Amalfi Coast

by Jessica on September 4, 2008

by | September 4th, 2008  

The famed Amalfi Coast has long been popular with the rich and famous, but as millions of travelers by now can verify, visiting the Amalfi Coast doesn’t require a trust fund. The pastel-colored houses that crawl up the hillsides like so many barnacles out of the sea have captured our imagination for decades. This is Italy’s version of the French Riviera, only decidedly more vertical.

The Amalfi Coast, or Costiera Amalfitana in Italian (pronounced koss|tee|EHR|ah ah|mahl|fee|TAH|nah), is located on the western coast of Italy, south of Naples in the Campania region on what’s called the Sorrentine Peninsula. The beachside villages spill into the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the towns up above on the cliffs overlook the coastline with killer views.

If you’re looking for undiscovered Italy, you won’t find it on the Amalfi Coast – not by a long shot. This region has been featured in movies, photographed countless times, and written into songs and poems. It’s more popular with the international jet-set than with rich Italians, although there are plenty of the latter around as well – especially during the summer months. You can still find bargains on the Amalfi Coast, however, if you’re willing to go in the off season or stay in a less popular town.

On this page, you’ll find an overview of information for a trip to the Amalfi Coast, including what towns make up the Amalfi Coast and what to do there.

Quick links to Amalfi Coast travel resources:


Where to Stay on the Amalfi Coast

As the Amalfi Coast is noted as a high-end destination, there’s no shortage of luxury hotels in the area. If money is no object, then you’ll have no trouble finding not only a hotel with all the amenities you could possibly ask for but also some of the most glorious views the coast has to offer.

For the rest of us, there are smaller hotels tucked into side streets and smaller towns that often can’t boast the same kind of spectacular views or service but still offer proximity to the beaches and the sea for a fraction of the price.

This is also a region where booking a vacation rental apartment is a great option. Many people who visit the Amalfi Coast do so for a week or more, since it can be more difficult to reach, and that’s plenty of time to make a vacation rental a budget-friendly choice. Not only that, if you’re traveling with your family or a group, a vacation rental on the Amalfi Coast is an even better idea.

Some links to get you started:

>> And if you’d prefer to base yourself in Sorrento, here are some cheap hotels in Sorrento and Sorrento hostels to choose from.


Which Towns Make Up the Amalfi Coast

The question of what towns are actually considered part of the Amalfi Coast is a matter of some debate. Technically speaking, the Amalfi Coast is the part of the Sorrentine Peninsula facing the Tyrrhenian Sea and stretching between Positano and Vietri sul Mare. But plenty of people get so far as Sorrento – on the other side of the peninsula – and think they’re on the Amalfi Coast.

They’re not.

Sorrento is similar in many ways to the towns of the Amalfi Coast, and it can be a good place to set up as a base for exploring both the Amalfi Coast and nearby Naples, but strictly speaking it’s not on the Amalfi Coast.

The towns of the Amalfi Coast (in alphabetical order) are listed below – the ones in italics are higher on the cliffs, so not the places to go if you want to be a short walk from the beach:

  • Agerola
  • Amalfi
  • Atrani
  • Cetara
  • Furore
  • Maiori
  • Minori
  • Praiano
  • Positano
  • Ravello
  • Scala
  • Tramonti
  • Vietri sul Mare

There are also islands off the Amalfi Coast which are considered part of the region, and make great day trips from the Amalfi Coast (or you can choose to stay on one of the islands for an even more reclusive experience). Just be aware that while Capri is an easy enough boat trip from the Amalfi Coast, Ischia and Procida are far enough away that they’re actually considered better day trips from Naples or Sorrento.


Things to Do on the Amalfi Coast

The number one item on most agendas of people who arrive on the Amalfi Coast is simple – to relax. The beaches are crowded in the summer months with bodies that don’t plan on moving unless there’s a very good reason, usually only eating or drinking. And that’s a perfectly fine way to spend a few days (or a few weeks, if you’ve got it) on the Amalfi Coast.

If you get bored, however, there are other things to do in the area.

One of the best hikes in Italy is on the Amalfi Coast – it’s called the Path of the Gods and it’s easy enough that you don’t need to bring any specialty gear (other than good walking shoes). And while you won’t see a Milan Duomo or Sistine Chapel on the Amalfi Coast, there are gorgeous churches in each town – many with notable art on display.

A quick trip to the local tourist information office in whatever town you’re visiting or staying in will provide you with a wealth of ideas for things to do and see besides the beach.

photos, top to bottom, by: gregw66, Will Clayton, Allerina & Glen MacLarty, Charlie Dave

{ 29 comments }

mentalmosaic September 4, 2008 at 2:51 am
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Nice post! Pretty amazing how much history & beauty is packed into such a small area. ~Tui

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Ben | Limoncelloquest.com September 11, 2008 at 8:45 am
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Despite my interest in limoncello it’s a place I’ve never been. I need to make a pilgrimage there one day soon. It looks fantastic!

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Danielle June 15, 2009 at 5:02 pm
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Hello Jessica,
Your blog is so helpful!! My 3 friends and I are coming to Italy in late September for 2 weeks. We are planning to stay 2-3 nights in the Amalfi area. Do you have any suggestions for villa’s or hotels? Thanks so much for your help!
Danielle

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Jessica June 16, 2009 at 6:14 am
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Hi, Danielle:

You can search for hotels in Amalfi (the city, not the entire coast) here:

http://hotels.italylogue.com/Europe-Italy-Amalfi.html

And there are other Amalfi Coast towns listed on the hotels pages here:

http://hotels.italylogue.com/

For villa/apartment rentals, here’s the selection for the Amalfi Coast:

http://vacationrentals.bootsnall.com/vacation-rentals/italy+amalfi-coast+4+290

My friend Laura of Ciao Amalfi recommends making the city of Amalfi your homebase, as it’s an actual town and not just a tourist town – in other words, no matter what time of year you’re there, there’s life! For more Amalfi Coast tips, hop on over to her blog, too:

http://ciaoamalfi.blogspot.com/

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Danielle July 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm
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Thanks for the help on the Amalfi area. I actually found a cute hotel called Hotel Margherita in Praiano. Have you heard of this hotel and do you recommend this town?

Thanks,
Danielle

PS… I’m Dawn W’s friend. She’s the one that told me about your blog that’s been EXTREMELY helpful. :-)

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Jessica July 8, 2009 at 6:52 pm
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I haven’t heard of that hotel, Danielle, but I looked at the website – and WOW, it looks nice! I’ve also not been to Praiano – I’m going to see if Laura from Ciao Amalfi can stop by & help you out.

And I’m glad Dawn sent you my way! :)

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Laura from Ciao Amalfi July 9, 2009 at 12:43 am
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Ciao Jessica! Ciao Danielle! I’m happy to stop by and help out. I am not familiar with the Hotel Margherita, but I agree with Jessica that it looks very lovely! I know a lot of people stay in Praiano and go back again and again. I just like to tell people in advance that you can’t really get to a beach without a bus ride either to Positano or to Marina di Pria (which is lovely). So if you are planning a lot of beach time on your trip, Praiano might not be the most convenient for you. Also, there isn’t a port in Praiano, which also means a bus ride to Positano or Amalfi if you want to take a boat to other cities on the Coast, Sorrento, or the islands. That being said, there are regular public bus connections through Praiano for a very affordable price. It does make a nice base on the Amalfi Coast, and the sunset views toward Positano and the tip of the Amalfi Coast are the best! Hope that helps. Please feel free to ask any other questions that may come up during your travel planning!

Ciao ciao! Laura

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Jessica July 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm
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See? I knew Laura could help.

:)

Thanks, Laura!

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Danielle July 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm
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Thanks Laura! I found your comments to be very helpful. I wonder though if staying in Praiano “would” be limiting us to visit closer beaches and Capri island as easily. We simply chose Hotel Margherita because it looked so beautiful and for the price we loved the ocean view and swimming pool. Also the owners have already been extremely helpful.

Do you recommend any 3star hotels in Amalfi or Positano that would be closer to beaches and a port? ….Well, lets start here, Positano or Amalfi? Which would you suggest should be our main hub for our 3 days.

Thanks for your help!! :-)
Danielle

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Laura from Ciao Amalfi July 13, 2009 at 11:44 pm
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Ciao Danielle! Glad to help! I think the Hotel Margherita looks really lovely, and if the owners are friendly and helpful it sounds like you would have a wonderful stay. I just wanted to give you a heads up that you would need to take a bus to get to a beach nearby, or to Positano where you can catch a boat to Capri. Praiano and Positano are very close! And the hotel staff sounds like they will be ready to help you make any connections to go where you want to go.

If you decide to look in Amalfi or Positano, I think either would make a wonderful place, too. To decide between them, I would ask … What do you want to see in your three days? Do you want to go to Ravello? You mentioned Capri. Ravello can be a nice half day, but Capri deserves an entire day. If you really want to move around a bit during your three days, I would consider Amalfi, because it is the major bus transfer point on the coast. You can hop on a bus and be in Ravello in 20 minutes, and get any number of boats to Positano and Capri from the port. It has plenty of beaches right in the city. That being said, you can certainly do all those things from Positano and Praiano as well! (You just have to transfer buses in Amalfi for Ravello, which is easy to figure out.)

I certainly don’t mean to turn you off from Praiano! It is certainly a lovely location. I just like to get as much information out there to help with your travel planning. If you are still interested in 3 star hotels in Amalfi or Positano, please do let me know!

Ciao ciao! Laura

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Lara July 24, 2009 at 2:25 pm
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What city is pictured in the article (with the orange-ish) dome/church and the ocean?

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Jessica July 27, 2009 at 3:37 pm
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I believe it’s Positano, Lara, but I’m not 100% sure on that.

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Jognjan December 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm
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Jessica: your website is really informative; thank you. We are a family of five adults looking to spend a week in Rome, Naples, and the Amalfi coast in late May 2010. We are thinking of spending three days in Rome (either at the beginning of the week or the end) and the other four days and nights divided up between Naples and the Amalfi coast. I was not thinking of spending all that much time in Naples, mostly because of the crime, until I read your “Top Ten Things to Do in Naples” article. I know my son will love the Archaeological Museum and underground Roman market, and of course, we must eat pizza! We also definitely want to see Pompei but I also want to take in some of the scenery on the coast, maybe take a few hikes, perhaps even do the day trip to Capri. Would you suggest trying to do all this based in Naples, or would it make more sense to spend two nights in Naples and another two in Sorrento or along the Amalfi coast? If the latter, where do you think is the best place to base ourselves? Also, since we are five, whatever accommodations we get need to be somewhat economical, so any suggestions there would be appreciated. (I’ve got guide books and have looked on the Internet, and after a while it gets really overwhelming!) We don’t plan to rent a car, so we’ll be dependent upon public transportation or possibly a driver. And here’s something I never see anyone ask: what is the best way to get your laundry done in Italy?

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Jessica December 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm
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Hi, Jognjan:

Thanks for your note, and I’m glad you’re finding the website helpful. Now, for your questions…

* With one week total, and three days in Rome, I’d say you could split the remaining four days between Naples and a town on the Amalfi Coast (two days each) – but you might be happier staying in one spot for such a short time and making more day-trips.

* There are organized trips to Pompeii from Naples and are run by Context Travel, my favorite tour company – they don’t run the tours every day because there isn’t always demand for them, but with a group of five you’d be enough to fill the tour. http://www.contexttravel.com/naples/tours/half-day-pompeii/PTR3491/

* There’s reason to be careful when visiting Naples, but the crime shouldn’t keep you away entirely. Did you see my article about things you should know about Naples? It addresses some of your concerns.

* I don’t do much in the way of specific hotel/accommodation recommendations, but I would say that with a group of five you might want to look into renting an apartment instead of a hotel. There are short-term rentals you can do (for a few days, even), and in addition to saving money overall on your accommodation you’d also have a kitchen in which to make a few lighter/simpler meals (which saves even more money). Cross-Pollinate is a website that has some short-term apartment rental listings for Rome, you might check there. (They don’t have Naples or the Amalfi Coast, though.) http://www.cross-pollinate.com/

* You’ll be able to get around without renting a car in that area, no problem, between the trains, buses, and boats.

* Doing laundry in Italy is the same as anywhere else – they have public laundromats, you just have to find them. They’re not always in the touristy areas, but decent guidebooks tend to mention them. But if you’re only going to be there for a week, I can’t imagine that you’d need to do laundry during your trip!

Hope that helps,
Jessica

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Kimberly July 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm
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I'm thinking of bypassing Naples but would like to see the Amalfi coast and Pompei. What would you suggest? I'm having a little trouble understanding where Sorrento Positano and Amalfi are on the Amalfi coast drive and so am uncertain how long it would take to drive to various places. Ideally I'd like to leave Rome in the morning, go to PompeiI the same day and then take the Amalfi coast drive the next day, but where would we stay over night after leaving Pompeii if we want to avoid Naples? I'm open to any suggestions you might have. Thank you.

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Frank September 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm
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Hi Kimberly,

I hope this reply finds you in time.

I just came back from a seven-day visit to the Amalfi Coast. My friends and I made Amalfi town our base, by renting a three-bedroom villa about two miles up the road from the main town square in Agerola.

The towns Sorrento, Positano, Praiano and Amalfi are lined up in that order, from east to west, and are all accessible by the same, curvy street that winds through the seaside cliffs. Driving on this street takes lots of skill, as full-size buses also use the same road, and the road is not very wide. Just to give you an idea: While riding the bus, another bus came up to us from the opposite direction, and our bus driver reached his hand out of the driver-side window and folded/collapsed the side rear-view mirror for the other bus to make more room. That was how narrow the streets were… I would say there must have been no more than three inches between the buses. All of the tourists clapped in amazement as the two bus drivers maneuvered their way past each other.

To answer your question about where to stay after Pompeii — I did notice a big campground just outside of the Pompeii ruins, though I have to say I know nothing about it. I am sure, though, that you will be able to find accommodations in Pompeii or another town near it or on the way down to Sorrento. Yes, Napoli looked very dangerous, as we spent three hours walking through town during the day… I can’t imagine how it’s like at night.

Best of luck, and have fun!

Frank

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John Lamproglou April 10, 2011 at 1:26 am
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Hello Jessica,
Was wondering if you could help?
My wife and i live in Sydney Australia we are in the age bracket of 50-60 and active. We are planning a trip to Southern Italy at the beginning of August for approx. 15 days. We would like to drive thus hiring a car.
Could you please recommend various stop overs and places of interest to help us plan our trip.
Thanking you in advance, looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Regards
John and Emmie

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Jessica April 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm
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I’m afraid I don’t do trip consultation, John, but I do have friends who do that kind of work – including one who specializes in southern Italy. She’s listed here – her name is Cherrye, just tell her I sent you!
http://www.italylogue.com/moving-to-italy/expat-resources/best-italy-expat-blogs-bloggers-in-the-travel-industry.html

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sally December 4, 2011 at 10:35 pm
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Ciao Jessica,
Your blog is very informative and interesting !! We are a group of 4 planning a trip to South Italy for 5 days and then Florence for 2 days, we have some difficulities to plan the trip and hope you could share your travel experiences with us.

To arrive Almafi Coast,which international airport is nearest ?

Should we travel alone the Almafi coast to Sorrento and then Naple. And take train from Naple to Florence ?

What other nearby cities in the South we should also travel ?
Many thanks.

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Jessica December 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm
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The Naples Airport is your best bet to get close to the Amalfi Coast:
http://www.italylogue.com/airfare-to-naples

From there, you could take a bus to the town in which you plan to base yourself on the coast:
http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/getting-around-the-amalfi-coast.html

And then you could take a bus back into Naples and get a train from there to Florence.

With only 5 days, I’m not sure you’d have time for the Amalfi Coast, Naples, and another town in the area. You could probably spend all 5 days on the Amalfi Coast, using a few of them for day trips – to the island of Capri, to Naples, or to Pompeii. It just depends on your preference.

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Boris February 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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Hi Jessica,

Great blog, thank you for all the information. I plan on spending a few days around Amalfi coast area in mid-April, and was wondering if I should try renting a car, or am I better off relying on public transportation? How easy is it to use the buses to get around?

Thank you,

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Jessica February 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm
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Since there aren’t trains on the coast, the buses are THE way to get around:
http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/getting-around-the-amalfi-coast.html

There’s nothing wrong with renting a car if you really love to drive and plan to do lots of it, but if you’d rather not bother, the buses are frequent, cheap, and easy to use.

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Susan February 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm
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How would you get from Amalfi to Pompeii? Our base is Atrani for 3 days. We are going to Positano and possibly Sorrento and spend a day in Pompeii, just need to know the best way to get there.
Thanks!
Susan

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Jessica March 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm
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From Sorrento, you can get on the Circumvesuviana train – it’s the same one that runs to Pompeii.

http://www.italylogue.com/featured-articles/visiting-pompeii-in-italy.html

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Charlotte April 9, 2012 at 3:36 am
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Hi Jessica,

Myself and my boyfriend are currently planning our honeymoon to Itay. As part of our trip we will be staying in Chianti, Tuscany with a hire car. We are then planning to head to the Amalfi coast, most likey staying in Positano or Amalfi. Would would be the best and stress free way to travel from Tuscany to Positano/Amalfi?

Thanks

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Jessica April 10, 2012 at 11:14 am
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It really depends on how comfortable you are with driving in Italy. The Amalfi Coast drive is gorgeous, but it’s also a very narrow & winding road that you have to share with big coaches. If that doesn’t stress you out, then that might be an option. But if you want to let someone else do the driving, then take the train to Naples & catch a boat to the Amalfi Coast, or from Naples you can get a train to Sorrento & then a bus along the Amalfi Coast.

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Cj May 5, 2012 at 6:37 am
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Hi jessica-we are a group traveling on a cruise that stops in naples june 14. With only one day to see the area what would you suggest? We already think we might want to omit capri this time around. I need to tell you we have one person who sometimes gets carsick, another who does not do well with heights while driving! Is there any way we can see positano, ravello without making that scAry-looking drive onthe almafi? Or is the drive not as bad as it looks? We are considering using Romeinlimo company to do the driving.

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Jessica May 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm
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There are actually some discounted shore excursions you can book now (you don’t have to go through the cruise line) that guarantee to have you back at the ship in time for departure, so that’s a really good option: http://www.italylogue.com/things-to-do/discounted-shore-excursions-from-italy-cruises.html

The drive along the coast can be really hair-raising, depending on what’s coming in the other direction. Anyone who’s afraid of heights can just sit on the other side of the car! You can get to the coast via boat from Naples, however, so that’s another option. Here’s some information about day trips from Naples: http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/day-trips-from-naples.html

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Chetna June 11, 2012 at 1:56 am
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Hi Jessica,
Thank you so much all the information. My husband and I plan on traveling to Italy from 19th Sept to 6 Oct.. we have not booked our tickets yet but have been reading a lot on this website..My sister is currently at Florence so we intend on making that our base..We plan on landing at Venice(2days), florence 7 days (explore tuscany, Cinque Terre, Siena with an overnight stay at Cinque Terre), Rome(4days), Amalfi Coast(2days) and Naples(2days). Well, my questions are :
1. Should we include Sicily ? (we cant extend our trip, so we may have to cut down elsewhere) If so, what would you recommend is the best way?
2. Should we do Rome-Naples-Amalfi or Rome-Amalfi-Naples?
3. Is Naples scary? Should we avoid it?

Thanks!

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