How should we get around in Italy?

MY HUSBAND AND I ARE PLANNING TO TOUR SICILY IN SEPTEMBER 2015, FOLLOWED BY MAINLAND ITALY FOR THREE WEEKS. FROM PALERMO WE WANT TO VISIT THE NAPLES/POMPEII/AMALFI/SORRENTO REGION BEFORE GOING TO ROME. WHAT'S THE MOST ECONOMICAL WAY OF DOING THIS? ANY RECOMMENDATIONS OF WHERE TO STAY THAT WON'T BREAK THE BANK? L. SAVAGE, INVERELL

Grandi Navi Veloci (gnv.it) operates ferries between Palermo and Naples. Fares are not yet available for September 2015, but this year the 10-hour trip starts at $77 per person. You could also fly, and the cheapest flight I can find for the one-hour trip is $68 using the Momondo flight search engine (momondo.com). Unless you're really keen on the sea journey, this would be my choice.

You might base yourselves in Sorrento, which gives you easy access to Naples, Pompeii, the towns of the Amalfi coast and also Capri, which should definitely be on your wish list. The best way to travel around this coast is by ferry, apart from the trip to Naples, which is much quicker by train.

As for accommodation, I like the Villa Oriana Relais (villaoriana.it), about a five-minute taxi ride from central Sorrento but the price – starting from $360 a night – is steep if you're planning to spend most of your time out sightseeing. There aren't too many great hotel deals in this part of the world, and so you might turn to Airbnb (airbnb.com.au), which has several candidates, including entire apartments in Sorrento, in the $100-$150 a night range. Casa Rota at $120 a night looks like a prime choice, and it gets lots of love from guests who have stayed.

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