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How to Use Trains in Italy: Costly Mistakes to Avoid

How to Use Trains in Italy: Costly Mistakes to Avoid

Traveling by train is a fantastic and easy way to see Italy. It’s a reliable form of transport between cities so you can relax while reaching your destination.

This is definitely the most convenient form of movement, obviously depending on your itinerary – as for example, there are no trains outside of a few major cities in the mountains.

On most trains you get unlimited luggage that you can easily store, so there’s no need to worry. Small pets can travel with you as well for free if carried in a secure small carrier. Bigger dogs are allowed too but they need to have a pet ticket and wear a muzzle and leash.

trains in Italy

Train Companies in Italy

There are several types of carriers in Italy. It’s worth it to learn how they work so that our journey goes smoothly according to the dream scenario. The trains are usually punctual here (except for the tourist route in/out of Florence)

Trenitalia – biggest provider with most routes.

Italo – private provider from Northern Italy, they often have discounts.

Keep in mind that unlike Trenitalia Italo limits luggage allowance. Luggage larger than 75x53x30 cm is not allowed in Smart class (the cheapest one).

Trenord – a regional provider in Lombardia, but you can purchase tickets on the Trenitalia site for their trains.

Types of Italian Trains

1. Frecce are fast trains that are obviously the most expensive ones, but the only reasonable way to get from larger cities located far away.

There are three types of frecce trains: Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca.

All high-speed trains in Italy come with:

  • Reserved seating
  • Luggage storage
  • Wifi
  • AC

2. Intercity travel between big to mid-range cities, but they are slower than frecce trains in Italy. It’s a must to reserve your seat for the specific train.

3. Regionale are cheap and slow trains that don’t require seat reservations. They stop at smaller towns and operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

4. Airport trains operate on their own terms and require a different ticket that can be purchased online or at the counter.

  • Leonardo Express – from Fiumicino Airport to Rome
  • Malpensa Express – from Malpensa Airport to Milan

IMPORTANT: All types of tickets can be purchased in three ways: online, at the counter, or in a vending machine.

Please note that tickets for regional trains purchased from a vending machine must be purchased in advance and validated in a validator before departure on the platform.

When validating a ticket, align it to the left. The place to be deleted is marked with the word VALIDATA.

If your ticket isn’t validated and the conductor (on the train or platform) sees it you will be fined over 100 EUR and there are no exceptions for unknowing tourists.

Electronic ones do not require printing and erasing, but they have a PNR code (it comes via e-mail with the ticket). Lack of PNR is treated as traveling without a valid ticket.

luggage train italy

How to Buy Train Tickets in Italy Online

I highly recommend you book your tickets for fast trains in advance. Tickets are generally released six to seven months before travel dates.

Italian fast trains have dynamic prices that depend on the demand and they usually either sell out or super expensive last minute. And the price difference might be 50 to 200 EUR.

Trenitalia Pass

This is a train pass for tourists and can be bought for 3, 4, 7 or 10 journeys. In the case of journeys with connecting trains (like for example, changing trains somewhere), each booking will be considered one trip of the Pass.

The seat reservations for the trips included in the pass are mandatory and free of charge for all the trains.

When booking tickets online you should remember that there are often various train stations in the same city.

The main train stations in Italy tourist spots are:

  • Rome: Roma Termini
  • Venice: Venezia Santa Lucia
  • Verona: Verona Porta Nuova
  • Bologna: Bologna Centrale
  • Milan: Milano Centrale
  • Florence: Firenze Santa Maria Novella
  • Turin: Torino Porta Nuova
  • Naples: Napoli Centrale
  • La Spezia: La Spezia Centrale
Traveling on a Train in Italy with Kids

Traveling on a Train in Italy with Kids

Kids up to 4 years of age can travel for free on Freccia trains in Italy as long as they don’t occupy the seats. If you want a seat for your child, they are available for 50% discount. Kids 4 years and older need to pay 50% of the price.

On Intercity trains, kids under 15 usually travel free (Bimbi gratis) if 2 adults are traveling.

Italian trains are clean, free, and easy to use. I used them ever since my older son was 2 weeks old as we lived in Italy with a baby.

train italy stroller

Fast trains have toilets, and basic changing facilities, and food is available for purchase. Regional trains only have basic toilets.

For seating, there are some standard 2-seats together or 4 seats with a table. Trenitalia also has designated seats for parents with a stroller (18A) which is super handy with a newborn!

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