A regional train in Umbria, Italy, covered in colorful graffiti. ©KettiWilhelm2020

Italo vs TrenItalia vs ItaliaRail [An Expat’s Guide to Train Travel in Italy]

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This guide is all about how to navigate Italy by train. After living in Italy for three years, I’ve answered every FAQ I could think of about Italian train travel, and explained the different options for buying train tickets: TrenItalia, ItaliaRail, Italo, and (my preference) Omio.

Now that I’m back in the land of highways and huge distances (the US), I really miss the convenience of traveling by train in Italy. Most of the country is connected by affordable, accessible, sustainable transportation – from Milan to Rome to Naples, and almost every small town in between!

No, the system isn’t perfect. I definitely complained about the delays and occasional train cancellations when I lived in Milan – but the truth is, those are all fairly rare. As a tourist, you can easily travel Italy without a car (and without flying, except occasionally), and the more time I spend outside of Europe, the more I appreciate it!

The Basics: TrenItalia vs. Italo vs. ItaliaRail

Why they had to make all these names sound the same, I do not know. But here are the main options for buying train tickets in Italy:

Train companies in Italy (Only two!)

Only two companies actually operate passenger trains in Italy: TrenItalia and Italo. Be careful, because they are not just different ways to buy a ticket – they will put you on two totally different trains. ItaliaRail, on the other hand, is just a ticket reseller for TrenItalia trains (but not for Italo).

Meanwhile, to compare fares between Italo and TrenItalia in one place, I use Omio. It’s handy because Omio shows all different types of transportation options – ferries, busses, trains, flights, private cars, and airport transfers. (And of course, you can filter for just trains.) 

Latest Travel Deals: Save 10% off any train, bus, flight or ferry tickets from Omio with THIS LINK and the code MARCH . (Valid through March 20, 2024. Maximum cart size for discount is €100. First-time Omio customers only – or use a different email address.)

Pros and Cons of using Omio to Book Train Tickets:

Omio has a booking fee that varies by the purchase price of your tickets – usually between €2 and €10. And Omio offers nearly the same prices as booking tickets directly through TrenItalia or Italo.

I say “nearly” because of two things: First, Omio rounds prices up a few cents. Almost every fare I’ve ever seen from both Italo and TrenItalia has been €X and 90 cents. So Omio rounds a train ticket priced at €49.90 to €50, for example.

I’m fine with that for the various conveniences it offers.

The other way Omio can sometimes cost a few euros more than booking Italian train tickets directly is that sometimes they don’t have the cheapest “fare options” available. 

I’m fine with that, too, because Italy’s cheapest train tickets can’t be refunded or even changed under any circumstances. And I usually don’t want to be totally locked-in like that. (More on the train “classes” vs “fares” below.)

Yes, ItaliaRail and Omio are made for tourists, but there are some benefits to the services.

In short, they both have much easier websites to use, customer service in English, and no issues with accepting non-Italian credit cards to book train tickets online. (This is a very frequent issue when booking directly with TrenItalia, in my experience.)

(More about these differences and the benefits of using Omio below.)

Can you just wait and buy your train tickets in Italy?

The sixth option: Yes, you could wait to buy your train tickets at the station in Italy.

But buying train tickets ahead of time will save you money and time, and will help you avoid the possibility of waiting around in case tickets are sold out (which definitely happens). And having your tickets already saved on your phone just simplifies the train station experience.

Now, more about the differences between TrenItalia and Italo:

What about the EURail Pass?

The EURail Pass is another option for train tickets in Italy and around Europe, and it can be a money-saver in some specific situations. (One surprising example is if you’re planning to travel between Italy and Greece by ferry.)

But honestly, it’s usually not worth the effort and commitment. You have to take a certain number of trains within a certain of days, and often the savings vs buying individual tickets is minimal.

[Related: for more details and more options, check out my post comparing Omio vs. Trainline vs. Rail Europe.]

An Alternative Kind of Italy Trip:

Side note: If you’re looking for a unique way to see a very off-the-beaten-path part of Italy, I’ll be hosting a small group of Tilted Map readers on an e-bike tour in Italy’s Marche region in 2024! See details here.

Okay, back to the trains…


What is TrenItalia?

TrenItalia is Italy’s original, state-owned, national train service. Anywhere you can go on a train in Italy, which includes most of the country, you can go on TrenItalia. (They certainly cover more terrain than Italo.)

There are many different types of TrenItalia trains, described below, with slower and far uglier trains covering smaller towns.

TrenItalia Tip:

The TrenItalia website only recognizes city names in Italian, even if you set the site’s language to English. So it won’t work if you type Florence instead of Firenze, Rome instead of Roma, Naples instead of Napoli etc.

This is one reason Omio and ItaliaRail are easier for travelers. They recognize both languages.

Types of TrenItalia Trains

The main difference between the train types is between “Le Freccie” (“lay FRECH-chay,” the Arrows) and everything else.

FrecciaRossa and Similar – TrenItalia’s Fast Trains

The fastest trains in Italy are called Freccia Rossa (red arrow), traveling at a maximum speed of 300 km/hour (186 mph).

After that are Freccia Argento (up to 250 km/hour, or 155 mph) and Freccia Bianca. (The silver and white arrows.) The Freccia Bianca are slower than Freccia Argento, and don’t use Italy’s high-speed rail lines, but TrenItalia doesn’t say exactly how fast they go.

FrecciaRossa train route map

Map of TrenItalia’s fastest FrecciaRossa train routes, which can take you around much of Italy and even up to Paris!

Regional and Slow Trains in Italy

Still, all of Le Freccie feel like modern trains inside, while the next ones on this list will give you more of a “vintage” Italian travel experience. They still have bathrooms on board, but don’t expect a bistro car, WiFi, or any other fancy service. Some aren’t even air-conditioned.

After the Freccie come Italy’s InterCity and finally Regional trains. Usually the Regionali are the slowest ones, but they’re the only option for many small towns. A Regionale Veloce (fast regional train) will make fewer stops than a normal Regionale. Otherwise, sometimes the regionals are labeled Diretto or Espresso, but in my experience that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be either direct or express. TreNord is the name of the regional trains in Lombardia, the region that Milan is in.

Tip for Choosing a Train:

There are more details about the differences between the trains here, but your options will depend on where you’re going. Try to get a Freccia Rossa if you can, but you won’t have much choice if you’re going to a small town or remote destination. Just make sure you don’t accidentally book something like a Regional train from Milan to Rome. (You’ll end up spending 8 or 9 hours on multiple uncomfortable trains instead of 3 or 4 hours on one comfortable one.)

A TrenItalia regional train in Umbria, Italy, covered in colorful graffiti. (You can buy tickets on this train from ItaliaRail, but not Italo.) ©KettiWilhelm2020
A graffitied regional train in Umbria. It looks cool from the outside, but I spent the entire ride standing up, trying to see out the sliver of glass at the top of the window that wasn’t covered in spray paint.

Ticket Classes on TrenItalia (Types of Seating)

Premium class on TrenItalia’s fast trains doesn’t get you much more than Standard (mostly just a free espresso or glass of prosecco and a snack). But Business Class is significantly nicer with big comfy seats and lots of room to spread out (and you still get the prosecco).

Both Standard and Business often have an Area Silenzio (Silent Area) option. Great for sleeping, but don’t even think about taking a phone call or whispering to a neighbor in these.

For even more quiet and privacy, there’s the FrecciaRossa Business Salottino (“small living room”). Like the name says, it’a s private compartment with four seats facing each other.

After that, there’s the fanciest “Executive” class option, but really I can’t see the point of going above Business.

Only the Freccia Rossa trains have all of these categories. The slower trains offer just two types of seats: Normal “2nd Class” or “1st Class.” I’ve never bothered with 1st and don’t see the point of it, especially since you’re usually not on these trains for very long. Plus, after walking through 1st Class on regional trains, it seems nearly identical to 2nd Class.


What is Italo?

Italo, or Italotreno, is the first private passenger train service in Europe, and is owned by an American conglomerate. (So… not exactly a local business.) Italo trains are very comparably to TrenItalia’s FrecciaRossa trains.

That’s because, unlike TrenItalia, Italo only runs fast trains. But they mostly just connect Italy’s biggest cities – Milan, Torino, Venezia, Firenze, Bologna, Roma and Napoli. There are no slower, “regional” Italo trains.

(Italo also serves a few smaller towns in Northeastern Italy: Verona, Brescia, Reggio Emilia, Salerno, Padua, Ferrara, Rovigo, Bolzano, Desenzano, Rovereto, Trento, Vicenza, Peschiera del Garda, Bergamo, Conegliano, Pordenone, Treviso, Udine.)

If you’re going to any smaller destination outside Italy’s Northeast, Italo is not an option. (They also have some bus routes in the South, but there’s really no reason to take the bus when you could take a far more comfortable train!)

Train Travel Tip:

Don’t mix and match! Just like with airlines, if part of your trip is with Italo and part is with TrenItalia, you’ll have problems if a late train makes you miss your connecting train with the other company. So if you’re starting or ending anywhere but a major city, I don’t recommend booking any part of your trip on Italo.

Ticket Classes on Italo (Types of Seating)

The basic Smart seats on Italo are pretty cramped. That’s why I usually avoid Italo unless I’m taking a very short trip, or willing to pay for an upgrade to Prima, which has wider seats, and includes a free snack and drink during the trip.

The spacious seats in "Prima" class on Italy's Italo fast train. ©KettiWilhelm2023
Prima class (“Ambiente Prima,” in Italian) on an Italo train from Bologna to Milano.

(2023 Update: Italo also used to have a “Comfort” class, which had the same seats but no snacks, but they’ve recently removed that option.)

Then there’s Italo’s Club Executive, and Salotto (“living room”) which I’ve never sprung for. Both give you 9-inch TVs at your seat – but wouldn’t you rather daydream and gaze out the window at the passing Italian countryside?

These premium classes also give you free access to the Italo Club Lounges, at the train stations that have them.


Which is Better – TrenItalia or Italo?

A question Italians have been debating for years: Italo vs FrecciaRossa. (Because remember – Italo only does fast trains, so when we compare Italo vs TrenItalia, it’s really only fair to compare Italo vs TrenItalia’s fastest options, Le Freccie Rosse.)

There isn’t a huge difference in the overall travel experience between Italo and TrenItalia.

They travel on the same tracks, and the speed is the same. (Both Italo and FrecciaRossa trains have a max speed of 300 km/hour, or 186 mph.) And the likelihood of delay is about the same. (FrecciaRossa and Italo are both much more dependably on time than any of Italy’s regional trains.)

Although, after personally traveling on both trains dozens of times, I do think TrenItalia’s cheapest seats (“Standard”) are a bit more spacious and comfortable than Italo’s “Smart” cabin class.

That’s why I usually upgrade Comfort or Prima seats if I’m going to travel on an Italo treno, whereas I’m more willing to take a Standard seat on a FrecciaRossa train.

Which is Cheaper – Italo vs FrecciaRossa?

Italo sometimes does cost less than TrenItalia, but not always. If you’re traveling between major cities and looking for the cheapest possible route (especially for a short trip), it’s worth it to check Italo.

Again, that’s why I like to use Omio to compare routes – it lets you check FrecciaRossa vs. Italo train fares on a single website.

You never know which will have the best deal for a certain day, time, or route. It also pays to be flexible about your travel time as prices can vary a lot throughout the day.

You can also check Italo’s homepage for “promo codes,” which sometimes offer holiday travel discounts.

“Fare Options” vs “Class Options” on Italo and TrenItalia

Here’s what I meant by my last point on the pros and cons of booking with Omio: Both Italo and TrenItalia offer different “class options” and “fare options.” The Class options – explained above for TrenItalia and for Italo – refer to how nice of a seat you’ll have.

The “fare options” only refer to how much it’ll cost to cancel your train tickets, or change the date.

On Italo, the fare options (from most flexible to cheapest) are “Flex,” “Economy,” “Low-cost,” and the new, ridiculously named, impossible to change “eXtra MAGIC.”

On TrenItalia, the fare options (from most flexible to cheapest) are “Base,” “Economy,” and “Super Economy.”

Sometimes you won’t be able to buy Italo’s “eXtra MAGIC” or TrenItalia’s “super economy” tickets from Omio. (But sometimes you can – you’ll just have to check. Just click on any train in the search results in Omio to see and change the ticket’s fare and seat class options.)

(TrenItalia also has “Senior” and “FrecciaYoung” ticket rates, but those aren’t available to non-Italians. Since I’ve had some questions about this, I’ve added details on the Senior rate below.)

Can you book TrenItalia’s “Senior rate” as a tourist?

The senior rate can save travelers 20 to 50% on one-way tickets with TrenItalia – but don’t get too excited about it if you’re only visiting Italy. I’m afraid it’s only available to CartaFreccia holders.

That’s TrenItalia’s discount and loyalty program. You have to have an Italian “fiscal code” to join, as well as an address of residence in Italy. (A “codice fiscale” is sort of like a social security number in Italy.)

So while technically you could join the program without being a current resident of Italy, you’ll need to have been one at one time to have a fiscal code. (Frankly, I have a CartaFreccia membership because I actually was a resident of Italy for three years, and it was still a massive amount of hassle and took months to get.)

Still want to try? When I last checked (June 2023), I found an application available for non-residents to apply for the CartaFreccia loyalty program here. (Look at the last item in the menu – the one that’s partially in English. I couldn’t find any information about the program on the English version of the TrenItalia website.) You have to fill out a form and email it in, and they say you’ll hear a response within 45 days. I wouldn’t hold my breath – but do let me know in the comments if you try it!

Italo does not offer a senior discount.


ItaliaRail Review

ItaliaRail only sells TrenItalia tickets (not Italo), but they will put you on the same train you’d be on if you bought your tickets directly from TrenItalia.

(This is a major benefit to Omio versus ItaliaRail. You still get the better service, and an English language website that works without translation issues, but you can compare all Italian train options with Omio.)

You can also use ItaliaRail or Omio to buy international tickets from Italy to other countries. And Omio actually works for all over Europe and North America, as well as for bus tickets, flights, airport transfers and more. It’s a one-stop shop.

While anything being aimed at tourists usually makes me run the other direction, there are actually some benefits to these services.

The main benefit is that if you’re traveling and don’t speak Italian, buying from a ticket reseller is just simpler:

When booking on either TrenItalia or Italo, you’re presented with a matrix of different “classes” (which are not well explained on their websites) and multiple price categories for each class (many of which you won’t qualify for, such as special discounts for seniors, youth, big groups or loyalty card holders).

ItaliaRail only shows you the lowest available price for each class (and it tells you which price category it’s in, and what that category means for making changes or cancelling your ticket). Plus it has descriptions with photos of what you get in each class.

ItaliaRail Tip:

Don’t ignore the fancier class options! In this example, Business actually costs less than Premium on ItaliaRail. (And as I said above, Premium doesn’t get you so much, but Business is quite nice.)

A screenshot from the ItaliaRail website showing a fare of $62 in Business class from Naples to Rome. (A good discount on a train ticket in Italy!) ©KettiWilhelm2020
For that small price difference between Standard and Business, I would definitely go for Business! (And ignore Premium, of course.)

Pros & Cons of ItaliaRail (vs. Omio)

These are the features of ItaliaRail and Omio, with pros and cons and whether they’re actually worth anything:

  • Customer service: It’s entirely in English. So if you don’t want to deal with normal Italian customer service (AKA: impatient employees who speak very bad English) in case your train is significantly delayed, or if you want to change your reservation, then the couple dollars you pay as a booking fee for Omio or ItaliaRail will be worth your money. (Trust me. I’ve interacted with a lot of Italian train station workers. The customer is never right, and patience is in short supply even when you speak Italian or are Italian. This is guaranteed to be simpler.)

  • Free Upgrades (kind of): Certain departures on ItaliaRail have a little flag saying “free upgrade!” to Premium or Business Class. The same discount and upgrade are almost always available from Omio or TrenItalia – but they’re not as easy to find. (TrenItalia and Omio both just list the lowest price available for each departure, without flagging whether that price includes a seat upgrade. So you think you’re comparing apples to apples, but you’re not. You have to click on each train to see what kind of seat is quoted as the main price, which can get tedious when there are departures every few minutes.)
Yellow flag in ItaliaRail showing a free upgrade to a better seat on a TrenItalia train from Rome to Naples.
Look for the little yellow flag to find upgrade deals in ItaliaRail.

  • Prices in US dollars, Euros, or other currencies. ItaliaRail lets you see train ticket prices in USD, Euro, British pounds, and Canadian or Australian dollars. Omio shows those currencies and many more. But if you book directly with Italo or TrenItalia, you’ll only prices in Euros.
ItaliaRail Tip:

You have to change the currency from the homepage before selecting any tickets to buy, because changing the currency will clear your cart. (It’s in the upper right hand corner on the ItaliaRail website. The default is USD for ItaliaRail, but remember to change it to Euro if you’re doing comparison shopping with the other sites!)

  • Lounge at Roma Termini station (not included). For me, the lounge is not one of the more useful benefits of ItaliaRail because it’s only available if you either buy a lounge day pass ($20 for up to 2 adults and 2 kids) or buy an “ItaliaPass.”
What is ItaliaPass and is it worth it?

The ItaliaPass is a tourist discount card for flights, hotels, car rentals, restaurants, and attractions. It costs $49 for ItaliaRail customers or $99 for anyone else. (But I suspect anyone can get the $49 price.) I’ve never used one, so I can’t say much more, but there’s more info here about ItaliaPass and the lounge. (I tend to avoid these discount cards, because it’s hard to get the value out of them without rushing around trying to fit in as many sites as possible.)

But I have been to the ItaliaRail lounge at Roma Termini. It was perfectly nice with free drinks and snacks, fluent English speakers to answer any questions, and better Wi-Fi than in the rest of the station (the biggest benefit to the lounge, in my eyes).

Be warned though – the ItaliaRail lounge is almost a kilometer (half a mile!) away from the main station area! So it’s not useful if you show up at the front of the station and only have a few minutes before your train. If you do plan to use the lounge, you can enter the station at Via Giolitti 60 (give a taxi driver that address) and you’ll be right next to it.

Comfortable seating inside ItaliaRail’s lounge at Rome, Italy's Roma Termini Train Station. ©KettiWilhelm2020
Inside ItaliaRail’s lounge at Roma Termini.
  • ItaliaRail benefits for group travel. You can get discounts via this page on group bookings for 10 or more people when you let an ItaliaRail employee organize your tickets for you. If you want to do it all yourself, just using the ItaliaRail website, you can buy tickets for up to 20 people at a time, versus only 7 on TrenItalia. (On Italo you can book for 29 people at a time, but with limited destinations, of course.)

What You Pay for The Convenience:

I’ve done a lot of comparison shopping, and found that occasionally ItaliaRail is slightly cheaper than TrenItalia, but honestly, it usually costs the same or just slightly more.

And you do have to pay a €3.50 booking fee with ItaliaRail, so if you can plan ahead it’s best to book all your tickets at once. (It’s €3.50 per order, no matter how many passengers and how many different routes you book at once.)

That’s similar to Omio‘s booking fee, which varies by the order amount. Omio also rounds ticket prices up 10 cents. (From the standard €X and 90 cents.)

Other than that fee, after using both ItaliaRail and Omio several times myself, I haven’t found any real “cons.” (And I’ve used all of these sites many times.)


Good To Know: Italian Train Lingo & Tips

  • The platform (binario) where you’ll find your train often won’t show up on the board in the station until the last minute. (Maybe 30 minutes before departure, or maybe 5 minutes before. Don’t panic, just pay attention and be ready to move when it does appear.)
  • So of course, the platform isn’t listed on your ticket, but your train car number (carozza) and seat (posto) are for the fast trains. Slower trains usually don’t have assigned seating, it will just say your ticket class (classe): 1 or 2.
  • There’s no security line to go through, so there’s no reason to get to the station much more than 30 minutes early.
  • You’re in Italy, so destination names will be in Italian on the boards and on the train. (Firenze not Florence, Venezia not Venice, etc.)
  • You’ll have to show your paper or digital ticket (biglietto) to the ticket inspector at some point during the trip, so don’t bury it in your bag.

And if you want to learn a bit more Italian before your trip – which I definitely recommend! – you can use this link for a 7-day free trial of Pimsleur Italian!

Pimsleur is a language learning program and app that teaches by repetition. (So instead of trying to spell and write, you’ll learn to listen and speak – the skills you’ll actually use.) I’ve used it for multiple languages, and it’s the best way to get started, short of just moving to a foreign country!

Train Hopping & Avoiding Fines

I can tell you from experience: Don’t get on a train without a ticket! That may seem obvious, but in smaller stations – like in Cinque Terre, as I learned – there are no barriers before the platform, so you actually can get on without a ticket, or without validating your ticket – which counts as the same thing.

Make sure you “validate” your ticket!

At those small stations where you can walk straight onto the platform without showing anyone your ticket, you’ll have to validate that ticket on the platform BEFORE you get on the train.

That’s how my Cinque Terre fiasco happened. I was with family, and in the confusion of making sure to get all of our bodies and suitcases on the train, I totally forgot to stamp our tickets in the machine on the platform. And I had to talk our way down from a €150 fine to a €50 fine. (And I am 100% sure that my excuse would not have worked in English.)

You might get away with this sometimes, but the ticket inspectors often do come around to check, especially in such touristic areas, and they are not very forgiving.

Looking down on the TrenItalia train station in Riomaggiore, Italy, from viewpoint on the cliffs above. ©KettiWilhelm2020
Looking down on the train station in Riomaggiore (one of the Cinque Terre).

Budget Tip: Don’t Book Last Minute!

Usually the earlier you book a train in Italy, the lower the price. Especially if you’re traveling between major cities, do not wait until the day before you want to travel to book your tickets.

Again, I’ve made this mistake. I’ve seen ticket prices double between two days before departure and one day before. (For example, for a Friday train home to Milan from Rome, tickets were 45 euro on Wednesday, but I waited and they jumped to 90 euro on Thursday. Painful.)

Waiting will also give you less selection on popular routes. You might end up having to change trains instead of getting a direct route, take a slower train instead of the fastest Freccia Rossa ones, or have only one or two departure times to choose from instead of a dozen.

Train Delays, Fees, Cancellations & Refunds

These are nitty-gritty details. Feel free to skip over this section and come back if you need it!

Train Delays & (Possible) Refunds

Both Italo and TrenItalia are pretty well run, although there can be delays. Not all the time, but don’t be surprised when they happen.

Delays over 30 minutes for a TrenItalia fast train (Freccia Rossa, Argento or Bianca) theoretically entitle you to a partial refund in the form of a credit… but so far I’ve always given up dealing with customer service before getting any of my money back. There’s more info about how to try here.

On Italo, the delay has to be 60 minutes to get anything back – and at that point, it should be a full refund. (More info about that here.)

Changing or Cancelling TrenItalia (or ItaliaRail) Tickets:

You cannot cancel Super Economy or Economy tickets, but you can change the date or time for an Economy ticket. Base price tickets can be changed (or refunded for 80% of what you paid) any time until one hour after the train leaves the station.

But I personally never buy Base price tickets. Base price for Standard seating is often more expensive than an Economy or Super Economy train ticket in Premium or Business class. So what’s the point?

If you’re not sure about your date or time, it’s probably better to just wait to book until you can make a decision than to plan on dealing with the hassle of changing a ticket. (Although this may be a situation where ItaliaRail’s customer service would be useful, and certainly better than dealing with TrenItalia’s notoriously bad customer service. No matter where you buy your ticket, remember that if it’s called “Super Economy,” you cannot change it.)

All of these rules apply whether you bought your tickets through TrenItalia or ItaliaRail.

Changing or Cancelling Italo Train Tickets:

Italo is more strict. “Flex” tickets can be changed without fees or mostly refunded. “Economy” tickets can be changed or refunded for a fee. “Low Cost” tickets can be changed for an even bigger fee, but cannot be refunded.

Bottomline:

If you’re booking your tickets on the assumption that you might have to change them, the easiest option is to book with ItaliaRail and make sure you get an Economy or Base fare (not Super Economy).

Looking toward the town of Manarola from the train station platform in Corniglia, Italy. ©KettiWilhelm2020
Looking toward the town of Manarola from the station platform in Corniglia (two of the Cinque Terre).

Personally, Here’s What I Do

Here’s how I book trains in Italy: I generally prefer TrenItalia to Italo, so I check Italo only if I’m looking to (potentially) save money on a short trip. I usually start with Omio to get a quick overview of what routes are available, and whether there’s a big difference (in either price or schedules) between TrenItalia and Italo.

Then, I’ll either book directly on TrenItalia, or on Omio, depending on how much of a rush I’m in.

Both are often slightly cheaper than ItaliaRail, especially when factoring in the booking fees. (And the fact that I’m usually just buying one ticket at a time, not spreading that fee over several tickets for an entire vacation. I also get loyalty points on TrenItalia, which you have to have a local Italian ID to get.)

And I speak Italian, so I’m not too worried about customer service issues.

But if I were a traveler looking for the simplest, most stress-free option, I would skip the comparison shopping and just use Omio.

At the end of the day, trains in Italy are fast, affordable and far more eco-friendly than driving or flying.

According to the stats printed on the back of Italian train tickets, taking the train in Italy emits about 75% less CO2 than the same trip in an airplane, and about 65% less than driving, on average.

[Related: I use the carbon calculator from Travel And Climate to compare emissions for different modes of transport for specific trips. Of all the travel carbon calculators I’ve reviewed, it’s the easiest and best for this purpose. And finding more efficient transport is always a better option than just offsetting your emissions after the fact.]

Plus, I wouldn’t want to deal with renting a car and driving in Italy unless absolutely necessary. Or unless a leisurely road trip through the countryside were the whole point. But if you’re just getting from one city or town to the next, trains are definitely the easiest, cheapest, and most comfortable option. (For an idea of what driving – and back-seat driving – are like in Italy, read #8 in this post.)

Remember, whichever option you choose for train tickets, it isn’t likely to make or break your trip. It’s much more important – and fun! – to plan where you’re going to eat. 


More Resources for Your Trip:

For everything in one place, bookmark my go-to travel booking resources list! It has the vetted companies that I use all the time for flights, ferries, insurance, hotels.

Going to Greece, too? Check out my guide to Greek ferries!

Book your hotel in Italy

If you found this post helpful and want to say thank you (❤️), start your hotel searches through the affiliate links below to help support Tilted Map so I can keep writing more useful guides! (I’ll earn a commission from Booking, with no extra cost to you, or to the hotel where you stay.)

  • Booking.com is where I start all my hotel research. Booking has the most properties, and usually the best prices. And now they have a filter to search for more sustainable properties.
Booking.com

Get the right travel insurance:

I’ve skipped getting travel insurance for years, but after a recent incident with a bread truck in France, I might be finally learning my lesson!

Insure My Trip is my first recommendation for short-term travel insurance. (For long-term travel, I’d start with SafetyWing.)

Insure My Trip is the largest travel insurance broker in the US, so they have a large variety of plans you can compare side-by-side, and are known for having the best customer service.

You can go basic with just a “travel medical” plan, or filter for plans that include “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage. (And it does mean any reason. You’re covered if you get covid, or if the covid rates increase where you’re planning to travel, or if you change your mind for any reason, like your pet gets sick.)

DETAILS: For more travel insurance options and what I like about each one, check out my Travel Booking Resources list!

If you’ve read this far, you probably know everything you need to about taking trains in Italy now – but if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

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121 Comments

  1. All good info.

    On a Regionale, do not sit in 1st class if you have a 2nd class ticket. The class of car is on the side of the car.

    If you have a reserved ticket and must travel earlier, talk to the conductor. I have done this twice ( both on a regionale, and have had no issues. But always check with the conductor first. If you don’t check with him, it is like riding without a ticket.

    1. Good points, Kent!

      For switching travel times on a Regionale, you’re right, it’s definitely doable. It’s always a race to find the ticket-checker (and make it clear you were looking for them!) before they find you. But if it’s not a busy train, I’ve often found they don’t even care, as long as you have a ticket.

      Thanks for sharing and keep in touch! 🙂

      Ketti

      1. Hi Ketti
        This article about the trains were very helpful. Perhaps I can ask your opinion or suggestion.
        My son and I are traveling to Italy for the first time in October.! This is a heritage trip to see where my dad grew up (Bari) and My maternal grandfather (Calabria)

        We have train tix from Rome to Bari and need help with Bari to Crotone (Calabria) I would like to have an early train, and see a train at 7:10 AM from Bari, with a change in Taranto to continue to Crotone – Final destination Reggio Calabria.
        There is only a 10-minute layover for the connection to Calabria. Your thoughts? It’s a total of a 4-hour trip. I suppose a regional train.

        Would I need to validate in Bari and in Taranto before boarding?
        I have also booked tix on Omio for a trip to Tropea from Calabria – that was easy – no connections.

        One of the booking sites had a seat choice of upper or lower, we will have some luggage, would lower be easier?
        The only other option from Bari is a bus, or rent a car and I drive, which family does not recommend.

        Thanking you in Advance
        Joyce Valenzano

        1. Hi Joyce,

          That’s so exciting to hear about your trip!

          A 10-minute layover is quite a risk! It might be just fine, but any amount of delay (which is not uncommon) would leave you stranded. I’d suggest checking how soon there’s another train leaving from Taranto, to see how much time you’d be risking if you miss the connection.

          As for validating tickets, you’ll most likely just have to show your ticket to the conductor on the train.

          The lower level would be easier IF it’s flat, but there’s a chance that you enter and have to go either up or down to seats, in which case of course it would be 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, if you know what I mean!

          (Side note — since you mentioned a lot of luggage, you might want to check out the guide I just published for how I pack light. Just in case it’s useful!)

          I agree with your family on this one and wouldn’t recommend driving. And the train will be much nicer and more spacious than a bus.

          Keep in touch! The best way is to get on my email list to hear about new articles. If you want to do that, please click here to sign up. 🙂

          best,
          Ketti

    1. You’re welcome, Holly! Happy to help. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know and don’t forget to keep in touch! 🙂

      Ketti

      1. I have not done the side by side comparison so I would like to get your thoughts on the benefit of buying an Eurail Italy Pass. We will be in Florence for 2 weeks and then travel to Amalfi by train. However, while in Florence would like to take a few day trips by train so it seems that a pass is good value but not sure and even if it is a good value whether it comes at the expense of losing some flexibility.

        1. Hi Hans!

          Sorry for my slow reply here – it seems I missed a few comments on this article!

          From my research, it seems that the passes make sense when you’re using them to buy tickets that would cost 45 or 50 euro on their own. (I dove into an example of this in one of the comments here.) I would say that for short, regional train trips, you’re unlikely to get that much value out of a pass (as those tickets are not so pricey).

          Why do you say you would love flexibility, though? I don’t think that should be much of an issue though with and EUrail Pass. (You can still make seat reservations – there’s more info about that on this page of the EuRail website.)

          Hope that helps! If you have any other Italy questions, feel free to let me know and I’ll get back to you more quickly! 🙂

          Ketti

  2. This was so helpful! I have been debating whether to fly or experience the train. I feel a little more prepared with what to expect now. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Jenn, you’re so welcome!

      Yeah, the train is definitely worthwhile and so much simpler than flying within Italy. If you have any questions about anything else Italy-related, feel free to ask! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  3. Thanks for this fantastic and thorough breakdown. Question: does a Eurail pass make train travel with Trenitalia cheaper? How does that work, and is it worth it? I’m an American who will be traveling in Italy for two weeks, over 6 cities. Otherwise based on your recs I’m planning to book through Italiarail. Thanks again.

    1. Hi MP,

      Thank you very much, I’m happy to hear you found it useful! 🙂

      I’ve never had a use for an EUrail pass myself, but I’ve always been curious!

      From what I understand, it potentially could save you money – especially since you’ll be moving around so much and taking a lot of trains in a short period, all in one country.

      I just looked into it a bit and if you’ll be hitting 6 cites (with open-jaw flights, I assume?), that’s 5 travel days, which means the one-country pass itself costs $214 for 2nd class seats (or a little less if you’re under 28 or over 60). Add another 10 euro for each (mandatory!) seat reservation on a fast train and, considering the exchange rate, presumably you could do all your train tickets for ~ $275. Which would be a decent deal!

      (Assuming they’re all fast trains, that’s $55 average per train ticket, which I’ve bought a lot of in Italy! So I know it’s possible to spend less, especially when you’re not going too far – say, Milano to Bologna, or Roma to Napoli – but it’s also really easy to spend more, especially if you only book a couple days in advance.)

      In case you haven’t already seen it, they have this trip planner tool that could help you figure it out.

      One piece of advice I’d definitely give if you decide to go with the Eurail pass is to still remember to make your seat reservations in advance! (Those extra 10 euro fees.) The fast trains between major cities definitely fill up – especially the ones with less annoying departure times and fewer unnecessary stops.

      Either way, let me know what you decide, and if you have other questions!

      Buon viaggio!
      Ketti

  4. This was very informative and I really appreciate the extra details beyond the basics. I’m hoping you can give me some advice for purchasing multiple tickets in December (14/12 -22/12 travel period). My understanding is that TrenItalia will update its schedule on the 2nd Saturday in December, but is there any way to get an idea of potential pricing before then? I have a 30% off promo coupon with Italo (expires 26/10) but without knowing Trenitalia pricing I can’t tell whether this is a good deal. I’m booking for 5 people and would prefer to spend wisely.

    I’ve looked at TrenItalia’s November dates to get possible baseline pricing; are mid December advance fares typically higher? Also, given that I’m booking close to the holidays is there any merit in standard advice to wait 30-45 days before departure for best deals?

    I’m usually a pretty savvy traveler, but this situation has me a bit stumped. Any insight/advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Hi JC,

      Sorry for my slow reply! I’ve been traveling myself and been away from my computer.

      In my experience, when it comes to taking trains in Italy close to any holiday, it’s always best to book early. I’d say for Christmastime travel, you probably won’t do much better than 30% off on Italo, but I know that offer has passed, if you didn’t already book.

      Even if there were a way to get an idea of the new schedule TrenItalia will announce, I definitely wouldn’t wait until the 2nd Saturday in December to book for Dec. 14!

      Have you tried looking into EURail passes? If you’re booking several tickets, they could actually be worth it. (Every situation is different, but sometimes it’s a surprisingly good deal. See the comments above for the examples I’ve worked out for other readers.)

      I hope that helps a bit, and I’m glad you appreciate the post! Most of all, enjoy your trip! 🙂

      Cheers!
      Ketti

    2. When travelling across borders Trenitalia can be more expensive than the Swiss, German or Austrian equal seat on the same train and their apps may allow specific seat reservations or even fixed pricing for daily travel
      Italo have different train configuration s that change at short notice rendering car reservations problematic. Very disorganised. Not worth it in my view. Esp out of Venice. Think of cars all backward. Staff just allow anyone to sit anywhere so premium seats are lost. Trenitalia dont do this.

    3. I live in South Africa and applied online for the carta freccia. I received my loyalty card number and login details 12 days later.

  5. Thanks for your response. I snagged the discounted fares on Italo to be on the safe side. I’m glad I did because TrenItalia updated its schedule and opened ticketing and the cheaper fares were gone in a flash. I know now to be aware of their regular schedule updates in June and December! Thanks again fir your blog and wishing you and your loved ones a happy upcoming holiday season!

  6. Hi,

    Thank you for all this information, it is so helpful! Quick question though– when does Italo post new scheduled train rides for booking?

    I’m trying to book and get things situated for my June 2022 trip, but can’t see past June 13th. I want to make sure that they aren’t sold out and I just don’t know or that when they are released I am aware and can snatch up rides before they sell out.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Taylor,

      Don’t worry, there’s no chance that Italo is sold out for June trains! In my experience, they’ll only release the schedules about 6 months in advance, so I’m not surprised by what you’re seeing. Unless you’re traveling on a major holiday, or need to get on one very specific time train time, you really don’t need to worry about them running out of seats until about a week before departure at the earliest.

      Anything else you have questions about for your trip? I’m happy to help if I can. 🙂

      Thanks for reaching out, Taylor, and keep in touch!

      Best,
      Ketti

        1. Hi Paul,

          That’s not been my experience. I just double-checked with TrenItalia and was able to see schedules into June, so at least 5 months out. It’s possible the timing may change, especially for routes between smaller cities, but I’ve always been able to book more than three months advance for Italian trains.

          Ketti

  7. Hi Ketti,

    Love your post, so helpful.

    Do you have any info regarding Italiatren.com? It seems to have the TrenItalia trains, but it treats children as ages 4-16, instead of 4-11 on regional and 4-14 on national trains. As my daughters will be 14 & 16, this gives a huge price discount over the two websites you mention, but is it legitimate? I don’t want to arrive in Italy and find out our tickets aren’t valid.

    Thanks for any insight you can provide!

    1. Hi Nicole!

      Thanks for reaching out – I’m so glad you find the post helpful!

      I’ve never heard of ItaliaTren.com, and I don’t have any experience with it. But I looked into it and honestly, I’m not sure what to tell you. It says “in collaborazione con (in collaboration with) TrenItalia,” but I’m definitely skeptical of any ticket reseller that offers price ranges that don’t line up with TrenItalia’s. What it makes me think is that I’ve never seen a ticket checker on a train in Italy checking kids’ IDs to make sure they’re the right age for the ticket they bought. It could happen, but I would be surprised. So maybe this reseller is just banking on not getting caught and hoping to sell more tickets with this extra enticement? I’m not sure.

      Just looking at the website (and technical things I know how to look for, like Domain Authority, since running a website is my business, too), I don’t think it looks like a total scam. So I’d be surprised if you bought tickets and showed up to find they don’t exist. Again, anything could happen! But I’d be surprised.

      I wish I could give you more certain answers, but I hope that’s at least a little helpful! Where are you going on your trip?? Which train routes will you be taking?

      Cheers!
      Ketti

      1. Hi Kerri,

        I reached out to the website to see what they had to say. The positive is they responded within a few hours – excellent customer service. The negative is that they basically said it is buyer beware – even though their website says kids are ages 4-16 and it has you enter their specific ages, the buyer needs to pay attention to Trenitalia’s conditions. So they would have sold me tickets that weren’t valid, when I assumed I would be OK, since I told them my daughter was 16. I’m going to stick with the sites you recommend!

        blob:null/c73e6b11-1eb8-43dc-b0c5-51ae43237df0

        1. Hi Nicole,
          Wow! That’s exactly what I thought the situation would be, but I’m surprised they were so… honest about it. Good thing you got in touch, and thanks for letting me know the result! That way I’ll know what to say if other readers have a similar question.

          Btw, where are you going on your trip?? If you haven’t seen it, I have a post about my favorite restaurants all around Italy that you might find useful!

          K

  8. Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for this site! Very helpful! I have been looking on the Italo site for a few weeks – I have a group of 5 of us going from Venice to Milan Centrale on May 18th, but their latest date showing able to book has been stuck on April 6th for awhile. Your thoughts?

    We are then going to have a two hour wait for a regular train (not Italo) departing from Milan and going to Monterosso (without having to change trains at all).

    Thanks for your help.
    Linda

  9. Also, Nicole (further to my post above), when I look in the ItaliaRail site for May 18 from Venice to Monterosso, it only gives me two choices, both leaving in the afternoon. I want a much earlier departure. Is this because their schedule has not opened up this far in advance? Thank you.

  10. I remember taking a night train to Catania Sicily from Napoli. I remember that it wasn’t very nice accommodations (I’m thinking metal bunks). Can you tell me if they still have overnite trains to Catania and what the trains are like? My family and I are planning a trip there in June. There are 8 of us. I have been looking at planes, very cheap, but very restrictive on size of luggage.Would appreciate any info on that.

    Also what are the best transportation alternatives in Sicily?

    Rena

    1. Hi Rena,

      Thanks so much for getting in touch (and for subscribing to my email list!), and I apologize for taking so long to get back to you here. It’s been a bit of a crazy month for me personally.

      To answer your question, yes, TrenItalia does still have night trains from Napoli to Catania, as you can see here. (I just put in a random date in June to check.) However, I’ve never taken a night train in Italy, so I can’t tell you much about the conditions!

      I will say that I pretty much always go for trains over domestic flights in Italy, because they’re just so much more efficient and better for the environment. As for the luggage issue, you can usually get away with taking just about however much you want on the trains. Definitely easier than dealing with checked bags for flying. (And of course, remember that the carry-on sizes are slightly smaller for European flights, as well.)

      In Sicily though, I’ve always rented a car. Public transportation is not the best there, at least in Southern Sicily, where I’ve mostly traveled.

      Another thing you might want to look into, if you’re planning to take lots of trains while you’re in Italy, is the EU Rail pass. It can definitely save money, but it’s really situation-dependent. If you look through the comments here, I calculated out an example for someone who asked about it once. Worth checking out!

      I hope that’s helpful for you, Rena! Keep in touch! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  11. Super informational site – thank you!
    Just a few questions:
    -Does ItaliaRail have an app?
    -Does the trenit app cover both Trenitalia and Italo train schedules? If so, seems it could open one up to mix/match and run into scheduling issues.
    -How far ahead can you purchase train tickets? We are going to Italy mid June so I’m assuming we should purchase tickets early June?
    -Lastly, not train related but any thoughts on the best way to get around Amalfi coast? Looks like buses but where/how do I reserve those/buy tickets and how far in advance? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Laura,

      Thanks for reaching out and I’m sorry it took me so long to respond! Busy week for me personally.

      No, ItaliaRail doesn’t have an app yet, unfortunately. But for most trains you can keep your ticket on your phone and don’t have to print it out. (More about that here.) And I’ve never used the Trenit app, so I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer there. In general though, just avoid booking one ticket on TrenItalia and another on Italo with just a few hours or so of layover between them. That’s when you can run into scheduling issues if one train is late. Otherwise, it’s not a problem to mix and match, like for different trips on different days.

      You can usually buy tickets almost 6 months in advance, and I’d recommend getting yours before early June! It’s unlikely they sell-out 2 weeks in advance, but it could definitely happen, especially if you want a specific itinerary or certain arrival or departure time, and considering that June is getting into the busy season for tourism. Also, remember that prices can go up in the last couple of days before the travel date. (I’ve unfortunately waited until the last minute and had to pay double for a ticket home from Rome to Milan because I bought it just the day before departing.)

      As for Amalfi, that’s still on my (very long) to-visit list, so I’m afraid I can’t help much there.

      Enjoy your trip and keep in touch! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  12. Just a quick question about the ticket validation requirement: is this something that needs to be done at every location, or is it just required at some locations where no one is there to check it in person? If someone checks the ticket does it still need to be validated in the machine as well? I’m travelling all over Italy this fall by rail and I don’t want to make the mistake of not validating my ticket anywhere.

    1. Hi Bruce,

      Thanks for your question! It honestly just depends on the station.

      In big city stations like Milan, there will be someone who checks that you have a ticket (but usually doesn’t scan or validate it) before letting you access the platform area. Then someone will (almost always) come by in the train and ask to see your ticket during the trip.

      In tiny stations like Cinque Terre, you’ll definitely have to validate it yourself with the machine on the platform (as you read above).

      But I’ve also been to small stations in Central Italy where there wasn’t a machine for validating tickets, and yet there was no control or check to get to the platform, or to board the train. Usually that means someone will check your ticket on the train, but not necessarily. (I think it’s a matter of they should, but they might not bother or else not get to all the cars… it’s hard to say.) This is especially the case with the InterCity or other slower trains.

      If you’re worried about it, I’d just recommend asking at every station, and keeping your eyes peeled for any machine on the platform, because it’s so different from place to place. I hope that helps, and I hope you enjoy your trip!

      Let me know if you have other questions. And if you want, check out my list of my favorite restaurants around Italy, and my Italian menu guide, as well! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  13. Feels like quite a hard-sell for the added cost of booking with Italiarail. Trenitalia.com has language choices including English, and it shows all of the same fare options as Italiarail does (all options in one nice matrix, which is very handy), and no added fees. There’s really no reason at all to not book directly at trenitalia.com

    1. Hard sell, huh? If you read the entire article, you’ll notice that I very clearly explained the pros and cons of all options, and whom I think ItaliaRail is useful for, ie: People who do want English speaking customer service, especially if they have to change or cancel a ticket.

      Even though I do make a commission if people book through my ItaliaRail links and don’t make anything if they book elsewhere (also clearly stated), I go out of my way to give readers lots of detailed, free information, as well as my personal experience, and explain the differences between all options, as well as the fact that, as an Italian speaker, I personally don’t feel the need to use ItaliaRail.

      If that’s a hard sell in your book, I don’t know what to tell you.

      Ketti

  14. Hi, thank you for your great information! I’ve booked one ticket through italiarail (the way from Genoa to Pisa), and one through trenitalia directly (from Pisa back to Genoa). Will i be able to import my PNR from italiarail into the Trenitalia app? Right now in the Trenitalia app, i can only see the Trenitalia-direct booked ticket, and i cannot see my italiarail booked ticket. I am traveling from Genoa to Pisa on April 17, Easter Sunday. Do you know if restaurants might be closed that day, or if not, do you have any recommendations on where to eat in Pisa, preferably near the Centrale station?
    Thank you!

  15. Hello!

    Thank you so much for your through post! Super helpful and easy to understand. I so appreciate that!

    I am looking at booking a train on ItaliaRail from Cinque Terre to Florence (La Spezia Centrale to Firenze S.M. Novella), that would change trains in Pisa. The change time is only 5 minutes though in Pisa—this seems like such a crazy short amount to time!! Is this wise to do, or should I book a different train? This particular time of train works best for our itinerary/schedule, but I’m worried we would miss the next train. Is the Pisa train station easy to understand and navigate?

    Thank you!

    Allison

    1. Hi Allison,

      Thanks for your comment, I’m glad you found my post helpful!

      I’m pretty sure I’ve done the same route and also had a short connection like that – although five minutes is really short! The station at Pisa is pretty small, although I don’t really remember if I’d call it easy to navigate. Honestly, it just depends on how mobile you are and how confident you feel knowing that you’ll have to jump off the train and basically run. It also just doesn’t leave any room for error in case your first train comes in late (which is not at all uncommon!)

      I’d say if you really want to try it, just check the schedules on ItaliaRail and make sure you’re not connecting to the last train of the day to Firenze.

      I hope that helps! Keep in touch, enjoy your trip, and if you haven’t already, check out my Italian restaurant list for some recommendations! 🙂

      Cheers!
      Ketti

  16. This was very informative. Thank you. We are considering a 10 day pass for our travels during the month of June. If we have a 10 day pass, do we still need to book a reservation each time we travel? Can reservations be made at the station?
    Thanks !

    1. Hi Gary, thanks for your comment! I’m glad you found the article useful! 🙂

      Are you referring to the EURail pass? If so, then yes, in Italy you definitely need to book tickets in advance. You can do it through the EuRail pass app or website, but I definitely wouldn’t wait to do it at the station, especially in June, as that’s getting into the busy season! (I think you can do it at the station, but in June, I’d definitely recommend booking at least a week in advance, especially if you care about what time your train is.)

      There’s more info about how to make the seat reservations on this page of the EuRail website.

      Also, if you haven’t already, check out my Italian restaurants list for some recommendations!

      Cheers!
      Ketti

  17. Hi Ketti,

    Thanks for a very informative post! It’s very helpful for first time travellers in Italy like me. My family of 8 will be travelling to Venice on July 26th, spend a night there and proceed to Rome the next day. I’ve booked our train via Italiarail. I just received my email confirmation with details like the train #, seat nos. and PNR). I’m assuming we’ve been issued e-tickets. It doesn’t say that we should printout a hard copy of the ticket, instead present the PNR to the train conductor. I may sound redundant, but is it really enough to just show the PNR, no need to print the tickets? It also states on the email that these tickets have been validated. Does it mean we don’t have to go to a validating machine at the station, and just board the train directly?
    Also, could you recommend where to eat in Venice and Rome? We’d like to have a taste of the cities’ specialty (if there is any).
    Again, thank you for all the helpful tips!

    Joie

    1. Hi Joie,

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you found my article helpful.

      For the tickets, no you don’t need to print them out. Does your confirmation email have a PDF (or multiple PDFs) attached? If so, save those to your phone, or just open them up at the station if you’ll have cell service in Italy, and that’s what you’ll use to board the train.

      How exactly that works depends on the station. At larger stations, like Venice, you’ll usually show that ticket to someone (who’s just checking that you do indeed have tickets) in order to be let into the platform area. You can then get on the train freely, and a ticket checker will come by and actually scan those QR codes while on the train. At smaller stations, sometimes you will actually need to scan a ticket, and sometimes those do need to be paper tickets, but it really depends on the station. For Venice though, you definitely don’t need to worry about it.

      I do have a couple of favorite restaurants in Rome to recommend! Check out my list of my favorite restaurants around Italy for that. (And if you’re interested in Italian food culture, you’ll probably enjoy this post, as well.)

      As for Venice, I don’t really have any specific places to recommend, but I would suggest you look for a “cichetti” (pronounced “key-KET-tee”). They’re essentially a style of tapas that are unique to Venice. Try them with a Spritz – one of Italy’s famous aperitivo cocktails, which was invented in Venice. In authentic bars in the city, it’s still served following the original recipe, with a green olive.

      And soon I’ll publish another post with more tips for spotting good restaurants in Italy! It’s on my list, so keep in touch! I hope you and your family have a wonderful trip! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ketti

      1. Hi Ketti,

        Thanks for the recommendations! We’d definitely try “cichetti” when we get to Venice. We love to experience the culture of the places where we travel. I’ll also checkout your list of favourite restaurants in Rome and go from there.

        Regarding our tickets, there’s no PDF attached to the confirmation email, just the PNR, so there’s no way of printing or even showing the tickets out to the inspector in case they ask for it. Should I email Italiarail and ask for PDF copies?

  18. Thank you for this timely piece. We are currently planning our summer travels and this is most helpful.

    1. Glad to hear it, Roy! I’m happy to help. If you have any other Italy questions come up, feel free to ask. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  19. Hello Ketti, Good information as I try to navigate a trip from Florence to Naples to Sorrento then a return from Sorrento to Naples to Rome. Which train would be best for this? Also, my daughter who will be studying in Florence for 8 weeks will have a very large suitcase. Are there luggage limits?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Tiffany!

      Sorry for my late reply here – it seems I missed a few comments on this article!

      A large suitcase shouldn’t be a problem – as long as it’s not LOTS of large suitcases. They don’t really have luggage limits, especially nothing that’s enforced.

      You’ll have to compare the Italo and TrenItalia schedules for Florence to Naples to Rome, but there’s not a huge difference – it’s just a matter of finding the checking the time tables if you have a particular schedule. Freccia Rossa (the TrenItalia fast trains) and Italo don’t go to Sorrento, so that will have to be on a TrenItalia regional train.

      Hope that help! Keep in touch, and if you have any other Italy questions, feel free to let me know and I’ll get back to you more quickly! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  20. Hello!

    Amazing article thank you! I have a question that I can’t find the answer to anywhere. Trying to decide between italo and trenitalia for a trip in June 2022 Milan > Venice > Bologna> Milan. Italo have offers with X% off tickets for italo senior 60 + and Italy young 16-29. Do you know if anyone can use these offers or is there a special railcard needed with the company to use these offers? If you buy through the train providers on italo or trenitalia on desktop can you still get the e-ticket? Or do you need an app/ account?
    Many thanks!

    1. Hi Vero!

      I’m sorry for my late reply here – it seems I missed a few comments on this article!

      Obviously you must have figured out by now that you can have etickets on your phone without an app – they come as a PDF in your email confirmation. You can buy the special fares without any kind of loyalty card, you just might be asked to prove your age on the train when your ticket is checked.

      I hope you had/are having a wonderful trip! Was there anything you wished you’d known before? (I’m always looking for more ways to help readers.)

      Keep in touch! Cheers,
      Ketti

  21. Hi Ketti, great article and very informative for first time traveller to Italy.

    I’m planning a 2 weeks trip around Italy in the end of September to early October, would like to know how early does Trenitalia update their Frecciarossa schedule? Because I’m currently trying to book my trip tickets from Roma to Florence then to Milan and lastly to Venice, but up til today I still don’t see any Frecciarossa schedule on the weeks that I’ll be in Italy. Any insight or advise regarding this would be really helpful and appreciated.

    Again thanks for the great article.

    Jc.

    1. Hi JC,

      I’m glad you got some use out of the article – happy to help! Usually you can buy FrecciaRossa tickets at least 3 or 4 months in advance, but you’re right – I just double checked and I only see them scheduled out through mid-September right now. I’m actually in Milan right now, and I’ll be a taking a few trains in the next few days, so I’ll ask in the station and try to get you a better answer on this!

      In the meantime, if you’re interested, I have several other posts that might be helpful for a first timer in Italy! (Especially my Italian restaurant menu guide, and list of favorite restaurants in Italy.)

      Keep in touch and let me know if you have other questions! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ketti

      1. The menu guide link is broken. I’ve tried several ways to reach the page and all have broken links.

        1. Hi Dianne,

          Thanks for letting me know about this, I’ll definitely fix it! But what do you mean exactly by the “menu guide link”? What are you trying to access, exactly?

          Thanks,
          Ketti

  22. Hi Ketti,

    Great article. very helpful and useful information.
    My wife and I are travelling by train from Rome to Florence in September. Any suggestions on which side of the train offers the better scenery?

    1. Hi Rick!
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you! I’ve been traveling a lot myself this month.

      I’ve taken that trip several times, and I honestly don’t know what to recommend. I can’t remember there being much of a difference, but if you notice one, please let me know! I wish I could be more helpful. But if you have any other questions, please let me know! I’ll do my best. 🙂

      Cheers and enjoy your trip! September is one of my favorite months in Italy.
      Ketti

    1. Hi Russell, thank you so much! I’m really glad to hear that. Could you do me a favor and let me know if you have any other Italy-related questions? I’m always curious what kind of info people are having trouble finding.

      Thanks and I hope you enjoy your trip!

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  23. Ketti, I love your blog!
    One question: Can an American traveler use Italo Senior rate? Or would I need to have that Argento card? Their site only says that you must be at least 60 to book it.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Alexander, thank you so much! That makes my day. 🙂

      I would say that if they allow you to book the senior rate, go for it! You might just have to show ID on the train when they check your ticket (which can be digital, you don’t have to print it out), but honestly I would be kind of surprised if they even do that.

      Enjoy your trip! And if you have any other questions, please let me know! I’m always curious as to what kinds of Italy resources and info people are looking for.

      Cheers!
      Ketti

  24. Thank you for the helpful tips! We are spending our Honeymoon in Italy in September and knew we wanted to travel via train, but was having a hard time deciding which way to go about booking before reading your post. Grazie!

  25. Ketti, I look forward to reading more of your postings and very much appreciate your Italy Trains 101 course!

    I’ll be flying to Rome from Brussels in a week and meeting up with three relatives to travel together. Their flight from Chicago arrives at 7:30 AM and mine arrives at 9:30AM. We are going from the Rome airport to Florence that day and I’d like to book our tickets in advance but worry that one of our flights might be delayed. What do you recommend? Should I buy our tickets in advance and just make sure that they can be changed (as long as we buy Economy tickets on Italiarail or Trentitalia)? If we do need to change the time on them, is that done at the station? Or would you recommend that we hang out at FCO and catch the daily nonstop from the airport to Florence?

    thanks for any help you can offer,
    Eileen

    1. Hi Eileen,

      Thank you so much, I’m so happy to hear you found the post useful!

      As for your question, I have lots of thoughts! First, I’m assuming you don’t have to be in Florence at any specific time? If not, then I’d definitely avoid the flight to Florence – both because I always try to skip those short-haul flights for the carbon emissions, and because you’d miss out on a lovely lunch in Rome! And the train ride is beautiful.

      It’s true that either of your flights could be delayed, but I’d really doubt it would be more than a couple of hours on either (especially yours, coming from within Europe). So you can easily book a train with a good amount of wiggle room. (It wouldn’t even have to be a ticket that you can change, I’d just suggest booking it for 3 or 4 pm, and then you should have plenty of time. I’d recommend using Omio – I’ve been finding it better than ItaliaRail lately. Slightly lower fees, and you can compare both Italo and TrenItalia tickets in one place. It still gives you the option to book a flexible ticket, if you feel more comfortable that way.)

      To get from Fiumicino airport to Rome, there’s the Leonardo Express train. You can, but really don’t need to book in advance. It runs 2 or 3 times an hour.

      If you need luggage storage for the day, I just checked and they do apparently have storage at the airport. Or otherwise you can use this company to book luggage storage ahead of time in the city.

      And for lunch, my favorite restaurant is called Est Artigiani del Gusto! If you want to go, I’d recommend calling to book a table, as they can get pretty busy with business people for lunch. (And I have other restaurant recs., including in Florence, in this post!)

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions, have a wonderful trip, and keep in touch! 🙂

      Ketti

  26. Hello Ketti,
    Having to get from Rome to Venice, back to Rome, to Naples and then back to Rome….we were very nervous about the train travel adventures. We came across your article by chance and it was AWESOME advice. Everything was exactly as you laid out and your advice was informative and calming. Thanks for helping make the travel portion of our vacation not only effective but actually entertaining!

    Thanks,
    John

    1. Hi John,

      Wow, thank you for letting me know! I’d say informative and calming and making something stressful actually entertaining is exactly what I’m going for, so your comment really makes my day. 🙂

      Keep in touch and let me know if you ever have other travel questions!

      Best,
      Ketti

  27. Such great information about the trains in Italy. Thanks! We are traveling from Rome to Sorrento, but would like to stop in Pompeii for a few hours on the way to Sorrento. Do we need to buy two separate tickets, one to Pompeii and then one from Pompeii to Sorrento? Or if the train makes a stop in Pompeii, can we just hop off and back on to the next train when we are done? This will be our first trip to Italy in October. I’m still confused about quick stops like that.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Great question! I’d definitely recommend buying two separate tickets. I haven’t done that route before, and if it’s a regional train (as opposed to a Freccia) then seating won’t be assigned (just first come, first served), so you technically might be fine with just hopping off and hopping back on later, but I’d say it’s a risk. Safer to buy two separate tickets for the actual time when you’ll want to ride.

      Also, since it’s your first trip, you might be interested in a few of my other articles about Italy! Here are my favorite restaurants, some tips for understanding Italian menus and restaurant etiquette, and my favorite travel booking resources.

      Let me know if there are other things you have questions about and have a great trip!

      – Ketti

  28. Thank you very much for all the detailed explanation to clear the italian train related confusion in my head. I found your site very helpful. I was able to figure that there are two main train services but multiple websites and way to buy tickets. I am planning to visit Italy in early April. How far (latest) in advance should I buy train tickets to get a good deal and decent time options? I would like to buy in advance buy not too much in advance just in case my plans change. I am looking for tickets for my family between Rome and Florence, Rome and Naples.

    1. Hi Arun,

      I’m glad you found the article helpful! Generally, at least a week in advance is a good rule of thumb. I’ve found many times that prices will double (especially for the Freccia Rossa or Italo fast trains, like on the routes you’ll be taking) some time between 4 days before you want to travel and the day before.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have other questions for your trip, and keep in touch! If you want to help support Tilted Map, buying your tickets through this link (one of the website I use and recommend above) lets me earn a small commission.

      And in the meantime, you might find these other articles useful: My list of my favorite restaurants around Italy, all about eating and ordering in Italian restaurants, and my favorite travel booking links (hotels, travel insurance, and more).

      Cheers!
      Ketti

  29. Thank you so much for the info, this is so helpful!! I’ve read that Italo tickets do not need to be validated, do you happen to know if that is true? We are planning to visit in May and just looking at different train options. I thought Italo may be easier if no validation is needed or with electronic ticket.

    1. Hi Mandie, you’re so welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful.

      You’ll be able to get digital tickets for both Italo and TrenItalia. No difference there. (Just some small regional trains won’t have the option.) But they all need to validated. Usually you’ll show the ticket to someone to get into the platform area, and then someone will come around on the train to validate by scanning the tickets on your phone. Does that answer your question?

      If you’re interested, I also have lots of other articles about Italy! https://www.tiltedmap.com/category/europe/italy

      And if you want to keep in touch for new posts, you can get on my email list here: https://kettiwilhelm.us11.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=e4f45117b805e2dbf14cb2f59&id=5ec3f568e5

      Have a great trip!
      Ketti

  30. Thanks for the info. I am currently planning a trip with my teenage daughter in early September. We will be flying into Rome. Staying there for 2-3 days, taking the train to Florence for a couple of days and then ending our trip in Milan. Neither of us have ever traveled abroad and I am pretty nervous about it! Question: when booking the train from the airport to Roma termini – how long should I plan from when we land to when the train leaves? Is it easy to get from the airport to the train station? I will be traveling from the US and hoping to get a direct flight, but budget is an issue, so I don’t know if that will be possible. We do not plan on checking any luggage and will just have our carry-ons.

    1. Hi Dawn,

      That’s so exciting for you and your daughter! The trains from FCO to Roma Termini depart from the airport, it’s all connected, so no need to worry about getting to the station. I would say you’ll want to plan 3 hours between landing and taking the train to the city – just in case. (In case your flight arrives late, or getting through customs takes a long time – which could happen it you land right before another big flight, for example. Great that you’re not checking bags though! I’m a big fan of carry-on-only travel, and that will make everything easier. 🙂 )

      But really, you don’t need to buy the train ticket from FCO to Termini in advance. They run several times an hour, as I recall, and you’ll be able to just buy a tickets from the red machines on the platform when you get there, so you don’t have to worry about delays. (For all the other trains on your trip, definitely do buy them in advance, as prices can shoot up a few days before departure, and some times will sell out. I recommending using Omio to buy those now.)

      Otherwise, have you seen some of my other articles about Italy that might be helpful for your trip? I have one about my favorite restaurants, which includes some in both Florence and Milan, so you should definitely hang on to that one!

      Thanks for your question and keep in touch! If you’re interested, please sign up for my email list, and I’ll send you new posts once or twice a month. I’m also planning some guided trips to Italy (le Marche region) that will be open to subscribers, in case you’re interested!

      Have a good day!
      Ketti

  31. Ketti,
    Thanks so much for this very informative and well written article. I lived in Vicenza for 5 years and used the trains all the time. That was 40 years ago but I still go back to Italy on a regular basis. Now that you enlightened me to Omio, I’ll use it next time.

    I work for a major US airline and understand how rules for changing tickets are confusing but I think all Italian train companies have the craziest rules I’ve ever seen! So confusing. Your advice to book early is paramount! I found a fare from Milano to Vicenza for €25 and the next day it jumped to €50! Learned my lesson! Thanks again for your excellent reporting.

    1. Hi Jay,

      Thanks for your comments, I’m so glad the article was helpful for you! And yes, I do love Omio – so helpful to see everything in the same place. You’re right though, I don’t know how they can make the rules for changing tickets so confusing! I think the only explanation is that it’s Italian bureaucracy, and I’m pretty sure they do it on purpose.

      Thanks for reaching out, and if you’d like please keep in touch! If you want to get on my email list, I’ll send you new posts once or twice a month. I’m also planning some guided trips to Le Marche that will be open to subscribers, in case you’re interested! 🙂

      Have a good day!
      Ketti

  32. Good piece with great tips. After visiting Italy frequently over four decades and now living here for six years, I can say that the train service is measurably more reliable, comfortable, and easier to use.

    Some additional comments:

    For long distance trips, I book in advance using trainline.eu.There is no fee and it clearly displays all the choices and gives details if desired. It also automatically calculates my pre-loaded senior discount fare. Even better, it has a cell phone option with a QR code that is simply scanned. No fussing with paper tickets or validation!

    For short distance, impromptu trips I use the red vending machines in each station. There is an English language mode. The prompts are easy to follow. No standing in lines at the counter!

    Cautionary notes:

    Leave plenty of time between changing trains. At Bologna Centrale I always seem to arrive on Binario 3 and depart on Binario 17 — three levels down. Not possible to do in 10 minutes. Better option: allow 45 minutes, get a coffee, and relax. But don’t get me started on where the damn toilets are!

    Scam Alert: Don’t let anyone “kindly” offer to help you find a platform or carry a bag. They want money. Or worse, your bag.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks for those – all excellent tips! I’m sure the trains have improved vastly over 4 decades. I wish I could time travel to compare.

      I like Trainline as well, but it does have a small fee, similar to Omio’s (perhaps that’s different when booking from the EU, but I don’t think so).

      Thanks for writing and keep in touch!
      Ketti

  33. I cannot find any information about reserving seats on Italotreno. I went partially through the ticket purchase procedure but stopped when the next option was Checkout. I don’t want to purchase seats and find out later that our group of five cannot sit together.
    Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Roy,

      Italo likely won’t break up a group if the tickets are purchased together, assuming you’re not buying them last minute! Other than that, I can’t say there’s a way to guarantee it. I wish there were a more helpful answers, but my best advice to make sure you’re booking at least a couple of weeks in advance.

      Ketti

      PS: Check out some of my other articles about Italy, and some of my favorite restaurants around Italy to help plan your trip!

  34. thank you. the post was very helpful. I understood a lot of what were confusing to me. Thank you

  35. Ketti appears to imply that one can become a Trenitalia CartaFreccia member as long as one has a “codice fiscale”.
    Not sure that’s true.
    Recently downloaded the Trenitalia app on my smartphone and, although my wife and I, American citizens and not residents of Italy, both have “codice fiscale”, I was unable to register the app as long as I had enabled either CartaFreccia or X-Go.
    As soon as I disabled both CartaFreccia and X-Go, the app registration was successful.
    It appears that Trenitalia insists on an address in Italy to enable CartaFreccia and/or X-Go.
    Since we’re both in our 70s, would love to use senior fares on Trenitalia, but again that appears impossible because we don’t have addresses in Italy [but both have “codice fiscale”].
    Email query to Trenitalia of course went unanswered.

    1. Hi Frank,

      Thanks for pointing that out! As I wrote in the article, “I have a CartaFreccia membership because I actually was a resident of Italy for three years, and it was still a massive amount of hassle and took months to get.” meaning that at the time I applied, I did have an Italian address and official residency. I’ll make that more clear in the text.

      – Ketti

  36. RE: Carta Freccia for non-residents
    I am Australian and this year, I applied and received the CartaFreccia membership with no problem. It took about 6 weeks. Download the form, complete, scan and email. You then need to sign up and register to lefrecce.it to activate the membership. By the time I received the email and due to time difference of 8 hours, the link had expired, but I just requested a new one and it was not a problem.

  37. I was on Trenitalia and it was horrible. Venice to Rome. 90 minute delay to start and then a 4 hour train ride took just under 5 hours. Never again. I have rode dozens of trains all over Europe and never had such bad service

  38. Hi Ketti!

    If we do not select seats with my girlfriend for an extra charge, can they randomly assign us to seats that are not together?

    1. Hi Atlas!

      If you’re buying the tickets on the same purchase, they’ll most likely put you together. The only time they wouldn’t is if the train is full, or they for some reason put you across the aisle from each other or something like that. It’s not common though; you’ll probably be fine and they’ll seat you together.

      Hope that helps!

  39. Hello, I am traveling to Europe for the first time. I am planning to buy Eurail as suggested by my friend. I am taking a train from Rome to Naples and then Florence to Venice. Like to know if I can travel in Frecciarossa or italo trains with Eurail pass.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Krishna,

      EuRail passes only work for TranItalia trains (including the FrecciaRossa fast trains – but you will need a seat reservation on those trains). Italo isn’t part of the EuRail network, so you won’t be able to use those trains, but that won’t really limit your options, since both companies to go all the places you mentioned.

      You can buy your EuRail pass here. I hope that helps!

      Let me know if you have other questions, and enjoy your trip!
      Ketti

  40. Hi Ketti,

    Your blog is simply superb! You have packed it with just about any information that a tourist might need while planning for a trip to Italy with intra-country travel by train.

    I am planning a trip to this wonderful country for about 2 weeks some time in October 2024. We will be a family of 7, hence we would have a minimum of 7 medium-to-large suitcases and also 7 small strolley bags. To move with so many bags from point to point by train may be a bit inconvenient. We are, therefore, planning to make Florence as a hub, and from there make train trips to Milan, Bologna, Pisa and Cinque Terre. From Florence we intend moving to Verona and stay there for a couple of days. Our actual destination would be Venice, but we would prefer to stay in Verona as hotels there are likely to be a lot cheaper than those in Venice. We would travel to Venice from Verona by train. After Verona we intend to move to Rome and spend 3 days there. From Rome we are planning to move to Naples and spend a couple of days there before heading back to Rome to catch our return flight to Delhi.

    I would like to have your advice regarding the following:

    1. Whether our projected plan makes good sense or are there any alternative (and better) options that you would like to recommend?

    2. During the period of our travel to Naples, whether there is any facility for us to store our big bags somewhere in Rome. If so, whether this would be overly expensive for us.

    I shall look forward to your guidance with regard to the above.

    1. Hi Subrata,

      Thanks for reaching out, and I’m sorry for the delay in getting back to you! It’s been a busy season with the holidays and getting back to work. 🙂

      I think your plan sounds like a good one! However, I would say that you’re right to be a bit concerned about the amount of luggage – have you read my post about how to pack lighter? You might find it has some useful advice.

      As for storing your bags in Rome, yes, I’d recommend LuggageHero! I’ve used it a couple of times in different cities around the world. It’s a great way to find a place to leave your bags for a few hours or day without paying too much. If you don’t find anything available in the right location with them, there are a couple of alternatives listed under “Luggage Storage” on my Travel Resources page.

      I hope that’s helpful! Let me know if you have other questions, and have a good trip!

      Best,
      Ketti

  41. Hi Ketti,

    This was very helpful and makes me feel a lot more comfortable with booking tickets in advance online. I live in the US and will be traveling to Italy in February for a week, not sure if theres a specific day on when to purchase cheap tickets on Trenitalia and do you have to validate tickets if it was purchased online?Also, do you recommend downloading the app?

    1. Hi Jamie,

      Sorry for delay getting back to you here! I hope this answer isn’t too late for you: I have never found tickets to cheaper on a specific day (after living in Italy for years), rather it’s about getting them earlier (at least a few days earlier makes a big difference vs buying the night before).

      Yes, you’ll still need to validate tickets when purchased online, although I’ve never bothered with the app. I just use the PDF of the ticket that comes attached to the confirmation email, and show that to the person who comes through the train to scan tickets. (But if you do try the app, let me know how it works!)

      FYI, I also have some articles you might find useful for your trip about Italian food! One about reading Italian menus and tips for restaurants, and one with some of my favorite restaurants all over the country.

      Have a good trip and let me know if you have other questions!
      – Ketti

  42. Is it allowed to bring sandwiches with us onto a train to eat? Or is only food purchased on the train permitted?

    Thank you so much!

  43. Hi Ketti
    Thank you for the excellent advice! We are travelling from Australia and arriving in Venice in June. My question is how to get from Venice to Cinque Terre. Im a bit confused by the different possibilities. So far I think Santa Lucia station in Venice to La Spezia (Trenitalia) then to somewhere in Cinque Terre- not sure! We are staying in Monterrosa. I know about the rail card for Cinque Terre trains.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Jen,

      Thanks for your question! Yes, you’re on the right track with Santa Lucia station in Venice, but you don’t necessarily have to pass through La Spezia (since it’s south of Cinque Terre and you’re heading for the northernmost town, Monterosso).

      There are no direct trains, so you’ll have to change. One option would be to change in Milan, and then take a direct (regional, so slower) train from Milan to Monterosso. Or you could change in Florence or another city, then in La Spezia and take a shorter ride on the slowest train from La Spezia to Monterosso.

      I hope that makes sense! You can compare options here.

      Enjoy your trip, and if you’re interested, please keep in touch!

      – Ketti

  44. Is the information in this article about train travel (written in 2020) applicable for train travel in 2024? If not do you have an updated article?
    Thanks!

  45. Oops, please delete my comment about the article on train travel as I see you did update it…sorry. Thanks for the current information!!

  46. I live in USA.
    I just received my Cartafreccia card for senior discounts. Took 3 days, and only filled out a simple form. (no address or verification of residence or date of birth.
    If you google CartaFreccia, and find the reference to Rick Steves where people blog, you’ll find the simple explanation.
    You print out the form, fill it in, (takes about 1 minute) , take a picture of the form and email it to the address on the form. That’s it

  47. This is our first time. I am trying to figure what time to book for my family trying to travel from Milan airport to Florence. Is 26-36mins enough to change train at Milan Centrale station? Our plane will land @7:30am, would you recommend booking 9:30am or later? And what if we missed train at the Milan Centrale station going to Florence?

    1. Hi MT,

      I would definitely give yourself more time than that! Milano Centrale (Milan Central Train Station) is not too huge to navigate, but if your train from Malpensa Airport is delayed a few minutes, or your flight is delayed a half hour, or it takes a while to get through customs for whatever reason, or your baggage doesn’t out very quickly… you could easily miss your train for Florence.

      (That last one about baggage is of course assuming you’re not traveling carry-on only, but that’s usually what I do, so if you’re interested I have lots of good tips for packing lighter!)

      Train tickets can be changeable, depending on the fare type you choose (see the “fare options” section above) but it’s always better to avoid the hassle if you can.

      In short, if you’re flight lands at Malpensa at 7:30 am, I would recommend booking a train no earlier than 11am if you’re fit and fast moving and comfortable with a little risk, or after noon if you want to really play it safe.

      I hope that helps! Do let me know if you have other questions and, if you’re interested, please keep in touch!

      Also, since it’s your first time in Italy, you might enjoy this article about navigating restaurant menus in Italy, and some of my other Italy articles.

      Cheers,
      Ketti

    1. Hi Christine,

      That would depend on where you Airbnb is located. If it’s within the city of Florence, you shouldn’t have a problem grabbing a taxi. I wouldn’t recommend Uber (it’s run differently in Italy and costs more) and Lyft is not available in Italy, but other rideshare apps like Bolt are. And the itTaxi app has worked well in my experience.

      If your Airbnb is outside the city, I’d recommend getting in touch with your Airbnb host to ask how they recommend getting there.

      I’ll be writing another article about transit options in Italy, so if you’re interested in that and other travel help, please keep in touch!

      Hope that helps.

      – Ketti

  48. Hi Kettie – I just came across your website and have been reading a lot of very useful information!! Thank you! Maybe I should have mentioned this earlier but I’ll be traveling to Italy for 3 weeks in June with my 15 y/o daughter and her friend, another girl also 15. We’re going to start in Zurich and take trains all the way to Sicily except we’re going to fly from Naples to Palermo. Anyway, if you have time to answer this question,,, that would be nice.)) I have Cricket as my wireless carrier here in the U.S. They do not offer an “international” plan. I’ve seen ads on other Italy travel websites where they offer esim to purchase. Have you had any experience with these esim services? Thanks Bob,,, and I want to bookmark your page right now!!

    1. Hi Bob,

      That’s great, I’m so glad you’ve been finding the blog useful! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

      Yes, e-sims are great, for convenience and of course for avoiding the waste of throwing away more plastic and minerals from a normal travel SIM! I have been an e-SIM from Google Fi for about three years now – so I no longer have to change anything when I go abroad, my phone just works without any fees or extra cost at all. It works really flawlessly (my husband has T-mobile with the international plan, and my service is stronger than his almost everywhere we go). This is actually a referral link, so if you or your daughter sign up through it, you’ll save $20 on your first bill and I’ll get the same as a referral bonus.

      Or if you don’t want to totally switch carriers, I would recommend trying Airalo. (I’ve been meaning to write an article about both of these, so thank you for the reminder! Haven’t used Airalo myself, but have heard good things.)

      Hope that helps! I have lots of other articles about Italy that you might also find useful for your trip. Let me know if you have more questions!

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  49. I’m visiting Italy soon and I’m working on my train plan. I know when I want to travel and I learned from you that it would be best to handle all of my train tickets at once. Thank you! One big problem. If I put in my travel from Riomaggiore to Nice, France, Omio tells me that it does not have any trains. If I stop that trip at Ventimiglia then options appear. Omio will also allow me to select Ventimiglia to Nice. Is that the best way to plan this type of trip, in sections?

    Also, have you used RailEurope before? Oddly enough they will allow the trip to be entered as Riomaggiore to Nice and give the same trains and similar or possibly slightly cheaper cost.

    Last question: How can I tell if I have a seat on the train?

    1. Hi Kristen,

      You’re very welcome, I’m glad the article was helpful!

      That’s odd that Omio isn’t showing that option to book all the way through to Nice, as it should. (I’m going to reach to them and let them know about this glitch, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.) Yes, I’ve used RailEurope, they’re also great! If they’re showing you that option, then I would recommend booking with them. (And I have a full article comparing them with Omio, which you can read right here.)

      During the booking process on RailEurope, it should give you the option to choose seats (at least for fast trains where that’s an option. On the slower regional trains, which Riomaggiore to Nice will be, there are no assigned seats. You just hop on the train and find a place. But having booked a ticket means there’ll be space for you.)

      I hope that helps! Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions, I’m happy to help (and usually quicker to reply!) And if you’re interested, please keep in touch!

      Best,
      Ketti

  50. Hi, please can you help. I will be arriving into Milan Malpensa airport next week. I understand that I have to reach Milan Centrale train Station, I wish to travel onto Varenna-Esino-Perledo. Is it advisable to buy a ticket beforehand online, or wait until I arrive & buy at a ticket office?
    I’m worried about booking a time if my flight is delayed & losing my seat.
    Your advice would be appreciated, many thanks

    1. Hi Michelle,

      For a one-hour trip on a Regionale (regional) train like that, I doubt tickets will sell out, so you should be fine buying it at Milano Central station. You could book in advance, just to be sure. I’d just allow (generous estimates based on my experience) 1 hour for getting out of Malpensa, 1 hour for the trip to Centrale, 1 hour for unknown mishaps, plus 1 hour of potential waiting time = book a train 4 hours after your flight should land and you should be fine. I also just checked on Omio and there are trains every hour, and they only cost 8 euro, so even if you have to change it / buy a new ticket, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

      I hope that’s helpful! Enjoy your trip and if you’re interested, please keep in touch! I also have lots of other articles about travel in Italy that you might find useful!

      Cheers,
      Ketti