Boys on Trains. – Photos on an Italian train from Sorrento to Pompeii..

By Posted in - Big Trip & Europe & Featured Post & Italy & Photography Posts & Photos on October 7th, 2010

I took pictures on an interesting train ride from Sorrento to Pompeii, Italy. We both wrote while we were on the train and figured we would include both entries in this post.


The train has gray, plastic seats and big windows. There is a 13 year old boy (I think) coming by who is playing a small, red accordion. His 8 year old bother is collecting donations. They both look extremely sad. Randy gives them some change and I nod and show my camera. They agree to the picture and never crack a smile, which secretly I am happy about because I want them to look as they do to me right now in this moment. Inside though, I want to cry – these kids look like pawns in a game that reminds me of Guatemala & Mexico.

It’s Wednesday why aren’t they in school?

The accordion boy’s hands look older than he is and reflect a lifetime of manual labor. I want to know their story and help them but in an instant they are gone and I am left thinking about them. Their faces and attitudes etched into my brain.

The train stops and I am at the next stop – ‘Piano’.

The scene changes instantly.

About 50 high school boys rush the train hooting and hollering. The bus is so full they sit on each others laps and I snap another picture. I wonder silently if the accordi0n boy and his brother are on a school lunch break but I seriously doubt it.

The school boys spot the camera and turn into instant hams, blabbering to me in Italian. I am so mad I don’t speak Italian. They want to take a few photos and at the worst possible time the train heads into a dark tunnel and I scramble to adjust my camera settings so I can capture this elaborate display of popularity.

They want a copy of the photos.

Marco (who appears to be the self-pronounced leader of this gang) hijacks my notebook and scribbles his name and the names of his buddies in it. It is concluded that I will look them up on Facebook, friend them and send them the photos. I give him my name on a piece of paper so he can find me online. He stands up and declares ‘Bethany Salvon’ to the train multiple times, which is a little bit embarrassing. He says something else and then interestingly enough Marco is slapped across the face by one of his comrades.

I should be lost in translation because apparently I missed out on something big (and probably much more embarrassing) but it seems that bitch slapping and Facebook transcend all language barriers.


“Bethany Salvon” rings out from the slick school boy donning a cardigan and a popped collar, white button-down shirt; the announcement came seconds after she passed a note to him.

Minutes earlier, the wild-eyed teen and his mates got worked into a fantastic frenzy about getting their pictures taken on the bustling Sorrento to Pompeii train and then having the photos sent to them via Facebook.

We now have eight new friends.

Beth: I love Italy and don’t want to leave.

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(26) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Bridgette -

    October 7, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Awesome! What great new friends to have! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • mary s. -

    October 7, 2010 at 7:53 am

    This is an rare view of italian life you never get to see. Interesting next time you should take a recorder with you, some somewhere along the way you can get someone to translate what they were trying to tell you. The picutures are great insight to what daily life is like. Keep up the great work and comments, love to read it and see it through your eyes. Learn a language!!!

    • Bethany -

      October 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks mom. I do know a language, just not the Italian one ๐Ÿ™‚@mary s.,

  • Sonya -

    October 7, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Love love love your blog! Today, I included your blog in the blog post “10 (More) Photoblogs You’ll Love” on
    .-= Sonyaยดs last blog ..10 More Photoblogs Youโ€™ll Love =-.

    • Bethany -

      October 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      Sonya, Thank you so much for your lovely comment and also for including us on your list! I am very flattered!! I love your blog as well. ๐Ÿ™‚ @Sonya,

  • Brooke vs. the World -

    October 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Haha such a fun bunch of Italian boys! Love the photos ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ I also love that bitchslapping and facebook are universal haha

    • Bethany -

      October 9, 2010 at 5:14 pm

      hahah… Of course I thought of you right away and all stories of Italian boys on trains! @Brooke vs. the World,

  • Andi -

    October 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Now you have to let us know if you find them on FB or not! I looooved this post, so creative!
    .-= Andiยดs last blog ..Europe- Day 3 Part 1 =-.

    • Bethany -

      October 9, 2010 at 5:14 pm

      Hi Andi,
      Thanks so much for your comment – I’m so glad you liked the post! I have found a couple of them on FB! @Andi,

      • Bethany -

        November 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm

        Hi Andi,
        Wanted to let you know I found one of the boys from my blog post “Boys on Trains”. He left a comment below. @Bethany,

  • Natalie – Turkish Travel Blog -

    October 14, 2010 at 3:23 am

    A brilliant retake on the train journey. You held my concentration all the way through it. You are definitely right about the boys face though. His sad look is quite haunting.
    .-= Natalie – Turkish Travel Blogยดs last blog ..To Travel By Bus Or Plane =-.

  • Janine -

    October 18, 2010 at 8:29 am

    We took that same train from Sorrento to Pompeii last June. Saw similar ‘sad’ kids with an accordian. Thought it was a bit of a tourist trap but I gave a few coins too ๐Ÿ™‚ Funny that they are still there which makes it a little suspect….
    Now I am just waiting for your post on Pompeii. It blew us all away!

  • jamie -

    October 22, 2010 at 6:47 am

    great story!! did you add them on facebook in the end? i love taking trains, something always seems to be happening. great photos too by the way. cheers, jamie

    • Bethany -

      November 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks Jamie – I just found Marco on Facebook and he left a comment ๐Ÿ™‚ @jamie,

  • Adam -

    November 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    What a cool story, Bethany. The spontaneous things like this that happen while traveling are just the best. Great story and as always, fantastic pictures.

  • Marco -

    November 20, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    hello I am one of those guys photos. I am very pleased that Bethany has created this blog. we did not know who would do the blog. I can now say that famous “we talked about me in America” hahah. bye bye

    • Bethany -

      November 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm

      Hi Marco,

      Thanks for leaving your comment. Yes, now you are famous in the travel blog world. ๐Ÿ™‚ @Marco,

  • Lorna – the roamantics -

    November 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    LOVE this! gorgeous pix and i love how you’ve allowed us into your heads in those moments. Glad you found Marco! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • […] my post about Marco and the boys on the train in Sorrento? I passed around my beloved travel journal for the boys to write their names in. Well I’m a […]

  • kevin winter -

    January 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Isn’t it always the “kids” that make the most special travel memories? (I know the boys weren’t kids, per se, but when you are more than double their age, they are all “kids”.)

    I guess that is exactly the spontaneity and joy of life that I am searching for in my travels….

    Happy Travels!


    • Bethany -

      January 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      Yes, they do – kids are always great to be around when travelng ๐Ÿ™‚ @kevin winter,

  • […] If you want to read the original corresponding post please click here – Boys On Trains. […]

  • Leslie (Downtown Traveler) -

    August 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Great shot of the boys on the train. It’s always sad seeing kids during school hours begging or selling trinkets on the street– most likely they are being exploited.

  • Canyoning Wales -

    April 25, 2013 at 2:18 am

    You described the look on the first two boys faces so well. I could almost feel their pain through their eyes. I personally find Italian men really annoying, they are so obnoxious and often rude. Rarely have I met an Italian man that has something bad to say about himself. Far too much bravado for my liking.