Transportation tales: Using a pass-card in London traveling to Montefortino


January 02, 1994|By New York Times News Service

Q: My family will be in England for a week next February. We will be staying in London and hope to visit Greenwich, Windsor and Salisbury. Will those trips be covered on the London Visitor Travelcard? And will the plan cover the train from and to Gatwick Airport?

A: The London Visitor Travelcard entitles its user to unlimited Underground and bus travel within London. So that would certainly include your trip to Greenwich, which is six miles east of Charing Cross, the point in London from which such distances are taken.

The card is issued for periods of three days ($25 and $11 for a child age 5 to 15); four days ($32 and $14), and seven days ($49 and $21). These cards do not cover the fare from or to Gatwick Airport on the so-called Gatwick Express.

For that you would need a Britrail pass that covers travel within London and points throughout the southeast. Called the London Extra, it is also available for periods of three, four or seven days, and in effect buys an open rail ticket for the life of the pass to the southeast as well as a London Visitor Travelcard.

Thus, with a three-day London Extra you would be able to travel within the city (the time begins when the card is first validated for use) and then travel to Windsor and Salisbury over a subsequent three-day period using the rail pass, which is also not validated until first used.

London Extra also covers the Gatwick Express, as well as an open-top double-decker bus tour with a guide of one of the following cities: Windsor, Cambridge, Brighton, Oxford or Portsmouth.

The card is issued for periods of three days ($85 in standard class, $109 in first class); four days ($105 and $129), and seven days ($155 and $189).

An alternative would be to buy separate tickets for the trips to Salisbury (for Stonehenge) and Windsor.

A nonrestricted round-trip fare from London to Windsor is $16 in standard class and $24 in first class. A nonrestricted round-trip from London to Salisbury is $56 in standard and $84 in first. Thus it would be cheaper to buy separate tickets to these two places ($72 in standard, $108 in first class) than buying the London Extra.

Both the London Visitor Travelcard and the London Extra must be bought in the United States. For more information call (212) 575-2667 or write to Britrail Travel International, 1500 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10036.

Q: I will be traveling to Italy next May and I will spend a few weeks in Montefortino, in the Marches region north of Ascoli Piceno. Is it possible to take a train from Rome to Ascoli Piceno and then a bus to Amandola and Montefortino? Please tell me if there are any other options.

A: It is possible to get from Rome to Montefortino by train but as it is a long trip with many station changes, it's more expensive and complicated than taking a bus.

If you are a confirmed railroad buff, however, this is the best bet: Take the 7:45 a.m. from Rome for Pescara, arriving at 11:27 a.m. Change at Pescara and take the 11:36 for San Benedetto del Tronto, which gets in at 12:34 p.m. Change there and take the 12:45 p.m. to Ascoli Piceno, getting in at 1:31 p.m.

In Ascoli a bus run by the Fratelli Mazzuca line leaves at 2:15 p.m. and arrives in Amandola at 3:33, arriving in Montefortino at 3:46 p.m.

It is far easier to go from Rome to Montefortino by bus. The Cotravat bus line -- the quickest and cheapest way to get to Montefortino -- has two runs daily from Monday to Saturday.

The first leaves Rome at 7:50 a.m., arriving at 10:30 in Trisungo, where there is a connecting bus that get you to Montefortino at noon.

The second bus leaves Rome at 2:20 p.m., arriving in Trisungo at 5:10, where you pick up a connecting bus that arrives in Montefortino at 6:50 p.m. The price of a one-way ticket is $11.25.

Another bus company, Cameli, has two runs daily to Ascoli Piceno. One leaves Rome at 8 a.m. and arrives in Ascoli at 11:15 a.m. There one takes the Fratelli Mazzuca bus leaving Ascoli at 2:15 p.m. to Montefortino, getting in at 3:46 p.m.

A second bus leaves Rome at 2:30 p.m. and arrives in Ascoli at 5:45. There a Mazzuca bus leaves at 6 p.m. and arrives in Montefortino at 7:31. The ticket to Ascoli costs $12 and the Ascoli-to-Montefortino trip costs $2.50.

The Marches region is perhaps best known for its beaches. The only town that has gained international renown is Urbino, a Renaissance jewel nestled in hills in the northern part of the region.

Yet the area around Amandola and Montefortino also warrants a visit, for it is filled with many small, interesting towns, rich in monuments and set against an often stunning landscape.

Montefortino, which dates to Roman times, is one of the more popular tourist centers in the area, famous not only for its monuments but for its location in the Sibillini Hills, which divide the Marche from Umbria and which the poet Giacomo Leopardi called the "Azure Hills."

The city center has plenty to see. In the Palazzo Comunale (City Hall) you can visit the municipal art gallery, which includes over 150 works by some lesser-known masters.

There are also interesting churches from various periods, such as the 13th-century church of Sant'Agostino or the Romanesque church of Sant'Angelo in Montespino, with its frescoes from the 14th and 15th centuries.

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