We are planning a trip to Naples and thinking about renting a car to drive to Rome, Pompeii, Amalfi. I have heard/read that driving in Rome is dangerous and regrettable. Anyone know? If so what is the next best way to see these sights. Thanks, Julie and Brian
OK, where to start? For your itinerary, methods other than a car are not the "next best way"; a car is the WORST way. Italy is not like the US, where a car is a near-necessity in many cities. Rome has ZTL's, areas in the center where non-residents' cars are not allowed, and heavy fines will result if you cross into one of these (even accidentally, and even for a minute; if you enter 3 times in 10 minutes because you're lost, you'll get 3 fines). Then there's the traffic, and the driving styles in Rome and Naples (something to watch from the sidelines, and to be glad you're not in the middle of - like a wrestling match). Then there's the cost of gas, parking, and tolls, all of which can be much higher than in the US. From Naples to Rome, there are express trains taking 70 minutes (cheaper with advance non-refundable tickets, but not too expensive even at the last minute). From Naples to Pompeii, there's the Circumvesuviana, a commuter train line taking about 40 minutes (very cheap - about €5). And from Naples to Amalfi, you take the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento (end of the line), then a bus; you can also take boats in high season. Details of all these are in Rick Steves Italy, and in most other guidebooks. If you need any help with these, post another note. BTW, I'm not saying driving in all of Italy is "crazy." For small towns and rural areas, it's fine. But in Italian cities (any of them), the only way to deal with a car is to park it on the outskirts and leave it for the duration of your stay, or to pick one up on the way out of town.
The only part of your trip to consider a car is the Amalfi Coast. Naples might just be the worst place in Europe to try and drive, based on what I've seen walking the sidewalks. And Rome isn't far back down that list. Not to mention the restricted zones and lack of any parking. Take the train and relax during your trip. The Amalfi can be done by bus if you are just there for a couple-three days and focussed on the towns. Consider a car if you are there longer or want to explore more rural areas or sites.
Julie, I would NOT RECOMMEND driving in Rome or Naples. Especially in Naples, "normal traffic rules" do not apply and it will likely be a "white knuckle" experience. In addition to the Zona Traffico Limitato areas that Harold mentioned, there are also parking costs and other issues to consider. Here's one example of someone in Rome that didn't pay attention to the parking rules. Note that EACH DRIVER will require the compulsory International Driver's Permit for driving in Italy, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. Failure to produce an I.D.P. if requested can result in being fined on the spot! You may find it helpful to read the excellent www.roninrome.com website. The "next best way to see the sights" is to use well planned public transit. The high speed trains travel at up to 300 kmH, so much faster than a car, and no issues with traffic. Having a car in the larger cities will be a nuisance. Happy travels!
It's about 150 miles from Rome to Naples, and the fast train is the way to go. You can transfer on the train down to the Amalfi Coast. I didn't have a car in Rome last year, but didn't find the city to be as fast moving as previously lead to believe. It's still not a place for a foreigner to have a car.
I prefer to use the buses in Rome to get around, as they're pretty efficient. We stayed 20 miles south of Rome, and traveled into the city by local train.
Driving isn't bad in either. Parking sucks in both.
A car isn't needed in your case. A car in Italy is necessary only if your plans include rural areas and small villages which tend to be served by infrequent public transportation options.
Thank you all so much! Great information! Julie
"...driving in Rome is dangerous and regrettable..." Now THAT'S the definition of 'understatement' LOL! Walking in Rome is dangerous and regrettable...literally dangerous. Those Vespas zipping around DO kill people, and a portion of the others end up at the ospedale :-( You've really got to watch out for yourself! I've recently done this trip by train, and that's the way to go. By 'Amalfi', do you mean the town, or the 'Amalfi Coast'? If you want to go down to Sorrento, that is still definitely a train location. 'Amalfi', I believe, will require a bus or car.