Italy Train Travel

Best Tips for Traveling on Italian Trains

Author: The Traveling Professor/Wednesday, January 20, 2016/Categories: Italy

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On The Traveling Professor small group tours to Italy, we enjoy comfortable and fast train travel.

In Italy, there are essentially two types of trains:

Regional Trains:   No reservations required, no reserved seats.  Tickets are good for one trip 90 days from date of purchase.   They must be validated (stamped) by inserting them in a validating machine (you will see other travelers doing it) immediately before departure (see this YouTube video https://youtu.be/2s3GilHEGzA).  They can’t be purchased online but they can be purchased from vending machines at the train station with a chipped and pin card or with a vending machine accepting cash.  Otherwise, wait on line for a ticket agent.  Tickets are not discounted if purchased in advance.  It is best to use regional trains going shorter distances to smaller cities.

Fast Trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciabianca, Frecciargento):  Reserved seating trains.  These tickets can be purchased same as regional tickets, but there are big advantages in terms of buying in advance.  A quick look at a ticket purchased on the easy-to-use www.trenitalia.com website on a route from Rome to Florence shows a price of 43 euros if traveling within one day of purchase.   Buy the ticket 90 days in advance and it goes down to 19 euros.   Better weekend deals can be found too.  High-speed trains are more comfortable than regional trains are usually better when traveling from one large city to another.

Some notes about Italian train tickets:

  • When purchasing in advance, sometimes premium class tickets can be found at the same or cheaper fares.
  • Most tickets are non-refundable.
  • There is another Italian fast-train company, Italotreno.com, but routes and schedules are more limited than Trenitalia.com.

Where to Purchase

I find the www.trenitalia.com official train site sometimes confusing to use.  A better alternative is to purchase tickets from the Captaine Train (https://www.captaintrain.com).  It is more user friendly, the prices are just as good as the Trenitalia website, and there is more selection.  For instance, it shows Trenitalia as well as Italotreno trains, all on one website.  I highly recommend it.

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