I have been asked a multitude of questions about train travel in Italy. I found the following information on the Italia Rail website.
Whether you plan to travel on a state of the art high-speed service, overnight or simply between two cities within a specific region, ItaliaRail can meet your travel needs with competitive prices on city-to-city (also known as point-to-point) tickets. Thanks to our exclusive discounts, the prices are sometimes even cheaper than buying direct.
With such a variety of train services, only a little planning in advance will get you the right ticket for the right time! If you’re not sure whether to buy a pass or tickets, you can find further information to help you decide in our Train Travel Guide
For the best fares throughout Italy, just enter your route into the search box on the left, or select one of our most popular routes from the table with sample costs below:
|Bologna||Florence, Rome, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Venice|
|Florence||Milan, Rome, Venice, Naples, Pisa, Bologna|
|Milan||Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Pisa, Bologna|
|Naples||Florence, Rome, Venice, Milan, Pisa, Bologna|
|Pisa||Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Pisa, Bologna|
|Rome||Milan, Florence, Venice, Naples, Pisa, Bologna, Rome Airport|
|Venice||Florence, Rome, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Bologna|
|Rome to Florence||from||$13 USD|
|Florence to Venice||from||$28 USD|
|Venice to Florence||from||$28 USD|
|Rome to Venice||from||$28 USD|
For other routes and cheap city-to-city fares throughout Italy and Europe, please use the search box to the left or click here.
On many European trains reservations are not necessary; however in some countries (particularly France, Italy and Spain), a pass or a ticket does not guarantee a seat, so reservations are highly recommended. We also recommend reservations to guarantee accommodations on a particular train, date, and time. Reservations are also mandatory for high-speed service and overnight trains. In order to avoid being assessed a fine on board, we strongly recommend that you make a reservation in advance. Reservations can be made at a train station or through Italiarail.com up to 60 days prior to travel if you are sure of your travel itinerary.
Do you need to buy tickets in advance?
- Regional trains, no. For example, Pisa to Florence, Milan to Como or Tirano, Florence to Siena. There’s absolutely no need to pre-book and no advantage in doing so other than saving time going to the ticket office. The price is fixed so there’s no cost advantage in pre-booking, no reservation is necessary or even possible so the train can never ‘sell out’. Just buy a ticket at the station or from the self-service machines when you get there, validate it in the machines and hop on the next train.
- Long-distance trains, yes. For example, Rome to Florence, Milan to Venice. All seats on Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca & InterCity trains are reserved, so they can in theory sell out, although in practice there’s almost always places available on most trains even just before departure so yes you can buy at the station on the day if you really want. The issue is price, as on the day of departure the expensive ‘base’ fare applies, but if you pre-book you can buy a cheap economy or super-economy fare from as little as €19, €29,
Buying tickets at the station, the easy way…
- It’s easy to buy tickets at the station on the day of travel or perhaps the day before, even if you don’t speak Italian. Simply go to one of the ‘fast ticket’ machines installed at all main stations, these have a touch screen with an English language facility, see an illustrated step-by-step guide to using these ticket machines. The machines will sell both regional and long-distance tickets, including the necessary seat reservation for long-distance trains, for any date you like within the next 90 days. They take Visa and MasterCard credit cards without a problem, but your card needs to have a PIN code number. This is the chip credit card that I discussed in my prior blog.
- The trains hardly ever sell out, so finding tickets even on the day of travel isn’t a problem unless you hit a major holiday period. The issue is the price you pay, as long-distance tickets are now significantly cheaper booked in advance, just like air fares. In 2009 Trenitalia ditched the old ‘one size fits all’ approach to pricing and introduced cheap advance-purchase fares whilst increasing the fully-flexible base price that you pay on the day. There are now Super-Economy or Economy fares from just €9 on most routes if you book ahead and commit to a specific train on a no-refunds, limited-or-no-changes-to-travel-plans basis. Bear that in mind when anyone tells you can easily buy at the station on the day at no extra cost, as you can now save money by pre-booking!
- Remember to validate any local or regional ticket by putting it into the small yellow machines at the entrance to every platform – there’s a fine if you don’t. However, long-distance tickets for Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca & InterCity trains don’t need to be validated in this way as they are for a specific date and train anyway.
Buy Italian train tickets online…
- Booking usually opens 120 days ahead for most high-speed & long-distance trains. Just remember that this can shrink to as little as 30 days for dates immediately after the two annual Europe-wide timetable changes, on the 2nd Sunday in June and 2nd Sunday in December. It can help to know that for dates beyond these timetable changes, they try to load their high-speed trains first, to maintain as much of the 120 days as they can, they then load their regional, InterCity & sleeper trains much later, sometimes only 30-40 days before the timetable change date. So if you don’t see the normal all-day train service which you expect to see, just one or two odd trains, the chances are that booking isn’t yet fully open, looking too far ahead is a common mistake.
- Option 1, using Trenitalia.com: You can buy Italian train tickets direct from Italian Railways at www.trenitalia.com, English button at the top, it’s pretty easy to use but you’ll need to use Italian-language place names and it has a few quirky translations & processes especially when booking sleepers or international trains so see the step-by-step guide below. For domestic Italian trains they have a hassle-free ticketless system where you book online and simply quote your booking reference on board the train, other tickets can be collected at any main Italian station from these self-service machines. When booking domestic high-speed trains, you’ll normally get a chance to select a specific seat from a numbered seating plan. Trenitalia used to have problems accepting non-Italian credit cards, but a new payment system introduced in November 2010 has resolved this. Bookings usually open 120 days before departure for most long-distance trains.
- Option 2, using ItaliaRail.com: You can easily buy Italian train tickets using English-language place names at www.italiarail.com, the same trains at the same prices, but in plain English with fewer quirky translations and odd processes that trenitalia.com – and if you’d prefer to book in US dollars, use this Italiarail US$ link. ItaliaRail are an agency who link to Trenitalia’s ticketing system, there’s a €3.50 booking fee but this will be refunded if you email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting your PNR. www.italiarail.com can be a lot simpler to understand than trenitalia.com especially when booking sleeper trains or international trains from Italy to neighboring countries. Exactly like Trenitalia.com, it’s either ticketless so you simply quote the PNR number on board, or you collect tickets from these self-service machines at any main Trenitalia station.
GREAT RESOURCE FOR OTHER INFORMATION:
2/17/15 – Do you need to buy tickets in advance?• Regional trains, no. For example, Pisa to Florence, Milan to Como or Tirano, Florence to Siena. … • Long-distance trains, yes. For example, Rome to Florence, Milan to Venice. Frecciarossa – Frecciargento – Frecciabianca – InterCity