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Safety issues: Italy possibly Switz by train

Safety issues: Italy possibly Switz by train

Jul 31st, 2010, 05:17 PM
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Safety issues: Italy possibly Switz by train

I have just started to plan a 2 week Oct trip to Italy possibly including Switzerland. My initial idea is fly into Rome, train to Florence, train to Venice into Milan then if time permits, I can take the scenic train route into Zurich before going back to Milan to fly back home. Our intention is to stay 2-3 days in each location. The problem is my husband insists on going to Positano. As I do my research, I find some threads that recount safety issues particularly regarding the Naples and Termini station. I googled it further and found a whole thread of people's actual accounts in virtual tourist.

We will be travelling with quite a few luggages with two kids aged 9 and 5. Should we reconsider train travel? A few years ago, hubby and I went to Venice from Rome but took a plane. Should we consider this instead - for all our stops?

As for the Amalfi coast: I'm actually now considering hiring a private transfer from Rome to Positano and back or should a plane to Naples then a taxi into Positano work better as opposed to a train then taxi?
zizz is offline  
Jul 31st, 2010, 05:41 PM
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I can take the scenic train route into Zurich before going back to Milan to fly back home>

does this mean via the Bernina Pass railway? If so i can tell you a whole lot about that - having done it several times and IMO is bar far the most scenic railway in Switzerland?
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 31st, 2010, 05:44 PM
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IMHO you should not be so worried about this issue. it is true that there are folks looking to steal from any place where a lot of tourists congregate. But if you are alert to your surroundings there is little chance you will have a problem. We have ridden the train in Italy on about a dozen trips over the years and not had a problem.

I do think you should try to minimize the number of bags you have to manage, as getting on and off the train with kids and bags can a hassle.
charnees is offline  
Jul 31st, 2010, 06:33 PM
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getting a cheap flight within Europe with a bunch of luggage and kids is even more of a hassle
Dukey is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 03:52 AM
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Hi zizz,

>Rome, train to Florence, train to Venice into Milan then if time permits, I can take the scenic train route into Zurich ........ The problem is my husband insists on going to Positano.<

Gee, you had a nice itinerary there.

Does DH know why he wants to go to the AC, or does it just sound like a nice idea?

ira is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 03:54 AM
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The "safety issues" in Naples are greatly overblown.

The only reason that you would want to spend big bucks to have a limo from Rome to the AC is for the convenience.

Also, if you absolutely must see the AC, I suggest flying into Venice (or Milan) and out of Naples.
ira is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 06:23 AM
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Thank you so much for the replies.

PalenQ, the scenic train route is actually just the train from Milan to Zurich where I've read I can get a glimpse of Lake Como and the Alps. I've looked up the Bernina Pass but then I would need to go to Torino from Milan (?) and end up somewhere outside of Zurich (St. Moritz? Chur?) and this would entail even more add'l train rides. Initially, I also wanted to do the Glacier Express but it'll only be open for the first half of my trip so I would have to reverse my entire itinerary. Into Rome, out of Milan is cheaper for me.

As for flying out of Naples - that would have to be a connection to FCO and the airline I'm looking at is throwing out some ridiculously expensive fare for this whole schedule of Naples into FCO to Singapore.

Why he wants to see Positano? I think it's positively gorgeous. I wouldn't mind doing those coach day trips out of Rome but they start at 7am and last for 13hrs (can include a boat trip around AC) and cost like an arm and a leg.
zizz is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 06:44 AM
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I don't see how, based on the time you have and all the places you plan on going to, are going to find the time to fit Positano/Naples/AC in that plan.

You only have 14 days - and alot of those days are going to be travel days - train, check out/in at hotels - which takes about a half day off your available schedule each stop.

Example - check out of hotel in Rome at 8am - train to Florence - 2 hours - to the hotel , check in. That puts you around noon time. Not to mention that most of the hotels wont let you check in until after 1 or 2pm. Sure they will let you store your bags, but you still have to go back, put the luggage in the rooms later.

Day 1 you are going to be jet lagged assuming you are coming from the US. The day you leave you also most likely are departing either in the morning or early afternoon. So that's another day shot.

If the AC is a must, your going to have to re-do your itinerary and cut a place or 2 off your list. I'd say skip the AC and skip Zurich, your just not going to have time, and you are not going to want to go through the hassle of checking in/out, loading up luggage, loading the kids onto the train, getting off the train, getting to the next hotel etc 5 times. Especially not when you only have 14 days. Or more realistically 12 days.
chazzarelli is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 07:37 AM
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There's a lot of interest around Positano: Pompeii, Capri, Amalfi, Mt. Vesuvius, Paestum. You won't have time to do this area justice. I'd leave it for another trip.

You're making a lot of stops for traveling with kids. Have you traveled like this with them before? Most children seem to prefer longer stays in one spot. And they're not going to be big fans of museums and churches. With this in mind you might consider omitting Florence this trip.
Mimar is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 07:39 AM
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We went through this last year. Just be careful when you are handling your wallet or purse e.g. taking your credit card out of your purse to buy a train ticket. I was very alert to my surroundings after reading about pickpockets but must say that Termini lived up to the warnings. Each time I took my card out to pay for a ticket someone reached in to distract me.
colduphere is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 07:51 AM
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Are you just going to Zurich and turn around and go back - if so you need not go so far as Zurich as the scenic part of the Gotthard Tunnel route ends far before Zurich - at least the Alpine part and instead of Zurich i would head for Lucerne if just a one day stay - lovely city on an incredibly lovely lake - some trains on that route go to Lucerne and from others you can change at Arth-Goldau for Lucerne. For loads of info on train travel in this area i always spotlight these great sights for planning - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com

If you know the risks and dangers involved in Termini and Naples Central stations then the risk diminishes - be wary of anyone coming up to you - even ones looking official.

Recently in Termini i got off a night train and had my luggage on wheels, etc and was perusing the schedule board - and then several youngish non-Italian looking guys came up and asked me about a certain train on the board - this sounded fishy to me - them asking an obvious clueless tourist so i just skidaddled - they may have been innocent but that is a classic modus apperendi - diverting attention while others rife through you bags or take them.

Termini has a high police presence it seems these days so maybe the problem is better.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 08:24 AM
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I am beginning to doubt train travel is option for us. Apart from safety issues, I've realized that luggage is another issue. It seems that we can only bring 22" wheeled luggages to effectively maneuver in and out of platforms etc...How can I possibly fit clothes for a family of 4 for 2 weeks into two of those? Sure we can do laundry but with only 2-3 days in each stop, it seems like a waste of time to spend part of the day doing that.

Can flying be an option? We flew from Venice into Rome once and that was completely fine. Are there direct flights from Venice into Florence or Milan, or flights from Florence into Milan? I'm thinking I can limit it to one train travel within Italy. The Switzerland part shouldn't be a problem as we can leave our luggages in Milan which will be our base.

As for the kids, they travel all the time. I don't see them having issues with this. I plan to choose what to see rather than see everything given that they're with us. I've known a lot of people who bring their kids to those European coach tours which require them to spend hours and hours inside the bus and move from city to city. I'm thinking it will be just like that but at least we get to do it on our own pace.
zizz is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 08:27 AM
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Can flying be an option? We flew from Venice into Rome once and that was completely fine>

Above one piece checked free many airlines are charging exhorbitant rates for excess - even the cheapie discount carriers can charge a ton for checked bags.

In Switzerland for 15 Swiss francs you can send a bag ahead to any of about 35 train stations and have it waiting for you or arrive shortly after you do. Not possible in Italy.

and you can easily move pieces more than 22" on platforms in Italy which are several feet wide and use the areas at each door for large luggage.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 09:11 AM
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I'm afraid your picture of train safety issues is fairly distorted. Italy is a large and incredibly diverse country, and just because there are certain precautions to be taken at the Naples and Rome train stations, that says about as much about safety in the train station of Venice as about safety on JFK airport, NYC. In Venice, as in most of northern Italy, safety issues are unheard of - same goes for Florence. (Wait for somebody who knows Milan better than I do to update you on the Milan train station, though, I've no idea about that one.)
franco is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 10:01 AM
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Here was my incident in front of Naples Centrale station - i was eating some gelato on a cone and stepped in a pot hole and boom slammed my face into the cobblestones - my nose right in the gelato

I got up and i was totally disoriented for a few minutes - dazed and confused - i did not know where the heck i was initially - then knew i was in Naples and slowly it came back i was right in front of the train station - and not only was i not robbed of my day pack or moneybelt, etc when disabled but several locals came and asked if they could help - i demurred by they were all friendly and helpful

I finally, blood gushing down my face, made my way into the station itself and followed the red cross symbol to where medical help was - they immediately tended to my gushing bloody nose and called for an ambulence - the ambulence took me on a very bumpy ride to a nearby hosptial's E R - where doctors stitched up the wound and took X-Rays of my head (it showed 'nothing' they said!) but kept me for observation for about an hour

from the time i got to the hospital a Napolese orderly guy about 45 took me under his wing and accompanied me throughout all the stages of seeing several different doctors, X-rays, etc and right out to a taxi he called to finally take me back to the station for my train back to Rome.

The Naples people in the station area and in the station medical facility and hospital could not have been more helpful.

That is how i found the Naplese folks to be - contrary to what expectations may have been.

And to me best of all was that my total hospital charges, including ambulence were zero - they had no facility for charging anyone they said as such care in Italy is totally free. Hats off to the Italian medical/health care system - i found all the doctors seemingly very competent - i was tended to immediately - no long wait - and again at the Florence hospital ER where i later went to have stitches removed - again free of charge.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 10:33 AM
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Have you considered renting a car?.....this would make it possible for you parents and the children, at their ages, to enjoy small towns and villages. We drove into Florence (not into) but a Hilton hotel out in the northern suburbs and they had a shuttle to take people into the center of Florence. Venice has a parking garages outside of town. There are areas around Lake Como , as well as Lake Garda (several childrens attractions south of Garda) (but you didn't mention this area,,,sorry,, I digress!!!)
Rome is another story..........busy , busseling and lots of walking city streets.
Drivng in Switzerland is very easy....the freeway has nice stops along the way,,, and that is one place where the small,beautiful villages are wonderful experiences.
The Amalfi Coast IS also "another story"....best seen with a driver and/or tour....... starting from Sorrento, or Naples. That would be a lot to include with your main intinery.
THe FIRST adjustment you might want to consider making is to
Pare down your luggage to 1 small suitcase per person. It CAN be done easily,, and if you do ..then I'll bet you will be glad you did it that way. .........ESPECIALLY if you take any trains !
In looking back at your post,,, it looks like you want to mainly visit CITIES....so perhaps you don't want to consider a car.
I read a hint the other day about travel with Children,,,,"plan only ONE tourist attraction PER DAY when traveling with children."
mari5 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 11:15 AM
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PalenQ Finally, we now know what makes you tick - you have nothing in your head.

Seriously, that was amazing that you were so well taken care of. What more could any of us ask for if we are injured or sick while traveling.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 01:55 PM
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you are greatly over-worrying (new word ) the train safety issue - and the luggage hassles.

You are not limited to 22 inch bags on the train. I personally only take 21 inchers and would not take larger that 24 myself. But 24-26 inch bags w/ wheels are easy depending on the person's physical size/abilities

The 9 yo can handle his own 16-18 inch rollie bag -- they even market rollaboards for children. You can handle a 22 - 24 inch bag plus a small carry-on, and DH can take a 24-26 incher plus a small carry-on. That would be easy to get on/off trains....
janisj is online now  
Aug 1st, 2010, 07:59 PM
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I can understand you concern. You have to keep track of 2 small kids plus all the luggage for 4 people - these kids really aren't old enough to look after their own luggage. You can get to the Amalfi coast by bus from Rome - which would solve some of your concern. For other trips you would need to make sure the trains are direct - no stops - since a quick change with 2 dawdly kids and luggage could be awkward.

But IMHO a bigger problem is that you are just doing too much moving around given the limited time that you have and the limited attention span of kids that age. I would do no more than 3 stops - getting an apartment at each so you all have more room and can do breakfasts and snacks whenever you want. I think that would make a muchamore enjoyable trip for all o fyou.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 10:14 PM
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NY Traveller said <>

I think that is really sound advice - kids of five and nine need time out to kick a soccer ball around the campo, and generally just play. If you slow down, you will engage with the places where you stay in a different way. You will meet more people, because your kids will introduce you.

Just a thought.
Peter_S_Aus is online now  
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