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How safe are the train stations?

Hello everybody, first time poster here.

It's also my first time going to Europe - I will be traveling in May with my 24 yr old daughter. I was thinking of taking the train from Naples to CT, the overnight train actually.

We plan on seeing Pompeii and then heading to Cinque Terre. The train I'm looking at is scheduled to leave Naples Centrale at 22:07, arriving Salerno at 22:44, then get on another train at 23:33. My question is - how safe are the stations at night? And will the Circumvesuvian train run that late?

Thank you!

Posted by
390 posts

Well, You are changing trains in Salerno.....Salerno is basically a run through station, only a few tracks, you're in a populated area, the shopping corso starts there, if it will be a weekend night, it will be still a bit busy.....I wouldn't feel unsafe there, but if its a weeknight, there might be very few people around....

Posted by
4637 posts

You will be in Pompei. You don't have to go back all the way to Naples. Instead take a short taxi ride from Pompei Circumvesuviana train station to Pompei train station which is on the train line between Naples and Salerno. Stations are generally safe. Attractive women sometimes experience catcalls by some Italian macho men but Italian women are used to it because it confirms to them that they are attractive. Watch for pickpockets. I am not aware of any other danger.

Posted by
16796 posts

Thanks to Ilja for the Pompei station reminder. You can catch that train toward Salerno at about 22:10.

I have never had a real problem in a train station when heading for a late night train (always solo). There are usually some staff working, if you want to hang out in their vicinity before heading over to your track. See also http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/trip-planning/tips-for-solo-women-travelers and http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/outsmarting-pickpockets for the general tips that apply here, as well as throughout your trip. Unfortunately, you won't be able to wear your sunglasses at that time of night (often a good way to avoid eye contact).

Posted by
4637 posts

Actually, Edith, you won't catch the same train in Pompei. Your intended train from Napoli (Naples) is express and does not stop in Pompei. There are three regional trains around your time leaving Pompei at 21:27 arriving Salerno 22:00, 21:43 - 22:27, 22:OO - 22:54. Because Italian trains are not famous for its punctuality I would prefer not to take the last train of the mentioned ones and rather wait in Salerno than in Pompei not to miss your connection in Salerno in the case of delay of regional train.

Posted by
20732 posts

Our experience is that train station have a fair amount of security. They do not want anyone leaves surprises for the next day. We have never been concerned about train station security.

Posted by
10337 posts

Train stations are where pick pockets do their work. Wear in your money belt the things you absolutely cannot afford to lose--passport, credit card, ATM card, large stash of cash, etc--and you'll have no worries.

Posted by
11613 posts

Pickpockets prefer crowds, at that hour you should find some people around but not rush-hour crowds. Good idea not to take the last train of the night -once I did that, the train was cancelled, and I had a night at the train station.

Posted by
54 posts

Wow, thanks everybody for the quick replies.

What if we see Pompeii until about 17:00, then head to Salerno for dinner and some sightseeing? Any recommended sights, neighborhoods? We both just kind of enjoy experiencing how others live, we enjoy meeting people and talking to them.

Posted by
4539 posts

Edith,

Keep in mind that you may not get much sleep since you will need to transfer trains several times to get to CT.

You may be sorry the next day when you will very likely be tired from lack of sleep.

You might reconsider your plans & avoid train overnight.

Since you are traveling from Naples to CT, does that mean that you are skipping Rome & Florence?

Posted by
390 posts

You can definitely get to Salerno for some dinner and sightseeing!

The shopping corso starts at the station and is pedestrian only, goes into the historic center, where you can find the Duomo that is pretty neat.....I would really spend from your arrival until 8:00pm when most restaurants open wandering around the city, maybe grabbing a gelato from Nettuno on the lungomare (gorgeous seawalk) and people watching.....

al Camminetto in the historic center along Via Roma is one of my favorites, la Tombola near the station is some fantastic pizza, pizzeria Trianon, off the corso almost to the historic center is great as well....

if you want an all around fantastic meal, multi courses if you should like, CiCiRinella, behind the duomo is one of the best....

spending an evening there would be great......though I am unsure where you would be able to store your bags....

Posted by
464 posts

Train 784 originates in Sicily, it has to be ferried across the sea, picks up travellers with a lot of stops all along the way to Salerno, then they close doors and they travel up to Tuscany where the first stop in the morning is scheduled in Livorno (and then it does all the riviera up to Genova and then Milan). Actually, it travels back north through Naples, where it does not stop as it would be too late to pick up other travelers.

Personally, I would consider a day in Pompei followed by a night in a train as too tiring. I would also consider that trains from Sicily may be easily delayed by bad weather at the ferry connection, in spite of two hours being scheduled just to cross a short stretch of sea. And that the train could be crowded by the time it reaches its last boarding stop. And I would revise my plans. Stations by night are not really unsafe but may be occasionally not really pleasant - but this would not be my main concern. My main concern would be not to cram too much action in too short a time.

Posted by
752 posts

Whichever train station, wear a neck wallet and money belt. I don't wear a purse, but I have worn either my soft black RS travel pouch or the RS Euro bag if I take my travel laptop.

The pouch may contain only train tickets and a few hygiene products, but money, debit and credit cards, ID cards and passports are in my RS neck wallet and RS money belt.

Also, it is so important to travel light, just one carry-on each, weighing what you can manage even at the end of a long tired day of traveling. For me that's 15 pounds total weight. That's what I can manage on flights and on trains.

Any more luggage than that can endanger you at train stations. Thieves are looking for women who can't manage their luggage. Two bags each is too much. Remember train cars have several steps and many are narrow, supporting only half your foot. You can manage only one bag going up or down.

It looks so innocuous and it happens faster than you can see.. Last year a group of us met up at SMN train station at Firenze. One in the group accepted help with her two bags from a well-dressed young man. At the hotel she discovered that he had robbed her, he had taken all her money, credit and debit cards, ID cards and passport.

In November I got stalked by a Gypsy man on a train from Ancona to Roma Termini. I don't know what he thought he was going to get. I wore No purse, No travel pouch, No Euro bag. I had only a 15 pound wheeled carry-on with me, and my RS neck wallet and RS money belt. That time my First Class ticket saved me.

Anyone trying to help me with my one bag gets a firm No.

Posted by
390 posts

if you were to stop in Salerno, you could (though its only for one night and you won't see much) stay overnight in Salerno (or even Naples, since you would be closer after your Pompeii visit, it just al depends on what you want to experience) and hop on a EARLY train, after sleeping in a real bed and getting restful sleep at 6:30am (out of Salerno) the Intercity 510.....I would choose an early morning rather than a night train....

Posted by
4539 posts

Edith,

How safe are the train stations?

If you are asking this question, you must have some concerns, right?

I would not take such a risk. It's better to be safe than sorry.

I agree with Katherine, I'd rather sleep in a real bed and travel to my next destination the following morning.

Posted by
11613 posts

To add to the nighttime train station ambience, there are probably no 24-hour services available. I would take a daytime train.

Posted by
34 posts

Last time I was at SMN Firenze, I watched (and video recorded)about 10-12 Bulgarian Gypsies (so said the polizia), working around the Bigliettos and offering to help folks, and reaching into all the change dispensers. It was rather fluid dance of all these young women with long braided pony tails trying to scam customers, and mine the machines for change.

One night at SMN Firenze, about 2100 or so, after a day visit to Lucca, I decided to purchase tickets for our next trip to Cortona. There was hardly anyone around save a few staff. I push the button on the Biglietto, which is in a double row of many Biglietto machines, to begin the purchase process. So what happens next? Some guy lines up behind me. I had to laugh as it was so painfully obvious what he was up to. There were many other machines with no one using them, and he lines up behind me and acts all casual about it. I said to him "nice try signore", and moved to the other side to use a machine there.

Train stations are one of the hot spots for thieves, and groups of thieves, scammers, did I mention thieves? I follow the local Firenze news and the polizia have had to really crack down at SMN and other places. Be aware of your surroundings and don't make it easy for them to pickpocket or steal what you carry. Don't accept assistance with purchases from strangers. They're usually thieves. Use machines near staff desks/podiums.

Posted by
34 posts

By the way, the only wallet, camera slings, light travel bags/gear I'll use over there are made by Pacsafe. Check them out and you'll realize why nearly every other similar product available has inherent fail points in their design. They may not fail but they could by virtue of their design, and I've checked out nearly all of them only to be frustrated. Pacsafe impressed the heck out of me. REI sells some of the Pacsafe line but they have an informative website.

Posted by
23983 posts

Or on the other side of the coin from people who see only thieves, thieves, thieves everywhere, I've been riding Italian trains for years. I've seen various "helpers" at ticket machines but they have never bothered me and a firm NO works wonders. With sob story card beggars on trains I just ignore them. With beggars on or in stations I deal with them as I wish, as I do with other beggars.

I've never used Pac Safe or other fortified bags. I've never seen a cut bag or anybody attempting to cut one. I've never had anything stolen from me in Italy. In the US, but never Italy.

All the alarming stories need to be taken with an understanding that if you are aware of your surroundings and know what you want to accomplish you will generally be fine.

Posted by
7737 posts

I've purchased Pacsafe bags for my upcoming trip to Italy because I'm going to be traveling alone. When there are two of us, we can be more watchful, so I've never felt the need for Pacsafe. But I'm willing to pay some extra for this trip for the locking zippers of the Pacsafe bags.

Posted by
47 posts

The only time I felt unsafe was when my husband and I took the night train from Rome Tiburtina to Venice. We arrived at Tiburtina early, but our train was not until 17:00. The vendors at the train station were all closed, and it was pretty quiet. We were approached by another person who gave us a sob story about needing help to purchase a train ticket and when we wouldn't give him any money he became agitated and started yelling about "rude Americans." I imagine this was an isolated incident and I was glad to have my husband there. We just really used our common sense and were aware of our surroundings and had no other problems. People were generally very helpful and friendly.

Posted by
390 posts

Just letting you know, the Salerno train station will be perfectly fine, last time I checked there were only 2-3 ticket machines, it is at the beginning of the corso, no need to worry about pickpockets, just be aware of your surroundings at all times, as normal.....

Posted by
752 posts

Odd. I had this Hindu Indian Professor for one of my Master's Degrees whose mantra was always "Awareness." That's how I got so Proactive. Meditating with "Awareness" revealed that if there are things I can do for my safety and well being, then I should do them.

For me, that means I wear only a money belt and neck wallet, travel with only one light wheeled carry-on, and for those who don't get the message, I either yell "No" or whip out my First Class train ticket. In Chicago I whip out my Mace.

Posted by
34 posts

While I appreciate the optimism of some, or that some never ever saw or experienced any encounter with criminal miscreants while traveling, I don't think it's appropriate to invalidate others who simply wish to discuss the safety and theft issues honestly. Some of us have had different experiences.

The reality is that there are thieves using knives to cut open bags. I'll never forget the story of a couple who, while waiting at Roma Termini, felt that a male subject was encroaching on their space and luggage suspiciously, making them feel uncomfortable. So much so, they decided to go stand elsewhere with their thousands of dollars in camera gear. After moving, only then did they realize why the man was encroaching on their space. A slash was cut through one of their camera bags and they were about to lose a very expensive lens. As a photographer myself, I can appreciate the significance of the potential monetary loss.

I think there were some videos of similar capers uploaded to You Tube.

Pacsafe lines their bags with steel mesh to defeat thieves from slashing them open. Other products have cheap, thin plastic buckles that clip their money belt and strap together. These buckles are easily broken and can result in potential loss. The shoulder straps have steel cord in them to make them slash proof as well. If there's a better, more secure system, I'd rather use it and minimize risks. I don't think there's anything wrong with providing such information. I didn't know about Pacsafe until I saw it at Seattle REI. Then I researched it online and was impressed. On that note, I recall my wife wanting to use my slr to photograph me in front of St. Peters. I untethered it from my Pacsafe strap so she could do this. As I backed away to be photographed, a man rushed toward my wife. But I saw him watching and waiting off to my left, and got to her before he did. (What they usually do is grab the neck strap and run, taking you to the pave in the process. They do this over at Trevi Fountain and other places). Anyway, the man smirked at me, as he jogged away.

About 2 years ago now, an older gentleman was near the Duomo in Firenze, and tried the firm approach with a thief. The thief didn't respect this, and stabbed the man. Emergency surgery was conducted and the man lost a kidney. I believe this kind of assault on a traveler in Italy is rare. I guess each individual has to take stock of what action they think is appropriate as circumstances arise. Sometimes a firm "no" works fine.
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/22/18421528-american-tourist-68-stabbed-in-main-square-of-florence-italy

I follow local news in Firenze and they have crime like everyone else, but the trends have interesting differences because they often involve gangs or individuals traveling from place to place on trains, never sticking around long enough to be apprehended. If they are, it's before they leave and sheer luck. I've spoken to various police around Italy about this, and it's a frustration for them to deal with. Same in Roma, Naples, and most everywhere else. I think small towns see less of it, at least this was our experience.

Informing yourself of these potential problems, or sharing factual information regarding it does not equate to hyper paranoid vigilance. The point is to prepare one's self with knowledge so they can avoid trouble and enjoy their travels.

The original question was "How safe are the train stations"? I shared my own observations. I also saw this at Roma Termini, but not at Santa Lucia Venezia or Lucca and others. Some may never encounter or see any thieves but it's well known and published all the same. It's the real world....all over the world.

Posted by
752 posts

I agree. It's Not that we see thieves everywhere; it's that we don't see thieves everywhere. If the Chicago cops won't let me wear a purse, then I don't wear it anywhere.

In 2013 I was at La Rinascente at Firenze, buying a luggage I could check, and the sales clerk refused to sell me a soft luggage I wanted to buy. She kept saying, "They'll cut it, they'll cut it." I told her that I Never saw anyone cut luggage. But she would Not back down.

Later I bought a soft luggage at Roma Termini, and now I never use a checked bag. My carry-on is soft, but it's small and I pack it light so I can manage it at all times. I travel alone and I have to watch my own back.

I don't travel in any US city without first taking precautions. It's reasonable and commonsense that I would take the same precautions anywhere in the world. My Awareness starts at home, that enables me to travel safe and happy wherever I am. I don't give a hoot who's in the train station. I'm ready.

Posted by
5 posts

We traveled via trail from Rome to Florence and return last year in April. What people are saying about pickpockets in the train stations and elsewhere in Italy is absolutely correct. We bought our tickets here in the US so were able to watch the scene of gypsies hassling people waiting in line to buy tickets, checking the change slots, being run out by the police for a minute or two, only to return. We saw people who had just been pickpocketed in both Rome and Florence. We are not fearful and have gone to Europe numerous times but these days are more alert as it has worsened imho. I use a Pacsafe purse worn crossbody, my husband wears a neck pouch with our passports, money, tickets in it. We don't let anyone stop us on the street for the most part and I familiarize myself before each trip with Rick's warnings as well as reports on CruiseCritic and Tripadvisor. We were approached by scams described by Rick last year twice and kept going and had no problems, but had we stopped and been roped in, would have been robbed. You will have no problems as long as you are prepared and stay alert. People who say it is all baloney are wrong, and shouldn't try to embarrass others for being prepared.

Posted by
11983 posts

believe it or not, the stations are safer at night. I can say it from experience since I worked at Firenze SMN. At night all we got is the occasional crazy wandering around drunk, but other than that, it's really quiet. During the day, with the awful crowds of tourists, you couldn't keep up with the gipsies trying to score a quick buck stealing a purse or a bag.
The individuals who look most suspicious, are actually the policemen in plain clothes from the Polizia Ferroviaria. If you see a suspicious looking man wearing a man's purse, he's certainly one of them. Inside the purse is a Beretta 9mm long and a pair of handcuffs. Hang out in their proximity while you wait for the train.
This is a typical looking purse for a policeman.
http://www.viverelatoscana.it/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/800x600/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/t/r/tracolla-multitasca-uomo03.jpg

Posted by
2235 posts

Nice bag Roberto, does one need to go to Florence to find something so nice?