If you are in Italy and want to go to Sicily you have three choices:
- Airplane – The fastest but expensive.
- 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.
- 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: Ferries, Italian, Italian cuisine, Italian people, Italy, Messina, Naples, No Tour Touring, Rome, Sicily, Tourism, Trains, Travel and Tourism
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.
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.
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: amalficoast, Campania, Food, Italian people, Italy, Naples, No Tour Touring, Salerno, Tourism, Trains, Travel and Tourism
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:
- 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.
- Sorrento – A city on the western end of the Amalfi coast highway.
- Positano – A city of a million steps that is very beautiful about 1/3 of the way in from Sorrento.
- Amalfi – A beautiful seaport town long the Amalfi coast. The cathedral here is magnificent.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Airplane to Naples – After landing in Naples you can rent a car, hire a car or take a bus.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: Amalfi, amalficoast, Campania, Capri, Italy, Naples, No Tour Touring, Positano, Romance, Rome, Sorrento, Tourism, Trains, Travel, Travel and Tourism
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:
- Monterosso al Mare
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: Italian, Italian people, Italy, No Tour Touring, Romance, Tourism, Trains, Travel, Travel and Tourism
Italy has a great train system. Major cities and points outside Italy are connected by high-speed efficient trains. Most small towns and areas are connected by a local train. Local trains can be crowded and slow. They also make a lot of stops but they will get you to your destination. Traveling south from Naples to Sicily is an adventure worth the experience. The train travels south through Campagna along the beaches. You have a great view of the water most of the way. Remember that Sicily is an Island and you are on a train. How will you make the trek? The train actually drives onto a boat (long barge). The trip across to Sicily is only about half an hour. You can remain on the train or get off and take in the views. Once docked at Sicily, the train drives off the boat and continues its journey in Sicily.
You can go almost anywhere in Europe by train. If it takes an overnight trip, get a sleeper car. It is a comfortable and scenic way to travel in Europe. in the morning someone will be near your door with a cup of espresso.
George & Jo Anne
Categories: Campania, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Naples, Sicily, Trains
Tags: Naples, No Tour Touring, Romance, Sicily, Tourism, Trains, Travel, Travel and Tourism
OK you did your homework and picked your perfect European countries to visit. You have a list of cities to visit and the major things to see in each city. Now what? How should you get around Europe? You have three choices:
- Tour – which I would never do
- Trains – European trains are fast, on schedule and comfortable. They are also very easy to use.
- Rental Car – Cars are the most convent for small cities. They should not be used for large cities.
Trains – European trains between major cities are fast and travel faster than cars do. In France they travel much faster than cars do. You can buy tickets in America on-line but you pay a premium plus an increased exchange rate. In Europe there are machines that can be put into English and are easy to use. You enter where you are going, choose one way or round trip and pick your train (time). They take credit cards and your tickets are printed at the machine. You can also go to a window and speak to someone. They normally speak some English. There are usually lines at the windows. However you buy your tickets don’t forget to have them validated at machines by your track. Validation says you are using this ticket. It is an honor system and the conductor may never get to you to check your tickets. If you are checked onboard and do not have a validation stamp, the fine is very high. Online tickets may have “No Validation Needed” stamped on them. These are good for only the train listed so validation is not necessary. From big cities to small cities there are trains but they are local trains. They are slower and usually stop at each city along the way. Europe’s train system is extensive and can get you to or very near your destination town.
Rental Cars – Rental cars are convent at most airports. You can usually pickup your car in a parking garage or lot attached to the terminals. There are many companies including the American rental companies and the European companies. We usually don’t use the American companies because they are more costly for the same car. We like Eurocar. I also pay to take the insurance. It is easier to deal with an accident if you have insurance from the rental company. If you are using a rental car you really should have a GPS unit. You can rent these with the car for an additional fee. You can also use the one on your smart phone. We bought the Tom-Tom app for our iPhones. We have one for the USA and one for Western Europe. They each cost around $50 but we have had them on two different phones for 4 years now. The app can show traffic (for an annual fee). They also know where speed cameras and gas stations are.
Make a note on your smart phone and carry a printed copy (in case you lose your phone) of all hotel names, addresses and phone numbers. You should also have your itinerary with a list of city names you are going to visit. Europeans are friendly and will help you out as needed. Be friendly and polite. It is customary in Europe to say “Please” and “Thank-You”. You should know how to say these in each language you will encounter. Now just enjoy your trip. Create some memories!
George & Jo Anne
Categories: Car Rentals, Euro, Europe, Exchange Rates, General Travel, GPS, Hotels, Tour Groups, Trains
Tags: Car Rentals, No Tour Touring, Romance, Tour Groups, Trains, Travel, Travel and Tourism
Yesterday I spoke about going back to Velina Italy. It is a very small town in the province of Campania. Naples is in the northern end of Campania and Velina is in the southern end. The famous Amalfi coast and isle of Capri are about center in Campania. We have several beaches with the Blue Flag award (cleanest beaches in Europe). This area is part of the Cilento National Forest and is protected by Italy. Italy will not allow development of this area. No new buildings can be built. You won’t find big American resort hotels here. Here are some great beach towns:
- Casal Velino Marina – This is the closet beach to us (we can see it from our deck). It is white soft sand with palm trees and lots of restaurants. Some restaurants and bars are right on the beach. You can, of course, get pizza and gelato here. The town is not huge so you can walk to anything. Parking in the summer months costs but is free off-season. There are small hotels, B&B’s and Agrotisimo’o nearby. You can find ferries here to get you to other cities, boats for hire and a huge marina.
- Ascea – This is another beach just south of Casal Velino Marina.There are less tourists here and the beaches are just as nice.
As you drive south from Ascea there is a very small very winding road through the mountains. It is not for the faint of heart! There is a much better road with a system of tunnels to get you past the mountains. There is also a train that goes from Ascea south to Sapri and Maratea. Here you can find several small charming towns:
- Marina di Camerota
- Maratea – This city is in the mountains and on the coast. It has a beautiful cross high up in the mountain.
George & Jo Anne
Categories: Campania, Capri, Casal Velino, Cilento, Eating Italian, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Hotels, Italy, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Trains, Velina
Tags: amalficoast, Boats, Campania, Capri, Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, Ferries, Food, Italian, Italian cuisine, Italian people, Naples, No Tour Touring, Tourism, Trains, Travel and Tourism, Velina, Wine
One way to travel in Europe is on a night train. You travel as you sleep, wake up refreshed and ready for a new day in a new location. There are many night trains that operate all over Europe. Night trains are romantic, safe and fast. If your journey is long enough have a meal onboard and retire to your accommodations for the night. You can use your Euro-pass to pay for the train trip but will have to pay extra for the type of accommodation you prefer. You can choose from a reclining seat to a sleeper cabin.
I took a train from Milan Italy to Munich Germany for Oktoberfest (there were no hotels available in Munich). After a day of drinking beer, we returned to Milan on an overnight train. This was the best since we got to see the scenery on the way up and were able to crash on the way back. Since most of the people onboard were coming from Oktoberfest, the morning coffee was a sight! Doors would open to bleary-eyed passengers in desperate need of a coffee fix. A staff person was on each car and quickly got you your coffee. The return trip stopped at Verona (Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet town).
The overnight train allowed us to experience Oktoberfest in one day. We arrived in Milan refreshed and ready for another day.
George & Jo Anne
Taking a train in a foreign country, if you don’t speak the language, can seem a daunting task. Trains in Europe and Italy are fast and relatively ease to take. There are super fast trains between other European cities and major cities in Italy, moderately fast trains between Italian main cities and slower local trains that go just about anywhere you want to go. Trains are a major way to travel in Europe. They are usually cheaper than flying and provide safe and comfortable rides. They go into stains in the heart of each major city. Most cities you can walk from the train station to your destination or take a short taxi ride or th Metro.
I read an interesting BLOG on how to take trains in Italy. A Beginner’s Guide to Train Travel in Italy. It covers most topics you will need from how to buy tickets, how to check the schedule of your train and how to go to other European cities. Don’t be afraid to take the train! Just remember to time stamp your ticket before boarding your train. Machines are usually at the end of each platform or near the ticket office in smaller stations. Tickets in Italy are on an honor system. If you are caught with a ticket that is not time stamped you may have to pay a fine.
Enjoy your travels and see all of Italy by train.
George & Jo Anne
Categories: Europe, General Travel, Italy, Metro Travel, Regions of Italy, Trains
Tags: Italian, Italian people, Italy, Metro, No Tour Touring, Tourism, Trains
train station (Photo credit: nolifebeforecoffee)
Rome and Venice are two great places to visit in Italy. We recommend stopping in Florence as well. How do you get from one place to the other? There are easy trains and planes. The European trains are easy to use and the basic rule is the faster the train, the more you will pay. KIOSKs in the train station can be put into English (British Flag). You then pick your destination and time, class of service and pay. Your tickets are printed at the KIOSK and you are ready to board. Huge train time tables are everywhere. Find your train and look at the BIN (Track) column to find which track it leaves from. Tracks are in numerical order. REMEMBER BEFORE BOARDING A TRAIN ANYWHERE IN EUROPE GET YOUR TICKET STAMPED AT THE MACHINES BY YOUR TRACK> Tickets are usually good for any train but the time stamp says when you are boarding. If you are caught on board with a unstamped ticket there will be a hefty fine.
European trains are comfortable but can be crowded in heavy seasons. Your ticket gets you on board but on some trains you need a second seat reservation (will cost more) to have a reserved seat. Without this you hope there will be seats open for you to sit. If not you must ride standing. On longer rides there are usually a restaurant car and food service from carts in each car.
Remember that most European large cities have more than one train station. If you look up service on the internet, take note which station you train departs from. In Rome the main station is called Termini.
George & Jo Anne
Categories: Europe, Flights, General Travel, Italy, Metro Travel, Rome, Venice
Tags: Florence, Italian, Italian people, Italy, KIOSK, No Tour Touring, Paris, Rome, Train, Train station, Trains, Travel, Venice