With the option to take it slow or to speed through the Italian countryside, train travel in Italy can either be a real money saver or a luxury way to travel. National Italian rail network Trenitalia has more than 12,000 miles of track (19,394 km), and train travel in Italy is a great way to visit some of the most beautiful cities, coastal resorts and rural regions in Europe.
◊ Train tickets and rail passes
Long lines can form at ticket offices, but many stations also have touchscreen ticket machines with several different language options. For a long train trip it is best to make seat reservations in advance.
First class train tickets are available for passengers wanting a little extra luxury, on trains with gourmet catering facilities and comfortable seating arrangements.
Family groups of between 3 to 5 people can get a discount of up to 50% off the standard price, and Trenitalia also has combined offers for people using train and bus, or train and ferry services.
European residents can get a rail pass, valid for use in 30 countries, or a One Country Pass (Italy Pass) from InterRail. This type of pass permits travel in Italy within a 10 or 22 day period, or unlimited travel for one month.
Other type of European rail pass are available for international travelers, and these can be purchased in advance on the Internet.
◊ Slow trains
For cheaper, slower travel in Italy, passengers have the option to go on local trains, known as treni regionali. Some of these only serve local provincial and rural areas. Diretti and interregionali are similar low-cost services running along longer routes, but these are less reliable and much slower than direct services to major destinations in Italy.
Regional train services have only second-class seating and no seat reservations. Some regional routes operate traditional old trains, while others have more modern commuter trains.
◊ High-speed trains
• Frecciarossa trains run between Turin, Milan, Bologna, Rome, Naples and Salerno, on a high speed line. These trains can go really fast, with speeds up to 360 km per hour (over 200 mph).
• Frecciargento trains provide a fast service from Rome to Venice and Verona. Frecciabianca trains connect Milan to Venice, Udine e Trieste, Genoa and Rome. They also run down to Bari and Lecce on a slower, traditional route.
• Eurostar Italia is another high speed service connecting Rome to Ancona, Genoa, Lamezia Terme, Reggio Calabria, Perugia, Ravenna, Rimini and Taranto.
• Trenitalia Intercity trains run for medium to long distances between towns and cities, and can also reach up to 200 km per hour (over 100 mph).
• High-speed international passenger trains to Italy run regularly from Paris and go to Turin, Milan and Ventimiglia. There is also an overnight sleeper service from Paris to Milan, Florence, Venice, Verona and Rome.
Train travel in Italy is an efficient method of transportation, and has something for all budgets. With so many top Italian destinations accessible by train, and the variety of different services available, train travel is definitely a good way to experience Italy.