September 13, 2011
On board the Sita Bus
I looked at my watch. It’s a little over an hour since we departed from Sorrento.
The Sita Bus is now about to round a corner and I am snapped away from my reverie.
I look down at the ravine and I could hear myself gulp. My grip on the metal handles become tighter.
I sheepishly remind my self, “If ever the bus falls over, no matter how tight your grip, you’d still fall along with the bus.”
I told myself to relax.
I leaned over to Cholo and whispered, “I have come to the conclusion that Italian bus drivers will give Filipino bus drivers a run for their money.”
I look around the bus and I realized it’s all filled up with tourists and locals a like. The noisy Americans are becoming a staple. The Eastern European couple wearing white linen shirts and pants are quietly conversing in some language I could not fathom. The boisterous Italian kids are singing their hearts out.
The Sita bus makes another precarious turn and the Italian kids burst out into nervous laughter while I breathe out a nervous sigh.
I begin to wonder. The roads along the Amalfi Coast are so narrow it could only fit one car on a one way street! Then I remembered that Italy is a haven for small cars.So what looks like a one way street to me is actually a two way street!
Ahead, I see that we are about to cross a hole on the side of the cliff and the Sita bus comes to a stop.
Cholo and I look around.
I feel the bus go on reverse. I strained to see what was going on. I see that the bus driver lets the small cars on the left hand side of the road pass through. It then resumes on its journey a few minutes later. I came to the conclusion this is how Italians living in this side of their country navigate the roads. Give and take.
It’s been a little over an hour and Thirty minutes. I turned to Cholo to ask him if we missed our stop when the Sita bus came to a halt and the bus driver announced, “Praiano!”
With wide eyes filled with excitement, Cholo looks at me and says, “We’re here!” He immediately stands up and goes on to disembark from the bus ahead of me. I sat on the seat for a moment to bring my back pack around my shoulders while the noisy Americans made their way to the doors.
The next instant I found my ass on the autostrada.
I had slipped.
I looked up and saw Cholo with his hands on his waist looking over the Tyrrhenian sea.
“Are you alright?” asks an American Girl.
“Yes, I’m fine. Thank You. My ass hurts though.” was my reply.
We both laughed.
I stood up with my arms shaking from the burn I received from the railings.
I finally arrived in Priano.
Getting to Praiano is quite an adventure. It took Cholo and I 4 hours via 2 train rides and a bus ride to get to Praiano. There are other alternatives though, such as renting a car or flying in to Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport. But I deem these two to be an expensive alternative.
There are no direct trains from Rome to the Amalfi Coast.
We started our journey at Roma Termini. We bought ourselves tickets to Naples for 34 Euros each. The journey would take 1 hour and 45 minutes on the not so fast train. If you want to reach Naples in 1 hour and 15 minutes you have the option of riding on the faster train for 44 Euros per person. But we were not in such a hurry.
Make sure to validate your ticket on the yellow box (validating machine) located by the waiting area of a train platform before riding on the trains. This is standard operating procedure all over Italy.
When we arrived in Napoli Centrale, we didn’t venture out from the station. Let me just say that I got a little bit scared of the people who I saw milling around the train station. When you in Naples always me mindful of your luggage or else you’d loose them.
We then made our way to the Circumvesuviana ticketing booth. It was a bit confusing to find the booth at first but once we’ve located the arrows that led us to the ticketing booth, we realized it’s just a short underground walk from Napoli Centrale. Here’s the thing, if you get lost all you have to do is, walk to the center of the station and follow the arrows that will lead you to the ticketing booth.
We purchased our one way ticket to Sorrento for 4 Euros each. We Hopped on the Cercumvesuviana commuter train and enjoyed the one hour ride. We passed by so many small towns and the train was filled with locals. There were a group of old ladies one of which reminded me of Sophia Petrillo (from the Golden Girls), chatting away in rapid Italian with five fingers up in the air. There were the cute boys going home from soccer practice, one of them eyeing my watch. Tons of young women wearing brown lip liner and dark eyeliner and there were the occasional tourists.
The Circumvesuviana passes by the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. So if you are spending your holidays in Sorrento or Naples, this would be a good day trip to take.
As for Cholo and I, we were just passing by. Next time perhaps.
Once we arrived at Sorrento, we made our exit. We asked the Italian girl manning the tourist help desk where to take the Sita Bus to Praiano. (If you don’t see her, just walk directly outside the main exit. The blue colored Sita buses are stationed directly at the corner.)
“You just missed the bus by five minutes. The next bus will be here in 25 minutes.” she said.
“Where can we buy tickets?” I asked
“You can buy it from the conductor or in the cafe over there.” She turned around and pointed us to the direction of the cafe.
Sita Bus tickets are priced differently along the Amalfi Coast. They are sold in the following denominations:
- A 45 minute ticket for 2.40 Euros
- A 90 minute ticket for 3.60 Euros
- A one day ticket for 7.20 Euro
- A 3 day ticket for 18 Euros.
So all you have to do is to buy according to your travel plans along the coast.
Since it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get from Sorrento to Priano we bought the 90 minuti biglietto.
Since we had extra time in our hands, we decided to have some panini for lunch at a nice restaurant a short walking distance from the train station to fill our grumbling stomachs. After some 20 minutes or so, we were on the Sita Bus for Praiano.
Make sure to validate your bus tickets every time you enter the bus. All you have to do is to insert the ticket unto the yellow box (validating machine) when you get on the bus. Again this is standard operating procedure throughout Italy.
The Bus ride from Sorrento to Praiano was wonderful. The landscape and the seascape before you is so beautiful that words cannot simply describe them. It’s also quite a ride because as I stated earlier, the roads are quite narrow and the bus drivers drive quite fast. *laughs* Not to mention the autostrada is located on the coast line which is made up of towering cliffs and steep ravines. It will take your breath away figuratively and literally.
An hour into the trip our Bus made a quick stop in Positano where most of the tourists get off. After picking up locals and tourists alike, the bus continued on its way along the Amalfi Coast. We reached Praiano 30 minutes after.
We made a call to Hotel Holiday Praiano and told them we have arrived. The lady told us to wait by the bus stop for we will be picked up by her son.
Five minutes later a silver Ford Fiesta came into view and a cheery Italian teen comes to great us.
“Welcome to Praiano!” he says.