During an extended stay in Italy, you should plan to get the most out of cheap rail and air tickets. I was fortunate enough to spend three months stationed in Roma. I reserved some weekends for Roma expeditions but intended to be all over of the Italian map. A ski weekend in Roccaraso, quick holiday in Malta [not Italy, but less than €40 round-trip with RyanAir!], Tuscany region,
maybe Paris [didn’t happen, wha wha], and Bologna. But first Naples [Napoli when in Italy!]. Even with cheap tickets all the traveling can add up – enter Budget Travel Italy tips! This post is all about how to maximize your Napoli trip without maxing out your banco card.
A LITTLE DISCLAIMER
Don’t believe what you read on Google. Loads of posts I read warned of reckless scooters, thieves, garbage, and Mafia and really shed a non-flattering light on the ancient Roman city. Before heading to Napoli [and before reading all those harsh posts] I, admittedly, didn’t know much about the area. It’s by the coast and comes with some pretty cool history and that’s really all I needed to give the thumbs up to visiting. Yes, there’s unnecessary trash piles [but not anymore than some neighborhoods in Roma] and I wouldn’t list it as one of the city’s defining characteristics. And as for scooters, thieves, and other organized crime? Somehow, I managed to walk away unscathed.
BUDGET TRAVEL ITALY: NAPOLI EDITION
FIRST – there IS affordable transportation! From Roma to Napoli, the high-speed train is just a little over an hour and you can find reasonable tickets [check HERE & HERE] if you book in advance. I opted for Italiarail [think Amtrak] and paid around $27/person each way. Comfortable, clean, charging ports, and free snacks [including wine!]. I almost took the wrong train home; you want to be on the Italiarail train! But if you need even more of a discount, check out Rail Europe. The $27 I paid is pretty good but I did see tickets as low as $15, albeit they were longer & less comfortable options. Also, it should be noted that most of these ‘discount’ tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable, so make sure you’re ready to book!
Rent a car and travel to Pompeii and all around the Amalfi Coast. Be sure to check EasyTerra Car Rental for super sweet deals. My rental, which was picked up near the Centrale train station, for two whole days cost $35.01! *insert shocked emoji* Budget travel Italy deal of the century!!
SECOND – get the campania>artecard! A three-day pass is €21 [Napoli only] and includes all your transportation [metro, buses], offers three free site entries, and reduced discount prices after the three. *There are some exclusions so be sure to read the fine print. You can pick the pass up at a number of places but if at the Napoli Centrale train station there’s an office in front of track 24 that is open until 6p. I chose to use my 3 ‘free’ visits at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli [usual entrance fee of €8/€4 if reduced with Artecard], the MADRE: Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina [entrance fee: €7/reduced: €3.50], and the Catacombe San Gennaro [entrance fee: €8/reduced: €4]. I’ve already saved €2! Plus, the MADRE is open to the public at no charge on Monday; save one of your coveted 3 free entries for something else. Boom!
Need more MANN & MADRE inspiration? Check out my Traditional vs Contemporary Art in Naples post.
What’s great about the catacomb is your one ticket grants you access to both San Gennaro & San Gaudioso, so you’re really getting an awesome BOGO deal [and you’re getting them for free because you used your artecard!]. 🙂 Also, the ticket is good for up to one year; if you can’t make both this trip you have some time to make it back to Napoli or you can always pay it forward. I didn’t make it to San Gaudioso but was told after that the catacomb still has visible remains in the tuff walls which is pretty damn cool.
You can feel extra good about visiting the catacombs because they’re run by a group of motivated and engaged youth, the Cooperativa La Paranza. It’s a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing the Rione Sanità neighborhood in particular, but also focuses on the enhancement of heritage and investing in Napoli’s next generation. It was easy to feel the pride from the young tour guide when she spoke of the milestones the organization has reached since its conception in 2006. They’ve also taken particular interest in the disabled and the San Gennaro catacomb is one of the first to be accessible for wheel-chair bound persons and the blind. #allthefeels
THIRD – free stuff! Since we’re on the topic of the Cooperativa La Paranza, you should know they’re also involved with the Cimitero delle Fontanelle and The Holy Mile though you can certainly entertain yourself without the use of their tour guides. The Cimitero delle Fontanelle, which is completely free to enter, has a history dating back to the 16th century and houses the remains of the poor taken by plague, rebellion, and Vesuvius. The current layout of the bones was the doing of priest Don Gaetano Barbati in 1872 to bring some relief to those resting in this ossuary.
The Holy Mile takes you through the Rione Sanità neighborhood and stops at iconic sites within the district [including the catacombs and Fontanelle cemetery]. The locations are thoroughly noted on THIS website and it’s worth meandering around if you’re in the area.
Use your free metro artecard and visit another neighborhood. Take a walk through Chiaia [the Piazza del Plebiscito is worth a visit], Rione Sanità, Quartieri Spagnoli [home to some local street art], and Decumani [historical center]. Nowhere else have I been witness to so many people *literally* hanging out of their dutch doors exchanging pleasantries [I think, I can’t understand anything yet!]. An older gent actually yelled ‘Hey Joe’ to my husband – priceless.
Bonus Cut: Need a modern yet affordable dinner? Try La Stanza del Gusto in the historical center. The space is funky and eclectic and the food is well conceived and delicious!
However long your stay, be sure to make the most of the hundreds of cultural things to do in Napoli. It’s definitely a city worth getting to know.
Happy Grid Walking! 🙂