Saturday, November 07, 2015

Rome to Napoli: High Speed Train Ride

On Thursday morning (Day 4 of our trip), we packed up, said goodbye to our hosts at Terrazzo Dei Sogni after one last phenomenal breakfast on the terrace, and then walked to Termini Station to catch the train to Naples. When I was researching plans for this trip, Steve and I had this email exchange:
Amy: "Have you ever ridden a high-speed train? $33/ticket gets us from Naples to Florence in just over three hours. The “Frecciarossa” (red arrow) train: in the neighborhood of 200MPH. I feel like that would be slightly terrifying, but I can see you enginerd-ing over it ;) "
Steve: "We HAVE to do that!"

These next two photos are actually from the train station in Naples, but since I won’t be doing two train posts, I’m putting them here—Italy had these little coffee vending machines *everywhere*. 

For less than one Euro, you could actually get a decent (albeit tiny) cup of cappuccino or espresso. I bought this cute little cappuccino before our ride from Naples to Firenze since we didn’t get good coffee at our B&B in Naples

The train took us from Rome to Naples nonstop in about an hour. We got to see some lovely countryside along the way...

and also do some planning for our time in Naples plus relax a bit. We were really curious about how fast we were actually going, so Steve downloaded an app that could tell us. 

The fastest we clocked was 192mph. 

Our first impression of Naples was, in a word, stressful. I had read many places that the further south you go in Italy, the more intensely Italian everything is…that was definitely our experience. Reid's Italy describes it this way:
Naples is a distillation of Italy's glorious chaos, a city where the sun seems brighter, the food tastier, the traffic crazier, the baroque churches more elaborate, and the people more boisterously friendly.

Naples is also a major port, which entails a certain degree of seediness (the central rail station and bus-clogged Piazza Garibaldi out front constitute Italy's epicenter of pickpocketing) and some dicey neighborhoods (the dingy, narrow alleys of the Quartiere degli Spagnoli overflow with colorful street life by day, but are best to avoid after dark).

...The intensity of Naples' noisy carnival of life means most visitors are happiest spending only a day or two here.

We didn’t notice any pickpockets, but the main station was indeed total chaos. We needed to find the Circumvesuviana train, a regional line that would take us to our B&B outside the city, but nowhere could we find any maps or signs telling us where to find it. Once we finally did locate it, there were four different platforms and no indication of which one we should be on, or even what the difference was between them. SO STRESSFUL. Plus it was about ninety degrees, and we were schlepping all our luggage--which was minimal, but still. By the time we finally got on a train, it was the most rundown train you’ve ever seen, with no air-conditioning, standing room only.

Once we arrived in Portici, where we were staying, we called our host, as she had said they would be happy to pick us up from the station if possible. But the person who answered the phone didn’t speak any English except to communicate that our host was not there, and of course my Italian was not sufficient. So we hauled our luggage the kilometer walk from the station to the B&B, on narrow roads with narrow or nonexistent sidewalks, in 90-degree sunshine. By the time we finally got there, we were soaked and exhausted; showers and naps replaced “hiking to the crater of Mount Vesuvius” as our number one agenda for the early afternoon. And oh, that was only the beginning of our transportation [mis]adventures in Campania (the region of which Naples is the capital)...

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