I should write a “Complete Guide to the Amalfi Coast”, but there are plenty of those already widely available, and full of all the right information on ferries and buses and trains to reach each place in the beautiful Amalfi coast.
Instead, here is the “Incomplete Guide to Public Transport in Southern Italy”.
1. Timetables are a guide only. For example, there are apparently three buses that travel from Fisciano to Salerno – between them 6 times per hour. In reality, one bus arrives any time between 8 and 9:30 and takes a different route every day.
The train may not arrive (see above photo), but usually there will be a replacement bus within half an hour or so. Always allow several hours leeway for connecting trains or flights.
2. Rotto means broken. Learn to understand this word when said to you quickly in amongst other rapidly delivered words in Italian or dialect. This word is frequently used in the context of buses and trains.
3. Never ever fall into that enticing trap of putting a banana in your bag as a snack for later on. Either immediately eat the banana, or leave it at home. It will always end up brown and squashed into your dictionary or wallet, or over the entire contents of your bag making everything slimy.
4. Allow 15-20 minutes prior to your train’s expected departure time for negotiating with the Trenitalia ticket machines. Sometimes they work, and they are always excruciatingly slow. From time of initiating the transaction with the loud “Beware of Pick pockets! Ask only trenitalia staff for more information”, to “insert your cash into the lowerrr right ” takes about 5 minutes, then printing the tickets another 12 minutes – or so it feels. You then have to validate your ticket in one of the small green machines which also takes some time in both finding an operational machine, and then lining up to stamp your ticket.
5. Take careful note of the TIME of your train’s departure. This will be your only clue to ascertaining which platform your train will be departing from (then it will probably go from another platform after a delay for no apparent reason but that is point 6.). Unless you know the final destination of the line of your train with your selected stop (sonetimes it’s a no brainier because you’re going somewhere major like Milano or Napoli), there will be no way of knowing which train is yours unless you know the exact time of departure. That is probably the most valuable tip – even more valuable than the banana tip.
6. When you get to your train’s platform, read the Fermatas – stops. If the orange words say attenzione! And then Ritardo – this is the time to ask other people on the platform if this train is going to X destination. Usually someone helpful will point to the other random platform that the train will now be arriving at. Thankfully Italians are very kind and helpful, generous people.
7. Always have a pen handy to write down the wifi login code and password to use the hotspot. Usually the code is about 25 characters long with a hieroglyph and a unicorn spell, so it’s impossible to just remember it to plug in at the time the box pops up on your phone..
8. Pack a lunch!
9. Sit back and enjoy the view. Once on board a fast train from Naples to Milan, you will fly along at 260km/hour through breathtaking scenery including through Tuscany! At sunset this has to be one of the nicest experiences of my trip, with nice people bringing me coffee and snacks. ❤️