Taking the Train from Monaco to Italy

Monte Carlo Monaco to Ventimiglia Italy April 2013-028Last week, I wrote about how my wife Natalie and I had three meals in three countries in ONE day! We had breakfast in Monaco, lunch in Italy and dinner in France. Here’s the post. What I didn’t tell you is about how we got from Monaco to Italy … on a budget.

Natalie and I were staying at Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. I asked the concierge how we could get to Italy for lunch one day and was told that they could arrange a private car for us for 115 euros ($150) an hour. Yikes! I asked about the train and was told it was easy and much cheaper. The concierge recommended that we go to San Remo, which is supposed to be beautiful but it was farther away (about 45 minutes) and there’s only one direct train that departs in the morning and returns in the evening. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for us.

It was 1pm and we only had the afternoon free and didn’t feel it was worth it to take the train to Ventimiglia (which is right over the border) and then switch to a San Remo train. When I asked if there were any good places to eat lunch in Ventimiglia, the concierge told me there weren’t that many options. I asked if it was safe and they said oui! We decided to give it a shot since trains to Ventimiglia depart every 30 minutes from Monte Carlo. But before heading out, the concierge reminded us that most restaurants and museums in Italy close for riposo (siesta) from anywhere between 1:30pm and 4:30pm. We weren’t going to let that stop us! So we took the train schedule and walked 10 minutes to the station.

Monte Carlo Monaco to Ventimiglia Italy April 2013-001Buying tickets from the ticket machine at the train station was fairly straightforward but paying by credit card wasn’t easy. The machine wouldn’t accept mine because I didn’t have a chip or a PIN and since we were in a hurry, there wasn’t enough time to keep trying different cards. We used Natalie’s Canadian Visa which has a chip and requires a PIN. Roundtrip tickets for two cost 15EUR ($19.60).

Monte Carlo Monaco to Ventimiglia Italy April 2013-011TIP: Be sure to validate your ticket by sticking it in one of the little date/time machines near the stairs to the train platforms. You have to put it in all the way for it to register. Our train was just about to leave so we didn’t have time to register Natalie’s. For the duration of the scenic 24-minute train ride, I held my breath, hoping a conductor didn’t come by because they probably would have given her an on-the-spot fine of around 40EUR ($52). Thank God they didn’t. They didn’t check tickets on the return either but we validated her ticket using one of the machines in Ventimiglia train station.

Monte Carlo Monaco to Ventimiglia Italy April 2013-020I wasn’t expecting much from Ventimiglia since a few people had told us to skip it. But I actually liked it. It was a lot better than Brindisi, a port we visited last summer on our Seabourn Cruise. The town was quaint, the people were friendly and the gelato was darn good. Unfortunately, all the nice restaurants along the coast were closed for riposo so we were forced to take a chance on a café we knew nothing about.

Monte Carlo Monaco to Ventimiglia Italy April 2013-014Can you believe I picked what might have been the worst restaurant in town? I didn’t think you could get bad pizza in Italy but boy was I wrong. Any frozen pizza in the supermarket back in the States was better than what Bar Ristorante Mazzini (Via Mazzini, 6) served. I even overheard an English couple walk out as our food was being served, saying that it was the worst pizza ever. For an English person to say that about Italian food in Italy is just embarrassing. The spaghetti pomodoro was okay and lunch wasn’t expensive – 14EUR ($18) for pizza, pasta and an orange Fanta.

Monte Carlo Monaco to Ventimiglia Italy April 2013-012The local grocery store we stopped in was inexpensive too and we bought bottled water for 0.62EUR ($0.81) and a six pack of Kinder chocolate for 1.60EUR ($2.09). We walked around town, grabbed some great gelato 1 EUR ($1.30) a scoop (in a cup cost more) and ate in a nearby park along the Mediterranean before heading back to the station.

All in all, bad food or not, any day that you’re able to have lunch in Italy is a great day!

Johnny Jet

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Johnny Jet

I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

9 Comments on "Taking the Train from Monaco to Italy"

  1. I thought the same thing about pizza in Italy, but I had horrible pizza in Florence last summer. …You win some, you lose some ;)

  2. The best pizza I’ve ever had is in Cannes-La Pizza restaurant on the port. Ventimiglia is only worth going on the day they have the street market. Fridays, I think. San Remo is much nicer.

  3. I love traveling by train and watching the country side fly by. That is surprising about the pizza, like you said, I thought it would all be good in Italy. I guess we were both wrong.

  4. Pizza was invented in Naples at the L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele which is a few blocks from the Garibaldi Station. It has a very thin crust and minimal ingredients. It is cooked in a very hot oven. It takes about 5 minutes to cook. It came to the USA via New York City with Neopolitan immigrants. The pizza in the rest of Italy looks like and reminds me of reheated American rectangular pizza.

  5. The best pizza really is down in Naples. I found though that the cafe’s normally cater to tourists or super cheap food and I haven’t been able to find too much that was really good in any of the cafe’s open during siesta. Except the kebap shops that you find here and there. I love those things

  6. Pizza to Italian people is almost junk food! It’s not good generally so I don’t know why you think it should be! !!!

  7. Yah Cannes has some amazing Pizza places. Train travel to Cannes from Nice or nearby is darn cheap. Bus is cheaper but takes much longer.

    Pizza’s are baked in clay ovens – best I’ve had!

    Very much agree with the siesta. Everything closes down in the afternoon!

  8. Just posted my trip to Nice/Monte Carlo . Think I took the same train as you!

  9. I agree, the pizza in Ventemiglia is the worst! And I had in in 1983, so things have not improved over the years.

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