Hi, It’s Lisa again. Following on from my post about using a car to get around in Italy, and the difficulties presented using this form of transport, I’d like to go on to using the rail network.
The rail network in Italy is extensive! Many of our Italian friends complain about using trains but myself and Craig have never had a problem. In my opinion, it is a lot better than the rail network in the UK and far cheaper.
Before you think about using the trains in Italy, I would recommend you download the “Trenit” app from the App Store to your phone. It is brilliant. You enter your starting point, destination and time you want to travel or arrive. The available trains will be displayed along with the prices.
Where to buy your tickets
You can buy tickets via the app but I would recommend buying them at the station of your choice, either at the kiosk or using the ticket machines. The machines have the option to change to language to English and this is really useful if you don’t speak or read Italian! Cash and cards can be used to pay for the tickets. One thing to look out for….in the larger stations, you will generally find people hanging around the machines. They will come over to show you what to do and start to point at buttons. If this happens, ignore them or say, “No grazie” until they bugger off. Otherwise they will demand payment for “helping” you get your ticket!!!
The different train companies
Trenitalia – this company was once owned by the state and is the main railway company in Italy, with the widest offer of trains and highest coverage in Italy. The normal trains can look quite dilapidated and antiquated but they do the job. Whilst my friend Anne was over to visit, we went on a journey and on our way back she had to go to the lavvy on the train. She came back with a look which I can only described as horror mixed with delight! I asked what the problem was and she showed me the lavvy which didn’t have a bottom to it. It was just the metal rim and a wonderful view of the train tracks below! Needless to say the horror was from the look of it and the delight from the updraft!
Frecciarossa, Frecciargento and Frecciabianco, which are the highspeed trains are part of Trenitalia. The Frecciarossa are the fastest and Frecciabianco are the slowest with the Frecciargento being the midspeed train. These are really comfortable trains but be you pay more to travel on them.
My daughter likes the “Harry Potter” trains as she calls them. They have individual compartments which look like the carriages from the Harry Potter films.
Italo Trains – These are privately owned and the trains are the only real competitor to the Trenitalia trains.
Trenord – These can be found in the North of Italy, mainly in Lombardy. Generally non-Italian speakers can have a bit of difficulty on these trains as not much English is spoken by the staff.
The prices for travel on Trenitalia are really reasonable with me paying 6.70 euro one way from Piacenza to Milan, an hour long journey.
You can also find night trains for a longer journey. We used this to travel from Northern Italy to the South when we travelled to meet our new employer and colleagues. We paid a bit more for a double compartment with 2 pull-out beds, breakfast (coffee and croissant), a wash basin and hospitality kit. The compartment was quite comfy and for a 14 hour journey. We paid about 80.00 euro each – not to be sniffed at!
Check out the app for the different routes, either long and slow (the chugger!) or high speed (slightly more expensive).
You need to keep an eye on cancellations as they are not announced really and the railway staff like to strike – a lot! That said and done, I love travelling by train in Italy and seeing the beautiful countryside whilst relaxing.
Ciao a tutti, Lisa.