How to Travel Around Italy: Ish Meets Rome and Naples

Before I continue with the Madrid entries, I’m going to hop over to Italy for a small entry on Italian travel. After all, I might be the only person who is fascinated with Madrid.

Filipinos may find that Italy is not very different from the Philippines. The place is not entirely clean, the government keeps collapsing, corruption is everywhere and the public transportation system can only be described as heart-breaking.

Before all you Italians out there start bashing me, I’m just pointing out these things to show everyone that a place does not have to be perfect for it to be the perfect destination for a leisure trip or even for a long-term stay.

It’s the kind of place, like Manila, that is flawed but still completely amazing. I want to stay realistic here before I start dishing out all the compliments. This blog will be entirely about all my misadventures while travelling but I swear the next entry  on Italy will be filled with all the good things haha.

I always fly to Rome from Spain so I usually don’t enter the country via a passport controlled terminal. Open borders in the Schengen zone mean that people just get off the plane and literally spill out into the country. However, when I went there last year as part of a small tour that I did during Christmas break (I was studying in Spain), I got stopped on my way out by a random passport control officer who was walking around near the exit.

At the time I didn’t speak any Italian yet so we conversed in English.

Italian Immigration dude: “Hello, May I see your passport please? Where are you from?”

Me: “I’m from the Philippines.” I took out my Philippine passport which is of course one of the most notorious passports for illegal immigrants all over the world.

Italian dude: “What will you be doing in Italy?”

Me: “I am here to visit some friends in Naples”

Italian dude: “Where will you stay?”

Me: “At my friend’s apartment in Naples”

Italian dude: “What’s the address?”

Me: Uhhh…wait…(I had to turn on my cellphone and look for my friend’s SMS with his address and the instructions on how to get there from Rome)

Italian dude: “Ok. So how long are you staying in Italy?”

Me: “Eight days.”

Italian dude: “Where are you going after?”

Me: “I’m going to Germany then Norway, Sweden then back to Norway and Madrid”

Italian dude: “May I see your flight tickets?”

Me: (thinking: Thank God I already printed out all the online bookings) “Here they are”

Italian dude:”That’s a lot of places, how come you brought such a small suitcase from the Philippines.”

Me: “What? that’s because I live in Spain and all my stuff is in the apartment there”

Italian dude: “Ok, where are you going now?”

Me: “I want to take the train please”

Italian dude: “Ok, it’s on the second floor. have a safe trip.”

Ugh. all this while standing in the middle of the airport with the exit right in front of me and with all the other passengers walking around us and heading straight to the door. It’s a good thing he let me go before I started to panic. Oh well, I guess I stuck out like a sore thumb and he just had to question me.

So anyway, from Leonardo da Vinci International airport (aka Fiumicino airport-remember that a lot of things in Italy have multiple names so you might get confused.) I took the Leonardo express to Roma Termini. This train service takes you straight from the airport to downtown Rome in about 20 mins. A single ticket costs 9.50 euros. It might seem expensive but hey, that’s actually a good deal. The train departs every 22nd and 52nd minute of the hour (don’t ask me why)

From Roma Termini, I had to take the train to Napoli Centrale which I didn’t know at that time was also called Garibaldi Station. Since I was a newbie in taking trains, and I didn’t speak any Italian, It took me a while to figure out that there were assigned seats and that my train was departing from so-and-so platform. I actually asked several people for help but unfortunately most of them just stared blankly at me or worse, gave me wrong instructions.

I had to run to the platform by the time I realized where it was. Because the train system is non-existent in the Philippines, I was totally a fish out of water. Thankfully, on my next trip to Italy I spoke enough Italian and didn’t encounter any of these problems.

Anyway, back to the train, When I got to Napoli centrale, my friend instructed me to take the Metro from Garibaldi to Cavallegieri (or something like that) station in the direction of Pozzouli. Ok. that should be easy enough. That was when I realized, where the hell was Garibaldi? I’m in Napoli Centrale, right? I eventually found out that Napoli Centrale was fronting Piazza Garibaldi and was therefore also called Garibaldi Station. haay.

The transportation system in Naples deserves it’s own blog entry so I’ll go back to the train system in general. In Italy, one is supposed to validate his own ticket prior to entering the train. There are validation machines at the stations and sometimes (by sometimes I mean once in about 15 train rides) an inspector goes around to check the tickets.

I couldn’t help but think that this system would never work in the Philippines. People would be taking free rides all the time! I later found out from Italian friends that they do take free rides! Gosh, I guess the train system loses a lot of money on free rides each year.

Validate tickets in machines like this

Another odd thing is how the buses don’t allow you to buy tickets on board. You have to buy them from newspaper stands or other kiosks around the city. You must remember that these kiosks close early. People often end up without tickets late in the day. So, free ride it is! Either that, or you’ll walk. Taxis are too expensive. haha.

I have ended up walking in Italy one time too often. Sometimes, the bus never arrives because there was no fixed schedule in the first place. Other times, I forget to buy a ticket or worse, I get caught out late at night and the metro service has stopped at 10 pm. The most inconvenient but all too common scenario is when the Metro is on strike and service gets halted in the middle of the day.

Despite all of these things, Italy is still one of my favorite places to visit. Consider this as a disclaimer to all the good things that I will start saying in the next blogs. It’s a good thing to know what you’re really getting into before embarking on a trip and expecting perfection all the way. Travelling is not always easy so it’s good to know some of the possible setbacks you will encounter so that you will come prepared. More to come soon so stay tuned!

*FYI Rome has another airport called Ciampino so don’t be surprised if you don’t find the Leonardo express when you get there. This is the airport which is more commonly used by budget airlines such as Ryan Air and Easy Jet. There is an efficient bus service operating to and from that airport which takes you to Roma Termini as well. check out their website:

other useful links:


Rome airports:

*Note that train travel is still inexpensive in Italy compared to other European cities where buses are a lot cheaper and just as fast or low cost airline travel is much faster and oftentimes cheaper. So, don’t get excited by the eurail passes that have become so popular. I find air travel to be increasingly cheap and fast in Europe save for the occasional delay and if you have problems with luggage allowance.

For a more comprehensive guide to Italy:
Click Here!