Traveling by rail throughout Italy is a wonderful way to see and enjoy the country’s natural splendour, all the while not having to worry about car rental or other travel issues. Train service, both high speed and locomotive, are available in all major cities with second and first class tickets available on most rail lines.
Common Routes for Train Travel in Italy
Train travel in Italy is more economical than rail travel in other European countries, and offers routes which provide nearly 100 percent coverage across the country. If you are traveling through Italy for kids, routes with train stations are available in every major city: Balzano, Verona, Trieste, Venice, Bologna, Ancona, Pescara, Bari, Brindisi, Taranto, Reggio di Calabria, Siracusa, Palermo, Messina, Naples, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Genoa, Torino, and Milano.
Questions to Ask Before Buying a Ticket
The best way to ensure your Italian vacation meets your expectations is to ask questions when traveling by rail as different providers have different policies and ticket prices. Here are questions to think of.
- Can I buy tickets online? Yes. A travel counsellor at Road to Italy will be more than happy to purchase tickets online on your behalf, which can be done through a handful of websites. You may also purchase rail tickets on your own, and most sites accept major credit cards as a form of payment.
- When should I buy my tickets if I am thinking of train travel in Italy? If you are planning on traveling on EuroStar and Frecce series trains — Italy’s high speed rail service, it is a good idea to purchase tickets two months in advance, if possible. Some rail services allow tickets to be purchased up to four months ahead of schedule, but check with your tour operator or the rail company on refund policies and other rules.
- Do tickets for train travel in Italy need to be validated? Yes. Different rail providers have different policies but, generally, all paper or physically printed tickets are validated twice — once at the time of issuance, and a second time when boarding the train. Some tickets bought online or with an electronic ticket designation do not require confirmation or validation, but contact your tour or rail provider for more information.
- How do I know which station to use? Information on which station to use is printed on the ticket or available as an email confirmation if it has been purchased online.
- Does Italy have “bullet” or high speed rail service? Yes. Italy’s EuroStar and Frecce series trains are high speed, capable of achieving speeds up to 300 kilometres per hour (186 miles per hour) for long distance service.
How to Buy a Ticket for Train Travel in Italy
If your travel has been arranged by a tour company, then your tickets have likely been purchased in advance, but tickets can be bought on the spot, too. Here are the steps for buying tickets for train travel in Italy:
- Whether traveling in Florence or Taranto, know the time and destination of the train you want to use, the number of tickets to be purchased and the class of ticket you want to buy.
- Many stations are equipped with self-service ticket machines, which are simple to use and will cut down on time spent in line at the ticket window.
- Buy beforehand from a travel agent or tour company when considering train travel in Italy, which may or may not tack on extra service fees.
- For train travel in Italy, tickets can be bought online from ItaliaRail.
- If you want to travel on EuroStar or Frecce trains, seat reservations are mandatory so it is advisable to check with Road to Italy about purchasing rail tickets in advance. Some Intercity and Intercity Plus trains also require reservations, so call 800-848-8163 if you have questions.
Types of Trains for Italy Vacations
Italy has a number of passenger trains available through different providers, all designed to take customers from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time. Like many countries in Europe and Asia, one option for train travel in Italy comes via “bullet” or high speed rail, in this case the Frecce series. The three main types of train for passenger service are:
High Speed or Bullet Trains
EuroStar and Frecce series, which includes Frecciarossa (aka “Red Arrows”), Frecciargento (or “Silver Arrows”), and Frecciabianca (aka “White Arrows”) provide high speed service not only inside Italy, but also to points of interest in other countries. The Red Arrows are at the top of the pecking order for high speed and high class train travel in Italy, with top speeds approaching 300 kilometres per hour — not Japanese bullet train fast, but much faster than any passenger train service in many countries such as the United States. Red Arrows feature many upscale amenities, including four classes of accommodations, air conditioning, a restaurant car with waiter service, and power ports for laptop computers, mobile phones, and other devices. Trains in the Silver Arrows and White Arrows feature similar passenger amenities, but top speeds are limited to 125 miles per hour — more than fast enough for quick round trips between Rome and Naples. Most tickets for all three are sold on a reservation basis.
Intercity and Intercity Plus trains are locomotive driven and achieve top speeds in the 100 – 125 miles per hour range. Passenger amenities are more spartan, but first and second class tickets are available with reservations.
Regional trains as a means of train travel in Italy are no less important, both for everyday residents and tourists moving from one end of a town to another end, all in time for fresh gelato after lunch then a round of sightseeing before dinner. These trains operate all over Italy, and tickets are inexpensive and can be bought at the station prior to boarding.