're going for the train to Naples and circumvesuviana to Sorrento.
Maggie, just duct tape her to someone; you'll be fine ;-) Actually, in my experience, it's the adults that are far worse than the children at getting overwhelmed, wandering off...