Train is one of the best ways to travel around Italy – it’s affordable, efficient and you get to see the landscape passing by. As the service adds high speed trains you’ll find travel times of only one hour and a half between Rome and Florence, two hours and forty minutes from Florence to Venice and three hours and forty five minutes from Rome to Venice.
The local company is Trenitalia and while many of the trains are a little old and worn and can be crowded at peak times, they generally run on time and go everywhere you need them to with the stations very often located right in the center of town.
TICKETS FROM NEWSSTANDS
You can often buy local tickets at the station newsstand. This means you won’t have to join the often long queue to buy it either from a machine or at a ticket window. The tickets from newsstands are for regional travel up to about 150 miles (250 km) on the local trains and won’t have a reserved seat. The most important thing to remember is to validate your tickets at the small yellow machines on the platform before boarding the train – you’ll get fined if you don’t.
EUROSTAR VERSUS INTERCITY
When booking to travel between cities you’ll have a choice of a Eurostar train (ES) and an Intercity (IC). Eurostar are more expensive but faster and you’ll have a reserved seat. You can buy these at stations or book online up to two, sometimes even up to four months ahead. Intercity can only be booked within two months of travelling. Some Intercity trains will give you a seat reservation.
If you’re planning to travel a significant distance in one go take an overnight train and book a sleeper or couchette – it saves a hotel night and is safe and comfortable.
The only catch: at many stations you have to step down from the train so when packing be aware of the need to lift your luggage on and off carriages if you’re planning to do a lot of train travel.