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Old 05-18-2007, 10:34 AM
Nick's Avatar
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Location: Connecticut
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Exclamation Need help/advice with trip to Naples

I am a new member of the forum. I'm a writer. I work in advertising, but I've also written books and magazine articles.

Everytime I spend time reading the posts I am amazed at the generosity of the members and generous spirit of the entire enterprise. I thought my first posts would be about the Pompei oven we're going to build--but that project is stalled in the planning stages because of other excavation that we must do in the yard. Plus--we have decided to celebrate our son's graduation from HS with a trip to Italy. The whole family is going--Dad, Mom, Son, and 10-year old Sis. Our trip includes a pilgrimage to as many Naples pizza sites as possible, plus some time sightseeing in Venice, Florence, and Sicily.

We would like to rent an apartment in a villa in the Amalfi Coast area for a week in July. The problem is this: Our travel agent can help us only with hotels. There are lots of villas and apartments available on the internet. We have contacted a few. The people are very helpful and the places they offer for rent seem very nice. BUT--they all want to be paid by bank transfer, in advance. None that we have contacted takes credit cards.

The problem with this is that we have absolutely no protection against fraud. We have no way of knowing whether the place we're sending money to rent even exists! And we have no recourse if we arrive there and it doesn't.

If it were just my wife and me, I'd maybe take a chance. But with our kids along, it would be really awful to arrive and find we had no place to sleep!

It would be great to get a name or a phone number or an email address of a real estate agent or a property owner that someone in the forum knows or has done business with.

Any and all advice or assistance will be deeply appreciated!

Thanks!

Nick
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  #2  
Old 05-18-2007, 01:40 PM
DrakeRemoray's Avatar
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Location: Littleton, CO
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Default Re: Need help/advice with trip to Naples

Welcome, I have a few minor pieces of advice.

One, is that the forums at Reviews of vacations, hotels, resorts, vacation and travel packages - TripAdvisor might be able to help more than the folks here...(you will find me as Drake Remoray over there too, but mainly in the Tuscany forum).

Second, I have spoken to, but not used this company and they seem highly reliable...
Amalfi Coast Villas, Positano Villas in Campania - by villavacations.com

Also, just as a note, we used american express travel to book a villa last year. I am not sure how we paid the villa rental (Thanks Dad), but we had to pay a deposit for damages upon arrival about 1000 euors CASH...we were very very nervous about that, but ran into no trouble at all... The first villa saw us and I guess we looked respectable so they only asked for 400 euors, the second place said Credit card was fine...so all our worrying was for naught.

Also, let me know if you want my trip notes from our trip (mainly Tuscany Venice and Lucca) lots of detail on restaurants...

Have fun.

Drake
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Old 05-18-2007, 11:33 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pebble Beach, CA
Posts: 4,648
Default Re: Need help/advice with trip to Naples

Welcome aboard Nick,

Your trip sounds great. I'm with Drew and recommend Trip Advisor. You have to learn how to interprete the reviewers (I guess movie reviews are the same way), and we use it all the time. We have used the threat of a bad Trip Advisor review to have a few problems sorted out over the years. We also have used Italyby.com.

Sorrento is beautiful and very nice, but it seems that its inventory of rentable houses and agritourismos is limited relative to the demand, so that finding something good and at a reasonable price is difficult.

We had a bad experience a number of years ago with a wire transfer apartment on the Sorrento Peninsula -- Sant' Agata di due Golfi. The apartment had nothing in common with the photos in the web site, and there was nothing we could do. They cheated and presumably are still getting away with it, so if you can use someone that other Americans or Brits have had a good experience with, that might be a good idea.

I think ancient Pompeii is a great place; one of the wonders of the world. Some places are so cool, and so meaningful, that they let you ignore the tourists and draw you into the experience. One time we stayed after the closing hours and you could literally image living there. Everyone was gone, and town layout, the shops and the streets, the theaters all made so much sense. It felt like you could just move in; have dinner and go home.

If you go, make sure you see the various brick ovens. My photos are here:

http://www.fornobravo.com/pompeii_ov.../ventarch.html

Enjoy your trip.
James
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Old 06-03-2007, 07:49 PM
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Smile Re: Need help/advice with trip to Naples

James and Drew,

Thanks very much for your advice. I have since tried TripAdvisor for help with our hotel arrangements in Venice and Florence and it has been extremely helpful. It took us awhile, but we have just a couple of days ago reserved (and paid for with a credit card!) a villa in Praiano. We used the rentvillas.com site, which I think is a really crackerjack outfit. My wife and I had a long, helpful, and pleasant phone call with the woman who runs it, Suzanne. Since it could be a two-hour journey via public transportation from Praiano to Naples, we are going to do a 2-day Naples Pizza Pilgrimage before we get to Praiano.

James, we are definitely going to Pompei.

Before Naples, we're spending 3 days in Venice and 3 days in Florence. I used Trip Advisor to connect with the same hotel where my wife and I spent 8 days of our honeymoon. That's where we're staying this time, too. It's just a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio.

After Praiano, we're off to Sicily for a week, then home. No Sicily arrangements yet.

Here's my "small world" story:

We live in a small town. (Pop: 3500) I was in the post office talking about our trip with our postal clerk, who happens to be a Sicilian immigrant. She told me about a local man, Bruce, who had just returned from Italy. I called him with, basically, the same question I posted. He said they had stayed in Praiano and hooked me up with the owner of the villa he and his wife had rented. The place was not available.

My wife was talking to Bruce about some of the places she had scouted on line. When she told him about one place, where the local barber lived next door, he was amazed--the place where he had stayed was next door! He knew the place she was describing! Bruce said that Praiano is a very small town and that "within an hour after your arrival, everyone in town will know you."

That's when we decided to take that place.

I am, of course, open to any and all suggestions for pizza in the Amalfi Coast towns.

Thanks again! Nick
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:26 PM
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Location: Longview, WA
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Default Re: Need help/advice with trip to Naples

Nick,
If you need info about Sicily, I might be able to help you there. I lived there for 5 years. I don't remember specific hotels, but if you want my opinion regarding good spots/town to visit, instant message me or reply and I can offer suggestions.

George
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:42 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Tampa, FL
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Default Re: Need help/advice with trip to Naples

I think Nick's trip was five months ago...he mentions July in his original post from May.
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:00 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Default Re: Need help/advice with trip to Naples

George,

Can you give us more details on Sicily? I would like to hear more. We have friends where he is from the Bay Area and she is from Sicily. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles on both sides. The father was one our our tennis group on Florence.

I would enjoy hearing about the south of Italy.
James
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