Posts Tagged With: Trains

Traveling by Train in Italy

Public transportation can be daunting in a foreign country but train travel in Italy is easy and common once you understand the basics. There are different types of trains from high speeds to locals and the cost changes accordingly. Having a ticket doesn’t always mean you have a seat. Some tickets require validation before boarding. If they are not validated a heavy fine may be imposed.

The rules are simple and train travel in Italy is relatively easy. You can go almost anywhere by train or get close enough to your destination. Trains even go to Sicily. The train is loaded on a ferry and travels to the Island of Sicily where it is put back on tracks and your journey proceeds. There are European trains that will take you to any major city in Europe.

Sit back and watch our short VLOG video on how to use the Italian train system.

– George Febish

Categories: BLOG, Europe, Ferries, General Travel, Italian, Italian Facts, Planning a vacation, Regions of Italy, Rome, Sicily, Trains, Travel Guides, VLOG, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Beaches in Southern Campania Italy

Who doesn’t like a good beach on a hot summer day. If you have been reading our BLOG, you know that Italian beaches have clubs that give you a chase lounge or two, table and umbrella. They have great food service or you can bring your own, You can also go to nearby stores to get a pizza or panini. They serve all kinds of drinks right on the beach. A prosecco in a glass on the beach is divine!

There are many different types of beach in Southern Italy. Some with lava stone, small rocks or sand. All of these beaches are awarded the much coveted Blue Flag status.

Here are a small list of beaches to visit:

  1. Amalfi Coast – There are numerous small towns along the stretch from Positano to Salerno. Each may be on a beach or high above with stairs down. Some beaches are reachable only by boat. These beaches tend to be lava rock but the water is great. Pack a lunch and enjoy them.
  2. Capri – This island has two main beaches but they are small and heavy in boat and ferry traffic. Capri may not have the best beaches to relax on but is well worth a visit.
  3. Agropoli – has wonderful beaches and great for boating. This is a major town with an old section high up and worth exploring. The high-speed train stops here.
  4. Santa Maria Castellabate – This is a wonderful seaside town with small but nice beaches and a great promenade. There is the old mountain town of Castellabate high above and waiting to be explored.
  5. Casal Velino Marina – This is our beach town. It can get very crowded in August. The beach is wonderful sand. The waves are non-existent in the summer which makes it idea to swim and for small children. The beach clubs are wonderful. Friday is market day and an entire street is closed to an open air market.
  6. Ascea – We often go to this beach town as well. The sand has small pebbles but it is soft. There are beautiful rocks along the waterline. There are also great clubs here. Thursday is the market day and worth a visit. It is located on the road that parallels the beach. There is a train stop in this town.
  7. Sapri – Is a small town with a high-speed train stop along the sea. It is a cove with beaches and a great promenade.

Many of these towns have ferry services or small boats that can take you to other towns. You have so many choices in this part of Campania and it is home to the world-famous Mozzarella di Bufala. Have breakfast in a bar by the sea, have lunch in a restaurant or get a panini at a bar. There are so many choices of restaurants for dinner. This is paradise for both the beach goers and the explorers. Enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Ascea, Bars, Beaches, Blue Flag Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Capri, Casal Velino Marina, Castellabate, Europe, Ferries, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Panini, Pizza, Positano, Prosecco, Ristorante, Salerno, Sapri, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Plan a Trip in Italy – Part 6

So we have our itinerary and know where we are staying, Know we need transportation while in Italy. We have a few choices:

  1. Tour – This is our least favorite and we never do this. Tours tend to be big, slow moving and they choose restaurants that give them a kick-back (not ones with great Italian food). Tours have had complaints for a long time. Some are giving Free Days where you are on your own to explore. They do handle the issues of language, getting lost and easy of touring but at an expense. In our opinion a great expense.
  2. Rental Car – This is our favorite to go to small towns and hilltop cities. In large cities we park for the duration of our stay and walk or take local transportation. Car rentals are easiest at the airport. You get your car and drive out and are on an autostrada quickly. In the south where we have our home, it is critical to have a car. It is the country and you need a car to get around. Italy’s roads are easy to navigate and GPS works great. You have a choice of American car rentals like Hertz, Avis and Budget as well as European (usually cheaper) like Eurocar. The Autostrada has great Auto Grille (rest Areas) with good bathrooms, great food and gifts. Take a break from driving and enjoy.
  3. Cruises – This is an option we do not like. Cruise tours are short and not enough time to really see a city. A few hours in Rome is not enough to see it. It certainly is not enough time to sit at a bar and experience Italian life. You go to Italy not just for the sites but to experience the Italian people and customs.
  4. Ferries – In beside areas like the Amalfi coast, take a ferry to visit other local towns. This is a fast and sonic way to travel an area. Ferries are usually not expensive.
  5. Train – An in between option is to take the train. Most airports have easy access to trains that take you into the nearby city. From any of Italy’s big cities you can board high-speed trains (Trenitalia) to any other big city in Europe. Trains are fast and efficient. Remember that your ticket must be validated before boarding the train unless you have an e-Ticket that says no validation necessary. Validation is sticking your ticket into a yellow validating machine at the end of tracks and getting it time stamped. From a large city you can transfer to local trains that go to almost all local towns. You can get to your destination or a nearby town easily.

Trains Italy

However you get around Italy, enjoy the ride. Look at Italy’s vast rugged countryside. The mountains are large and very rugged. Italy was formed by very violent volcano and earthquake events. It literally rose out of the sea. What was left is a very beautiful countryside. Italy is one of the most visited countries on Earth. Go and see why! Explore Italy and be romantic.

Tomorrow we ill look at booking your airfare and pricing.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Auto Grills, Autostrada, Car Rentals, Cruises, Driving in Italy, Europe, Ferries, General Travel, Italy, Parking Garage, Romance, Small Towns, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Positano Pictorial

There is no place better to leave your heart than Positano. Positano is a small city of steps, lots of steps (about a million) and two roads:

  1. The Amalfi Coast Road – which skirts around the town, and
  2. A one way (down) road – which is the only road in town. It starts up high at the Amalfi Coast Road and winds down through the center of town and ends at the Amalfi Coast Road where it  leaves Positano.

Positano has a population of only about 4,000 people. There are no trains here so you will need a car or bus to get here. There are busses from Sorrento going East and Salerno going West. You can fly into Naples to the north-west or Salerno to the East.

The land here is steep mountains starting at the sea and continuing up. It is amazing that a city was built on these steep hills. You can take steps up and down everywhere. From the top to the beach is about a thousand steps. You can also walk the one-way road up or down. It is steep but very walkable. You will pass hotels, restaurants, great little shops and bars.

There is a local bus that is inexpensive. It starts on the one-way road in the center and goes out to the Amalfi Coast Road. It turns left and climbs up the hill to the top of Positano. It then turns left onto the beginning of the one-way road and continues back down to the center.

There are many ferries that leave from the big beach to Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi, Salerno and many really small cities in between.

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First view of Positano from Amalfi Coast Road

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The 104 steps up to our rental

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A porter carrying 100 lbs of luggage up the 104 stairs

D-Positano am

View of sea & city from our rental

D-Positano ce

The big beach

D-Positano ci

Duomo on the big beach

D-Positano ck

Looking back up the one-way road

D-Positano eg

Lovers lane – a walkway between the big & small beaches

D-Positano el

The small beach

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From our rental looking up at the Amalfi Coast Road

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Beautiful views everywhere

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Ancient tower to light a fire and warn of Pirates

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Bump on roof filled with sand to keep summers cool and winters warm

Positano is very romantic. A must stop for all our romantic readers. You can find great food, gelato and wine. The hotels and B&Bs have great views. Enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

 

 

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Bars, Beaches, Campania, Duomo, Europe, Ferries, Gelato, General Travel, Hotels, Italy, Naples, Positano, Ristorante, Romance, Salerno, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Italy – Travel the right way

Traveling to Italy is important. It is the dream of millions of people. It doesn’t have to be just a dream. It can be a reality. Save each month for a vacation to Italy. When you have enough, make reservations. See this beautiful and romantic country. Airfare is the most expensive part of the trip. Traveling off-season can drastically reduce airfares. Stay in small European hotels not big name American hotels. Make sure you have a private bath. Eat in bars or a trattoria. Never travel in August! It is hot and very crowded.

Tour groups can be expensive as well. They are run like cruises. The initial expense doesn’t seem bad but then they always have side-trips you want that can run up on the bill. They guide you to their restaurants and shops that give them a kickback. These are not always the best places for a memorable vacation. Be a smart traveller! Do your homework. Buy a guide-book or study the Internet. Here is a checklist:

  1. List the cities you ant to visit. Don’t try to do all of Europe or even all of Italy in one trip.
  2. List the top things you want to see in each city.
  3. If museums are your thing, list the top things in each museum that you want to see. Don’t try to do all of a large museum.
  4. Research Italian hotels. Look at location, price, amenities and other travelers reviews. Don’t worry if breakfast is included. Breakfast in Italy at a bar is cheap and delicious.
  5. Estimate the time you need in days in each city. Then estimate travel time between cities. You can fly, drive or take a train. Flying gives you the most time in your cities if they are a distance from each other. Trains are romantic and you can see the country side.
  6. List entrance costs and local transportation (metro) to get to each attraction. Many cities can be walked if you are in shape.
  7. Now estimate your trip. List days in each place and when you should go. Airfares are often cheaper on Tuesday through Thursday than weekends.
  8. Now you have an itinerary and an estimate on cost. Add in spending money and extras that you will find spur-of-the-moment.
  9. Now you are ready for a wonderful trip. Sit back and enjoy it.

We love taking people around Italy. We enjoy seeing the amazement in their eyes and the joy they feel. When we take a group it is always small and we don’t try to do everything in a single trip. It is important to end your vacation feeling happy and full of memories, Our rules are:

  1. Visit the main cities first. See the top ten things in each city. Experience the city as an Italian. Meet and talk with people. Most Italians speak some English as it is the national second language.
  2. Visit small mountain and sea-side towns next. Some of these are so small that the large tour busses can’t get to them.
  3. Never go to touristy restaurants or shops. Be spontaneous and see what you find during your walks.
  4. Have a general itinerary but be spontaneous and be able to change it.
  5. Experience not just the monuments but the people, food and wine.

Italy is a passionate and romantic country. Experience all of its emotions.

George & Jo Anne

 

 

Categories: Bars, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Money, Mountain Towns, Museums, Romance, Small Towns, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now What in Italy

OK we are well fed and have been exercising by walking, what do we do now? Your first visits to Italy should be to the big cities:

  1. Rome
  2. Venice
  3. Florence
  4. Naples

We also like Milan because it is such a fashion capital. If you have extra time on one of these trips head to nearby smaller towns. If you have already seen these major attractions, plan a trip to seaport and mountain town.

We visited Rome and had two extra days so we planned two trips outside of Rome. One to the north and one to the south:

  • Orvieto – A town atop of bluff. It is magnificent and can easily be walked from one end to the other. As you approach the duomo, you are shocked! Here a magnificent huge cathedral exists in a piazza. Your first view is from the small streets leading to the piazza. From Rome you take a train north to Orvieto. As you exit the train you cross the street and take a funicular up the bluff to the city. The streets and people here are wonderful. The restaurants are magnificent. If you are driving, you must park at the bottom and walk up or take the funicular. Only some resident cars are permitted up into the city.

orvieto

  • Pompeii – Take a train or drive south just past Naples to Pompeii. It lies in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii is an ancient Etruscan (then Roman) city destroyed when Vesuvius erupted violently. The city is amazing. Only the wooden roofs are gone. The stone buildings still stand. Huge wealthy homes with courtyards and inside baths. You wouldn’t mind living in these today. They had running water and sewers. The knowledge they had is mind-boggling.

We always look at where we plan to go and find small interesting towns nearby. Then we plan how far a drive it will be or if there is a good train service. Enjoy and explore Italy, it’s romantic!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, General Travel, Italy, Orvieto, Pompeii, Rome, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italian Train to Sicily

If you are in Italy and want to go to Sicily you have three choices:

  1. Airplane – The fastest but expensive.
  2. Drive – This allows you to experience the beautiful countryside. At Messina, Italy you drive onto a ferry which takes you the short distance to Sicily.
  3. Train – The train allows you to enjoy the countryside without driving. The train ends up in Messina where it is loaded onto the same ferry as #2 above. At the ferry docks in Sicily and train is removed and continues it journey in Sicily.

Sicily is an Island that almost touches Italy at Messina. It is also very close to the African coastline. Many Italian-Americans are from Sicily so this is a popular destination with American tourists. You can fly into Rome or Naples and train it to Sicily. You might want to stop along the way at the many beautiful villages you will pass through. Spend some time maybe a night and reboard the train to Sicily.

The BLOG “The Train to Sicily: Ferry From Messina to Sicily” has excellent suggestions and pictures. Enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Europe, Ferries, Italy, Naples, Rome, Sicily, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Amalfi Coast – Salerno

Salerno is a large city on the eastern end of the Amalfi Coast Highway. It is known for its history in medicine and it is the location of the Allied invasion on Mussolini in WW2. Today Salerno is a modern city with fast trains south to Sicily and north to Naples, Rome and all of Europe. The A3 Autostrada runs through it on its way to the ferry docks to Sicily. Salerno boasts a major port. During the Christmas Holidays, it has a magnificent light display done by local artists.

Salerno

 The Salerno tourists guide gives a lot of information on this beautiful city. Castello di Arechi (a hilltop castle) is worth a trip to. It is nearly 1,000 feet above sea level and dominates the city view.

Castello-Arechi

The walk up this mountain is very strenuous. You can take public transportation or drive and park at the castle. The other major attraction is the Salerno Cathedral with its beautiful bell tower designed by Ferdinando San Felice. Head to Lungomare Trieste, the city’s promenade and stroll this tree-lined street. Here is a great place to people watch and enjoy the spirit of Salerno.

Monday we will look at some smaller towns along the Amalfi Coast Highway.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Campania, Christmas Lights, Europe, Festivals, General Travel, Italy, Salerno, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Amalfi Coast

Everyone has heard of this famous piece of Italian coastline in the Provence of Campania. Many Americans and Europeans visit it each year. The mountains along this coastline are high and rugged. There are no roads that transcend them. The only way in and out is at Sorrento on the west side and Salerno on the east side. This one road is called the Amalfi Coast Highway and is very famous. It has been used in many movies including Under the Tuscan Sun. The Sorrento side is just south of Naples and Pompeii. There are autostradas from Rome south to Naples that then go north of the mountains mentioned above to Salerno. You can easily get to Sorrento or Salerno and start your Amalfi coast vacation.

The cities most visited here are:

  1. Capri – An island off the coast of Sorrento – This beautiful island is the playground of the rich and famous. It can only be gotten to be boat.
  2. Sorrento – A city on the western end of the Amalfi coast highway.
  3. Positano – A city of a million steps that is very beautiful about 1/3 of the way in from Sorrento.
  4. Amalfi – A beautiful seaport town long the Amalfi coast. The cathedral here is magnificent.
  5. Ravello – An old resort town high up in the mountains above Amalfi. The rich and famous used to go to the resorts here to escape the press.
  6. Small Towns – There are many small towns on the cliffs along the Amalfi coast highway. You can stop if you are driving or have a car service. The local buses also stop along this highway at each town.

We will BLOG about each of these towns in our next few posts. Getting to this area is not always easy but there are several ways:

  1. Rental Car – From Rome, Naples or the Naples airport – The drive is south along Autostrada A1 to Naples then the A3 then follow signs to Sorrento.
  2. Airplane to Naples – After landing in Naples you can rent a car, hire a car or take a bus.
  3. Car Service – From Rome or Naples. It is expensive but a great luxury to enjoy – These are large comfortable cars or vans that can be shared or rented privately.
  4. Bus – From Naples or Naples airport – These smaller shuttle buses run to Sorrento then along the Amalfi coast highway to Salerno. They stop at all the small towns along the way.
  5. Ferry Boats – There are two types of ferries: slow speed and fast (hydrofoils). They run from Naples to Sorrento or Capri. Then to Positano, Amalfi and Salerno. Some stop at smaller towns as well. The hydrofoils are more expensive but take about half the time.

There are no trains along the Amalfi coast. You can take fast trains from anywhere in Europe to Naples. Slower trains also run from Naples to Sorrento. After arriving in these towns, cars are not needed. Park them and forget about them until you have to leave. Ferries run like shuttle buses along the coast here. They are the easiest way of going to another town for  a day or several days. The beaches are rocky but the water is beautiful and warm. Enjoy your trip and make it a romantic one.

George & Joanne

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Autostrada, Beaches, Campania, Capri, Europe, Flights, General Travel, Mountain Towns, Naples, Parking Garage, Pompeii, Positano, Rome, Salerno | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cinque Terre Italy

OK you want a glamorous fun vacation in Italy. Where do you go? The Italian Riviera of course! Cingue Terre or five lands is a remote area of northern Italy that has 5 wonderful towns. It is located in the Italian Riviera. The seaside resorts here are magnificent. There are very few roads into this area. Some lead to a parking lot a half mile from the town. Those that exist are very small and damaged from rains in 2011.

The five towns are:

  1. Monterosso al Mare
  2. Vernazza
  3. Corniglia
  4. Manargola
  5. Riomaggiore

Lonely Planet lists many things to do there. The towns are linked by a foot path and you can walk from one to the other. This is a vacation of activity, getting back to beauty and romance. Stay at a bed and breakfast and move from one town to the next. Pack lightly so you don’t have to carry everything with you. There is a train station in each of the five towns. You can move from town to town by train as well.

The famous Portofino is only an hour away from Cinque Terre. It is a definite visit while you are in this area of Italy. This might just be one of the most romantic spots in Italy. Book early as in the summer it is impossible to find a bed anywhere in Cinque Terre.

George & Jo Anne

 

 

Categories: Beaches, Cinque Terre, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Romance, Small Towns, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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