Let me begin by describing my limited experience with Italian trains. We are very spoiled to always have a car when we travel to Italy. Given the amount of luggage we usually have, it makes sense, and Brad LOVES to drive in Italy.
The first time we took a train, it was 2001, our honeymoon, when we took a not-so-slow-travel trip all over Italy. We flew into Milan, stayed our first night in Parma, and continued on to Lake Garda, Venice, Florence, Rome, Postano, Ravello and Capri. We took a ferry from Capri to Naples, and got on an overnight train to return to Milan for our flight home. WHAT were we thinking? Since it was an overnight train, we were in a tiny first class cabin with bunk beds, where only one person could be standing at a time. The beds had fleas (which I am allergic to), and it was the most miserable flight home EVER, itching like crazy! We avoided trains for years!
In 2010, at the end of our Veneto trip, we spent our last night in Mestre, arriving the morning before our flight home. We bought 2 train tickets at our hotel, hopped on the 10 minute ride into Venice. Easy peasy! Perfect! No problem!
Last May on our Grape Hops tour, we took a train (that Shannon and Kim had bought tickets for) to Verona to meet our tour guide for Valpolicella. I began thinking trains were great, without 100 or more pounds of luggage to schlep...
So we decided that a 50 minute train ride into Rome for the day from Fontana del Papa was the way to go! Assuntina directed us to the San Severna train station, where we found the last parking space. We took an 8:15 train, and 50 minutes later got off at the San Pietro station by the Vatican. There were no tickets, no conductor, so it was a FREE ride to Rome. GREAT! We bought tickets for the 6:00 return, and off we went.
It was great to be in Rome for the day! We did some shopping first. We purchased a set of green speckled glasses, and a few gifts at Stilvetro.
A stop at the Furla store, and a bought the perfect scarf to go with the new bag I bought in Ascoli! (A bag per trip whether I need it or not rule) Then a stop for coffee!
We had lunch at Hostaria dell'Orso: A delicious bowl of spaghetti carbonara and some wine. When in Rome...
For the rest of the afternoon, we seemed to wander from favorite piazza to favorite pizza, with coffee or wine at each:
We got to to the train station in plenty of time, and boarded our train back to the San Severna station. We stood up and went to the door as soon as the train left the station just before it. We were there with two Italian men. The train stopped at our station, but the doors wouldn't open. The two Italians began running to the front car (5 cars ahead of us), so we followed them, running up and down steps, and through the train car connections. One man got out before the train doors slammed shut, but the other one missed his stop as we did! I asked him in Italian if he knew when another train would be coming the OTHER direction, and he said if you hurry, in three minutes, there will be one that goes back to San Severna, but you must run down the stairs, across the tracks and up on the other side. We were sweating like pigs, and I noticed I had scraped my arm on the run between cars and I was bleeding.
We made the train and headed back to San Severna. The SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN! The doors malfunctioned (we were on the front car this time), and no one could get out. We missed our stop. AGAIN!
Third time is the charm. We had two minutes to spare this time after crossing the tracks (long enough for half a stress-related smoke), and took the train back in the direction we needed to go. We were ready to get off, but THESE doors were different, and there was no green button to push. The train stopped. Brad tried opening the doors, but didn't know how. (Can you hear us swearing in two languages?) With a primal scream from Brad, whatever he did managed to open the doors, and we jumped off the damn train! I have no plans to ride an Italian train in the near future.
We drove back to Fontana del Papa and enjoyed a delicious dinner of pasta, sausages and roasted cauliflower. Dessert was panna cotta with cherries: