Naples, Almalfi, and Sorrento in September, Advice Please!!
My wife and i are travelling to Italy in mid September and for the the first week of our trip we'll be staying in a Villa in Praiano on the Almalfi coast. I'm looking for lunch, dinner, and travel destination advice for this and the surrounding area.
I'm sure we'll be taking a day to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum and another to visit Sorrento of course. Other possibilities are Capri and the historic center of Naples; we usually like to do day trips to sight see every other day so this should give us 3 full days of outings.
It's been a few years but last time I stayed in Praiano we ate at Trattoria Da Armandino, which is down at the tiny Praiano harbour and sets up only in the evening right on the quay. The seafood pastas were outstanding, especially the mussels (cozze). The place does not focus on restauranty ambiance but what they do with the seafood far outweighs that.
Just up from Da Armandino is Il Pirata, at the time we were there the service was very good but the food was a bit pedestrian. I'd recommend it for the views and a sundowner or two before going to Da Armandino for dinner.
Getting around the Amalfi Coast can be challenging as others noted, we skipped the rental car and suffered on the local government run SITA buses. They are convenient in the respect that they run regularly and terminate in Sorrento at the train station where you can catch the TransVesuviano commuter train (stops in Herculaneum, Popmeii and Naples), but the hordes of school children on the bus can be very annoying. The buses also terminate at the Amalfi town end of the coast drive and can be convienent for getting to Amalfi and connecting to the buses that run up to Ravello.
We recently returned from the area. Two good casual lunch ordinner options for Sorrento:
Inn Buffalito. Great mozzarella salads, pastas and grilled meats. Excellent gnnochi.
Trattoria da Emilia, at Marina Grande. Right on the water. Very casual. Had some of the best mussels marinara i have ever had. Good spot and a great comfy feel, though fast paced, etc.
i've only been to Naples and then not long enough because we fell in love with it and can't wait to return. At a minimum I'd recommend the Capidomonte and Archaelogy Museums if you love art and history and dinner a Palazzo Petruccia which we thoroughly enjoyed. Pizza at La Notizia (only open for dinner alas) and a walk through Posippilli and some sfogliatelle at any of the fine pastry shops you'll pass sauntering through town. IMO, best food in Italy in Naples though Sicily holds its own nicely.
We spent four days on the Amalfi Coast last fall. We have always loved the scenery here -- particularly the Amalfi drive and the area around Positano, but we have struggled with the food, It often is dreadful and when not, terribly overpriced.
For starters, I suggest you skip Sorrento, which even in September and October is overwhelmed with tourists, many from the cruise ships that anchor there. If you want to meet people from Teaneck, you can see them in New Jersey! While we did our best to find decent food in Sorrento (three meals), we failed miserably each time. If you must, however, try Il Buco, which is okay, but stunningly expensive for what you get.
Along the south coast of the Amalfi Peninsula, there are three very good restaurants. One is at the Hotel San Pietro, near Positano. Expensive but worth it for the terrace views -- go for lunch. You also might wish to consider Locanda del Capitano in Marina del Cantone and Relais Blu in Masa Lubranese. We enjoyed the food at both of these Michelin starred restaurants -- but be prepared to pay $100 or more per person.
re: Peter Rodgers
Just a small correction if you don't mind: Both Marina del Cantone and Massa are on the Sorrentine peninsula, not on the Amalfi Coast.
In my opinion, the best eating town on the Amalfi Coast is Cetara, with at least three renowned restaurants. I've written about my meals at these place in reports here that you can find with a search.
This is the most recent; the Amalfi Coast is the last bit:
I should add that Ravello and Amalfi are unmissable (I particularly like A'Paranza in Atrani, next village over from Amalfi, via a footpath; there is also a beautiful walk down from Ravella); there are lots of discussions, if you search, on eating in Ravello, I favoring Cumpa Cosimo as a lunch stop.
Also recommend walking on the wonderful paths up in the hills - its great for the views and to stop in the villages along the way for refreshment and even lunch. The Sunflower Guide is excellent in this connection, for walks all around the Amalfi coast and the Sorrentine Peninsula, and there are also maps in the tourist offices. You certainly do not need to go to Sorrento when the AC is full of wonderful things itself - each town along the coast has lots to offer. and restaurants where you can enjoy the local sea and land specialties.
Here's one of the better trip reports on eating in the Amalfi coast. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/666370 I suggest putting individual town names into the search engine - there are quite a number of reports.
If you do the Pompeii/Herculaneum trip, Viva Lo Re is a great dining choice (Slowfood recc) in Ercolano.
Even with a car, its an awfully ambitious/tiring itinerary from Praiano, though, Id comment you can see Herculaneum in 1-1/-2 hrs, Pompeii is bigger and takes longer just to get around. both are wonderful. there have been other posts on eating in Pompeii (you will have to look at the older threads.
We love Naples, but again, its a long trip in there - check to see if there are boats running, maybe there is info on the fodors forum about the travel logistics, since I havent checked this year, and there have been boat issues in the past, especially out of season. If you do go to naples for heavens sake get away fast from the area around the station, its totally unappealing. Maybe even just take the metro to Cavour (next to the Arch. Museum, though I think the old parts of the city itself and the Capodimonte are even more interesting) Lots of good food and recommendations if you search