Tag Archives: travel

6 Reasons Why Cesena Will Be One of the Most Visited Italian Cities in the Next 10 Years

Yesterday morning I woke up to the new ad presented by the Cesena Tourism Office. The promo exudes what I have know for years; Cesena is one of the best unknown cities in Europe.
I have been traveling to Cesena for the better part of a decade to visit friends and enjoy la dolce vita. For years this city (like many Italian cities) has flown under the radar to the general public and most unsuspecting tourists. But now, due to the extension campus of the University of Bologna and its young creative population, the richness of this city and the surrounding area are being exposed.

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The 5 biggest mistakes you make when traveling in Italy

For over a decade of traveling I have made almost every mistake possible. I have also witnessed countless travelers make Bmistakes that have ruined the trip of a lifetime. In an effort to help others learn from these mistakes, they’re written out below.

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How to Get to Capri By Ferry

One of the most famous islands in the world, Capri, needs to make your bucket list! If you have the time, put this island in your itinerary.  For those who have yet to make it to the island, navigating Naples will be your biggest obstacle.  There are several groups, guides, and agencies eagerly pushing their services toward this island. The truth is, you can get to the island on your own, with out their help.

Here are things I have observed at the ports, and train stations, in Naples.

  • Many tourist groups.
  • Many “helpful” Italians dragging travelers to their destination.
  • Travelers waiting.
  • Angry travelers.
  • Impatience travelers.
  • Pick pockets hunting travelers.
  • Tour guides frantically trying to find their patrons.

However, here are four steps to get you from Naples to Capri.

Arrive at Napoli Centrale.  Wherever you are coming from you must, or it’s recommend, you end up at Napoli Centrale – the central station.  From there, purchase a train/bus ticket from a tabaccheria in station, and walk directly out the front doors to Piazza Garibaldi. Take the metro (bus and metro tickets are interchangeable) and get off at Mergellina.  Head toward the water, and the port will be to the left.

Find Molo Beverello.  When taking the hydrofoil to Capri, you must embark from porto Molo Beverello.  It is not located outside the central train station. There are several ports in Napoli, but I recommend using porto Molo Beverello to get to Capri fast.

Buy your Ticket.  There are two types of ferries that service Capri – and therefore, two prices. There is a regular ferry and there is a hydrofoil (or fast ferry).  Both types of ferries leave from porto Molo Beverello.

Suggetion:  The ticket lines for the ferries are deceiving.  There are around 30 + ticket windows all with different companies and offers. It’s overwhelming.  To put you at ease, most all the ticket counters sell every ticket for every company.

Observation:  Often, two of the ticket windows’ will have extremely long lines, because the travelers believe their ticket can only be purchased from a specific window. Not always the case. Don’t hesitate to walk in front of the crowds, a few windows down.

Manage your recourses.

  • Cost: The average cost per ticket on a hydrofoil is €20.
  • Timetables: There are several ferries that leave throughout the morning, and evening, but only a few in the afternoon.
  • Money:  The food on the island is expensive. If you are going for the day, or weekend, buy wine, and a picnic lunch a head of time.

Suggestion: bring a great pair of walking/running shoes, and your trunks!

Arrive in Capri.  When the ferry docks in Capri, you have several avenues in which to see the island. All avenues are accessible from the information centers right next to the harbor.

Capri is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. I strongly recommend everyone visit at least once.

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Why Italo Is The Best Ticket in Town

Today, in Rome, I was finishing some things on my to-do list, and planned on leaving tomorrow for Bologna.  My plan was to  take the bus up north, as research for a future blog post, but as I was investigating the bus timetables, an advertisement caught my eye. The ad featured the new train system called Italo.  The train is the first privately owned, and operated train system in Italy. The train is pioneered, designed, and built by Ferrari.

(Click here to access the Italo site.)

The new service caught my eye and I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to ride. To be completely honest with you I’m writing this blog post while on the train.

Here are the 6 reasons Italo is the best ticket in town, and why you should test drive.

  1. Luxury. The train is nice, very nice.  Every seat is uniquely designed to provide each passenger with amenities unseen by any other train system in Italy. For those passengers who ride in the first class (Prima) food, coffee, and other services are provided.  There is also free wifi, tv, and movies, onboard. Lastly, the train is very clean. The clean factor really does set Italo a part from the Trenitalia’s bullet train the Frecciarossa.
  2. Comfort. Each seat is larger and gives each passenger more room. The train and seats absorb most of the shock from the railway lines. Result: leaving each passenger with a smooth and comfortable ride. Lastly, Italy passengers can enjoy the comfort of the Italo lounge at most, if not all, train stations.
  3. Design. The train has a noteworthy designed.  The same attention to detail expected from Ferrari is reflected in the train. Everything is clean, and is an expression of Italian modern design.
  4. Silence.  The train is very quiet, and smooth. Even at our top speed of 300 kmh (or 186 mph) the “silence factor” is remarkable. Again, noticeably quiteter than the Frecciarossa – Italy’s other fast train.
  5. Convenience.  The ticket purchasing process was the easiest experience I have ever had in Italy.  I bought the tickets online, it took about 7 minutes, and the tickets were emailed to me immediately.   The Italo team is strategically located throughout the train station and surprisingly egger to help. On the platform there are staff members directing people to the location of their train car while answering questions.
  6. Price. The most striking thing about Italo is the price.  The base, or economy, tickets run between €20 – €25 each way.  Business class tickets run about the same as the second class tickets on the Frecciarossa – about €45 each way.  I wrote a blog post on the advantages of the Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa last year. Click here to view the blog post, The Cost of Train Tickets.

The train is a great new way to get around Italy.  It will be there first high speed train system to reach Venice (no more Harry Potter trains). In the back of my mind, I wonder if Italo can keep their service, and amenities fresh with consistency.  Only time will tell. However, I bet it will be the new standard in Italian railway travel.

The call to action, you must take it for a test-drive!

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How to get to Sorrento and the Amalfi cost by train

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!

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Tips for traveling with your kids in Italy

I have been asked twice about bring kids to Italy in the last month.  Once by a coworker; once by an old friend – who is looking to join me on a trip next year. My first response, off the top of my head, is almost always no.  There are always exceptions, and every kid is different. But generally, I don’t recommend it – I’ll get off my soap box now.  For those brave few who tackle this daunting task I can lend some insight.

Here are the top 3 things to help your kids have a great time in Italy.

    • Snacks.  Let’s face it when we are tired, hungry, overheated, and missing the comforts of home, it always helps to have a comfort item to help deal with life.  A heart snack for those kids, or adults, who either can wait to the next meal, or are having trouble adapting to a new diet, is a life saver.
    • Water. More tourist die in Italy of heat stroke than anything else.  The Mediterranean sun is deceiving and hits you hard – especially when you least expect it.  Bring, or buy a bottle of water, and have it available when you’re out and about.
    • Kid Zone.  In all honesty, unless your kids love history and trying a new food, Italy doesn’t have much to offer in the way of kid friendly activates. Italy’s greatest strength is its ability to build memories.  I find that parents who are great a building memories thrive in Italy regardless of who is along for the ride. I encourage parents to turn a park into a playground. Have a picnic. Throw a Frisbee. Pass a soccer ball. There is nothing like a relaxing day in a park in the middle of
    • Food.  Italy has an amazing kid centric dish that is a combination of American and Italian food.  French fries and hotdog pizza is a staple among Italian kids.  You can get them at just about any pizzeria.
    • Cruise.  The best way to see parts of Italy while having a great place for kids to play is on a cruise.  There are many cruise lines that stop at major ports in Italy.   You don’t get to see much of the country side, but if you want to hit a few major spots, and be able to keep an eye on the kids then a cruise is a great way to go.

I’m always curious about what other parents recommend when traveling with their kids internationally.  Please don’t hesitate to leave your suggestions on traveling with kids.

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