Saturday, February 9, 2013

Guardia Sanframondi: Part 1 - Getting There

A Corner in Guardia Sanframondi
Part 2 - Around Town
Part 3 - Good Eats!
Part 4 - Houses

We did it! Everything went according to plan. We made it to Guardia Sanframondi and Clare Galloway's charming ArtHouse B&B, explored the town, visited a bunch of houses (and found 2 that are almost perfect), enjoyed overwhelming Italian hospitality and lived to tell the tale. So without further ado...

There are at least two phases of the trip to Guardia Sanframondi. The first is getting to Italy. That's an 8+ hour flight from Philly up to about 14 hours if you're flying from the west coast. A long flight - especially for those of us who fly "cattle class". Then there's the 6 to 9 hour time difference between the US and Italy (When it's 03:00 in Philly, it's 09:00 in Rome.)

From the US there are two entry primary entry points for a trip to Guardia Sanframondi: Rome and Naples. We flew to Rome. It's a direct flight from Philadelphia, but Rome is a two and a half hour drive from Guardia Sanframondi. That means renting a car and taking on the task of driving in Italy.

Guardia - Naples Bus Schedule
On the other hand Naples is much closer to Guardia Sanframondi, there is bus service between Naples and Guardia (5 times a day) and although you'll almost certainly have a flight connection in the north (we've routed through Munich and Venice) the cost of the flight may be lower. Plus you'll have the adventure of making a bus connection somewhere in Piazza Garibaldi outside Napoli Centrale. The bus stop in Guardia is on Via Municipio in front of Piazza Mercato (see the map below).

Or you  could rent a car at Capodichino, though I understand getting out of Naples is a bit more challenging than leaving Rome.

It may sound as if I'm not too fond of the idea of flying into Naples. For us, Rome was easier but if you've never been to Naples you owe it to yourself to spend a few days there. It's exactly like and completely different from everything you've heard about it.

Take your pick, relax and enjoy. Anyway...

Knowing we'd be tired and grouchy from the flight we decided to camp out overnight at the Airport Hilton. It's not exactly inexpensive but it's a short(ish) walk from the airport itself with those "people mover" slide-walk thingies most of they way.

The Hilton is pretty much like every other Hilton on the planet. Modern, immaculately clean, nice rooms, professional staff. They do have the usual 14:00 check-in time but our room was ready when we arrived. After a quick shower and change of clothes we took their free shuttle bus into Rome for a meal and a little sight seeing.

We ate at 0.75, a wine bar around the corner from last year's hotel. It's a short walk from the shuttle drop off (on via del Teatro di Marcello just south of Piazza Venezia) and we knew it would be open. They have free wi-fi (the Hilton's wi-fi is a ridiculously expensive), reasonable prices, good food and if you're there in the evening (after 19:00 as I recall) you'll be able to enjoy a free buffet of antipasti and other light items with your wine.

Phase Two - The Drive to Guardia Sanframondi

Ours was brown...
Next morning we cleaned up, checked out and headed back toward the airport to pick up our rental car. We'd reserved an economy four door since we knew we'd have a big suitcase, a carry-on suitcase and our personal bags. What we got was a Citroen Nemo. A zippy, diesel powered mini truck. With a manual transmission. Be aware that the vast majority of rental cars in Italy are going to be manuals - you won't see an automatic until you get up into the full size luxury cars or mini vans. But even if you haven't driven a manual in years, it comes back quickly and by the time you get to the twisty mountain roads near Guardia you'll be comfortable again.

Getting out of the airport is just like getting out of any other major airport - you drive around in a big circle, merge onto a ring road, and drive until you come to the exit you're looking for. After that it's a straight shot on the A1 almost all the way to Guardia Sanframondi.

A1 is a toll road. You grab a ticket (biglietto)  when you enter and you'll pay a single toll when you exit of €9.50. On exit you pay cash or by credit card. We used the card alternative - just insert the toll ticket and then your card into the same slot.

How 'bout a Quick Snack?

Now, it may happen that you get hungry on the way to Guardia. Even if you're not hungry, stop at an Autogrill. Here in the US, you're luck to find a miniature McDonalds staffed by surly local teens. In Italy there's Autogrill. What you'll find inside are a full cafeteria, a snack bar with "grab and go" options and an assortment of packaged food, wine, and snacks. Like this:

Forget to bring some goodies for Nonna?
Antipasti Plates
Desserts and Fruit
And yes, nearly all the Italians will be having wine with their meals. I suggest you not join them. The last bit of the trip to Guardia is a little tricky and at the end involves a few tight up hill turns and a one lane bridge...

Arrival At Last!

The "main drag" in Guardia is SS87, known locally as Corso Umberto and Via Municipio. That map is more or less centered on Piazza Mercato.

That's where the famous La Meridiana restaurant and Blues Brothers Bar are situated and it's a short walk from there to Arthouse Guardia. It's also where you'll park your car.

The Other Door to Arthouse Guardia
Give Clare a call and she'll come up to meet you and lead you down to the ArtHouse.

Try not to spend the rest of the day admiring the view - there's hills to climb, houses to see and lots of food to eat!


  1. Fortuna audaces iuvat... et locus dis carus naves a saevissimis protegit ventis.

    1. There were certainly cruel winds Saturday night!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I look forward to hearing more about your adventure! I've been to Guardia a few times from California. I've done the drive from the Naples airport (by myself, single female, first time in Italy) and the drive from Rome. Both were very doable with my iphone navigator. Rome was actually a bit easier, because it's a straight one-way freeway (mostly no oncoming traffic), whereas Naples is shorter but has many turns and oncoming traffic. I believe for a price and if they are available, either Clare at Arthouse Guardia, and Pasquale at La Tana dell'Orso Bed & Breakfast, may be able to pick guests up at the airport. This is another good option. I hadn't thought about the bus, so thanks for that info. Can't wait to read more.

  4. Will you be posting house pics and prices? Can't wait to see how you make you have a budget?...I am envious!...
    Vivere il sogno!!

    1. We looked at 5 houses, 2 of which were near perfect. House pictures and all that are coming soon!

    2. I cannot wait to'll have to give us an idea of pricing as ever will you decide?....:)

    3. All is revealed in Part 4 this morning!

  5. Hi, I'm going to Italy this summer and my neighbor told me I could stay to his house in Guardia Sanframondi. I'm loooking in the Internet and it's hard to understand about how going to and from there. Our idea is to sleep there and during the days going to amalfi coast, pompei, vesuve, etc. Is it possible by bus or train? Should we rent a car? What do you think because I can't find any information about that. Thanks for you help!

    1. The easiest thing to do is rent a car, especially since you're planning to be explore further. If you're a US citizen you will need to get an international driving permit for each person who'll be driving. And don't forget - nearly all rentals in Europe are manual transmission so if you haven't driven one a few lessons may be in order.

    2. what are the rates for renting a car and is it like US, also how do you go about getting the international driving permit
      Thank you for the help

    3. For some reason, Blogger cut off the top of your comment so post again if I've missed something...

      Renting a car is just like in the US. You can check rates using any of the travel websites such as Expedia. Be aware that automatic transmission cars are somewhat rare - if you can't drive a manual you'll probably end up paying a little more.

      If you don't have one, consider picking up an inexpensive GPS system and the corresponding Europe/Italy maps. We found ours to be extremely useful. Once you get into the little hill towns like Guardia it only has the major roads and sometimes it will tell "turn at street" but if you keep your eyes open it's all good.

      The easiest way to get the driving permit is to stop by a AAA office near you. I've got a post about it here:

      Have Fun!



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