The Funicular Train is a cable car that runs on an incline, traveling up and down steep hills. Although the technology has been around since the late 1800s, it was new to me when I was introduced to the Funicular while staying with friends in Naples, Italy. The Funicular line was less than a block away from the villa I was a guest at, and was the most practical method of traveling down the hill to ocean level and the activities of town.
The Mergellina Funicular is one of four funiculars in Naples. The cable car runs up and down the steep hill every 15 minutes during the day. Whenever you arrive, the wait for the next train is brief. The train does stop running at about 10:00 p.m. so visitors should be aware of when the train stops running if going out for the evening.
The Funicular is part of the transit system, which allows 75 minutes of travel for just over one Euro. The Mergellina Funicular was located near a bus stop, and an outdoor coffee bar, so it was great travel experience to step off the funicular, buy a cup of cappuccino and sip coffee while waiting for the bus and soaking in the local atmosphere.
Tickets for the public transportation can be purchased through machines at the train station. Travelers have to validate the tickets by punching them into a yellow box that stamps the time and date on the ticket. From this validation the traveler gets 75 minutes on the system. Travelers are rarely asked for the tickets, but if you are caught without a validated ticket there can be a hefty fine.
In the 20-30 times I used the transit system, I was only asked for a ticket once, by a ticket checker who got onto the bus at a stop. Unfortunately, I had a collection of little tickets in my purse and had to shuffle through them to find the right one. The ticket checker thought he had a live one, until I finally pulled out my validated ticket. He seemed disappointed that he could not fine me. Thereafter I took the expired tickets out of my purse so I would not have to do the ticket shuffle again.
The Mergelline Funicular runs through a tunnel on the hill. Passengers wait in a small building. The door to the track only opens when the train is approaching. While I was there, the cable never seemed to come right up to the door level, so there were always several steps down to the car. Since I have trouble with one of my legs, trying to get from the door to the train always seemed like a rush. There were also several steps to climb to get to the car to travel up the hill.
Once on the funicular, it is only a matter of sitting until you get to the right level. The Mergellina Funicular has four stops. If you go past your stop, just sit on the car until it goes back in the other direction.
Using the Funicular is an economical and efficient way of getting up and down the steep hills of Naple, Italy. Since the transit ticket includes the Funicular, train and bus travel, the cost of travel can be quite economical when using public transportation in Italy.
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