All of the journeys described employ local trains to cover the major distances followed by a walk which varies from 100 metres to slightly more than a mile. The local train services around the Bay of Naples offer good coverage of the area and have stations at the major tourist destinations such as Sorrento, San Agnello and Naples.
The major Roman sites which have been mentioned are all accessible from a train station by walking. When walking from the station to the Roman sites visitors should remember that Campania is a relatively poor area of Italy with a pleasant and respectable population. They probably don't appreciate being photographed as an example of how quaintly they live; nor will they appreciate excessive noise or excessively revealing clothing. The major urban areas have a reputation for petty theft and pickpockets. It is wise not to carry expensive cameras or jewellery which might prove tempting to a thief; nor should one carry an obviously bulging wallet. The author carries some money and a credit card in a zipped, concealed security pocket in his clothing and his camera in a plain cloth bag. He is quiet, friendly and courteous and has walked through a number of the poorer areas without problems. The local people have always been pleasant and helpful.
There is a particular problem with pickpockets in the area around the main railway stations. The tourists are often carrying a lot of cash and they are easily identified by their bags and the fact that they have no idea where they are going. A partial solution to this problem is to keep the location of your money concealed, to look at a map before arriving at the station and to step out boldly and confidently towards your intended destination.
In Italy it is mandatory that you shall be able to show a form of identification when requested. This may be an identification card issued by the government of your country of origin or, for countries like the UK which do not have identification cards, your passport. If you are able to claim discounts due to your age or for any other reason you will be asked for your identification when you claim it. Always carry your identification or your passport with you.
The Train Services
Three train services are mentioned in these notes, the:
- Circumvesuviana line
- Metro line 2
- Cumana line
These railways provide a part of an integrated transport service which supports Naples and the area surrounding the Bay. Tickets are purchased at the stations and have a time during which they are valid. If, for instance, you ask for a ticket in Sorrento to travel to Pompeii Scavi the ticket seller will sell you a ticket which has the amount of time which the journey will take. The validity of the ticket does not commence until the start time has been stamped on it by a machine at the station from which you start your journey. If you pass through a turnstile then the turnstile will normally stamp the time on the ticket, otherwise you will have to locate a small yellow machine which will stamp the ticket. Before you get on the train check that the start time has been stamped on your ticket, your ticket is not valid until this has been done.
The ticket sellers do not normally speak English but if you state your destination clearly they are normally able to sell you the correct ticket. In areas which are not normally visited by tourists the ticket seller may appear nervous on seeing a tourist approach his window and even if you speak Italian he may not be confident that his heavily accented replies will be understood. If you keep the exchange simple these fears will be easily overcome; the Italians are less polite than the English so, if you can, avoid pleases and thank you because it will be easier for him to understand where you are going. It might occur that when you ask for a ticket to your chosen destination, the ticket seller will give a look which tells you quite definitely that he thinks that you don't want to go to that place. They are accustomed to selling tickets to tourists for a very limited range of destinations; if, for instance, you decide to go to see the Red Bridge, one of the few remaining parts of Augustus's Aqueduct, this could be a surprise for the ticket seller and it will show in his expression. Finally, if you arrive at a station and cannot find a ticket office, Metro Line 2 at Pozzuoli is an example, look for the newsagent he often also sells the tickets.
As you gain experience of the railway services in the Naples area you will be able to ask for 90 minute tickets (biglietto orario) or daily tickets (biglietto giornaliero) as required and travel will become a lot easier.
The Circumvesuviana is a railway which serves the communities around Vesuvius and the Sorrento peninsular. The hub is in Naples and the lines fan out from there. For the journeys described only two of the services are relevant, the line from Naples to Sorrento and from Naples to Poggiomarino. These two lines share the same track from Naples to Torre Annunziata so that for visits to Naples, Herculaneum and Oplontis trains on either of these services may be used, whilst for travel to Pompeii, Stabiae or Sorrento only the Sorrento service should be used.
The popular tourist destinations between Sorrento and Vico Equense all have good access to a station on this line. The station for Vico Equense is at Serano and projects onto the railway viaduct above the valley; if you are subject to vertigo don't look over the side. The trains stops at all stations between Sorrento and Torre Annunziata but between Torre Annunziata and Ercolano Scavi there may be fast services which do not stop at the intervening stations. For the purpose of visiting the sites described this should not be a concern because the trains do stop at the stations specified.
The railway service provides a website which shows timetables for all of the rail services in the Naples area.
The Circumvesuviana has two stations in Central Naples, the main railway station in Piazza Garibaldi and Porto Nolana which is the terminus. The main railway station is appropriate if you are walking on to the National Museum, whilst Porto Nolana is more convenient if you are going to the University. Within the main station in Piazza Garibaldi the station for the Circumvesuviana is accessed by descending a flight of steps which is located within the bulge which is visible in the facia of the station on the right hand side as you look at the station from Piazza Garibaldi. The station at Porto Nolana is beside Corso Garibaldi and approximately 50 metres away from Piazza Nolana in the direction of the harbour.
Metro Line 2
The Naples metro is still being developed to cover more of the city so that the information given will soon become out of date. At the time of writing line 2 runs from Gianturco on the Vesuvius side to Pozzuoli. There are three stations within the central area of Naples, Piazza Garibaldi, Cavour and Montesanto. Piazza Garibaldi is convenient for the mainline station, Cavour serves the area around the National Museum and Montesanto serves the western part of the city centre. Any of these stations will provide a service to Pozzuoli. Here you can find a map for the Metro Line 2. As in London, the timetable is not important as the trains run at a regular interval.
The Cumana railway runs from the new station at Montesanto to Torregaveta along the coast of the Bay of Naples, there is an alternative line which is operated by the same company which uses an inland route to Torregaveta, this is the Circumflegrea. At the time of writing trains on the Cumana line leave every twenty minutes for most of the day. The Cumana line is operated by SEPSA. As above, timetables are available.
Enjoy your travels in the Naples area!