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Trip Report Eight days exploring and eating in Naples, Paestum and Rome

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In October 2011 my mother and I spent eight days visiting Naples, Paestum and Rome. We've been to Italy quite a few times, but this was a first trip for the both of us to Naples and Paestum (home to Greek ruins and buffalo mozzarella). From Naples we took a day trip to Herculaneum and from Paestum we took a day trip to Agropoli. Rome was at the end of our trip and is one of my favorite cities (you'll find two previous trips of mine posted here).

I've written many trip reports here on Fodor's and in the past I've written lengthy day-by-day text, but this time I'm going to change it up a bit. This report will summarize what we did (and ate, because when in Italy, it's all about the food!), featuring the highlights for each location. I'm hoping the (somewhat) shorter version will be easier for people to gather tips and advice.

Transportation: Planes, trains, and automobiles

Planes

LAX-FCO-LAX on Air Canada
We flew Air Canada from LAX to Rome. My mother went two weeks ahead of me on a frequent flyer ticket and traveled alone before I arrived. We met up in Rome and and I bought my ticket to coincide with her flight home. The seats on AC were fairly comfortable with a larger than average pitch (32") in economy and seatback video on demand with tons of choices. Some of the economy seats also have A/C power ports and USB ports for charging your electronic devices. Headset jacks are the standard ones for an MP3 player, so bring your own because they charge for headsets (and pillows, and blankets, and food) on the US-Canada portion of the route. Those items are free on the Canada-Europe routes.

On the way to Rome I flew through Montreal and on the way back we flew through Toronto. Both airports have free wifi which is nice and way better than LAX which still does not.
In Montreal I had my passport checked but my luggage was checked through to Rome. In Toronto we had to get our luggage, go through passport control for US entry, then through customs, then re-check our bags. Thankfully we had a 4 hour layover because this process took up almost half of it. In Toronto, my mother could have gone through customs in a flash using her Global Entry pass, but since I didn't have one, she waited with me. I now have my own Global Entry Pass and I'm good to go!

Note; If you are a US Citizen who travels internationally a few times a year, and want to learn more about the Global Entry pass, I've written about my experience here:
http://www.wired2theworld.com/2012/02/20/how-to-become-a-trusted-traveler-with-the-global-entry-program/

TRAINS:
Leonardo Express: FCO-Termini (Rome's central train station)
On arrival into Rome, I took the "Leonardo Express" train from FCO to Termini for 14 euro. Don't forget to validate your ticket in one of the machines before getting on the train or you could face a large fine.
Meeting in Rome Termini: My mother and I planned to meet at a specific cafe in Termini, but both of us had a hard time finding it. It was sheer luck we found each other after wandering for over 20 minutes.

Trains: Rome-Naples-Paestum-Rome
We didn't rent a car this trip and instead just stuck to riding all manner of trains in the Trenitalia system from the super fast bullet train which sped us from Rome to Naples (and back) in just over an hour each way to the commuter rail line which took us to Paestum.
The tickets from Rome to Naples were 45 euro each, bought same-day, but if you buy them in advance you can sometimes get them 2-for-1 or at least a little discounted (we didn't buy in advance because we were concerned my flight from LA would arrive late). The slower trains take an hour or two longer but cost less (about half). You know the saying, time is money and for us, it was worth the extra money to save the time and arrive earlier. To get to Rome from Paestum we had to take the train back to Naples and switch to the fast train to Rome.

Commuter rail, bus and metro:
The commuter rail tickets from Naples to Paestum were only 6.20 euro each way.
We also took the circumvesuviana line from Naples to Herculaneum. We bought day passes for Naples bus and metro system and did the same in Rome. In Pasteum we bought bus tickets to Agropoli and then waited along side the road in front of the cafe, for the bus to come when it felt like it.

Car
Cabs:
In Naples we took a cab from the train station to the apartment and it was a set 10 euro. On the way back to the train station, the guy ran the meter and it was 7 euro. We did not take any cabs in Rome as it's easy to get around by bus and walking.

For the trip back to FCO I booked a car to pick us up at 8am (for our 11:30 am departure) using RomeShuttleLimosine for 40 euro (only slightly more than the two of us taking the bus to Termini and then the train to the airport). The service was "ok" but the guy was 10 minutes late and frankly a little weird. In the past I've used RomeCabs but they were 10 euro more for 2 people. Next time I would call RomeCabs.

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