I must say how impressed I am with Italian transportation.
The Flixbus from Rome to Siena introduced a new travel option for me because the company has routes throughout Europe and they are super cheap if you have the time to ride through the countryside. The few city buses we took were timely and inexpensive. On most you could purchase a ticket right on the bus-only the Amalfi Coast buses required a pre-purchased fare. And I love the introductory hop-on/hop-off buses that give you a flavor of the city you’re visiting…seeing Rome this way stretched my list of sites seen!
Taxis, whether called in advance or taken from the rank, were efficient given our luggage situation. Except in Rome, they were also reasonably priced at about 10-15€ per ride, including tip. The drivers were always pleasant and professional and some were tour guides in disguise! Also, taxis can go where the cars cannot, so staying in historic centers meant we could get dropped off at our door rather than “on the edge” in a parking lot out of town. We also used a private hired limo service, Joe Banana Limos, to get to and from our Amalfi Coast property. I highly recommend their services and I highly recommend that you use a private service if you’re ever staying anywhere on those hairpin cliffside roads! The bus is not for the faint of heart!
We rode on fast and slow trains and they were almost always easy to find and on time. Unlike in France, the track numbers are provided well in advance so there isn’t a mad dash mob at the last minute, scurrying to a train about to close its doors. For some, we had reserved seats and for others it was a free for all and occasionally we stood near the doors minding our luggage. A lot of stations had a roundhouse type of platform where you didn’t need to go up or down to cross tracks. These were the best. But most others had elevators or escalators to get up and down between platforms…a godsend since stairs and suitcases don’t mix! Another feature I’d like France to copy!
In Venice, we got around via water taxis, also known as vaporettos. They’re easy, can be crammed, and if you get a position on the outside railing, they’re the best scenic tour of the Grand Canal ever. In fact, instead of a hop-on/hop-off bus, Venice has a hop-on/hop-off sightseeing boat! While I appreciate the ease of using the vaporettos, I still have motion sickness today where the world is tilting back and forth to each side…the same thing happened to me last time and the perceived movement lasted for days.
By far, the best way to see and do is to walk and we did plenty. My daily average steps in October is over 10,000 where typically it has been in the range of 6-7,000. On the Amalfi Coast, you take your life in your hands because there is not enough room for vehicles, let alone pedestrians on the streets! And throughout Italy, there are stairs EVERYWHERE. D even climbed a few towers and we both climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Some of the steps date back to medieval times and they are pitted and sunken in spots where millions of people have trod before us. Others are newer with less pitch and height…particularly on the pedestrian bridges in Venice. No matter which, I prefer a railing!
On our last day in Venice, D decided to climb the Campanile in St. Mark’s Square. It was expensive at 8€ and since I’m not a climber, I decided to stroll the arcades instead. D and I rendezvoused earlier than planned and he had a big grin on his face. Apparently, Italy has fine elevators too!