Please sign in to post.

Help with first trip to Italy - Rome/Sorrento

Hello, thanks in advance for any and all help. I'm in my initial stages of planning our first (myself and husband) trip to Italy in the fall of 2020. I will try to give as much detail as I can about our plans in hopes of getting great feedback.

We are planning on spending 10 nights in Italy as we have two weeks to accommodate this trip, so figure 4 for travelling and recovering before returning to work. We live in southern Indiana which makes flying more time consuming as well.

We are planning to fly into Rome and spend 5 nights there (give or take), open to suggestions on where to stay. Would prefer a location that allows us to walk to many sites, feels authentic/old world, and offers rentals beyond a hotel. Love my hubby but we sleep in separate bedrooms so that makes most hotels a no go. I've been searching for vrbo's in the "ancient city" section and have found several options.

From there, we plan to go south to Sorrento for 5 nights (give or take). My understanding is that Sorrento is the best launching point for day trips to the towns along the Amalfi Coast.

We also want to see Pompeii, wherever that best fits in.

I'm looking for advice on a few things:

Are we better off flying into Rome and out of Naples so that we don't have to back track to Rome to fly round trip?

Is the area I mentioned staying in Rome a good location? Someone said to use the Pantheon as a landmark and stay near that.

Is 5 nights too much for Rome?? I realize this is incredibly hard to answer but just looking for a general consensus. We want to see the sites, linger a bit and enjoy the culture but would rather leave wanting more vs. less. I'm assuming the first day/night will be a blurry mess from time change.

Along that line, would we wish we'd spent less time in Rome and more time in Sorrento?? Again, just general consensus.

I do plan to order guide books, etc. but want to start narrowing our choices down.

Thank you, Lynn

Posted by
241 posts

We spent eight nights in Rome two years ago and it was not too much. Five nights should be great. We rented an Airbnb just a few blocks from the Pantheon and loved the location.

We also spent four nights on the Amalfi Coast. We used Positano as our base as it’s closer to the towns we wanted to see, but many do like Sorrento. Again we rented an Airbnb on the upper road.

Flying open jaw into Rome out of Naples sounds good unless it greatly increases cost. Pompeii is an amazing site—even better if you can also get to the archaeological museum in Naples.

We stayed one night in Pompeii to get an early start. I might give an Amalfi Coast night to Pompeii, Naples, or Rome. Depends a bit on your flights what will work best and your sightseeing priorities.

Posted by
20718 posts

I will look at the rest later. I would recommend flying into Naples and home from Rome. Direct flight options out of Rome, access to airport, and timing would be much better than Naples. If you return from Naples, it will be a very early flight to catch another flight to somewhere else in Europe to get your international flight home. Flights from Rome leave for the states at a civilized hour. Start in Sorrento and end of Rome.

Five nights too much for Rome ???? Hardily just getting started. We have spent close to a month in Rome over the years and still have things we haven't seen. You need to spend some time with Steves' travel DVDs to get a feel for some of your options.

Can you live with two twin beds or do you need two bedrooms?

PS Just did a quick fare check for this mid Oct this year and it is the same price to $50 more expensive to fly open jaw Naples/Rome than it is RT to Rome. You could not take the train to Sorrento for twice the difference. So into Naples and home from Rome.

Posted by
1131 posts

On finding a place to stay-I like booking.com’s search engine a lot. We were just in UK where double beds are very common and my husband will not share one with me. You can search booking.com for single beds which often can be made into a king bed (which is what we have at home).

If you haven’t traveled abroad a lot, I would consider the advantages of staying in a hotel versus an apartment. There is a front desk where you can get questions answered, you can leave your luggage if you arrive early or leave after check out, and checking into your room is never problematic.

We have frequently rented houses and apartments in US without incident but have had a more mixed experience in Europe. It is best in my experience if there is self check in but not that common. The challenge is to actually meet up with a person for entry to the accomodation. We had a real nightmare experience in Greece.

We flew in and out of Naples when we went to Amalfi coast but we were not visiting Rome too. We connected through Frankfort which had its challenges. I would look at logistics and cost. Consider starting on Amalfi coast and ending in Rome.

Posted by
1623 posts

Agree with others that Rome should not be less than 5 days. As to where to stay, what appeals to you more, an apartment (such as an Airbnb) or a hotel/guesthouse with staff available on a more regular basis? This historic center (near Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori) is great for a first trip. One b&b guesthouse that comes highly recommended by many friends is Xenia Guest House.
As for the Amalfi Coast, we took a cooking class from Mama Agata in Ravelo. It was pricey, but a highlight of our trip.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the replies so far, much appreciated. For the life of me I can't figure out how to reply individually so here goes:

Barbara N - sounds like we have similar travelling styles. Glad to hear the Airbnb's worked out for you. For your stay in Positano, did you find it harder to get around to the places you wanted to visit? My limited understanding is that Sorrento lacks some of the charm of the coastal towns, but is the transportation hub. Definitely want to see Pompeii.

Frank, good to know 5 nights isn't too much for Rome, maybe we will shift the time a bit in the Eternal City's favor. Good point about flying into Naples and home from Rome, thank you.

BethFL - I actually use Booking.com all of the time for the states. I'll give it a look for this as well. We actually prefer 2 bedrooms and baths (married 30 years so it must be working:-) so hotels are not our first option. I am only looking at VRBO's that have excellent ratings and mention being greeted by the host and often transportation arranged as well. Appreciate the advice on starting on the Amalfi Coast and then Rome, seems to be the better idea!

Becky, thanks for the tips on neighborhoods as well as the cooking class in Ravello. A friend of mine loves visiting there as she has relatives there.

Can anyone tell me what I'm missing in order to be able to reply to individual posts??? Thanks, Lynn

Posted by
1533 posts

You are not missing anything
There is no way to reply to each individual response
Just reply as you have done

Posted by
1131 posts

I do agree that apartments would be the better choice for you if you want two bedrooms.

I actually think it is much more fool proof to NOT have to meet a host. We had seemless check in recently in Edinburgh with a code and by picking up a key at a restaurant in Athens. It is having to meet a host in person (which is done more often in Europe than states) that is more prone to problems in my experience.

Posted by
1567 posts

Sorrento v the Amalfi Coast
The alternative to seeing Pompeii from Sorrento is to see Pompeii en route, which you can do with a private driver holding your luggage or using public transport and storing bags. It's could be considered a pain, which I imagine is why a lot of people choose Sorrento, but I think it would be well worth it to be able to explore the Amalfi coast over several days without doing several long day trips all the way from Sorrento. There is no wrong way, just the way you prefer to do it!

Posted by
11701 posts

I would recommend flying into Naples and home from Rome. Direct flight
options out of Rome, access to airport, and timing would be much
better than Naples. If you return from Naples, it will be a very early
flight to catch another flight to somewhere else in Europe to get your
international flight home. Flights from Rome leave for the states at a
civilized hour. Start in Sorrento and end of Rome.

Lynn, I'll echo Frank's advice from firsthand experience! We flew out of Naples after a stay in Sorrento and yes, had to use an o-dark-thirty transfer service as public transport wasn't running yet. In hindsight, we should have spent the night in Naples or ended, versus started, the trip in Rome.

Is 5 nights too much for Rome??

No, five nights/4.5 days are definitely not too much for Rome, especially if going during high season...and fall is still high season in the Eternal City. We've had more days than that and our to-do list is still very long!

would we wish we'd spent less time in Rome and more time in Sorrento??

Again, from firsthand experience, I'll say no but that's also from personal preference/interests. I'm sort of a museum/art/history/architecture dork (OMG, Italian churches!!!!) so Rome is a good fit for my particular dorkiness. We enjoyed the AC/Sorrentine region though, and Pompeii is a must-do. Yes, that one is very easily visited from Sorrento (been there/done that).

Posted by
211 posts

We have been to Rome and Sorrento the last 2 years and going back in Oct 2019. You have a great itinerary. Consider the Monti District of Rome. Close to main train station, Termini, a quaint area of town with great restaurants and sights you want to see - Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, etc., We are staying at an apt in Monti that looks fantastic ans has great reviews - https://www.homeaway.com/traveler/th/inbox/conversation/a8be5348-c4a9-4135-9ba1-eec7aa8f6a10/details?utm_campaign=HAUS_TRV_OLB_HASC_bookingConfirmation_PPS&utm_medium=email&utm_source=SYS&utm_term=20190216&utm_content=manage_your_trip&haExternalSourceId=eb0c1e4a-9486-4de7-b4fc-897b9a1f6984%2Bca5d7e06-c721-434f-9f17-67d210e45634-hasc.

In Sorrento consider Marina Piccola 73. On waters edge, a boutique small hotel, very positive reviews and reasonable rates - https://marinapiccola73.com/index.php?lang=en.
PM me if you want more details.

Posted by
9 posts

Beth, I personally tend to agree with you - having to meet with a host or agent is a hassle, but I do see why it's prevalent in Europe in terms of the logistics of explaining how things may work differently in the rental. I would not hesitate to book a highly rated place that didn't have a host to meet, but I do see from the reviews that most seem to do that.

Valedelphia, I am very much an "unpack once" type of traveler which is why we do A LOT of cruising. But for Europe we want to be land based and experience the culture for more than a few hours at a time, so we definitely will want a home base. It's probably going to be Sorrento based on my research so far.

Kathy, thanks for all of the tips and info, it's very helpful, and everything you say rings true to me.

Leinartjwl, thanks so much for the tips on the Monti district - I will check it out. Unfortunately I couldn't open the link you shared in Rome. Perhaps you could post the property number if that's allowed? I was able to open the one in Sorrento, looks lovely.

Thanks everyone!! Lynn

Posted by
241 posts

We have had all good experiences with personal check in on Airbnb with super hosts and with VRBO but I carefully check for reviews that indicate hosts are good communicators and check in was convenient. In fact , our hosts were more helpful than most hotel staff we have encountered.

On Amalfi Coast we had a car because friends wanted it but they soon saw ferries were the way to go. In early May ferries were no problem. Our friends left before us and we took the public bus back to Sorrento with no problems.

Posted by
9 posts

Barbara - I agree with you, we’ve not had a bad experience with any of our VRBO rentals, and I also scour reviews. On the topic of ferries in Sorrento, curious if you (or anyone) knows off the top of their heads if they are still running a full schedule through October? We know we want to go in September/October but haven’t settled in specific dates yet. That might influence us. Thanks, Lynn

Posted by
1568 posts

Hi Lynn,

There are a couple of ways you can reply to posters -

Addressing them by name in replies
Or,
Click on the "quotes" symbol above, > will show up (looks like a greater than symbol)
'blockquote' will be highlighted in blue next to it
Paste your text within the Blockquote

Example.

Can anyone tell me what I'm missing in order to be able to reply to individual posts??? Thanks, Lynn

Posted by
200 posts

We booked Albergo del Senato in Rome and loved it. The rooms overlook the Pantheon. The location is amazing. I would definitely stay there again, I requested a room with a balcony and got the only room with a balcony which faces the Pantheon. It was amazing

https://www.albergodelsenato.it/

We did 3 days in Rome. The day we landed we booked Colosseum at 4pm, had dinner that night the following day we had a 7:30 am tour of the Vatican. In terms of Jet Lag the 7:30 am was rough the next day but we powered through and did just fine. After the Vatican we took a taxi to the Spanish Steps and walked past Trevi Fountain and back to Pantheon and our hotel. The following day we took a train to Naples and then on to Positano.

On our last day back to Rome from Positano we stayed up by the Borghese Gardens and walked around Trastevere and had dinner there before flying back the next day.

If I had more time I would do Colosseum 1 day, Vatican day 2 and Spanish Steps/Trevi Fountain/anything else day 3.

We did 2.5 days in Rome and 5 days in Positano. Where we did Amalfi and Capri day trips. I felt it was plenty of time but wish we had 1 more full day in Rome. I absolutely LOVED Positano and am glad we picked there to stay.

Posted by
20718 posts

....There is no way to reply to each individual response...... You can by clicking on the poster's name and sending a private message. There is no way to respond publicly other than to post something like "@John" or simply name them in your response.

Posted by
1533 posts

True Frank
But if everyone just private messaged each other this forum would cease to be helpful to all

Posted by
1568 posts

....There is no way to reply to each individual response...... You can by clicking on the poster's name and sending a private message.

Frank, I tried to give the OP an example of how to highlight what she wants and then reply under it to the poster.

Posted by
9 posts

Girasole, thanks for the tip, I guess it works in a way as I was able to cut and paste your reply to me (below) but it's not quite the same as a direct reply to a poster. Oh well. Thanks!!

Click on the "quotes" symbol above, > will show up (looks like a greater than symbol)
'blockquote' will be highlighted in blue next to it
Paste your text within the Blockquote

Posted by
9 posts

Owned by 3 - thanks for the info. I'll check out the link to the place you stayed. I did modify my original post to say "2 bedrooms" vs. 2 beds. Hubby snores like a bear, way beyond what ear plugs and a white noise machine can block out....travelling too far and too $$$ to be sleep deprived!! A few people have mentioned staying in Positano, I would like to know more about how that worked in terms of getting around as Sorrento seems like the "hub" for all things related to transportation. Thanks, Lynn

Posted by
20718 posts

You are correct in that Sorrento because of location is more of a hub for getting to sites in and around the Bay of Naples. Sorrento gives you access to bus, train, and boats. Positano is more towards the middle with no train service, some bus and, of course, ferries. It would be more difficult to do day trips from Positano. Now the place that our son and dil really like is Minori. They are there every year and sometimes twice.

Posted by
9 posts

Frank, sounds like Positano and Minori are places I should at least look at. Any idea if the ferries are up and running a full schedule into September/October? I would think so. Thanks, Lynn

Posted by
1567 posts

These are the ferries for getting between AC towns:
https://www.travelmar.it/en/
If you stay on the AC, you probably want to stay in a town with ferry access so you have a second option besides the bus.
(I would look at the Sorrento ferries for comparison, sorry don't know that carrier.)
I guess another point in Sorrento's favor is that it may be less expensive than Positano for a two bedroom (hubby is beginning to snore, so I totally get it!).
While it is too time consuming to visit Pompeii as a day trip from the Amalfi-Positano end of the peninsula, if you did stay in Minori or one of the other mainland-end villages, it is actually doable. We stayed in Cetara and took a train from Vietri to Pompeii. This is the Trenitalia line as opposed to the Circumvesuviana that departs from Sorrento. There is a 15 minute or so walk from that station to the Pompeii site. We wanted one base but wanted to be in small village, so this worked well for us.

Posted by
21 posts

Besides Pompei there's Hurculaneum... take the train and it's a city within a huge hole in the ground near the sea ..smaller and better preserved too .. go to "Aerial Hurculaneum" on YouTube .. we research and see many things before we go anywhere ... not all lodging is on one sight ... booking.com... airbnb.com... tripadvisor,,..trivago is an aggregator which searches multiple sites like momondo airfare also skyscanner .. or call ASAP which we use occasionally for flights ... we like to be in Rome or Sorrento or any city on Fridays and Saturdays when ppl are out as it's their "Front Porch" .. we also search for eateries and keep records,directions ...

Posted by
14014 posts

I'm going to throw you a curve. Consider staying in Salerno instead of Sorrento. Yes, Sorrento has more charm, but the logistics make it awkward. Salerno is on the Amalfi Coast and has a medieval historic center while Sorrento doesn't, since it was established centuries later. Salerno is connected to Naples/Rome by fast train. There are ferries and buses to all the AC towns and the most scenic part of the AC is between Salerno and Positano, unlike the bus from Sorrento which travels inland and gets to the AC slightly west of Positano. Salerno is mostly level, so it's easy to get to/from the ferries, buses and the train. In Sorrento you have about a 10-minute somewhat uphill walk to the Circumvesuviana (a metro, not a "real" train) and buses, and quite a steep drop to the shore for the ferry. You can visit Pompeii from Salerno by train and then a short taxi ride to the entrance. You can also visit Paestum with its ancient Greek temples and excellent archaeology museum (bus or train). Salerno has a large sandy beach, a lovely seaside promenade, excellent restaurants, and both meals and rooms are cheaper than Sorrento or the AC villages.

The later you go, the fewer the crowds will be on the AC. I'd probably choose mid-October. I like the idea of flying into Naples and out of Rome.

Posted by
21 posts

We took the our family in May (they've never been) we flew into Naples and had reserved seats on the bus to Sorrento as it beats that old train ride and Sorrento is the end of the line... plus it's only like 20 miles ... 4 days later we had reserved the bus seats straight to Rome .. nice buses .. nice ride and grandkids saw the scenic country sides ... Rome had the Peter & Paul festival (we plan trips around festivals).. 4 days later we had reserved seats on the fast train to Florence to save time .. and flew home from there .... the heat wave in Europe was bearable as we went out mostly in the mornings and nIghts ... normally we go in the shoulder seasons but the grandkids were in school then ... nowadays we look for festivals and go then .. trips of a lifetime ... example ---> Gubbio Candle festival .. 15 May ... wine fest on Lake Garda twice a year 2 day in the spring ... huge must go 5 day in the fall.. biggest lake in Italy ... YouTube---> Bardolino Wine Festival ... a must see ... Palio in Sienna twice a year ... Easter events all over .... Sicily is budget friendly ... nowadays we do 3 weeks .. if you can etc. ... 1 week on land ... grab a cruise out of Venice.. return and head north, west,east, south or fly to Sicily round trip for $100 ... stay in venice?... train bus to Croatia? Slovenia? ... it's sad when some can only afford 1 trip in their lifetime and they get bad weather or only take a week and the biggest expense is the airfare.. but staying another week cost only lodging,food and maybe transportation ..

Posted by
11701 posts

usedpartnc, really glad you had a good time but our OP is not traveling in May, has a fixed amount of nights, and is planning on Sorrento/Amalfi Coast plus Rome and not the other locations that you mention: Sienna, Florence, Lake Garda, Venice, Sicily, Croatia or Slovenia.

It helps to stay on topic lest our early posters - who can be mighty confused to begin with! - become even MORE confused with too many options that don't apply. :O)

Posted by
21 posts

Ooops ... sorry I gave those suggestion,idea's for people taking future trips hoping to enhance their experience.... I'll refrain in the future................... {°¿°}

Posted by
11701 posts

sorry I gave those suggestion,idea's for people taking future trips
hoping to enhance their experience.... I'll refrain in the future....

Naw, don't do that! You'll have helpful advice for the folks who DO have more time and/or more of the locations you list on their itinerary! :O)