Sunday, July 13, 2008
GETTING THERE: Naples is about 140 miles southeast of Rome, an easy 2 1/2 -hour drive or 1 1/2 hours by train (about $74 for first-class standard fare; reserve in English at http://www.trenitalia.com). Late-summer fares between Washington and Rome start at about $1,600 round trip. Or you can fly from Washington to Naples, also starting at about $1,600.
GETTING AROUND: A car is useful in Campania but is more hindrance than help in Naples, where parking can cost nearly $50 a day. Campania also has a good public transit system. In fair weather, travel the Sorrento and Amalfi coasts by Metro del Mare ( http://www.metrodelmare.com), the region's water taxi network.
WHERE TO STAY: In Naples, Hotel Palazzo Alabardieri (38 Via Alabardieri, 011-39-081-4152-78, http://www.hotelpalazzoalabardieri.com) has comfortable, classic rooms and excellent service in the heart of a shopping district. Doubles from about $220 a night, with breakfast.
On the Sorrento coast, book a sea-view room in the recently renovated Hotel Torre Barbara (77 Corso Caulino, Vico Equense, 011-39-081-8029-209, http://www.torrebarbara.it), which dates to the 19th century. Doubles, with breakfast, run $125 to $300 based on room type, view and season. The hotel is a short drive from town, but it offers free car service to Vico and Sorrento. Note that rooms with sea views get noise from the road below.
For a great bed-and-breakfast above the Amalfi Coast, reserve a room at the family-run Punta Civita (4 Via Civita, 011-39-089-8723-26, http://www.puntacivita.it). Doubles from $140.
WHERE TO EAT:
For pizza, don't miss Antica Pizzeria Da Michele (1-3 Via Cesare Sersale), where a medium-size pizza costs $7. In old Naples, try the similarly priced pies at Pizzeria di Matteo (93-94 Via Tribunali), which welcomed President Bill Clinton when he stopped in 15 years ago. Try rum-soaked baba, warm sfogliatella (ricotta-filled puff pastry) or gelato at Scaturchio (19 Piazza San Domenico Maggiore), one of the city's most venerable pastry shops and cafes.
In Vico Equense, all roads lead to the famous restaurant-pizzeria Da Gigino, Pizza al Metro (15 Via Nicotera); a meal of pizza and antipasto runs about $25 per person. Grab a mid-afternoon ice cream or dessert at Gelateria Latteria Gabriele (5 Corso Umberto I).
In Vico's Marina di Seiano, the popular O' Saracino (14 Via Torretta) serves big helpings of fresh seafood and pasta for about $30 per person. Just across the street, Vittoria Aiello and Gennaro Esposito run the Michelin-starred Torre del Saracino (9 Via Torretta). Prix-fixe menus from $118.
To sample local flavors, follow the main coastal road south of Vico to La Tradizione (969 Via R. Bosco, Seino). Buy a bottle of wine and let owners Annamaria Cuomo and Salvatore Di Gennaro prepare a selection of cured meats, cheeses and seasonal antipasto, which you can eat at the store's tasting table. Up to $16 each, depending on selections.
Positano's small seaside doesn't lack for seafood restaurants. La Cambusa (5 Piazza A. Vespucci) is a reliable family-run eatery with a second-story terrace overlooking the sea. An appetizer and main dish run $36 to $86. For memorable seafood dishes, grab a table at Acquapazza (38 Corso Garibaldi), in the fishing port of Cetera. A meal costs about $62.