Italy has been in my bucket list for years. I keep on revising my itinerary and finally decided to visit 7 cities from South to North Italy (including Vatican City-enclave in the city of Rome) to embrace all the good things the country has to offer. Each city is unique and has something to brag about – rich museums, towering cathedrals, beautiful buildings and many more. The people are very warm, friendly and helpful. My experience in Italy is nothing but amazing.
Check: Impressions of Italy
I traveled in Italy by train from Rome to Como. Finding the right train is a challenge; you have to decode the schedule on time to catch the ride or else you have to wait for the next train for minutes or hours. It’s a double challenge if you have to transfer from one train to another and you only have 2 minutes to determine the next train to your final destination. Time pressure!
So let me share some things I learned from my several transfers in Italy 😉
Types of Trains in Italy
There are two types of trains in Italy – Regional and High-speed trains. Regional trains are cheaper but the travel time is slow and expect to have 1 or 2 transfers.
Where to Buy Tickets
You can buy tickets online or you can go to the train station and buy a ticket at the counter or in a machine.
The ticket office is open from 6:00am to 8:30pm. If it’s closed, just buy at the ticket machine scattered in the station.
You can visit Trenitalia to book a ticket. You can print or simply show the email confirmation/receipt on your phone to the train conductor.
It’s important to buy a ticket before entering the train. The train conductor can charge you a penalty fee of €60/₱3,180 if you forgot to buy a ticket. They don’t accept excuses like you are not aware of the regulation.
The Regional Train Ticket
There’s no train number and time of departure indicated in the ticket so you have to look at digital boards or posters enclosed in glass scattered in the train station.
Decoding the Train Schedule
Let’s say its 6:30AM and you’re going to Rome. All you have to do is look for the partenze/departure poster and look for the closest time of departure (6:40AM) and you will get all other important details like platform and train number.
Make sure that you are looking at the PARTENZE/DEPARTURE poster and not the ARRIVI/ARRIVAL poster.
Before going to the train station, I suggest that you check the Trenitalia website for the timetables so that you don’t have to wait long for the next train at the station.
Note: Italy uses 24 hour clock format; so 6:00AM is 6:00 and 6:00 PM is 18:00.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask. You will be surprised people are very friendly and willing to help.
The lady in the counter helped me and wrote the departure and arrival time of my transfers.
A beau gave me information of my next train in Bologna.
It’s very important to validate the ticket before boarding the train. Make sure that when you slip the ticket in the machine, there’s a printed date, time and place of validation in your ticket. If you missed to validate the ticket and a train conductor checks it, he will fine you €60.
Eurail Pass for Non-Europeans
For less hassle, you can also buy a Eurail Italy Pass that allows you to travel for 3, 4, 5 or 8 days within 1 month.
For example, you’ll go to 4 destinations within 2 weeks – Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan; you can buy a 4-day pass since the travel time going to one city is less than 24 hours (1 day).
There’s also a Eurail Global Pass that you can avail should you plan to visit nearby countries.
Fares and Travel Time
The details above should give you an estimate of travel time and ticket price when traveling in Italy.
Note that the information above is not fixed.
Taxi is the most expensive public transportation in Italy. Flag down rate is €3/₱159 in Rome and €5/₱265 in Milan. The rate is even higher at night and for every kilometer, you’ll be charged €1.1/₱58.3.
When in Florence
You can ride a bus going to nearby places in Florence. Buy in a tabacchi (tobacco shop) to save €.80/₱42.4.
When in Venice
There are lots of options to go around the waterworld – Vaporetto (waterbus), traghetto (ferry), water taxi and the famous gondola.
The standard vaporetto ticket costs €7.50/₱397.50. It’s expensive especially if you will jump from one place to another. Thankfully, there are travel cards good for 1, 2, 3 or 7 days that can help you save few bucks.
Check your itinerary and buy a ticket where you think you can save most. For example, I spent 3 days in Venice but I only bought a one way vaporetto ticket to Rialto Bridge on my arrival. The next day, I bought a one day ticket (valid for 24 hours upon first validation) going to Murano. I was able to use it also on my last day going back to the train station. I saved €2.50/₱132.50 and was able to buy another gelato 🙂
A gondola ride costs €100+ (good for 6 people) for 40-minutes. Exag, right? There are lots of travelers in Venice so you can just share the payment and cruise the grand and small canals with them.
When in Lombardia Region – Milan
You can travel around Milan by bus, tram or metro (Trenord). You can buy tickets at metro stations, tabachhi (tobacco shops) or giornali (kiosk). For buses and trams, buy tickets at tabacchi or giornali so you can save €.50/ ₱26.50.
The underground metro (Trenord) allows you travel in Lombardia Region. For example, Cadorna (near Castel Sforzesco) to Garbiladi (Porta Nuova) or Milan to Crema.
Bus and Tram
There are lots of buses and trams that criss-cross towns. Check ATM for timetables and fares.
Useful Italian Words When in Train Stations
- treno – train
- biglietto – ticket
- binario – platform
- partenze – departures
- arrivi – arrivals
- capotreno – train conductor
- posto – seat
Buon Viaggio! – Have a good trip! 🙂