The Drive: Rome to Monterosso

Here’s a video I put together — mostly for my family and close in-person friends — but thought I’d go ahead and post it on the blog. Plus, there is at least a reference to “Primal driving.” It was created from about a half dozen clips my wife took with the iPhone while on the drive from Rome to Monterosso totaling 18 minutes, which I combined and edited down to about 9. It was done 100% on the new iPhone 4 — video, editing and publishing to YouTube — using the $5 iMovie app. rudimentary capabilities, but for a phone, pretty impressive in my book.

Another reason to toss it up is perhaps to encourage world travel in general for those who haven’t, yet, and to really get in there and travel, and to do so by car when you can. Trains are fine for getting from A to B, but with a car you can get to and see many surprising places off the beaten path that you might not otherwise see.

I should also probably mention that I wasn’t being snobby in the video when I mentioned not being able to get 1st class seats on the train, in case anyone is unaware. 1st class is just a small supplemental charge on the trains in Europe, like 10E, not multiples of the regular price such as the airlines.

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  1. Debbie on July 25, 2010 at 00:11

    Wonderful video. Italy is the best!

    But kudos to your wife. I remember saying the same things (“It’s not funny”) when my husband was driving us on the Sorrento coast road in April. Why are you guys are all the same!!??!!

    Love the website!

    • Alex on July 25, 2010 at 07:31

      I’m a guy, and if I’d been sitting in the passenger seat in that video, my teeth would be clenched, and my right foot would be mashed against the imaginary brake pedal.

  2. Sue on July 25, 2010 at 03:40

    I laughed when I heard your wife in the background. I hate those curvy type of roads – scary!

  3. Peter on July 25, 2010 at 05:31

    Hee hee, I remember a set of hairpins dropping down to the Amalfi Coast road from the mountain hinterland above it. The first 10 bends were disturbing. By the time I got to sea level I’d lost count and was just glad not to see a another hairpin for a while!


  4. MikkiB on July 25, 2010 at 07:31

    Richard, the reviews for imovie are not good but I have to say you’ve convinced me with this video that I’m going right now to get my phone and download the app. Have fun in Italy…it’s a wonderful place!!

    • Richard Nikoley on July 25, 2010 at 07:45

      Pretty rudimentary for a first start. One immediate huge improvement would be to be able to split clips. Since both the camera function itself and iMovie allow trimming of clips from the beginning forward or the end backward. Spitting would allow you to trim in the middle with no added functionality. And since music can be added to a whole clip only, splitting clips would then enable you to have music for only a portion of a little clip, such as when there’s no narration.

  5. Dave Fish on July 25, 2010 at 09:25

    I enjoyed this video because I did a similar drive just last month from Rome to Corniglia. They do have fantastic highways in Europe and there are a lot of tunnels in Italy (even more in Switzerland!).

    Have fun hiking between the villages. Here’s a picture of me being Primal on the trail between Montorosso and Vernazza:

    • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2010 at 01:20

      We did the whole hike yesterday, from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, in our Vibrams. Lots of looks & questions. Took the time for a swim in Vernazza and Manarola. 8.5 hours on the trail including swims, lunch and exploring the villages.

      The train ride back was 8 minutes.

  6. Jeff on July 25, 2010 at 09:39

    The roads being good is no mystery. They actually collect taxes on people and then put them to good use. They aren’t trying to be the world’s police.

    • Dave Fish on July 25, 2010 at 09:54

      Yes they do collect taxes, in the form of very high toll charges. Petrol taxes are also high compared to in the US but I don’t see what any of that has to do with your “trying to be the world’s police” comment.

      • Jeff on July 25, 2010 at 11:22

        Our Military spending it out of control. That’s what I mean.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2010 at 01:10

      It’s no secret that Western Europe’s lavish social spending post WWII and continuing was in large measure bought and paid for through America’s generous Cold War protection of the region. Acting as “world police” is a more recent phenomenon.

  7. Wayne on July 25, 2010 at 21:56

    I would like to second Richard’s point about getting a car and driving. It’s a lot of fun and really adds the experience because you can really do whatever you want. You’re not a the mercy of train schedules and such, and honestly it’s just a lot of fun to drive over there. Be aware that gas prices are higher and you’ll pay some tolls if you’re on the “interstate” highways (the Autostrade, Autobahn, etc), but in my opinion it’s worth it.

  8. Donna Lane on July 26, 2010 at 08:09

    I thoroughly enjoyed the video this morning with my cup of coffee. I am looking forward to more of them. Thanks!

  9. Lark on July 26, 2010 at 11:10

    Nice road, but I cracked up when you said (something to the effect of) “a little road and a sporty car with a stick shift, what more could you want”, because I would want much less… a motorcycle! and less traffic as well. But looks like a great time, thanks for sharing.

  10. William in DC on July 29, 2010 at 12:15

    How do you “get started” with World travel? Is it more affordable/possible than people think…? Some (I?) have a limiting beleif that it takes lots of money to even think of being able to do what you are doing right now.

    But nice video, hope you’re having a blast.

    • Wayne on July 29, 2010 at 17:57

      Well Europe probably is more expensive in general as opposed to the US, but if you do enough research beforehand you can make it pretty affordable. For example if you go to Rome and get a hotel room right next to the Spanish Steps then obviously that is going to be more expensive than something a little further out. It kind of depends on how adventurous you are too and if you’re willing to take the Subway or figure out the bus system then you don’t have to stay near the big attractions.

      There are other little things you can do to save some money over there too. Eating out can be kind of expensive, so we would often just go to the supermarket and buy some meat (stuff we didn’t have to cook.. ham, salami, etc) and some fruit/nuts, etc, and that saved a lot of money, especially on travel days. It’s also kind of an adventure in and of itself going to the local market when you don’t really speak the language.

      Also some countries are more expensive than others, like Switzerland is pretty expensive so maybe avoid that if you’re on a budget. You also have to consider the exchange rate, so that adds a little. I would definitely recommend driving, especially when you’re going to different cities, but that might not be cost-effective if it’s just one or two of you.

      Anyway, I’m kind of just rambling, but to answer your question I think it can be affordable you’ll just have to do your research and be prepared to maybe go outside your comfort zone a little if you’re not the adventurous type. In my opinion that’s half the fun though. One of my fondest memories is trying to figure out the stupid ass bus schedule in Florence that made no sense and seemed to stop at streets that weren’t on the map.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 31, 2010 at 05:55


      I got started by having a job that first entailed living in Japan for five years in the late 80s (and traveling throughout Eastern Asia all during that time) and then living in France for two years in the early 90s (and traveling throughout Europe in that time).

      I think step number one is simply to decide that there’s nothing to fear and that world travel is within everyone’s reach. It’s not a matter of can/can’t, but a matter of frequency, degree, type.

      On the very low end you can do the backpacking thing, stay in hostels of very cheap accommodations (the Internet is a great resource). Here’s a great resource:

      And there are plenty more that specifically target traveling on an extreme budget.

      To sum it up: Just do it. Start a savings fund and start looking for deals and planning.

  11. Nancy on July 31, 2010 at 11:40

    Awesome, very much enjoying living viacariously through you and Bea, how fun.

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