For millennia, Sicily (or Sicilia, in Italian) has been at the crossroads of the Mediterranean. Every society that has passed through or conquered the island has left fragments of their culture behind; much of which is still visible today. For the modern traveler this means that the last 3,000 years of western civilization is abundantly displayed and conveniently compressed into this 25,711 km2 (9,927 sq. mi) floating triangle at the very edge of the European Continent, making it an accessible microcosm of Italy in the extreme.
So if you’d like to experience this sumptuous adventure across epochs and cultures, what are some of the highlights that will impart the visitor with this sense of historical passage? The list is endless, no doubt; but if you start with these five things, you’ll have at least tasted a bit of it all.
Lake Como (or Lago di Como, in Italian) is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are few places in the world where it feels like God actively spends his free time. Especially when we are talking about Italy, the place where beauty is born. The lake is everything it’s cracked up to be and more. It’s a peaceful mountain top retreat, accessible through a sleepy passage of cottages, and small cities. Looking back on this trip, there’s a reason why a Las Vegas casino, George Clooney, and artist throughout the ages, claim this lake as part of their identity.
Here are five tips to consider when navigating your way to Lake Como.
These five tips are taken directly from my travel notes. If you find any other suggests would be helpful, please leave them in a comment below.
This morning I took a very long walk around downtown Rome – about 12 miles. By the time I finished my trek, I was so wiped I decided to catch the metro back to Basilica S. Paulo, before hopping a bus to a friend apartment in the suburb of “Roma 70.” The journey provoked a list of things to mind when using the bus or metro.
Here is my list of five things to keep in mind when riding the metro, or bus, across town.
These are all things I forget get to do with out fail just about every trip. They are really good reminders and can save you a lot of time.
Please feel free to comment on if you agree with this list, or disagree with this list. I would really like to hear traveling wisdom from others.
Last week I was on a train leaving Roma Termini heading for Napoli Centrale – on my way to Sorrento. Amongst the cacophony of Italians shifting their luggage and trying to find their seat on the train I heard two people arguing in English. The couple was heading to Sorrento for their honeymoon. Their bags were on the ground. The husband had his hands in the air. The wife was pointing at the husband. Since the commotion was getting most everyone’s attention on the train, I decided to walk over and see if I could help. Long story short, we ended up talking for the majority of the ride to Napoli Centrale.
They had just landed in Rome and we slowly making there way to Sorrento. Several things happen to them within the first 48 hours of their honeymoon; missed one train, purchased the wrong train ticket, were late getting into their destination, and had several arguments.
Over the next hour the conversation seemed to clam the couple down.
Once we arrived at Napoli Centrale I helped them with their connection to Sorrento. That interaction was a great reminder just of how hard it can be to travel when all the “Italian travel factors’ are hitting you all at once. Even the simplest things, can become disastrous, making it really hard to get from point A to point B.
Here are 6 steps to get to, and from, Sorrento.
1. Arrive at Napoli Centrale. Once you have arrived at Napoli Centrale located the Circumvesuviana logo. The logo is on most signs and directing traffic to ticket office and track numbers. The circumvesuviana signs points toward the escalator heading under the main platform.
Here is the Circumvesuviana logo.
2. Head toward the Circumvesuviana. The circumvesuviana is located in a separate part of the Napoli Centrale train station. Once you get off the escalator under the main platform, turn left, and head straight down the hall way. The circumvesuviana track and ticket window is located about 100 yards at the end of the hallway, and south of the main train platform.
3. Buy tickets. Once you arrive at the circumvesuviana window, tickets are available for the train to Sorrento and cost 4 euro each way. I recommend purchasing two tickets per person in advance. Tickets are not time sensitive and only become active when you validate them. It’s really nice not to worry about your return ticket while in Sorrento, and it can save time to already have a return ticket purchased when you arrive.
4. Find the train to Sorrento. The train that leaves for Sorrento departs from track 3 – in Italian it’s binario 3. Here are two important time management items to remember when on the train, (1) the trip to Sorrento from Napoli Centrale takes about 110 minutes and (2) there are 33 quick stops between Circumvesuviana at Napoli Centrale station and Sorrento.
Please note: There are three different destinations departing from track 3. Make sure the final destination on the train says Sorrento.
Click here to view the train departure schedules.
5. Arrive in Sorrento. Sorrento’s city center several blocks from the station. To get there, you must head down the stairs of the train station, head straight for two blocks, turn left, and continue about 5 blocks to Sorrento’s city center.
6. Go onward. There are buses departing to Positano, Ravello, Vietri, and Amalfi all available right out side the train station. Tickets can be purchased at the coffee bar across the street from the station.
The Amalfi coast, like most sights in Italy, is really busy during the height of tourist season. In the off-season it’s very mellow and easy to move between the cities.
For Italian enthusiasts the Amalfi coast easily makes their top 10 list of places to see. It’s full of southern Italian beauty and a great place to soak up the Mediterranean sun!
I’m helping lead a mission trip to Italy in a few short weeks. One member of our team came up to me early in our training and asked “How much does a typical train ticket from Rome to Naples cost?” I answered with my standard response “It depends.” I directed her toward the trenitalia website. As I thought about it, I realized, the site isn’t very straight forward and it might be helpful if we covered how to look up train prices via the website.
First go to trenitalia and look at the top right hand side of the page. There click on the British flag to change the language to English.
The Eurostar trains are fast especially is you want to get between major cities quickly – but it costs more. It’s a great way to travel. I have always said the intercity train is ridiculous for one reasons. It stops at every vineyard, Roman ruin, and castle in the country along the way your destination. The one draw back to the iC trains is they aren’t cheap.
Ticket prices often remain the same throughout the year per route. This is the method I use when I am budgeting for my in country transportation costs. I highly recommend it.
* The photos were screen shots taken from my computer the day of the post.
In June I’m helping to lead a STM(short-term mission) team to Italy. At the end of our trip we are stopping in Roma for two days of vacation before we fly home. As of last week, we need to find a place to say for our last night in Roma. We are less than a month out not to mention it’s the busiest time of the year – the beginning of the travel season. In my haste I realized this is a great opportunity to write a post on what to look for in a hostel or budget hotel. When it comes to last minute accommodations there are two schools of thought. Pay a ridiculous amount of money on a nice hotel in the center of the city or, the economic choice, crash at a hostel for the night. Since Italy isn’t cheap we’re going with the latter.
Here are the top things I look for when I choose a hostel or budget hotel.
In the experience these are some of the top things to look for when investigating a low cost place to spend the night. I will let you know where we stayed when I return – along with my review.
Questions of the day: What do you look for in a hostel or budget hotel?
When traveling, the process can take its toll. Every trip I’m plagued with very little sleep, poor airplane food, and little patience. It seems when arriving at your destination you’re depleted of all three. In January arrived in Rome late in the afternoon – around 7pm. As I stepped off the train I only wanted three things: To check in to my hotel, drop off my backpack – which had been weighing me down the past 8 hours, and eat a big plate of pasta. The hotel my colleague booked for us was a 10 min walk from the Termini Station – typical for most hotels in the area. After we checked in and dropped my bags in the room, I began to stagger toward front door of the hotel. On the way out I asked the man at the door if he had any favorite restaurants in the area. He said I must try Meid in Nepols. This restaurant is a great find. I recommend it to anyone traveling through Roma, or anyone just wanting to grab a bite close to the train station. The prices are affordable; €6 – €10 for a pizza, €9 – €12 euro for a good plate of pasta. The quality is just as good as expensive restaurants in the center of town.
Restaurant Recommendation: Meid in Nepols
My Restaurant Score: 93/100 pts.