Oct 8 2014
When you travel to small towns in southern Italy you have to expect an adventure, particularly if you are traveling by train. So today was no exception. Luckily Antonella dropped me off at the Boiano train station thirty minutes early, because immediately after I arrived a train official asked me where I was going and when I said Salerno, he directed me to follow him to a waiting bus full of people.
Apparently there was some problem with the 1:45PM train to Salerno and a bus was taking us to Isernia where we would board a train to Caserta and then change to one headed for Amalfi. Lucky for me that I understand enough Italian and can communicate with other waiting passengers to determine which track will have the train going to my destination.
I can understand why a car is helpful in southern Italy and perhaps next time I will consider one because these small towns are not so easy to reach. The Amalfi Coast is reached either by Naples or Salerno but still it is a project to get there.
A kind young Italian man from Napoli helped me with my luggage and put it on the overhead rack. He told me he was a pizzaiolo in Posillipo near Napoli. He was impressed when I told him I had been there and showed him some photos. At least this train is not crowded and a woman who is also going to Caserta is sitting across from me. She was helpful in explaining in Italian that I need to get off there and change trains to go to Salerno.
At 3:05PM the train left the station. The hour and a half trip to Caserta naturally didn’t occur as I had expected. Since nothing happens fast in Italy, we had a delay at Venafro for an unknown reason. The train just sat on the tracks for 25 minutes. I have learned that it pays to be flexible because these situations occur frequently and are completely out of my control. So I used the time to write my blog post and edit photos on my iPad. This is Italy…and you have to take the good with the bad. It’s the whole package or nothing.
Finally a few minutes before 5:00PM the train pulled into the Caserta station. All the men on the train had been discussing my predicament and were concerned whether there would be a train to Salerno today, now that this train arrived seventy minutes later than scheduled. One man who spoke some English informed me that there had been a crash early this morning near Boiano, so that was the reason for the delay. We then had a conversation partly mostly in Italian about how common these problems are in the south of Italy. I said, “Capito.” One man said that they would have a revolution. You gotta love the passion.
Needless to say, the attractive young pizza maker from Napoli told me that he would carry my bag off the train. The kind woman who sat near me said “Buon viaggio” and gave me a kiss. She also told me that next time I come here I must stay at her house. Where have you ever met friendlier people? Grazie Millle a tutti!
And of course no one ever checked that I had a train ticket.
Once inside the station I checked with the man at the ticket desk and he informed me that the next train to Salerno is at 6:12PM. I remembered taking this same train three years ago when my train was diverted here, so no problem. I know there are SITA buses that run late so I will get to Amalfi sometime this evening. I am not worried. It’s all part of the adventure.
Thirty minutes prior to my scheduled departure I saw the train on Binario 5 with a sign indicating its destination, various stops, and time of arrival in Salerno. Just to double check I asked the train official who was walking nearby and he verified the information.
This was great news. I stepped onto this larger and more modern train, and to my delight, there were no steps. I had my choice of seats since it was empty and I was able to sit in the first row where there was space for my bag on the floor next to me. Everything is working out fine. and on this train the Trenitalia official checked ticket. You just never know.
If I’m lucky I will be able to buy a bus ticket at the station and catch the next bus to Amalfi without having to wait too long. Vediamo.
Did you think this trip to Amalfi could continue without any more problems? Well, I arrived in Salerno at 7:15PM, rushed to the edicola downstairs to buy the one-way SITA bus ticket for €3.40, and went outside to the bus stop only to find the familiar blue SITA bus dark. I asked a young man where the bus stop was, in case it may have been moved. He informed me that today there was a riot, or some type of strike, so not all buses were in service. You can imagine now that my patience was wearing thin after traveling for the last six hours. He kindly directed me to the office, where a pleasant employee stopped what she was doing to hear my frantic request. She said that in ten minutes a bus would be coming, at 7:30PM. This was my lucky day, I guess. Right on time the bus appeared and within three minutes or less we were on our way to Amalfi.
I look forward to the next four nights to relax in my hotel with a view.