One of the best ways to travel around Italy is by train. They have an excellent rail network throughout Italy. The cost is very reasonable (especially if booked in advance) and extremely comfortable. What’s more, it takes you from city centre to city centre.
There are your high speed trains (Freccia) which travel between major cities, such as Rome to Venice, but stops in Florence and Bologna. There are the Intercity trains, which also travel between major cities, however, they aren’t high speed, so travel time is a bit longer. For both of these (the high speed Freccia trains and the Intercity trains) you will need to purchase a ticket with a seat reservation. This can be done from 120 days prior to travel (for the best price!) right up to departure time.
Then there is your “regionale”, these are the trains that stop a just about every station and will take longer to get anywhere. Seat reservations are not required for these trains, and tickets do not need to be bought in advance as there is no savings in doing so.
Here is a brief overview on purchasing tickets and traveling by train.
Tickets can be purchased online, or at the station from a self-serve ticket machine, or from the ticket office at the station. *Word of warning if purchasing from the self-serve ticket machine, beware of people trying to “help”. These are most likely scam artists, they offer to help then ask for money.
Once you have your train ticket in hand look for the display that lists the trains. There will be one for “arrivi” (arrivals) and one for “partenze” (departures). Don’t worry if you don’t see your train listed right away, they often don’t appear until 5 minutes prior to departure. You will want to look for the train number, not necessarily your destination, as only the end destination will be listed. Once your train is listed on the departure board, look under the “BIN” column (BIN=binario or track). This is where you will board your train.
On your ticket you will see “carozza” and a number. This is the coach, so if it says “carozza 5”, this is coach 5. Walk next to the train and find your coach, then board the train and find your seat. Hold on to your ticket as the ticket collector will come around and scan your ticket.
If you are traveling on a “regionale” train, it is very important to validate your ticket. Look for this machine
If you are caught with a ticket that has not been validated you may incur a hefty fine. If by chance the ticket validating machine is out of order, look for train personnel once on board and let them know, they will then validate your ticket (but don’t wait for them to come to you).
If you will be on a long train journey, make the most of it – bring a picnic on board and enjoy the scenery!
Who’s ready to go on a train journey? Any questions, leave them below and I’d be happy to answer 🙂