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Italy has one of the best domestic rail networks in Europe with services that provide great value for money, comfortable and convenient. In many countries the train system is very basic and doesn’t have an extensive reach but Italy bucks the trend and really does over deliver!
The rail system in Italy is not only used by tourists and Expats but many locals rely on it to get to work or travel to see their families. Therefore, if you’re spending any amount of time in Italy, or even visiting as a tourist, then understanding the rail network is essential to making the most of what the country has to offer.
Italy Has A Great Choice Of Trains.
Italy has an excellent rail network that can be used to travel between all of the major cities as well as smaller towns and many rural villages. The main train operators in Italy are Trenitalia, Trenord and Italo that have both high speed intercity trains and slower, regional trains in the service of the public.
How To Buy Tickets For Trains in Italy – For Americans And Other Visitors.
It’s absolutely crucial to be able to easily buy train tickets while you’re in Italy and although you can always purchase them in the local train stations you can more conveniently do so online.
One of the best websites for buying train tickets in Italy is www.Italiarail.com. This website is the perfect portal for tourists, Expats and even local Italians who want to quickly pick up a ticket and get their journey booked in advance. This is without doubt my favorite website to buy tickets. The English version of the website is simple and clean and you can purchase tickets using your American credit or debit card. The tickets for the most part are pre-validated, so you do not have to validate the ticket at the train station. The tickets will have the seat number also.
The tickets on ItaliaRail are low cost, with plenty of bargains, and will give you access to all the wonderful cities and towns of the country within a few clicks! The website has a highly intuitive interface that’s easy to navigate, regardless of whether or not you speak Italian. Everything you need to know is clearly laid out on ItaliaRail and easily accessible for busy people on the move.
Italiarail provides tickets for single day trips as well as multi day options that allow you to explore the beautiful scenery of Italy with the minimum of hassle. The platform lets you buy tickets from wherever you are and even lets you pay in American dollars, something which can be useful if you’re using your dollar bank account to buy the tickets.
ItaliaRail also has a good deal of information about the stations, routes and travel options to help you get from A to B as easily as possible. Originally founded in 2004, ItaliaRail has an international footprint with offices in the United States, UK and Australia; its mission statement being to connect travellers with more than 80,000 unique regional and high speed trains in Italy.
ItaliaRail provides you with tickets that are already validated so you won’t have to worry while you’re in the station which is extremely convenient no matter why you’re travelling in Italy. The platform has an excellent customer service system where you can get guidance based on up to date expertise and inside knowledge of the best routes and train options for anyone navigating the Italian rail network. You can also have your tickets posted to you, anywhere in the world, by express delivery, and if you’re a frequent traveller you can take advantage of some excellent savings.
Rail Passes For Italian Trains.
In Italy there are two main types of rail passes that you can use to save money on your journeys; the Interrail Pass and the Eurail Pass. Essentially, the main difference between the two is that the Interrail Pass is only designed and available for citizens of the European Union whereas the Eurail Pass is available for citizens of the world.
Both the different types of rail passes allow you to make unlimited journeys within one country, if you have a ‘One Country Pass’, or a several countries, ‘with a Global Pass’; which is a fantastic deal if you’re planning to do a lot of travel during a given period. Your rail pass can also be used to get significant discounts on ferry tickets when you travel with Blue Star Ferries, Minoan Lines, Grimaldi Lines and Superfast Ferries.
Is It Worth Buying A Rail Pass In Italy?
It’s always worth considering the option of buying a rail pass for your travel in Italy, particularly if you’re planning on taking multiple trips in the coming months. On the other hand, if you’re only planning to take a single train ride then it’s not likely to be worth paying for a rail pass on top of your ticket. Nonetheless, if you’re a frequent traveller it’s certainly worth buying a rail pass so that you can take advantage of the potential savings that are available.
What Is Travelling By Train In Italy Like?
Travelling by train in Italy is a real treat and given that the tickets are extremely reasonable in cost you can get some incredible bargains. There’s many advantages of travelling by train, as opposed to car or bus, including:
- High speed travel that connects you to all major cities, towns and villages.
- Very comfortable carriages with toilets, Wi-Fi and power charging facilities.
- You can see the country as you relax and enjoy the view (Recently I took the train from Rome to Pisa. It was a beautiful ride with views of beaches and towns along the Tyrrhenian Sea).
- With plenty of stations en route you can always take a pit stop for lunch, a stroll or just to do some shopping.
- No need to worry about maps, road signs or traffic while you’re on the train.
Trains in Italy are very reliable in general and will allow you to experience the true beauty of the country while relaxing in the comfort of your carriage.
What Are The Different Types Of Trains In Italy?
There are two main types of trains in Italy; high speed intercity trains and slower, regional trains. The high speed trains are designed to travel up to 400 km/h and hurtle between all the main cities delivering tourists and commuters to their destinations in comfort and safety.
The primary routes that are covered by the high speed trains in Italy include connections between Bologna, Rome, Florence, Naples and Milan. The main fleet of high speed trains are managed by Trenitalia and cover all the important routes within the country.
The high speed trains in Italy are more expensive than the slower, regional trains but they often have great facilities, including Wi-Fi, vending machines and sometimes an on board restaurant. You will need to book your seat in advance though which means that you can’t just turn up at the platform and jump on board!
The regional trains in Italy are cheaper than the high speed alternatives and cover all the local routes and smaller stations. Regional trains are also run by Trenitalia and although the on board facilities are much more limited than what you’d expect on the high speed trains they are still very comfortable and a pleasure to ride.
When you’re riding the regional trains there is usually no need to make a reservation and the prices are fixed so there’s no financial savings to be made by booking in advance. There are no on board restaurant facilities so if you’re planning to take a long journey on the regional trains then it’s worth bringing some food and a bottle of water with you for the trip.
Frecciarossa, Frecciargento and Frecciabianca Trains In Italy.
These three types of trains are operated by the Italian national train operator known as Trenitalia.
- Frecciarossa trains: These high speed trains are the fastest way to get around Italy and travel at speeds of up to 400 km/h.
- Frecciargento trains: As the second fastest type of trains in Italy these reach speeds of up to 250 km/h.
- Frecciabianca: Also known as ‘Frecce’ trains, these can hit top speeds of 200 km/h and are the third fastest way to travel by rail in Italy.
What Are Italo High Speed Trains?
The Italo high speed train fleet travels at up to 360 km/h and covers some of the main intercity routes. Italo high speed trains run from Brescia to Naples, Venice to Salerno and Turn to Salerno with stops at Rome, Florence, Bologna and Milan.
How To Use The Trains To Reach The Main Airports In Italy.
One of the most convenient ways to get to the airport from any major city is by using the rail network. This means that you don’t have to worry about parking your car, traffic or finding your way to the correct terminal. Every major city in Italy is well connected with the nearest airport and the streamlined rail system is modern and high tech.
Milan Malpensa Airport.
To reach the Milan Malpensa airport you can take a regional train from Milan Centrale station and the trip will take between 30 minutes to an hour. The tickets cost less than 20 Euros and no reservations are required to board the train.
You can also catch a high speed train to other major Italian cities, including Florence, Venice, Rome and Naples from the Milan Centrale station although you will have to reserve your seat on the longer distance trains.
Rome Fiumicino Airport.
The train to Rome Fiumicino airport goes from the Rome Termini station every 30 minutes throughout the day and takes just over 30 minutes to get you to the airport (this train is known as the Leonardo Express). Tickets cost under 20 Euros and there is no need to make a reservation in advance.
You can also catch high speed trains from Rome Termini to other major cities including Florence, Naples, Venice and Milan although you will need to make a reservation to book your seat.
You can catch a train from Pisa Centrale station to Pisa airport with the ride taking less than 10 minutes. There is no need to book a ticket in advance to travel to the airport so you can just jump on whenever it’s convenient.
Pisa Centrale station also runs frequent high speed services to all major Italian cities including Rome, La Spezia and even Cinque Terre.
Buying Train Tickets Departing From The Airport In Italy.
Once you’ve arrived in Italy and got off your plane the last thing you want is to have to stress about catching your train to your onward destination. There are a few simple tips that you can make use of to take the headache out of getting from the airport to the next destination on your trip.
There’s no need to reserve seats on the regional trains but if you are catching a high speed train to a further destination you should always book your seat in advance.
If your flight is delayed then your train booking will become invalid although you can contact the Trenitalia customer service to change your ticket if you know your flight is going to be late in advance.
Travelling By Train In Italy.
There’s no better way to travel around Italy as an Expat or tourist than by taking advantage of the fantastic rail network. There’s a great choice of trains which stop at all cities and towns as well as most villages and sites of cultural interest.
It’s easy to book a ticket or to find out more about the possible routes that are available. One of the most helpful sites is ItaliaRail where you can book tickets and find out all the details about train schedules and routes. ItaliaRail lets you pay in US dollars and even allows you to book walking tours of the major cities along with your train ticket!
The trains are very reasonably priced and give you the chance to relax while you get to your destination. There’s always the opportunity to jump off at stops along the way to explore, do some shopping or have some refreshments and on board there are often facilities including Wi-Fi, toilets and restaurant carriages.