I found train journeys in Italy to be well organized and a good choice of transport between Italian towns and cities. The system has well-connected domestic and international tracks. Trains in Italy have helped us to a great extent during our Italian Vacation last September.
How did I book the tickets?
I booked all our train tickets online on Trenitalia which is the primary train operating provider in Italy. You can use http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en which is the English version of Trenitalia’s website.
Once you log onto that site, you can simply put the FROM and TO locations, choose the date and time (just next to the day you have a 24 hour drop-down box) and the number of people who would travel. Just keep in mind that most locations are mentioned in Italian and not English. For e.g. Venice is Venezia, Rome is Roma, Florence is Firenze, Naples is Napoli, Milan is Milano, and so on.
You may choose the regional trains to ply between smaller lesser known destinations or short distances because the fast trains wouldn’t stop at those. If you are travelling between two metros, then you have an option to choose between their High speed trains.
Please check my tutorial below on how to book train tickets on Trenitalia.
Cost of Tickets
The ticket bookings can be made upto 4 months in advance. The earlier you book, better are your chances of getting them at a fraction price. This is aptly applicable for high-seed trains. For instance, we booked Rome to Venice about 3.5 months in advance in Frecciarossa train for 19 EUR one way. That was more than a steal because the walk-in price for a standard ticket is not less than 80 EUR per person at any given day in that route! Booking regional trains can be done at the station as they have negligible fare changes – We tried that once from Florence to Pisa. The fare was 9 EUR on the day of travel as well as 4 months before!
High Speed Trains
High speed trains run only in the long distance route and connect only metros. They are categorized under Freece and Intercity trains.
Intercity Trains – These trains link more cities as they connect via several mid-sized tier 2 cities as well. They are however slightly slower than Frecce, but the quality of service is at par!
Frecce Trains – Under the Frecce league, we have Frecciarossa (upto 300 Km/hour), Frecciargento (upto 250 km/hour) and Frecciabianca (upto 200 km/hour). These trains are more punctual and connect only major metros from South to North with limited stops. They are slightly pricier than Intercity and have improved dining experience.
High-speed train tickets cannot be altered unless you have bought a flexible ticket for your journey. High Speed Train tickets are similar to the flight tickets. They have the name of the passenger, date and time along with the assigned seat. The only difference is that you don’t have a limit on your baggage and you can carry everything along with you!
Tip – Buy a premium ticket and get some nifty snacks, beverages and leather seating. We traveled Venice to Florence in a Premium Class High Speed Train at just EUR 4 extra per person on top of Standard Rates!
Experience with Frecciarossa
On our very first day after reaching Rome, we took our pre-booked Frecciarossa to Venice. It was a convenient ride. The windows were huge and clean and we had beautiful views available to capture! The legroom and seat comfort was brilliant. The overhead compartments were good enough for cabin bags and there was enough baggage rack available at the start of every coach. We were on Coach 8 and that made our walk to the pantry car a little longer than expected. Apart from that everything else was just right!
We had some good sandwiches, espresso and latte during the 3.5 hours journey from Rome to Venice. We also managed to surf the internet for free with the in-train free Wi-Fi that was in place!
Every ticket has to be validated before travel. Validating the ticket activates our travel for that particular journey and ensures that no ticket is reused again. You can validate your ticket under one of the many validating boxes which are almost everywhere in the station. If found travelling without a validated ticket, the checker will fine you EUR 50 on the spot. You will not have a chance to spare yourself with any excuse whatsoever! No, convincing you are a foreigner will not help either!
Non-Validated tickets are open tickets for the mentioned route and can be used for future travel as well. This is the reason why, if a ticket is not validated it will mean that you have been travelling multiple times with the same ticket. Hence, only once they are validated, they are ready for travel!
Tip – Pre-booked Frecce and Intercity tickets don’t need validation as they make a mention of the day and time with seat details!
Leonardo Express – Airport to Roma termini
Passengers arriving Rome Airport (Leonardo da Vinci /Fiumicino Airport) now have an outstanding nonstop connectivity to the city and vice versa via the Leonardo Express.
Leonardo express is an express train that connects the airport and the city in 32 minutes against travelling on road which can take over an hour or more! The service starts at 6:25AM and goes on until 11PM. If you are taking the train from Roma termini, you could board from Platform 23/24. There is a train every 15 minutes.
Although the cost is 14 EUR per person one way (comparing to Bus which is about 6 EUR) it is one of the most convenient way to travel between the Airport and the city.
IMPORTANT – Don’t forget to validate your ticket before travelling. I have seen several innocent foreigners paying EUR 50 for not validating before the journey!
Strikes in Italy
Yes, trains in Italy do go on strike! Most of these strikes, however, are informed well in advance. This ensures that we can plan better with our travels. The bad news is that certain strikes are mentioned in Italian newspapers and other Italian forums. Due to this, the non-Italian speakers often don’t have access to the information unless ofcourse they know the language and follow their news.
There is one good news though! Trenitalia guarantees minimum transport for the public even during these strikes. We would however not know the frequency of these trains and chances are we may end up spending long hours in the train station which is why being informed in advance will help our tours.
You can re-book your train if you find that your chosen day has affected by a strike. You also have an option to opt for a total refund of the ticket price on strike affected days.
Tip – Do take a quick train ride to Venice and spend the best of your available time –