Italy is one of my favorite countries in the world, and living there for a few months was a truly magical experience. From gorgeous cities like Rome and Florence to quaint towns like Urbino and Siena, Italy is a diverse place with destinations that would appeal to anyone. When you plan a trip to Italy, it is often hard to decide where exactly in Italy you want to go. There are so many stunning and fascinating places to see that it often feels impossible to decide. There are places like Rome, which everybody knows about and wants to visit, and then there are smaller cities like Turin that many people haven’t even considered visiting.
Well, why not visit multiple of the places you are thinking about?
While some countries can be challenging to get around, Italy is the polar opposite. In Italy you can say goodbye to the need to rent a car to get from one place to another! While there are domestic flights and buses that connect the whole country, neither of those options comes close to Italy’s excellent train system. I honestly don’t think I have ever been to a country with such an effective, widespread network of passenger trains. Trenitalia, literally just translating to train Italy, is an incredibly well-connected network of trains that operates throughout the entire country.
Being from the United States, I grew up with Amtrak. Amtrak, to be frank, is not good. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is the system of trains that connects one place to another in the United States. It is extremely expensive – like $50 for the two-hour train from Philadelphia to New York – and very poorly connected. Getting from city to city is nice, but what happens when you want to visit a town or small city that isn’t directly in line with one of the major cities that Amtrak serves? It’s a very weak system.
In Italy, you can expect the complete opposite! Whatever city or town you plan on visiting probably has at least one train station, and you can always find a train route from where you are to where you want to go. All of the best cities to visit in Italy as well as the best hidden gem destinations in Italy are easily accessible by train, and the trains offer a great way to visit multiple places in the same trip. The prices are very affordable in most cases, you get great views of the country and some cities as you pass through, and there is typically no need to buy tickets in advance. Great, right?
How Does the Train System Work in Italy?
It is fairly straightforward. You can show up to any train station and buy a ticket headed anywhere. The machines will even do the route calculation for you! If you are heading from Naples to Turin, for example, and there isn’t a direct train, the machine will show you all of the options for connections and compute the total trip time. It’s extremely user-friendly. There are three different classes of trains to pick from, too. More on that later, though.
On top of that, all of the electronic kiosks work in many languages (including English), making the transaction perfectly smooth. You can either buy your tickets at a station in cash or credit card, or you can buy them online in advance at Trenitalia.com
There is another train company in Italy, too. Italo is a private company that operates on most of the same tracks as Trenitalia. Italo is a perfectly fine option, but I prefer Trenitalia. I think the Trenitalia network is more expansive, and I usually find the prices with Trenitalia to be more affordable, while delivering a comparable quality of service.
What Are the Different Kinds of Trains in Italy?
When you ride with Trenitalia you have 3 different options of train service. They are the Regionale, the InterCity, and the Freccia series.
- IN SUMMARY - REGIONALE TRAINS | very slow but very cheap | stop in every town along the route to final stop FRECCIA TRAINS | extremely fast but most expensive | don’t make stops in smaller cities INTERCITY TRAINS | pretty fast while staying affordable | stop in some smaller cities but no towns
Where Can I Get Train Tickets in Italy?
If you want to use any of the Trenitalia trains, you can either get tickets online at Trenitalia.com before you travel or you can buy them at the station. If you buy your tickets at the station, you can either use a multi-lingual electronic kiosk or talk to a representative behind the counter. If you are buying tickets in a small town, beware that there may not be an electronic kiosk. If you don’t speak Italian, don’t worry! As long as you know the name of where you’re going, you’ll be able to figure it out.
Are the Subways and Metro Systems in Italy Part of Trenitalia?
No, the subways and metro systems in Italy are not part of Trenitalia. They are fully independent and are run by local transportation agencies. If you are going to Rome, you can’t use Trenitalia to get around the city. Instead, you will use the Rome public transportation systems. If you decide to leave Rome and visit another city or town, though, Trenitalia is what you want to use! Each major city tends to have at least two different stations, so you will have plenty of options.
How Can I Plan My Train Route in Advance?
If you want to figure out how long it would take to take a train from one place to another in Italy, you have two options. The best option is to go to Trenitalia.com and pretend to buy a ticket. Doing a search on their website is the best option because it gives you real options with their prices and trip times. There is no better way to do it, and the website is available in English, French, German, and Italian.
If you don’t feel like going to the Trenitalia website, you can use Google Maps. This is my go-to tool for route planning, as it tends to be really well-connected with public transportation systems around the world. Google Maps will usually give you a great estimate, and you can have the app right on your phone.
Hopefully this post answered any questions you have about how to use the train system in Italy. If you have any questions about visiting Italy, let us know by dropping a comment below! Otherwise, thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.
Hey there, thanks for letting me know! I’m happy that you enjoyed it and I hope your former roommate does too!
Excellent and really helpful article. Planning a trip to Italy this fall so this guidance is very handy. Thank you!