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Circumvesuviana Train

Any comments or advice about riding the Circumvesuviana train? From reading Rick Steve'e Italy 2008 theft alert about pickpockets and intimidating ruffians, I am a little apprehensive about taking it. My husband and I planned on traveling by train from Rome, change to Circumvesuviana and on to Pompeii and possibly a night at Sorrento. Any leads on bus tours to Pompeii from Rome for the day? Thanks. Mary

Posted by
486 posts

It is safe! It is generally crowded so you may not get a seat. Like a subway train which it seems more akin to, there is no good place for luggage. Graffiti is everywhere but we felt comfortable.

Our only interesting experience was where a group of teens were talking loudly (as typical of kids) until a policeman boarded. Suddenly you could hear a pin drop as he asked them for tickets. They did not have them and he ordered them off the train and made them sit down as he checked IDs. A few others nearby who apparently also failed to buy tickets casually walked off to the exit only to discover another officer at the exit who ordered them to go to the first officer. Then a conductor and a supervisor boarded and the supervisor pointed to various groups to check. He checked our tickets. Everyone who was checked had tickets.

15 minutes after stopping, we continued. It was the only delay I saw in 5 days of Circumvesuviana riding.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for your responses. John your experience on the train sounds encouraging. To Doug, in Rick's Italy 2008 book, he states that in Naples your biggest risk of theft is while catching or riding the Circumvesuviana commuter train. He reported that while he has never had a problem many of his readers have reported being ripped off on this train. He states that for maximum safety and peace of mind, sit in the front car, where the driver will double as your protector.

Posted by
3313 posts

Mary - Good to know, but I follow this Helpline and haven't seen anyone mention problems on the Circumvesuviana here. I could understand that some problems might hapen - it's Naples after all, but I haven't seen complaints of the type I see for buses in Rome or bracelet vendors in Paris. So I am surprised Rick thought it necessary to add this caution for the Circumvesuviana.

Have others heard similar complaints?

Posted by
1449 posts

Mary, just be alert and aware and you'll be fine. I used the line for a few days in the area and not only didn't have a problem, I didn't see anyone else have one either.

As with public transit anywhere,if there was to be a "grab-and-run" it would happen if you have bags set down right by the door. So sit in the middle of the car. At the Naples station it can be crowded and standing room only on the car, but this lets up after a couple of stops. If you're a Rick Steves kind of traveler with one bag, you're almost sure not to have even a hint of a problem with your luggage. It's the people struggling to corral several bags that are the obvious targets. Wear moneybelts and no pickpocket problems either.

When you see Sorrento you'll want to stay! I'd advise at least 2 days there.

Posted by
1449 posts

Just to add, I'm going to guess you haven't taken trains before in Europe. Once you ride them you'll see that you're not at constant risk of life and property. I think Rick's comments are necessary but end up needlessly alarming people. If you write a guidebook and you don't mention the potential for problems, them people will feel misled if something happens to them -- why weren't they warned?

The problem is the person who's never been on a train becomes really worried, as if most other riders will be a thief or pickpocket targeting them. But its not that dire! If you take reasonable steps then they're going to target someone easier and less aware; and when you travel you'll see plenty of that. Wallets bulging in pockets, cameras & purses set on the sidewalk next to cafe tables, harried travelers pulling 3 stuffed bags onto a train.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks Mike. Yes, I'm a first time traveler to Europe and the trains so I have been reading Rick Steve's book pretty carefully to make sure I'm prepared. I appreciate your advice and have been planning carefully with money belt, one carry-on suitcase, etc. to have a smooth trip. I feel much better now about taking the Circumvesuviana train. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't getting in over my head. Again, thanks for your input.

Posted by
486 posts

Mary,

With only a short trip out of Rome, you can pack everything for 2 in one small bag and leave the rest in Rome. Helps with getting around as well as protecting your property.

The biggest problem with C'ana is that it is like a subway and is cheap so it attracts local pickpockets who know there are tourists galore and the pickpockets can grab and run and before you can leave your seat, the doors are closed.

So ordinary care along with making sure someone can't do the "grab and run".

Posted by
9420 posts

Mary, I too was scared to death to ride the circumvesuviana because of what Rick Steves wrote. He makes a very big deal about it. It was absolutely untrue in my experience, as others have already written. We've been there (Sorrento) twice and are returning again this summer and we've ridden the train many, many times with no problems at all. Never saw anyone have any problems either. Do be careful in the Naples train station though, keep everything in your tight grasp and don't meander.

Posted by
7209 posts

Ditto, we were scared to death and ready to fight our way through the hordes of robbers and thieves...it wasn't that way AT ALL! It was fine.

Posted by
1449 posts

Mary, I guessed you were a first-time train traveler because I must confess had your exact same thoughts once.

Before my 1st trip I read Ricks books (Italy, and the Back Door book) because I wanted to be prepared. And the book gives a healthy dose of warnings and caveats, making me kinda paranoid.

So I flew into Rome and was taking the train to the Termini station, my bag clutched in my lap. Sure enough the guy sitting next to me, in a suit (and Rick warns that thieves dress different than Americans expect, often smartly attired in a suit) pointed and tried to tell me I could put my bag in the bin 10 feet away. No way! This was a scam I was warned about, already happening after 30 minutes in the country! I held that bag.

Of course it turns out the train doesn't even stop until Termini; nobody could have grabbed the bag and dashed away. I just needed to get my bag when we were there.

So be attentive, but not scared. Don't worry that thieves are in every seat!

Posted by
36 posts

Attention is the word for the day.

Look, I travel on the circumvesuviana on a daily basis.

when it is darker, take the first wagon, first seats as the Capo Treno (the supervisor for the train) and the conductor are always there plus other train station employees that travel on the train.

you will be close to them in case of an emergency.
I am a woman , travellling at nigt and never had any issues. attentive, but not scared.

Take Care
Cinthya

ps. leave the diamonds at home jejejejeje !

Posted by
7514 posts

This brings memories of my first time through Naples, on the train there, we saw more than one RS book being read and struck up conversation with a couple of middle aged ladies. They expressed doubts about traversing the Naples terminal and I offered to stay with them and get them safely on the Circumvesuvia. That led to a family speaking up as well as another couple. I looked part tour guide/part mother goose leading the pack through the terminal. Safety was certainly in numbers, but somewhat unecessary. Walk confidently and like you know what you are doing.

Posted by
486 posts

After my first Circumvesuviana trip, I look down my nose at those obvious tourists who didn't know what they were doing and acted as if everyone was a criminal.

After all, by then I was an experienced Circumvesuviana rider. I would offer to help them in my best phony Italian accent until my wife hit me and told them we were just other tourists.

Posted by
3313 posts

I went back and looked at Rick's comments in the 2007 Italy book and, heck yes, I'd be paranoid if I was taking the Circumvesuviana after reading that. I think the caution about pickpockets in the Naples train station is reasonable but I was really surprised by how harsh he is on the train. I just haven't seen comments about problems on it.

Posted by
87 posts

We travelled from Sorrento to Naples just prior to Christmas 2006. We were lucky that we were able to get seats when we boarded because as we went along it became extremely packed. There were some people that boarded that we were very concious of. As we got closer to Naples my husband saw at least one young child who had pushed through the crowds hand a wallet over to someone else, as they continued to push through the length of the train. It's a matter of being aware. On our trip to Sorrento even though the train had been crowded and we had to stand we weren't aware of anything untoward, nor on our trips to and from Pompeii.

Posted by
1 posts

I loved the Circumvesuviana. I found no trouble with pickpockets.

Posted by
6 posts

I am surprised (and happy) to hear so many people had good experiences on the train. However, my husband and I rode it very late one night back in Sept 2006, and we did not have a good experience. There seemed to be a lot of shady people, one even kept staring at my husband's pockets and looked as though he was making some signals to some guys standing in the back, also staring at us. There were other people on the train who seemed unaware, but I guess we really stuck out with all of our bags that we were not locals. It was the longest train ride of my life. We are going back to Italy this Sept. and if we do take the train, I will do so only during the day. We will probably just keep our rental car though. Hope I didn't scare you, and of course this is only based off of our one time riding it, but just be careful at night.

Posted by
32198 posts

Mary, good advice from the group so far!

I've ridden the Circumvesuviana a few times (during the day) but never had any problems. I didn't notice any "intimidating ruffians", but mostly just other tourists.

However it can be crowded at times, so be sure to wear your Money Belts and keep a firm grip on Daypacks or whatever.

Happy travels!

Posted by
54 posts

Our family rode this train this past week and had no problems at all. If you head straight downstairs to the Circumvesuviana line from inside the train station you should be fine. We stayed in Sorrento for 4 nights ---the end of the line for the train. We rode the train to Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Posted by
43 posts

Took the train July 6th and had no problems. We had one pickpocketing attempt in the Rome metro, and 2 attempts in Pisa and the bus from the train to the Leaning Tower.

Posted by
63 posts

Was there in June and had no problems riding the train, especially during the morning and afternoon hours. If you have to ride after the evening commute, be sure to sit (or stand) in the front car.

Posted by
1 posts

Just got back last month. No Problems at all. its seems like any other train in NewYork that you are riding.. yes, lots of graffati but it was pretty safe to me.. Something can happen anywhere, just dont walk around with lots of personal stuff if you feel unsafe. HAVE FUN! wish I was back there already..

Posted by
9 posts

I will admit the first time on, I was uncomfortable because school had just gotten out and the train was full. With graffiti everywhere on the outside of the train it was also hard to see out. No one bothered us though and on the way back to Naples from Sorrento, it was actually fairly quiet. If you are worried about the train, you could always take the Ferry or Hydrofoil, though it is more expensive because you have to get the Molo Beverello port by bus or taxi and then the fair is higher. Just keep an eye out and you'll be fine.

Posted by
492 posts

We didn't have any issues with pickpockets on the Circumvesuviana, we did see some people doing the begging thing, one girl was carrying a small child while she told her story of woe. Besides the graffiti, that was the only thing we noticed that was of any concern. Just keep aware of your surroundings and take all the normal precautions. The only reference I remember seeing to trouble on that train line was on the later night trains, and you should be either on your way back to Rome from Naples or in Sorrento by the time that might even be an issue.

Posted by
49 posts

I love Naples, but you need to follow Rick's advice. I'm happy all the other posters didn't have a problem, but I did not like the Circumvesuviana. It goes through the poorest parts of the Neapolitan suburbs. Also, I will never forget all the Italians getting on the first car, and leaving the other cars empty. This is a sure sign that even the locals are suspicious of this train.