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Amalfi Coast 'what to do' ideas?

Amalfi Coast 'what to do' ideas?

Old Sep 12, 15, 12:53 pm
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Amalfi Coast 'what to do' ideas?

Hi All,

Heading to Amalfi coast in November for 4 nights (I'll have potentially 3 full days to get around). We'll be based out of Sorrento and the day we arrive we'll have a half day to explore and get to know Sorrento!

So essentially it lines up like so:
  • Day 1 - Sorrento (arrival and half day, arrive by 1pm at hotel)
  • Day 2 - Postiano + Amalfi + Ravello (haven't decided to hire personal tour car for this or go ourselves on buses)
  • Day 3 - ?? (Maybe day trip to Naples for a pizza + Pompeii by train) - suggestions?
  • Day 4 - ?? (no idea what to do on this day) - suggestions?

Basically we're looking for ideas on what to do Day 3 + 4, we're a family for late 20's kids. Open to any ideas, just would like to know if anyone has suggestions and/or alternatives if need be. We will not be doing any driving ourselves.

Thanks in advance!
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Old Sep 12, 15, 1:34 pm
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Loved Pompeii, we set out from Sorrento early in the AM and went up Vesuvius to get the big picture, spent the afternoon roaming through Pompeii.

We took a day trip by boat out to Capri, view from the top (take the chair lift) is amazing. Opinions on the blue grotto are going to vary - we thought it was neat, but the experience is a touch hokey and spendy at the same time.

Stayed at Magi House, staff was first rate (arranged several of our excursions) and very welcoming.
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Old Sep 13, 15, 3:32 am
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Originally Posted by LowlyDLsilver View Post
We took a day trip by boat out to Capri, view from the top (take the chair lift) is amazing. Opinions on the blue grotto are going to vary - we thought it was neat, but the experience is a touch hokey and spendy at the same time.
I think the Blue Grotto is closed in November, but the rest of Capri might be decent - however I think we'll also have to take it by day as November is rainy season and we don't want to plan Amalfi coast visit on a rainy day!
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Old Sep 13, 15, 8:11 am
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Originally Posted by jubbing View Post
Hi All,

Heading to Amalfi coast in November for 4 nights (I'll have potentially 3 full days to get around). We'll be based out of Sorrento and the day we arrive we'll have a half day to explore and get to know Sorrento!

So essentially it lines up like so:
  • Day 1 - Sorrento (arrival and half day, arrive by 1pm at hotel)
  • Day 2 - Postiano + Amalfi + Ravello (haven't decided to hire personal tour car for this or go ourselves on buses)
  • Day 3 - ?? (Maybe day trip to Naples for a pizza + Pompeii by train) - suggestions?
  • Day 4 - ?? (no idea what to do on this day) - suggestions?

Basically we're looking for ideas on what to do Day 3 + 4, we're a family for late 20's kids. Open to any ideas, just would like to know if anyone has suggestions and/or alternatives if need be. We will not be doing any driving ourselves.

Thanks in advance!
When you say you are a "family for late 20's kids," I assume that there will be 4 people, two kids in their 20's, and two parents 40-60 years old.

That being said, the Amalfi Coast is a place to relax. Sorrento is all tourist kitsch. It's OK to be based there then get out, but it's over the top in tourism. You can say that about Venice and Florence, but those cities are large enough to provide you with respite from tourism if you just stay away from central areas, like Piazza San Marco. Up in the hills there are some nice areas, but Sorrento is basically a fake gelato and limoncello place for tourists coming in on cruise ships. It's not Italy.

If you make too many side trips, you'll be exhausted. I think Naples is a little too far away, but not if you really want to do it for a pizza day, and to walk along the water. Naples is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. It's unbelievably fantastic. I'd take a few hours there over a few weeks in Sorrento.

You should go to Pompeii.

Positano + Amalfi + Ravello in one day, seems to me, to be a nightmare. Positano deserves a day, where you go there and hang out. It will be too cold to swim and lie on the beach, and it's a 50-50 chance that it will rain in November on any given day, so there will be no lounging at the beach.

Most of the boats to anywhere, including Capri, no longer function in November. The water gets too rough, and they are closed for the season. I don't know when you are going in November, early or late, but the boats don't go once the weather turns.

Ravello is very shut down in November, depending on whether it's early or late in the month. Eat before you go there, because there are not likely to be any restaurants open. They are shut down for the season. You can walk around for a few blocks, and that's it. Everything is closed. In the summer it is great, but not so much in November. It is way, way up in the mountains on top of the Amalfi Coast. It's a fun bus rid, with lots of fine sights to see of the water, provided it's not too rainy. But it's a place that exists for summer festivals, then it closes and wraps itself up into a cocoon until the next summer.

Definitely Pompeii, Positano, and also see Amalfi, and just relax. Don't worry about how many cities and sites you can fit in during a four day trip.

Riding the bus from Sorrento to Positano or Amalfi is great fun. It's a wild, wild, beautiful, but safe ride. One of the most beautiful rides in the world. I guess you can hire a car, but the bus is dirt cheap, and it won't be crowded in November. Heading south, get seats in the front and right of the bus. You'll have drop dead beautiful scenery. Since it's only a few euro's get off and on whenever you like, e.g, Positano, Amalfi.

Salerno is not my favorite place on the Amalfi Coast, and in November when the beach is not happening, it's a long bus ride, but has some things to see because it is a fairly big city. ou can visit Paestum, old Greek ruins that rival the Parthenon, and that are from the 7th century BC, about 500 years older than Pompeii. Since it's a big city and a functioning port not a cruise ship port, it won't be as shut down in November as the other Amalfi Coast towns. Most important, you'll get out of super-touristy Sorrento, and you'll be able to walk in the historic center of a real Italian city, go to Castello Arechi, and good museums.

There's not much to Sorrento except for it being a touristy cruise ship port. The drive from Sorrento to Positano and Amalfi is the famous one. Do that. And since you only have four days, just find ways to relax. In my opinion, use Sorrento as a base, and find a way to get out of there because for the most part, it exists for tourists.
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Old Sep 13, 15, 12:56 pm
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Fantastic post Perche, thanks for the advise. And it's a party of 3, but close enough.

And we won't be doing any beach stuff anyways. I guess Ravello was just for sightseeing anyhow and dinner - but I suppose since you say most places will be closed we'll rethink that. Reason we were considering doing Postiano/ravello/amalfi on one day was because if we took a private car, left at 7am, we'd hit postiano for breakfast, amalfi for the afternoon snack, and ravello for dinner (obviously changing now).

Maybe we should leave that extra day to postiano + one other town. One thing to note with Pompeii is that the family will get bored VERY easily after 2 hours. It's happened after any site in the world (human tendency I guess). So it will be 3 hours max in Pompeii (not including travelling).
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Old Sep 13, 15, 2:43 pm
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Yes, Pompeill is a lot of walking but - when in the area it is not to be missed. Have fun.
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Old Sep 17, 15, 8:35 pm
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Amalfi Coast 'what to do' ideas?

Was there again in may - I hired Marcello of See Sorrento for two days of private tours of Sorrento and Amalfi coast. Met him years ago on a cruise tour in November when my group had his colleague Marco tour Naples (cruise dock) to Amalfi Coast to Pompeii in one day.

I spent a week in Naples and visited Hercuelaum instead of Pompeii this time (have been to Pompeii three times prior) which isn't as crowded and smaller. You can buy ticket to include both locations.

Much of the Amalfi coast is views as tourists are gone for most part. I called it my photo safari but we did stop in Ravello for a quick visit to the villa gardens.

I loved that Marcello planned it all especially the great lunch sampling all the foods / bring stretchy pants as there is a lot of great food to eat

I'm still writing posts on my www.philatravelgirl.com blog from the month in Italy visiting Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, etc so lmk if any queries
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Old Sep 17, 15, 10:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Philatravelgirl View Post
Was there again in may - I hired Marcello of See Sorrento for two days of private tours of Sorrento and Amalfi coast. Met him years ago on a cruise tour in November when my group had his colleague Marco tour Naples (cruise dock) to Amalfi Coast to Pompeii in one day.

I spent a week in Naples and visited Hercuelaum instead of Pompeii this time (have been to Pompeii three times prior) which isn't as crowded and smaller. You can buy ticket to include both locations.

Much of the Amalfi coast is views as tourists are gone for most part. I called it my photo safari but we did stop in Ravello for a quick visit to the villa gardens.

I loved that Marcello planned it all especially the great lunch sampling all the foods / bring stretchy pants as there is a lot of great food to eat

I'm still writing posts on my www.philatravelgirl.com blog from the month in Italy visiting Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, etc so lmk if any queries
How much is the cost for a private tour with See Sorrento?
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Old Sep 18, 15, 4:23 pm
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Amalfi Coast 'what to do' ideas?

The cost depends on your itinerary it should be comparable to other private guide driver tours. Marcello is quick to reply if you send an email with your dates, etc. he does book up months ahead and if busy his other driver/guide Marco helps out

At Pompeii we had to hire a private guide which is additional and had the longer commute from cruise ship.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 2:12 pm
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The average person likely considers Naples to be a dump, and Sorrento to be a delightful oasis, in this part of Italy. There's certainly room enough for various opinions.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 8:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Reindeerflame View Post
The average person likely considers Naples to be a dump, and Sorrento to be a delightful oasis, in this part of Italy. There's certainly room enough for various opinions.
The "average person"? Thanks for the compliment, because I certainly completely disagree with that statement!
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Old Oct 22, 15, 9:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Reindeerflame View Post
The average person likely considers Naples to be a dump, and Sorrento to be a delightful oasis, in this part of Italy. There's certainly room enough for various opinions.
Certainly there is room for various opinions, but i wouldn't say that the average person would consider Naples to be a dump, or Sorrento to be an oasis. Certainly, Italian people don't feel that way. It depends on what you are looking for. I can guarantee, you aren't going to find many Italians who consider Sorrento to be good place to visit.

Sorrento is a small town where many large cruise ships dock. They can't dock on shore because the harbor isn't suited for it, but they get brought in on smaller boats. One can say something similar about Venice, but Venice is large enough to avoid all of that overwhelming sense of being in a tourist trap, and if you go away from San Marco, will be in authentic Italy.

You can spend 4 days in Sorrento and not even here Italian spoken. Just primarily english and german. There are some nice views of the sea, but of course, no beach. There's a small main street, it just has shop after shop after shop selling tourist kitsch, mostly made in China, factory made limoncello, fake gelato, etc., to the tourists getting off the cruise ships. The restaurant owners are not searching for the finest ingredients to serve to the tourists who are there today, gone tomorrow.

I don't want to knock anyone's vacation memories or plans, but going to Sorrento is like coming to the USA, with all of the great Americana to explore, and instead, just going to Disneyland or Universal Studios. It's a fake aspect of what it is really like in Italy. There's hardly a town in Sorrento anymore, just trinket shops and hotels. That's not Italy.

It's arguably worse than Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre was a a series of small, undiscovered towns 25-30 years ago when I first went there. I lived in Seattle and Rick Steves was just starting to do small tours out of his shop in Edmonds. Now because of his enormous talent and charisma, everyone goes there, even though they are not the best places on the Italian Riviera. You certainly won't get to relax there, you'll inch your way through. Try walking around Vernazza or Manarola in the summer. You might as well be in the USA in terms of how American the experience is, standing in a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. The buildings may be beautiful if you can bear up to seeing them packed shoulder to shoulder with people, and eating what really amounts to the equivalent of Italian fast food served in the restaurants.

They're mainly popular because of Rick Steves TV shows and books, but right down the road they're are towns that are just as nice or even better, and still undiscovered and uncrowded. Golfo Paradiso is also five towns, far easier to reach than Cinque Terre, and it is not packed with touristsas are the towns of Cinque Terre. If Rick Steves had chosen these towns such as Pieve Ligue, Camogli, and Bogliasco as his Ligurian spots, They might be swarmed with tourists and Cinque Terre would be as empty as they are today.

I admit that Sorrento has some rationale as a step-off place to see Pompeii and a few other places, but there are way better places to be, where you might even get to hear the Italian language spoken.

So I agree there is room for differences of opinion. Some people want to follow the crowd, eat what's on the menu. Others, if they're second or third generation, have parents that came from Naples and Sicily before the first WW. For 2nd to 3rd generation Italian Americans, Italy doesn't even begin until you hit Naples. Most other Italian Americans came in the 1850's, from the Genova region.

Naples is Italy's third largest city. It's not a cruise port. It has real people, real stores, real food, real museums, symphony, opera. No one who has ever walked around the Lungomare during sunset would ever call it a dump, as the view beats Sorrento's hands down.

It's not a city where you go to a restaurant and the couples around you are all American, with a few Brits, Germans, and others, and you are eating fast food or frozen food, without knowing it. The food is some of the best in Italy. Unlike Sorrento, the hotels and restaurants of Naples don't close down when the cruise ships stop coming in the Fall. The restaurants and hotels don't get boarded up, because it's a functional, regular city.

Some people like the tour bus experience, to buy souvenirs made in China, to eat the food they eat at home at Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill. Others go because they want to know Italy, taste Italian food, and interact with Italians, and experience Italy. I challenge anyone to do that in tourist central Sorrento.

As you said, a matter of opinion.

Last edited by Perche; Oct 22, 15 at 10:34 pm
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Old Oct 23, 15, 3:50 am
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Originally Posted by Perche View Post
Certainly there is room for various opinions, but i wouldn't say that the average person would consider Naples to be a dump, or Sorrento to be an oasis. Certainly, Italian people don't feel that way. It depends on what you are looking for. I can guarantee, you aren't going to find many Italians who consider Sorrento to be good place to visit.

Sorrento is a small town where many large cruise ships dock. They can't dock on shore because the harbor isn't suited for it, but they get brought in on smaller boats. One can say something similar about Venice, but Venice is large enough to avoid all of that overwhelming sense of being in a tourist trap, and if you go away from San Marco, will be in authentic Italy.

You can spend 4 days in Sorrento and not even here Italian spoken. Just primarily english and german. There are some nice views of the sea, but of course, no beach. There's a small main street, it just has shop after shop after shop selling tourist kitsch, mostly made in China, factory made limoncello, fake gelato, etc., to the tourists getting off the cruise ships. The restaurant owners are not searching for the finest ingredients to serve to the tourists who are there today, gone tomorrow.

I don't want to knock anyone's vacation memories or plans, but going to Sorrento is like coming to the USA, with all of the great Americana to explore, and instead, just going to Disneyland or Universal Studios. It's a fake aspect of what it is really like in Italy. There's hardly a town in Sorrento anymore, just trinket shops and hotels. That's not Italy.

It's arguably worse than Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre was a a series of small, undiscovered towns 25-30 years ago when I first went there. I lived in Seattle and Rick Steves was just starting to do small tours out of his shop in Edmonds. Now because of his enormous talent and charisma, everyone goes there, even though they are not the best places on the Italian Riviera. You certainly won't get to relax there, you'll inch your way through. Try walking around Vernazza or Manarola in the summer. You might as well be in the USA in terms of how American the experience is, standing in a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. The buildings may be beautiful if you can bear up to seeing them packed shoulder to shoulder with people, and eating what really amounts to the equivalent of Italian fast food served in the restaurants.

They're mainly popular because of Rick Steves TV shows and books, but right down the road they're are towns that are just as nice or even better, and still undiscovered and uncrowded. Golfo Paradiso is also five towns, far easier to reach than Cinque Terre, and it is not packed with touristsas are the towns of Cinque Terre. If Rick Steves had chosen these towns such as Pieve Ligue, Camogli, and Bogliasco as his Ligurian spots, They might be swarmed with tourists and Cinque Terre would be as empty as they are today.

I admit that Sorrento has some rationale as a step-off place to see Pompeii and a few other places, but there are way better places to be, where you might even get to hear the Italian language spoken.

So I agree there is room for differences of opinion. Some people want to follow the crowd, eat what's on the menu. Others, if they're second or third generation, have parents that came from Naples and Sicily before the first WW. For 2nd to 3rd generation Italian Americans, Italy doesn't even begin until you hit Naples. Most other Italian Americans came in the 1850's, from the Genova region.

Naples is Italy's third largest city. It's not a cruise port. It has real people, real stores, real food, real museums, symphony, opera. No one who has ever walked around the Lungomare during sunset would ever call it a dump, as the view beats Sorrento's hands down.

It's not a city where you go to a restaurant and the couples around you are all American, with a few Brits, Germans, and others, and you are eating fast food or frozen food, without knowing it. The food is some of the best in Italy. Unlike Sorrento, the hotels and restaurants of Naples don't close down when the cruise ships stop coming in the Fall. The restaurants and hotels don't get boarded up, because it's a functional, regular city.

Some people like the tour bus experience, to buy souvenirs made in China, to eat the food they eat at home at Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill. Others go because they want to know Italy, taste Italian food, and interact with Italians, and experience Italy. I challenge anyone to do that in tourist central Sorrento.

As you said, a matter of opinion.
Well put! I agree 1000% with what you wrote. ^^^
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Old Oct 23, 15, 8:01 am
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If someone is planning a trip to Italy and wants to get off the beaten path, Southern Italy is absolutely where it's at. Yeah there are some beat up tourist ports (that Perche covered), but by and large, Southern Italy is poorly marketed and sparsely visited compared the North (outside of the larger cities like Naples, Palermo, etc). The infrastructure also sucks compared to the North, so it's harder to get around - but bad marketing and ...... rail/roads mean an opportunity to visit places where you might be the only tourist.

And earmuffs on please to the Northerners, but IMHO (and I'm first generation, family came from Genova in the late 60's) the best food is in the South.
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Old Oct 23, 15, 9:02 am
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Below is a recent news article for American expats living in Italy, concerning southern regions such as Naples. None of this article is descriptive of the experience you will have staying in a tourist cruise ship port like Sorrento;

"We amalgamated the opinions of our readers, who identified a number of areas where Italy's south trumped the wealthier north, with those of people who live there, to come up with the list below.

Better beaches. Rabbit beach in Lampedusa, Sicily, is ranked Italy's best on TripAdvisor. Our readers love southern Italy's beaches...and they're not the only ones. Eight out of TripAdvisor's top 10 beaches across Italy are located in the south and a whopping six can be found on the sun-kissed islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Whether you like your beaches high and rocky or low and sandy, you're never too far from a great beach on the islands, which between them boast 2849km of (largely) unspoiled coastline. On top of that, you have the coastline that stretches from Campania to Calabria, not forgetting the crystal-clear waters of Puglia. Mind-blowing fact: Even though it is the smaller island, Sardinia's jagged coastline (1849km) is almost twice as long as Sicily's (1000km).

Tourist attractions. The Sassi Di Matera, ancient cave dwellings.In addition to its great beaches, southern Italy contains over 25 percent of all the country's Unesco heritage sites, boasting a wealth of natural, volcanic wonders as well as cultural sites revealing the rich tapestry of the area's human history.

But in spite of such great resources, tourist revenues in southern Italy were less than half of those for central and northern Italy in 2013. But things might be about to change. The richness of the area is slowly being appreciated by first-time tourists and seasoned Italophiles who want to avoid the more crowded destinations like Rome, Florence and Venice.

A recent success story for southern tourism comes from the small town of Matera, in Basilicata. The town went from being one of the poorest in Italy to the European Capital of Culture for 2019. The town has also attracted Hollywood, with scenes from the Ben Hur remake being filmed there earlier this year. Perhaps Matera's success can prove a catalyst for tourism across the south.

Food and drink. Pizza would be miserable without mozzarella. Up until the 1860s, the economy of the southern Italy largely revolved around a feudal agricultural system. Now completely modernized, the south is reaping the benefits of its not-so-distant agricultural past. The area is home to a wide array of wonderful and unique produce, and is a place where where ancient traditions are still alive and well – not least at the table.

Testament to its thriving food scene, 79 of Italy's 221 products that are protected by geographic labels of origin are produced in the south, including buffalo mozzarella, which our reader Des Hubbard referred to as "the cream of the crop."

A world without mozzarella would be a very sad place indeed, but the south is also full of less well-known wonders like Taurisi red wine, which owes its existence to the volcanic soils around Mount Vesuvius. Readers also expressed a certain fondness for the Calabrian spicy sausage, 'Nduja. Reader Jill Manno singled out Sicilian cuisine, saying she preferred it “because of its simplicity, freshness, and spartan use of salt."

Friendlier people. Two old men in Puglia share a joke with a passer-by. A lot of our readers comments suggested that people in the south of Italy were more hospitable and friendlier than northern Italians. Yuki Ling claimed that the Sicilians she knew where "much warmer and friendlier" than northern Italians, and that they "did not expect anything in return when helping you."

This is not just a commonly held perception. It is is also held to be true by Italians across the peninsular. Popular opinion states that the country's northern inhabitants are much “colder” than their southern counterparts. Regional stereotypes such as this exist in every country and there is really only subjective data backing them up. While such a widely-held belief probably has at least a grain of truth to it, we're sure there are plenty of cheerful and friendly northern Italians too...

Green energy. There are more than 6,000 turbines across southern Italy. Did you know that southern Italy is a world leader in green energy? According to a 2013 report by Svimez, 66 percent of southern power was produced using renewable technology. Thanks to its rugged topography, southern Italy accommodates more than 6,000 wind turbines.

The south's green credentials can only improve in the future too. Both geothermal energy and solar power are massively underused across southern Italy - in an area where they have the potential to provide clean and cheap energy to a large portion of the population.

The use of green energy down south is reflected in the quality if the air. Data compiled by Isprambiente shows a huge concentration of cities in the center-north that went more than 35 days in 2012 with air pollution levels above recommended quotas. Residents down south can breathe a little easier.

The passeggiata (evening stroll). A seaside passeggiata hot spot in full swing.

Our readers also suggested the passeggiata, or evening stroll, a noble Italian tradition that has all but disappeared from the northern provinces. The passeggiata is usually taken between 5pm and 7pm, with the simple objective of seeing people you know and being seen by others.

It's easy to join in the fun if you live in the south: just put on some nice clothes and then head out to one of your town's passeggiata hot spots, usually to be found along a main road in the city center or the sea front. The evening stroll is the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and is a great opportunity to spy on your ex, or even attempt to “bump into”, your latest crush. People living in the south happily reported that the tradition is still very much alive and well, providing them with the perfect opportunity to socialize and catch some light exercise before dinner.

Il riposo (the afternoon nap). The riposo is alive and well down south.

Another suggestion from our readers was the mid-afternoon nap or riposo, which is still taken after lunch, in many areas across southern Italy. In fact, one mayor in Campania was so eager to protect his snoozing citizens that he banned dogs from barking during the hours of the riposo last month.

The reasons for this differing sleep culture in southern Italy are numerous. Napping allows you to avoid the afternoon heat, stuff yourself at lunch without worrying about feeling drowsy at work and keeps you fresh for your evening passeggiata.

In many areas of southern Italy, the shops still close and shutters come down for a good couple of hours to accommodate the longstanding tradition, much to the ire of impatient shoppers who forget it's nap-time.

While the idea of getting some sleep in the middle of the day is probably enough to provoke outrage from anyone living more than 50 degrees north of the equator, it actually has a whole range of health benefits. A 2007 study showed that midday napping reduced the rate of coronary mortality by 37 percent.

Longevity
An old man heads off for a healthy passeggiata. Which brings us nicely to living longer, another thing people in Italy's much maligned southern regions do very well. Especially the women.

In southern Italy women live to an average of 80.6 years, compared to the national average of 79.8. The average life expectancy in the south of Italy is among the highest in Europe, and Sicily can even boast a village of centenarians.

Clearly, the combined effects of the south's good food, lunchtime naps, clean air, great beaches and social evening strolls can do wonders for you.
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