How to book train journeys in Italy
You might already be aware of this, but Italy is an absolutely beautiful country.
For real guys, It’s stunning.
And if you have already read my previous articles on the beauty of Rome and my love for the Roman cuisine, then you’ll obviously know that Italy is the perfect place to waste away a few weekends. Or a few weeks. Heck, maybe even a few months!
What can possibly be better than basking in the warm afternoon sun, spending your days indulging in fresh mozzarella and a perfectly chilled local wine, or to explore the alleys of medieval cities or Sunday markets? Italy has got it all, and in this article I’ll give you the complete low-down on how you can experience all of this too.
Unfortunately, many visitors tend to simply fly in (or cruise in – whatever floats your boat, mate), and thus often end up spending all of their limited time in one city. I do understand that – often – simply staying put is so much easier than stressing around and renting a car. But hey, if this is you
You’re missing out!
In fact, Italy is the perfect country in which to perform a grande tour. And look, you don’t even need to rent a car! Train connections are quite strong on the Italian mainland, and it enables you to easily travel between major cities like Milan and Florence – or to escape the buzzing and warm streets of Rome for a few relaxing days near a seaside resort.
In this article, I will help you with all the resources you can possibly need in order to travel through Italy by train. And, in case you’re low on inspiration, I will even help you out with a few suggestions on where to go.
How to travel through Italy by train
First things first, my dear. In Italy, you will encounter 2 different types of train.
- Regional trains
- Fast speed trains
While the regional trains will take you to smaller towns, more rural areas and/or short distance, the fast speed trains are what creates the link between the major Italian cities. In other words – the regional train might take you from Milan to Lake Como, but the fast speed train will take you from Venice to Florence.
How to buy train tickets in Italy
In Italy, you will find that there are two major companies that sell train tickets, Italo Treno and Trenitalia.
It’s important to remember that Italo Treno can only offer tickets for fast speed trains, so if you’re travelling through major Italian cities then Italo should be your jam. You can buy the tickets on their website , without even have to sign up or create an account! In other words, it’s super easy.
Please be aware that the train prices tend to go up as you are approaching the day of departure. Early bird gets the worm, you know.
But whatever you do, please live by this simple rule: always write down your confirmation code.
It’s absolutely imperative that you write down your confirmation code after booking, you will need this code later when picking up your tickets at the station.
Trenitalia is the largest train company in Italy, and they are also the biggest competitor of Italo Treno. At Trenitalia, you can book both fast speed trains and regional train – however, be observant while booking!
You don’t want to risk ending up on a regional train from Milan to Rome – that will take you forever. So, repeat after me: always check the travel time before confirming your booking with Trenitalia.
Trenitalia is an excellent option though, and you can even pay with Paypal.
Do you just want to go with the flow?
Maybe you’re not a big fan of planning things ahead? Maybe you want more freedom and flexibility?
Well, at most big train stations you can buy the tickets in person at the Italo or Trenitalia counters. Smaller train stations offer ticket machines.But remember that prices tend to increase closer to the departure date, so you might end up paying extra for your freedom!
When should you board trains in Italy?
Most trains arrive at the station 15 minutes before departure. If you are travelling on a regional train, you will most likely not receive a seat reservation – it might be wise to board the trains as early as possible as they tend to fill up quite quickly.
Fast speed trains will print both your carriage and seat number on your ticket, so there’s really no need to rush. Take it easy, have an espresso and wait for your train to depart.
Have you validated your ticket?
For regional trains, please remember to validate your ticket in a machine before boarding the train. An unvalidated ticket is considered an attempt at cheating the system (as the ticket then can be used again), and will therefore result in a massive fine by the controller.
So now you’re all good to go! But where to…?
Italy is bursting with beautiful areas, and here you can find some of my suggestions for wonderful destinations.
Are you starting in Milan? Why don’t you visit
- Lake Como (day trip, regional train)
- Venice (Fast speed train)
- Verona (Fast speed train)
- Wine districts like Piemonte (regional train)
Are you starting in Florence? Why don’t you see
- Verona (Fast speed train)
- Milan (Fast speed train)
- Rome (Fast speed train)
- Cinque Terre (regional trains)
- Wine districts (regional trains)
- San Gimignano (regional trains)
Are you starting in Rome? Why don’t you explore
- All major cities by fast speed trains
- Sperlonga (regional trains)
- Perugia (regional trains)
- Frascati (regional trains)
Wine Folly – For those of you want to know more about Italy’s many wine districts
Cavaforlunch – Norwegian-speaking readers can find helpful recommendations in this article on beautiful day trips from Rome.
ProbeAroundTheGlobe – More Epic Train Journeys Around the World