Train Travel in Southern Italy


The regional train leaves Napoli Centrale at 2:10PM and the ride to Boiano provides me with a view of Vesuvius to the west, as well as residential neighborhoods of mostly three- and four- story buildings, which are painted in bright colors such as terra cotta, rust, pink, yellow, and gold. Of course the laundry is also hanging out on most balconies on this sunny day. I find the weather in Naples and southern Italy similar to that of Florida, but there seems to be less humidity. I guess I am here at a good time.

As the train continues towards Boiano, I notice orchards and farms where vegetables are planted in neatly organized rows. The train is moving too fast, however, to decipher which vegetables they might be. Passing by Cancello at 2:30PM brings back memories from three years ago of being on a train which broke down and being diverted and transported by bus to Cancello to board another train.

I am beginning to notice the changes in the terrain where large hills or small mountains appear on one side. My destination is in the Matese Mountains in the region of Molise, so I know it will be much cooler when I arrive.

Very close to the tracks are some orange groves. On top of the hills are a few remains of what appears to be an ancient castle. Some type of manufacturing plant is at ground level, although no sign indicates its name. Obviously this area is not strictly agricultural.

A little farther and we pass a few cornfields that seem to be past their harvest.

It is now 2:40PM and we arrive at Caserta, our first stop. Graffiti decorate the cement block walls of the neighborhoods adjacent to the station. Several people get off the train here and a young man with a rather large piece of luggage enters and lifts his bag to the overhead rack. Maybe he is American. So far the only language I hear spoken is Italian. This area is not exactly a tourist location.

At 3:05PM we stop at Sparanise. Lots of exchange of passengers here, mostly high school aged young people. It’s a real fashion show…all are wearing athletic shoes, skinny jeans or leggings, and T-shirts, and of course all have a cell phone in their hands. Samsung and Nokia seem to be the predominant brand here.

The train is now passing an olive grove and a few stone houses dot the landscape as we are clearly now in the campagna, or countryside. The train soon stops at Teano. Somebody leaves carrying a box with a flat screen TV. The sign on the box says “My TV.” Is that a brand in Italy?

As I peer out the window past the train station of Riardi I can see an entire town on the top of a hillside. The next stop is Vairano-Caianello. I have never heard of most of these towns. The time is 3:30PM. I think I am the oldest person on this train but enjoy being around all the young people.

The farms are bigger now and I even see bales of hay. We are passing by working windmills, and the low mountains surround the area. We pass another plant of some type, with solar panels in use. I smell something burning and see white smoke in the distance.

The train is approaching what appears to be a large city, with the homes clad in red tile roofs and closer together. We arrive in Venafro. I recall this town from a previous trip. It’s 3:45PM. I should arrive in Boiano in a few more stops, by 4:23PM. The train is not so full now, allowing me room to stretch my legs. I ponder the question of how many days it took my grandparents to travel on horseback to the port of Naples. I cannot even imagine.


I notice some signs of autumn, yellow leaves on an oak tree. The cornfields here are brown, and the breeze is quite a bit cooler. Hens and roosters are walking about someone’s farm and I also see a few sheep. What a contrast to the busy city of Napoli. Italy truly is a diverse country.

We are at a higher elevation now and we are passing a Mercedes-Benz facility and also a place called Fuori Città. Increasing signs of industry and commercial property appear, including a Ford dealership, although we clearly are still in the countryside. I smell a wood-burning fire again.

I have not heard English spoken since I said goodbye to Tina two hours ago. We must be nearing Isernia because I see a tower with Longano on it. Do you wonder why I feel at home here?

The interior train lights are on now as we are entering a tunnel, a sure sign of going through a mountain. Three tunnels later and the high Matese mountains rise up around us. We arrive at the Isernia train station at 4:05 PM. Molise is not far away, the next region.

I grab my luggage from the overhead rack and am happy I am able to manage it myself, despite the 37 pounds it weighs. As of now no one has come by to check the train tickets. Typical for train travel especially in the south of Italy. Trenitalia does random checks. We should be passing Colle d’Anchise, since Boiano is the town after it. Colle d’Anchise is so small it does not have a train station. Boiano is the closest.

At 4:35PM we arrive in Boiano, ten minutes late, and my cousin Antonella is there to greet me. What a wonderful warm feeling 4000 miles from home!


14 Responses

  1. mbrovelli

    I felt like I was riding the train right along with you! Brava! Thanks for the ride! You captured train travel in Italia perfectly. Loved the last photo of your cousin striding up to greet you, the emptiness of the station stretching out behind her.

  2. bonniegm

    Love train travel in Italy. Going from Rome to La mezia we had lunch in the dining car. My husband was quite skeptical of the quality of the pasta until he say all of the train personnel eating it for lunch! It was so lovely to enjoy a meal on the train. Now they are so fast you don’t have time for one.

  3. imarancher

    Loved the running commentary, felt like I was there. I even sympathized with your grandparents on horseback! 4,000 miles and two generations of Longanos all wrapped up in a narrative during a train ride. You are sure organized!

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