Getting around

How to get around is one of the biggest concerns for visitors to my holiday properties.

Intercity buses in Italy

With the advent of FlixBus and the like, intercity bus transport is much easier and cheaper than in the past. As an example, the fare from Rome to Florence is EUR 19.99 and it’s a 3:20 hour trip.

Train travel in Italy

If you prefer the train, you can choose between the national rail company Trenitalia or the smart new  (cheaper) rival Italo.

As a price comparison with the bus, Trenitalia charges EUR 50 for the same Rome to Florence trip on the fabulous, sleek FrecciaRossa. It takes 1:36 hours (cheaper fares are available, but the trip extends to over three hours).

Italo charges EUR 45 for Rome to Florence trip and it also takes 1:37 hours. Italo operates between a restricted number of stations and over a limited number of routes.

Free wifi is available on board FrecciaRossa, FrecciaArgento and Italo trains.

Carpooling

Carpooling is very popular in Italy and the biggest website is BlaBlaCar. You can see if a “trusted driver” with free space is travelling the same route as you and share the trip costs. If no trips are available when you search, you can create a ride alert.

This could be a great way to meet the locals and save money.

Car hire

Sometimes there’s no alternative to hiring a car. If you don’t feel confident about driving in Italy, you may think it’s best to get to your destination by public transport or taxi and then hire a car locally. This is generally a bad idea because local car hire offices:

  • are difficult to get to (which might mean yet another taxi)
  • generally hold a limited range of superannuated stock
  •  have limited opening hours, e.g. they might close between 12:30 and 16:30 for the siesta.
  • charge much more than the airport offices.

It’s much better to book your car beforehand for an airport pick-up. The off-airport firms are sometimes cheaper, in which case you’ll be picked up by a shuttle bus. Airport pick-ups are so much cheaper than station pick-ups that it’s even worth taking a train ride from the station to the airport, e.g. from Stazione Termini in Rome to the Leonardo Da Vinci airport in Fiumicino on the Leonardo Express (32 minute trip for EUR 14). The advantages are:

  • much cheaper: find the best prices using a price comparison site such as Travelsupermarket.com.
  • drive straight onto the motorway network from the airport. Even for trepidacious drivers, this is an easier option than navigating your way through a built-up centre on your first trip.

Taxis

Uber is available in Rome and Milan and works well. It tends to be more expensive than elsewhere and only Uber Black is available (because drivers have to pay a fat fee to get a permit). Rome cab drivers might tell you that Uber is illegal in their city, but that’s not true.

Use the FreeNow (my taxi) app – another ride-hailing app that works very well in Italy.

If you’re feeling brave, you can zip round on the back of a scooter courtesy of the Scooterino ride hailing app.

Welcome Pickups is an option that’s well worth checking out for airport pick-ups.

Ferries

Ferries are everywhere around the Italian coastline, plying multiple routes to Italy’s wonderful islands. Many cover international routes to France, Croatia, Greece and even Spain. An international ferry trip from Italy could be a great addition to your European itinerary.

Look up your route using a general ferry booking site such as DirectFerries.com, but once you’ve found the date and time, book through the local ferry operator direct to avoid paying a booking fee.

Leave your car on the mainlandand and walk, cycle or use local taxi and bus services on arrival. Why?

  • avoid choking the islands with more traffic
  • avoid paying a higher fare
  • get access to the full range of sailings, including fast catamarans that don’t take cars

Avoid Capri. Do like the locals do and visit Ponza, Elba or Ischia (the photo below shows a view of Procida, Capri and Naples from Ischia) for the full Italian island experience without the crowds of foreign tourists.

This video shows the view as you sail into Forio port, Ischia after a short crossing from Naples port.