Rome to Naples Whistle-stop Tour: A wander around a Roman Convent and mistaking a famous volcano for a rain cloud.
Written by Lizzie, Neapolitan Pizza and Espresso Enthusiast.
My earliest memory of Rome.
The very first visit was a family jaunt for my beautiful Mum’s 50th, some 8 years ago. We stayed in a terraced, breakfast-only townhouse only a street away from the Colosseum and if you looked out over the balcony, you saw the Domus Aurea (Emperor Nero’s palace).
We ate at a stripped-back eatery on plastic tables and odd chairs; they sat no more than six people inside, leaving the rest of us scrambling for space on the pavement. I was moved, knowing that we were sitting a short distance away from the pictures and stories I once read about in Mum’s dusty book collection as a kid.
As I watched the world go by around me in the middle of the subtly cool Italian neighbourhood, I caught a sly glimpse of my 80-something Nan knocking back a shot of Limoncello with the locals she had gracefully befriended over dinner.
Years Later: Rome to Naples Road Trip.
I accompany my Car Hire Bible partner on an impromptu trip to Rome. We hired a car, since our plan was to split our short stay between the capital and Naples. We picked up our 7-day, Compact car from Rome Ciampino. We initially booked an Economy car but surprisingly received a free upgrade to a Mercedes B Class. A 30-minute drive into the vineyards brought us a Convent where a friend was staying. We went on a tour of the grounds before joining the Priest and his guests for his birthday meal – good manners, good conversation and a willingness to try new things gets you everywhere in Italy. We feasted on meats reared on the Convent farm, tried warm breads and being the non-driver on this particular trip meant I was the designated wine sampler, produced by grapes from their vineyard! Splendid start to the trip.
We bid farewell to our hosts and head for the capital. Our accommodation is merely a stone’s throw away from Trastevere. We found a deal that included free parking nearby – big bonus, given the traffic restrictions (more on this below).
If time is limited, I recommend a short drive from Rome to the famous ancient Roman port of Ostia Antica. This is a spectacular trip in many ways – cheap, close-by, cultural. If you do not have the time to go to Pompeii, take the 40-minute drive to the port and be amazed.
When faced with the high street crowds, selfie sticks and pricey snack bars, be patient and explore beyond the masses. You will find quaint and affordable eateries and bars a few rows down. Venture around on foot or use the well-organised public transport links – it all depends on your timescales and your mobility needs. Take a moment or two to stop and notice the minor details; the effortless merge of old and new in everyday life and architecture. You can feel a genuine buzz of Ancient Rome as you walk through the street markets and social gatherings around the ancient ruins. Will you spot the S.P.Q.R inscriptions around the city?
The view from the top of the Vatican. Tip: pay a little more for this spectacular view of Rome.
WARNING: Zona Traffic Limitato Alert!
Be careful of Rome’s ZTL Zone: Zona Traffic Limitato. They restrict traffic in a bid to help protect its historical surroundings and keep omissions low. A hefty fine awaits you if you drive into a restricted zone. Your car hire supplier will add an additional fine on to the already existing violation fine. Yuk. Familiarise yourself with no-go areas before getting behind the wheel.
Things to see: Ostia Antica (a must!), Trastevere, the Roman Forum, Pantheon, Colloseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Circus Maximus.
Are you ready for some Neapolitan pizza, delicious wine and a wander around the historical Roman city of Pompeii, or is a brisk climb up to the crater of Mount Vesuvius more up your street? Start your road trip from Rome and head south to Naples, approximately 2h 20mins away. Take a quick pit stop at a service station, packed with locals getting their fix of ultra-strong and cheap espresso!
We stayed in a coastal hotel close to Castel dell’Ovo. We used a car park situated outside of the city’s ZTL zone. Tip: Respectfully ignore the unofficial parking attendants who may ask you for money for car protection. Try to book accommodation with parking included nearby, more often found in the outskirts of the city, or if you wish to stay closer to the action, park your car in the designated spaces just outside of the restricted traffic zones.
Things to see whilst in Naples: Hiking trail of Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Naples National Archaeological Museum, the Catacombs and Cimitero delle Fontanelle.