Public transportation around Rome and Naples is an interesting experience. Obviously, being in any new country can be stressful and eye-opening; as a result, I wanted to share my observations and insights (from my trip in 2017) about the Termini Station in Rome, the Campania Express and Circumvesuviana trains in Naples, and bus options from Sorrento to Naples.
Termini Station in Rome
The Termini Station in Rome is the central hub for all trains coming in and going out of Rome. All trains that link to other major cities start or end here. We took a Frecciarossa (high-speed) train from Rome to Naples and while we had a great experience on the Frecciarossa, we didn’t enjoy Termini Station. Here are a few things I learned while in the station:
Look out for people who are trying to help you buy your tickets at the self-serve ticket machines in the Termini Station in Rome. I watched as these people pestered tourists that were just walking by or trying to use the machines on their own. These persistent “helpers” are hoping that you will let them handle the transaction and purchase the tickets at the kiosks for you. Afterwards, they are hoping you’ll forget your change or accidentally leave behind a credit card; however, they will most likely insist on receiving a monetary tip for their assistance. If you’re unsure how to buy tickets, simply get help at customer service or buy your tickets at the service counter.
The Rome Termini Station does not have any air conditioning. It will be warm inside during the summer!
Restrooms are hard to find. Give yourself ample time to make a restroom stop before having to catch your train. Also, be prepared to pay € 1 for the restroom.
There is very minimal seating at the Termini Station. While I was here, the station was under a LOT of construction, so I don’t know what the station is usually like. All I know is that my family and I had to sit on the floor of the Termini Station since there was no large gathering place to sit on the main floor.
This station can be a very busy place. Keep your valuables close due to the pickpockets and never leave your luggage unattended.
Ask questions if you’re confused or need help. Otherwise the alternative is you miss your train. Try to find someone who speaks English that can help. It’s always helpful to know how to say “Parli inglese?” (Do you speak English?) to find someone who can help.
Circumvesuviana and Campania Express – Napoli Centrale Station
If you’re heading towards Sorrento (from Naples) via train, you’re likely taking the Circumvesuviana. During the summer months when tourist numbers increase, there is a more expensive and direct train called the Campania Express. I had read all about the bad experiences people had on the Circumvesuviana: pickpockets, luggage being stolen, no air-conditioning or no available seats, etc. Because of this, my family and I arranged our travel times to be able to take the Campania Express. You can find the 2017 schedule for the Campania Express here. Below is information I learned from my experience regarding train travel to Sorrento:
The Campania Express is basically a Circumvesuviana train just for tourists. The Campania Express is faster (by about 15 minutes), the fare costs more, and there are fewer people. The train is faster because it only stops at three locations: Ercolano (Herculaneum); Pompeii; and Sorrento. The trains are the same as the local trains so don’t expect luxury. The seats on the train were actually quite dirty and I was super glad I was only on the train for an hour.
When you arrive at Napoli Central Station, follow the signs to the Circumvesuviana/Campania Express.
When you reach the departure area, you’ll find a ticket counter for the Campania Express. Here, you buy your tickets with CASH ONLY. So be prepared! We were given our tickets and told to wait until a certain time, upon which we would be escorted to the train.
At the scheduled meet up time, you will be personally escorted (as a group) down to the train tracks. Note that there are no elevators so be prepared to lug your suitcase down the stairs.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember if there was air conditioning on our train or not, but I want to say that if there was cool air, it wasn’t much.
Be sure also, not to put your feet on the seats. It’s a big social blunder in Italy.
We waited next to the tracks as a group until our train pulled into the station. When prompted by employees, we boarded the train. There were only about thirty of us getting on. There was an open area in our train car to put our luggage and there was plenty of seating for us, as the train was not full. Even though we had plenty of seats, open space, and room for luggage, the experience we had was less than great due to the condition of the seats and overall condition of the interior. Three employees stood in our car chatting the whole time and giving us tourists dirty looks. Also, the door to the conductor/driver of the train was wide open; this surprised me due to the increase in security on most public transportation nowadays.
Bus Option for Traveling from Sorrento to Naples Airport
At the end of our trip in Sorrento, we were planning on taking the Circumvesuviana to Naples because our departure flight time would not allow for a Campania Express train, as there are only a few per day. When getting a ride to the train station, our taxi driver warned us not to take the Circumvesuviana. He stated all of negative things I had heard before about the locals train – pickpockets, crowded trains, no seats, no air conditioning, beggars on the train, etc. He suggested that instead of taking the Circumvesuviana (and then a taxi or bus from the train station to the airport), that we take a bus shuttle directly to the Naples airport. Here’s the information I learned about the bus shuttle:
The shuttle bus that goes from Sorrento to Naples is the Curreri Viaggi bus; it runs shuttles between Sorrento the Naples Airport several times a day.
Tickets can be purchased on board from the driver.
Pay the drive in cash for your ride. It costs 10 euros per person.
Routes run every day except December 25 and January 1. You can find more information on their website here.
The bus is a large coach bus with comfortable seats. Luggage is stored underneath the bus. Our bus was clean and comfortable, but was completely full of people.
My family and I went into the Sorrento train station and inquired about the bus. It turned out that the bus was arriving soon and would be arriving at the Naples airport at a good time for our flight. Our ride went smoothly and took about 75 minutes to get to the Naples airport. My biggest issue was that the bus drove along the coast for half of the trip, resulting in a slow and windy ride.
Overall, the bus proved to be the better way to go, rather than taking the Circumvesuviana. After all, you’re on vacation! Sometimes you have to spend a little extra money to make sure you have a great experience without mishaps.
I hope this information helps you with your travels through Italy!