Top Tips for Train Travel in Italy
If you have planned a vacation to Italy and are searching for a reliable way to “get around” other than by car, utilizing Italy’s well developed rail network is a good option. Of the millions of tourists that touch down within the country’s borders every 12 months, a large proportion either can’t rent a car because they don’t have a valid license, or simply don’t want the hassle of doing so. While travelling by car does offer you an incomparable amount of freedom when compared to public transport, it does have its downsides too. For a start there’s every chance that you could get lost in a place you don’t know, which can make everything take twice as long and be very stressful. Then there’s the fact that fuel prices are at an all time high right now and lastly you have to be extra careful that you don’t scratch or scuff your rental car otherwise the rental company you deal with will likely charge you a small fortune for the “extensive damage” you have caused (they tend to exaggerate things!). These are just some of the reasons why many tourists turn to train travel in Italy instead.
What Do You Need to Know When Utilizing Train Travel in Italy?
Travel trips are something the team at Road to Italy get asked about a lot every single year since it’s important to be able to get to the various sights and attractions efficiently during your trip. You don’t want to spend large amounts of time “in transit” while on your vacation and you certainly don’t want to overpay on transport costs leaving you with less money to spend on fun things. In an earlier post (see here) we outlined some of the main types of trains that operate in Italy in addition to how to buy your tickets. During this article we are going to talk a bit more about how to use train travel in Italy and provide you with some useful tips that will ensure you enjoy a safe, pleasant journey no matter where you are going.
Catching the Right Train
Just as in any other country, once you’ve purchased your ticket and have it safely stored in your pocket or bag, it’s time to find out which platform your train is leaving from. You wouldn’t want to catch the wrong one! The Italian word for platforms is binari and when you find the departures board, your platform number will usually be listed under the column headed by bin. Look down the list, check which platform your train is departing from and make your way over there in good time.
Before You Get on the Train…
In the past one of the main things you had to remember with train travel in Italy was to validate your ticket before jumping aboard the train. However, nowadays this isn’t usually necessary, especially when travelling between the main cities, since both tickets purchased at the station and via the internet will usually display the date of your journey, a seat reservation and a PNR code that the conductor will check during the journey. If you use the local train services that run between less touristy destinations, it may still be necessary to validate the ticket, which can be done by simply pushing the ticket into one of the yellow machines that are located on the platforms. If you aren’t sure whether it’s necessary to validate your ticket, simply ask an attendant at the train station.
What to Expect When You Get on the Train
The layout of the trains in Italy is no different from those that operate in most other countries around the world. Should you have a significant amount of luggage with you there will typically be overhead shelving above the seats and towards the start and end of each coach there are usually additional racks for storage. Wherever you store your luggage make sure you can see it! While you should have already validated your ticket at this point, you may still need to show it to the conductor as he passes through the coach, so make sure it is within easy reach.
Trips for Train Travel in Italy
- Remain alert. Trains and train stations in Italy are often full of life and it’s extremely important to keep your wits about you at all times in order to safeguard your possessions. Keep your luggage, wallet and important documents close to you throughout your journey.
- First or second class? Many people ask us whether it’s worth it to spend the extra money and purchase a first class ticket and whether the gulf between first and second class is noticeable. While first class will allow you to travel more comfortably, the 2nd class coaches are still more than adequate for most traveller’s needs and help you to travel more economically.
- Train Strikes. For all of the benefits of train travel in Italy you do need to be aware that rail staff in the country hold strikes much more frequently than in other countries. These strikes are usually planned well in advance though and can be checked either by enquiring at the station or online to ensure minimal disruption to your plans.
To get around the country comfortably, efficiently and economically, no other option beats train travel in Italy. If you would like further advice, help with booking a ticket or would like a member of our team to check a train route for you, contact Road to Italy today.