Napoli, or Naples in English, hasn’t always enjoyed the best reputation among Italian cities. One of the biggest cities in the country, Naples has suffered over the years from a lack of investment and problems with immigration and organized crime. The city’s unofficial motto, See Naples and Die, doesn’t exactly help.
But there’s no denying that for all its problems, Naples is an astoundingly beautiful city. Full of Baroque architecture and crumbling Renaissance magnificence, the city also benefits from having the Bay of Naples and the towering Mount Vesuvius volcano as its backdrop. Plus, Napoli is well-known for being one of the liveliest cities in all of Italy. In this warm climate, people live their lives out on the street, and it’s impossible not to be swept up in the restless and youthful energy of this beautiful metropolis.
Naples is an incredible place to discover, and those that do usually find that the city’s bad reputation is overblown. However, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Napoli Centrale is the city’s main train station and the gateway to the city for millions of travelers every year, whether they arrive via the airport or by fast train from Rome, Florence, or elsewhere in Italy. And unfortunately, the busy Napoli Centrale doesn’t really help shake the city’s bad reputation.
Being prepared for what you’ll encounter here will go a long way to making sure you have a wonderful trip in this sometimes unfairly maligned city. Keep your bags safe by dropping them off at a suitcase storage at Napoli Centrale, and follow our guide to make the most of your time here.
Okay, so you’ve arrived at Napoli Centrale. Hopefully, you’re not deranged enough to try driving in central Naples, meaning instead, you either arrived here by train from another Italian city or by bus from Naples Airport. Either way, you’ll quickly find that this is a chaotic part of town that exemplifies some of the worst stereotypes about Naples, so no matter how tired you are, you’ll want to keep your wits about you.
Hopefully, you will also have noticed on the way into the train station just how beautiful the surroundings of Naples are.
Napoli Centrale is not the hotbed of petty crime it once was. Regularly patrolled by both police and railway security staff, and occasionally even armed soldiers, Napoli Centrale is really no more dangerous than any other European train station. However, it’s always a good idea to keep your bags secured until you can drop them off at a safe luggage storage. And be wary of anyone approaching you to offer help with buying tickets or making a connection. Often, this is a scam intended to rob you.
If you do need help, look for uniformed personnel who work for the train company. As you step off the train and walk away from the train platforms, you’ll enter the main hall of the station. On the right, you can find information desks for the train companies. Note that there are two train companies operating here, the larger nationalized Trenitalia and the smaller private Italo. If you have questions about a specific train, make sure you know which company you need to talk to.
Napoli Centrale is built on two levels, and there are both escalators and an elevator to the lower level. On the main level, you’ll find train platforms, ticket booths, self-service ticket machines, and a variety of shops selling everything you need for your onward journey. If you’re making a connection to another train here, you may be particularly interested to know that if you head to the south end of the station’s main floor – that’s the far left if you’re facing away from the train platforms and toward the front entrance – you’ll find a grocery store that is a great place to pick up drinks and snacks for your onward journey.
Piazza Garibaldi Station
Piazza Garibaldi is the public square just outside the main doors of Napoli Centrale. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the two are the same place. Although Piazza Garibaldi is attached to Napoli Centrale, they are different stations with different purposes.
Piazza Garibaldi station is located underground and only has two platforms served by local Metropolitan trains operated by the national train company Trenitalia. These trains go to places like Pozzuoli and Campi Flegrei, plus some cities further afield like Salerno and Formia. If you’re going to one of these places, Piazza Garibaldi Station can be a little difficult to find. You’ll need to head to the lower level of Napoli Centrale, then follow the signs down one more level to reach the train platforms. No other city in Italy has this division of train services, so it’s not an intuitive thing to figure out. If in doubt, seek help from station personnel.
Piazza Garibaldi Metro Station
To add to the confusion, Piazza Garibaldi is also the name of a station of the Naples Metro system. You can reach the station by tracing the same route you would to the Metropolitan trains via the lower floor of Napoli Centrale. However, at the entrance to the Metro trains, you’ll need to turn left, then right toward the Metro station. You’ll know you’re in the right spot if you emerge into a sunken square with a glass roof lined with shops and decorated with colorful giant snails.
In the middle of the square, you’ll find a ticket office for the Naples Metro system. Once you’ve bought your ticket, you’ll head down some more escalators that take you deep underground to access the Metro.
One of the major attractions that bring us visitors to Naples is the buried Roman city of Pompeii and the beautiful Campania coast, including the legendary Amalfi Coast. Just to complicate matters further, if you’re taking a train to these destinations, you’ll have to take the Circumvesuviana, a narrow-gauge railway that operates from its own station also attached to Napoli Centrale.
This station is clearly marked, thankfully. Also underground, it sits at the south end of the main train station. Once again, you’ll need to go down to the lower floor of Napoli Centrale, then turn left and follow the concourse all the way to the end, where it turns into the Circumvesuviana station.
Surviving Napoli Centrale
Napoli Centrale is certainly one of Italy’s more complicated railway stations, thanks to the variety of different train services that stop here. However, that also makes it an extremely useful transportation hub for exploring a truly beautiful region.
Take your time, keep your wits about you, and you’ll do just fine in this busy train station. If in doubt, leave yourself plenty of time to navigate the station, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The vast majority of people here are not trying to rob you but just get on with their own travel, and most people can be very helpful if you approach them respectfully.
The best way to make things easier on yourself is to leave your bags behind so that you’re not carrying more than you need to. With that and a little patience, you should have no trouble getting through this busy station.