Taking the Train to Fiumicino from Termini

Cross Pollinate posted this video on taking the train to Fiumicino from Termini. I wish I had seen it before I took my trip!! I stood in the long line to buy a ticket. I didn’t know how to use the machines. This young girl makes it seem like a snap. It is good to know about the 15 minute walk to the train gate. I used cross pollinate to book a room at a B&B in Rome. They were very helpful.

It was also fun to watch the video and recognize a street corner near the Termini Station, as well as parts of the train station and airport.

Getting Around by Bus

Bus Lines

Getting around in Abruzzo without a car leads you to buses. The bus system in Abruzzo, as reported in Life in Abruzzo, is run for the locals and may not have service on Sundays. Mid day may also be a hard time to make connections. There are several bus lines that service Abruzzo. ARPA is the major one and it is easy to find schedules online. Some towns, such as Vasto, can be reached by the Di Fonzo Bus Line. If you plan way ahead, Di Fonzo offers low cost (5 euro) tickets online for travel between Vasto – Lanciano – Rome or between Pescara – Chieti – Rome. Check other links on the About Abruzzo blog.

ARPA: Link to search for schedules.

Orari = schedules
Fermate di Partenza = departing stop
Fermate di Arrivo = arriving stop
 

Transfers:

While trains run from Rome to L’Aquila and Pescara and a few other major towns, if you plan to transfer from train to bus, it will be easier to take a bus in the first place. Then you will be at the bus station or stop. In L’Aquila there is a large bus station, the Collemagio. All the buses stop there. It is easy to buy tickets on the bottom floor and ask advice.  The attendant usually knows enough English to tell you the number of the stall where you will catch your bus. Even with a good skill in basic numbers, I carried a small notebook and asked them to write the numbers when I wasn’t sure. When there is no bus station, the right place to make a transfer is not always easy to determine. Some Italian may or may not help here. If there is no bus station, get off in the center where you can go to a Tabacchi, bar, or cafe. You can buy a ticket at the tabacchi and you can ask advice at a bar (coffee shop in Italy) or cafe. In Sulmona, make transfers in the center near the north side of town where there is a city park filled with trees and paths. The train station in Sulmona is down a hill and not convenient for bus transfers. Lonely Planet, however, suggests Bus A from the train station.

Leaving from Rome:

A good description and map of the bus terminal can be found at this site:  how to get to the Tibertina bus terminal.  While this pdf tells how to find the Di Fonzo bus line, it is the same bus terminal for the other bus lines. I took the ARPA bus.

Cost of ARPA buses:

I paid:

Rome Tibertina to L’Aquila-Collemaggio –  9.50 euro
L’Aquilla-Collemaggio to Sulmona – 5.50 euro
Pescara Plazza delle Repubblica to L’Aquila-Collemaggio – 7.80 euro
L’Aquila-Collemaggio to Calascio – round trip ticket – 5.20 euro

 

Good links:

ARPA  Regional Bus Lines in the Abruzzo Region

ARPA search for schedules

Di Fonzo Bus Line – www.difonzobus.com

DiCarlo Bus

DiCarloBus – schedule of bus directly from Pescara to Fiumicino airport. One per day.

About Abruzzo

Life in Abruzzo

 

The Day of “Non lo so.”

Bus station near Tribertina Train Station

Bus station near Tibertina Train Station

I made a big mistake the day I left Rome for Anversa degli Abruzzzi. I knew I needed cash to pay the rest of my bill at Porta dei Parchi and I knew that there would be few cash points out in the country. But I did not go to a bancomat in the Roma Termini Train Station. I took the 10 to 15 minute walk from my hotel, the Domus Nova Bethlem, to the Termini Metro stop. For one euro, I took the Metro from Termini to Tiburtina, another train station. I assumed that it would be easy to find a bancomat there. But it wasn’t. In hind site, I took the metro, not the train and while the two transportation systems are connected underground, I did not go to the areas at either train station where there would be a bancomat. Eager to be on my way, I decided to go ahead and find my bus and try to change money in L’Aquila. The bus station was not easy to find. There were no signs. If I asked anyone, they just said, “Non lo so”. “I don’t know it.” I walked from the Metro stop towards the train station and then outside where I crossed streets under an overpass. Once there, the biglietteria, ticket office, was easy to find.

Excited to see the mountains, I took a seat in the upper deck of the bus to L’Aquila. The dinner at the bioagriturismo was not until eight that night. So I had time to see a little of L’Aquila before getting the next bus to Sulmona, then another to Anversa.

The bus station in L’Aquila, the Collemaggio, is at the bottom of a hill. The walk to the center of town is up the hill. At times I felt I was going nowhere. Then I found a park and then buildings. Buildings were fenced off and strapped with metal or encased in wire mesh to contain the earthquake damage. But no one was working on reconstruction. Three military personnel in camouflage hung out and chatted near their vehicle. The post office mentioned in my old guide book was cordoned off as was the church, a major tourist site. There was one man walking around taking pictures, but very little activity. I tried to use the bancomats on the side streets. One after another refused to give me cash and cited my need to contact my bank at home. My bank, however, knew I was in Italy and I had money in my account. As I started to enter another bank, an older man with a cane who was visiting with the armed guard started to talk to me. I told him that I was in Abruzzo because my grandparents were born in Calascio. He told me his daughter lived in Miami. I told him as best I could about my problem. “La macchina della banca mi dice, ‘No’.” I didn’t know the term bancomat, so I said the bank machine tells me, “No.” Perhaps I said non functiona per me. Anyway, he understood and wanted to help, but didn’t know how to help at first. I heard “non lo so” again. After I tried once more at another machine, he offered to take me to another bank. So I made a leap of faith and put my luggage in his car and he drove me to a bank away from the center. We talked about Calascio and about my upcoming trip to walk with sheep. Familiar with Porta dei Parchi, he was impressed and told me about another Abruzzo farm where they raise donkeys. Away from the center, life appeared suburban and normal. The bank machine here gave me money! I returned to the car proclaiming “Va bene! Va bene! Grazie mille!” My first experience with the Abruzzese proved what I had heard and read. The Abruzzese are strong and gentle. My fatherly friend drove me to the bus station and I thanked him profusely again.

Near the center of L'Aquila

The next bus took me through the mountains to Sulmona. I followed the route on a map. I knew that I traveled close to Calascio, but could not quite see it from the road. I asked the bus driver where I should get off for the bus to Anversa degli Abruzzi. He motioned for me to stay on the bus as he drove through the town center. At the outskirts of town, he told me to buy a ticket at the small kiosk and wait across the street for the bus. But the kiosk was closed and there was no other place to buy a ticket. A driver waited with a small bus, the size of a van, and I asked him where to buy a ticket. “Non, lo so.” Where to get the bus to Anversa. “Non lo so.” I tried to ask others, but there was no one to ask. I was near a hospital and a parking lot. It was mid day, hot and sunny, and most people relax during the mid day break. Another bus finally arrived and I asked the same questions. “Non lo so.” Finally this bus driver took me back to the center of town without a ticket and dropped me off at a park. He told me to buy a ticket at the Tabacchi and wait for the bus on the other side of the park.

As I pulled my luggage across the park, gravel walkways clogged my luggage wheels and had to lift the luggage. Finally I made it to the other side and walked towards the shops. The tabaccaio or tobacconist told me the time for the bus and that I should wait on the opposite side of the park. I had enough time for a gelato from a shop near the park. For one euro, less than half the price in Rome, the sales clerk piled the gelato into a cup for me. As I crossed the park, I remembered Elizabeth Gilbert’s favorite Italian word in Eat,Pray, Love:  “attraversiamo”, “let’s cross over”. I was not thrilled to attraverso again. I stood waiting for the bus and although early, was determined not to move until the bus arrived.

After fifteen minutes of waiting, more people arrived. I told a young man where I was going. He told me to wait on the other side of the park. My bus going toward Scanno left from the other side. I had no choice  but attraversare il parco di nuovo and fast. I cursed the tabaccaio under my breath and cursed myself for not listening to the bus driver. A young man in this line confirmed that I was indeed in the right line. He was returning to Scanno from college. With a dreamy look in his eyes, he insisted that I should go to Scanno where I would find the most beautiful mountains. Although I tried to tell him that I would get to Scanno while walking with the sheep, he seemed disappointed that I would get off the bus before seeing Scanno. The bus drove through Sulmona and into the beautiful mountains. Lo so. Lo so.

Park in center of Sulmona

People

I am often asked how many people were on the transhumanza. The number changed daily. Sometimes it changed part way through the day as people met up with us or left early. Here is what I remember.

An American family living in Rome: a mother, father, two sons and a niece from Portland, Oregon.  Because the sons were preparing to audition for a place in an orchestra, they left at times to practice.

A British family: The mother and father own a house in the French Alps and the grown daughter lives in Vancouver British Columbia.

A British couple: He painted wonderful watercolors in his sketchbook and claims to never make any watercolors bigger than the landscapes he produced on this trip. She was lively and friendly making for a great hiking companion.

An American woman from Alabama who lives in Kyoto where her partner teaches American history: She was working at the farm for 5 weeks on a trip devoted to studying organic agriculture in Italy. We spent many hours together hiking. She was happy to find another “single woman” on the trip. She tried to advise me to be a balanced woman and sometimes do things for myself. I assured her that I was an artist and possessed a healthy dose of selfishness. I felt a connection to her very quickly because my son just returned from a Rotary Youth Exchange in Japan. We talked about many things, including the differences between the Japanese and the Italian cultures.

An Italian mother and daughter: The teenage daughter was the same age as the American niece from Portland

An Italian woman who generously taught me Italian when we hiked together.

A Northern Italian hippie couple who drove a VW style van. I thought they would have been family friends if they lived in Eau Claire. They were also on the WWOOF program to learn about organic farms. They stayed on to work at the farm. We had many wonderful conversations, but I am afraid they were mostly in English and the man sometimes felt left out of the conversations.

An Italian couple: I did not talk to them very often. He is the one who took my picture with the big loaf of bread and often helped to pour wine from the big jugs. She had blond hair tied back with a headband. They definitely seemed like experienced hikers.

Italian sisters from Pescara: They interpreted for the English speakers whenever needed. They spend lots of free time at the farm and treat Nunzio, the owner, as an uncle. They would like to own some property in the country, but Anversa is too far from Pescara for a daily commute.

Young Italian couple with a five year old daughter and younger son: They hiked enthusiastically with us during the first day. On the second day, they met up with us in Scanno.

Another American Family living in Rome: The parents and tween daughter and son. They are friends with the first American family, but arrived the second day. They were soon moving back to America for a change in assignment. The husband works with food aid and the wife is an artist.

An Italian man and his Italian speaking Guatemalan wife: They were very friendly. I muddled through my first long conversation in Italian with him. I was so thrilled. We were comparing Catholicism and Buddhism. I am sure I do not know how to say pray, but we communicated.

An Italian man with a big camera: He was there for some of the trip.

I am counting 30 here, but may be off.

Of course there was Nunzio Marcelli who sometimes walked with us and sometimes organized parts of the trip on the side with other local businesses.  Also there were the shepherds (maybe 3), the horse handlers (in one picture I see three of them), Domenico, the bald man in the red T-shirt who worked at the farm and often took up the rear of the hike, and the Romanian cheesemaker. Nunzio’s staff delivered food or sleeping bags at various points along the way.

Arriving in Abruzzo

For years Calascio, Italy, the birthplace of my father’s parents, occupied a special part of my mental and emotional space . Growing up near my grandparents in Windber, Pennsylvania, I identified with my Italian ancestry. My grandfather would always offer me a dime from his black leather change purse. I know it was a game. Perhaps I had to guess which hand held the dime. I had to tap his fist and he revealed it in his palm as he smiled gently. My grandmother babysat me while my parents worked next door at the grocery store . My grandmother taught me to cut pucarelle noodles and to crochet while telling me stories of their German shepherd dog at their old farm in New Florence, Pennsylvania.

When I started a craft business in the late 1990’s I knew exactly what to call it: Calascio Designs. I found old files filled with logo ideas just waiting for this occasion. While I dreamed of traveling there to take pictures that would become part of a better logo, none of my money making plans ever seemed to grow feet. Finally, I saved the money. After years of internet research on the Abruzzo region, I had an itinerary.

I set off for Rome on the 12th of June. But Rome was an after thought. I stayed for a few days to get over jet lag. My first destination was La Porta dei Parchi bioagroturismo in Anversa degli Abruzzi in the Abruzzo mountains. While it was not exactly Calascio, it was in the region. I would be doing what my grandfather did in Abruzzo. What a great way to experience geneaology! The farm organized a transhumanza, a three day hike walking the sheep from the lower pasture of the farm to a higher pasture in the national park for the summer.  My grandfather, Pasquale Iocca, was a shepherd in Calascio. He left Italy in 1890 or 1900 as a young man. An Ellis Island document lists Pasquale Tocca from Calosino arriving on the Aller from Genoa on June 6, 1900.  He was 23 years old  and his destination was Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania to stay with a brother-in-law. However, the 1910 US census states that Pasquale, now living with his wife’s family on the New Florence farm, immigrated in 1901. The 1920 census has the family living in Paint, a coal mine town near Windber, and it lists  1890 as the immigration date. All of these documents indicate a birth date in 1877.

This is where the bus driver left me when we reached Anversa.

Traditional music in the piazza of Anversa degli Abruzzi.,

So I began my Abruzzo journey with a traditional transhumanza. I discovered much about the history of this area along the way.

I took a bus from Rome to L’Aquila where I saw a sad and devastated city center.  The center is not being rebuilt from the earthquake of April 6, 2009, while building is going on on the outskirts. From there I took a bus to Sulmona and another to Anversa. The bus driver drove me closer to the center – not very far to go from his normal stop. Through the passageway between two tall buildings, I could see the mountains behind the village and another little village nestled higher in the mountains. Breathtaking!

My room was up the steps from the piazza. Before supper, there was traditional Abruzzi music to celebrate the beginning of the Transhumanza. Participants and townspeople joined in the piazza for the music.

I remember a story that Grandma heard Grandpa play the accordion and that is how she fell in love with him.  As I listened to the music, I imagined their meeting.

My room was at the top of these steps and the piazza at the bottom.

The whole time I was in Rome, I felt a sneaky underlying suspicion. I was suspicious of myself. I wondered what I was doing there. From the moment I set foot in Anversa, I knew why I was there. I felt whole.