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Southern Italy

We are flying in and out of Rome in 4/08. We are a group of 4 adults and 5 children --5, 8, 10, 10 and 17. We would like to spend a total of two or three days in room and the rest of the time 6-7 days south or Rome. We plan on skipping Naples, but would like to go to Pompeii and Sorento as well as some towns in Apulia. Can anyone help with an itinary? I really appreciate it!

Posted by
842 posts

You should spend at least three days in Rome, and then at two or three days on Almafi coast seeing the area. Read Rick's books. He is correct that public trans is best from Rome to Almalfi coast, and for exploring the area.

Italy in April can be a wonderful! Sorrento is a great base to see Herulaneum ( a must!), Pompeii
(OK, barren and hot and dry in the summer), but you MUST stop at the Archological Museum in Naples to see all of the fantastic stuff that was found in Pompeii.

If you have 4 days left you have a couple of choices, and Naples is a great place to start your trip.

  1. Sicily!

Sicily is awesome in the spring. All of the rolling hills are coated in a lush greenery. It is also a lot farther south, close to Africa, so it is going to be warmer. You can get cheap flights from Naples to Pompeii or Catania.(Air One,etc) You can take the train to Sicily (it is a beautiful trip! but this takes longer)Yes, the train! It is loaded on a barge and taken across to Sicily

Posted by
842 posts
  1. Puglia

We just came back from there. We drove from Rome to Trani/ Bari in 4 1/2 hrs. The Autostrada from Naples was absolutely beautiful. You could spend two nites in the wonderful seaside town of Trani (great and cheap restaurants! and good lodging), and then spend 2 nites a little further south in the town of Lecce, which, for my money, is a lot like Siena.(and my wife went crazy buying wonderul Italian shoes there for only $69E.) The food in Puglia should not be missed. The people are wonderful, and there is much to see and do. (you should take the kids down into the Grotto di Castellena......they will be impressed!) When we were done with our rental car, we dropped it off at the airport in Brindisi, and caught a cheap flight back to Rome for our final flight out. You can also take the hi speed trains back to Rome.

Pick up a Lonely Planet "Italy" guidebook for Puglia, and the seperate guidebook that they have for Sicily. All of their info is "right on the money".

Posted by
10 posts

Sounds like a great trip! This seems like too many places for us to go in one trip with children. I think we should skip Sicily -- although I would love to go -- and go to Bari. We will also be skipping Naples, it is too unsafe to take a chance with children. Do you think we can base ourselves out of one villa? If so, what is most central.

With many thanks

Posted by
842 posts

When you rent a villa or apt for a few days, you will find that it is a wonderful way to relax and have a good time for everyone.

We just did this when we were in Rome, and it made for a wonderful experience.

If you think Naples is bad, then you do not want to go to Bari. Make sure that you read the LP guidebook. You can also use the guidebook to gain a better understanding of any area that you are considering as a base. Puglia is a large area, and you cannot see it from "one place". Pick one location and travel from there. Trani would make a pretty good base to the North, and it is on the ocean. We liked Lecce for a southern base.

We rented our apt from VRBO. we have used them all over the world.

Here is a great article in NY Times about the area. Also listen to the audio link.

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Steve,

Thank you for being so helpful. How's this?

2 nights in Rome
Train it to Sorrento to see the sights in that area for 3 nights -- (Or just stay in a villa somewhere in the region and rent a car to see everything even south to Puglia for 6 nights) or;
Rent a car to see the Puglia region and find somewhere more north to stay for 3 nights
Back to Rome for 1 night.

This is rather confusing. Going north of Rome was much easier!!!

Posted by
221 posts

the last I heard (three days ago) Naples is had a several months long garbage workers strike and the streets are piled with rotting garbage. You might check that out, maybe e-mail the Italian Consulate?

Posted by
842 posts

Don't try to make one place a hub, and then spend all of your time transiting, rather than sightseeing and enjoying the local experience.

If you used Rome as a hub, the 1 1/2 to 3 hr trip to Naples, then the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento or Pompeii would eat up at LEAST 4-5 hours a day. Not tooo bad if you only did this twice (Pompeii and then Almalfi coast)

Likewise, a villa or apt. in the Almalfi area, and a trip to Puglia, would take at least 5 hours out of your day.

When you have a large group, and you rent a villa or apt, it is wonderful to be within walking distance of a town, and it helps to be able to readily access a good transportation system.

Trying to see Rome, Sorrento and Puglia in 8-9 days with a large group, and limiting yourself to 2 locations can be a challenge.

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Steve,

Given the amount of time we have, I think it would be best to leave out Puglia and focus on Campagna and do day trips. We will be close enough to everything and have more than enough to see and do. We will still spend two - three days in Rome, take a train to Sorrento, pick up a car and rent a villa in the area. That sounds much more doable than what I had originally planned. We can always go back someday and do Puglia and Sicily. I just wanted to go to Bari since my grandparents are from that area. Another time!

Thanks so much.

Posted by
10 posts

We will be skipping Naples altogether. We also are not going until April, so with any luck the strike will be over!

Can anyone recommend a place for 9 of us to stay in the Sorrento area?

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks! Can you recommend any place in Rome for all of us?

Posted by
842 posts

Again, check out VRBO.

We stayed in an apt about two miles from the center of Rome. It was awesome.

Make sure in Rome that you have good access to an express bus if you stay away from the center, or that you have access to other buses/trains. Get the address of any place you consider, and match it against the bus/ Metro lines.

Public transportation/location is the key to a good apt in Rome.

I should note that after we got down to the Termini, we generally walked all over the rest of the town. when we got tired we got on a bus or Metro. Cabs are pretty cheap in Rome, compared to other big cities in the world. Remember, NO billfolds or purses in Rome.......just money belts/ neck purses/ or lockable/ slash proof back paks.

Posted by
15 posts

We're in Sorrento right now and it is just wonderful - definitely a 'must visit'. We are staying at a 'Rick Recommended' hotel - Settimo Cielo, and its lovely. We took the train from Rome to Naples (about 2 hours) then the ferry to Sorrento - not difficult at all but we were surprised that we had to buy tickets for our luggage for the boat!

Posted by
11 posts

we just got back from southern italy with 4 children 9, 13,14 18 and . Pompeii was great. Good to hire a tour guide, lots of history the kids really enjoyed it.
If possible stay in the amalfi area for a week, at least. we were in a not so touristy town called priano. Great beaches. ( one fire beach was our hang out)we rented boats and cruised to capri, go along the coastline and just stop and jump in the beautiful waters.... In Priano there is a wonderful seafood/pizza restaurant overlooking the church square and sea...after we ate the kids would go down to the square and play soccer w/ the locals while the adults would sit back w/ a bottle of vino and watch them play....
rented scooters to get around, fun for the kids.....

have a fun time

ciao ciao,
ps if you want to rent a villa we stayed in Villa fortuna (
5 adults and 4 children. fantastic view over the ocean...

Posted by
689 posts

We just returned. Our home base for 4 full days was Massa Lubrense. It is a wonderful village, just past Sorrento.

One day, we drove the entire Amalfi Drive from Massa Lubrense to Paestum. We lucked out - and had NO traffic. We were amazed. We did not stop in any of the towns as we planned to return by ferry.

Paestum is amazing. It should be a not miss even though it is quite a ways down the coast.

Another day we explored Sorrento and found the web cam. Very cool spending time in that square!

We took the ferry from Sorrento to Positano and Amalfi Town and back again. We spent 4 hours in Positano and 2 in Amalfi.

We spent one day exploring the tip of the penninsula. Another amazing experience!