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Traveling by Train in Italy – The Basics

italy train travel trenitalia

If you find yourself with time to spare when you travel to Italy, we suggest that you explore the country by train. Traveling by train in Italy is one of the most efficient and economical ways of getting around in this lovely country. Whether you’re planning to go from city to city, or you just want to get to the museum on the other side of town, heading to the train station is always a good bet.

You should know however that if you don’t know how the rail system in the country works, you might find yourself confused and maybe even lost. Don’t worry. There are a few things you simply need to know about the Italian Metro for you to safely get from point A to point B without finding yourself someplace you weren’t planning on going. Here are some train travel tips that might prove useful when you decide to check out Italy by rail.

Find Your Train and Your Schedule – To travel by train around Italy, you first need to know which train goes where. This means you need to familiarize yourself with the different kinds of train that go around the country. You also need to know the train schedules and where the trains depart from as well as where they arrive in the cities that you are planning on visiting. You can easily do this by visiting the sites of Trenitalia and Italo Treno.

These two train websites will show you where these trains can take you and you can also find the times for these trips via the timetables that are found there. Trenitalia is the slower of the two but it is the national train service, while the latter is the newer and faster private high-speed trains. The schedules for the different trains also come with how long each trip will take for each train (for Trenitalia, these include the Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, and Frecciabianca).


Buying Your Tickets – The most convenient way for you to buy tickets would be to go online and to search for the best schedule on the sites for these two popular trains. On these sites, you simply need to put in your departure date and return date (if you are planning on doing a round-trip ride), the number of people traveling, and you will find yourself with options for your train travel. You can also do a quick purchase of one-way tickets on these sites. These can be printed or saved on your smartphone, both of which you will need to show to your train conductor.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can book your tickets at the station, although this is not a good idea if you have a limited number of days for your vacation in Italy. For this, you need to fall in line for the ticket booth that sells the tickets for your destination. You can also purchase your ticket from a ticket machine, which is found in the train station, if you are averse to falling in line.

Boarding the Train– To board your train, you need to first find the track number or binari for your train. Check your ticket for the abbreviation bin which will show you what track number to go to. You should be aware that if you are boarding a train on one of the smaller private lines or have a ticket without a bin, you will need to have your ticket validated before you board. This can be done using machines that are found in the stations. Look for those green and white machines or yellow machines that can do this.

If you booked online, or your ticket is one that has a QR code on it, is an e-ticket, or is a PDF that you saved on your Smartphone, there is no need for validation. Just show this to your train’s conductor as they pass you by when you are onboard. Make sure you board the train car for your class (primo or secondo), and store your baggage on the racks above the seats or at the end of the coach.

To learn more about train travel in Italy, here is a video you can check out. This outlines:

  • Where and how to buy a train ticket.
  • What types of trains in Italy you can buy tickets for. Would you take the Frecce, intercity, or regional line?
  • Do seat assignments and reservations matter?
  • An important last step after purchasing your train ticket!


With this video, we’re hoping that we can help in making your train travel experience in Italy a pleasant and hassle-free one, so that you can just sit back and enjoy the ride as you watch Italy’s beautiful scenery roll by!

You can also view this presentation as slides in SlideShare! 🙂

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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