Riding the Trains in Italy


…..I love travelling by train but I’m not so sure I would buy a rail pass again

Travelling by train can be very relaxing and is less stressful than driving a car throughout Italy. Our travel agent booked first class rail passes for six days for us ahead of time. Our first trip from Venice to Florence in first class was wonderful but half of our trips didn’t even have first class compartments. We probably could have saved a lot of money buying tickets as we needed them.

One of the things we learned about travelling by train is that you have to have your tickets validated at the station and you must fill in the dates you travel on the passes. My husband had been filling in the wrong portion of our passes and one kind conductor handed him a pen and instructed him to fill it in properly. He could have fined us each a 100 euro. On our last trip to Rome our son, his new bride and her parents didn’t know that the tickets that they purchased from a machine in Assisi had to be validated in another machine. Unfortunately the conductor on this train was not so forgiving and charged them. They tried to explain that they didn’t read Italian and no one told them about this extra step when purchasing tickets. He thought he was being generous when he reduced the fine to 33 euro but when my daughter-in-law was not happy with the compromise he became quite angry. In the end they paid the fine but we couldn’t help but think that the money was being pocketed by the conductor.

 

20 thoughts on “Riding the Trains in Italy

  1. Ahh, too bad for that conductor. 😦 True, first class and second class barely differ. The way to save money in the case of fast trains (Freccia bianca, argente, rossa; InterCity) is buy the tickets up to 2 months in advance online when there is still the lowest price available (of the three prices). If you buy on the spot, you can pay 6x the price. Also, you print the tickets yourself and there is no need of validation. This, however, is necessary for the regional trains for which you can only buy the (no-seat) ticket a week in advance. I’m so sorry you weren’t told this. 😦 By the way, amore told me just now that since August 1st there are some changes regarding the purchase.

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      • Hi! A word on UK trains. There’s no complicated validating tickets or filling in passes so no worries there 🙂 the trick with getting ‘cheap’ tickets is to buy them as far in advance as possible and try and go for specific trains: an ‘open return’ will (almost) always be more expensive than two singles.

        Also, avoid ‘peak’ trains. These are between around 6-9 in the morning and 16-18 in the evening (they are for communters) although it really varies. Buy an ‘off-peak’ ticket and then double check which trains it is valid for.

        Whatever happens, the guards and conductors are usually super nice and understanding, especially if you are kind and considerate. I hope you have fun, good luck!

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  2. I wish we would bring back train travel in this country…but I agree it sounds like they need to make some allowances for foreigners. It looks like we are not only the country to have too many rules and regulations.

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  3. We travelled from Lucca to Florence and back by train, buying our tickets at the station. I don’t remember having to get tickets validated though this seems a common occurrence in buses and trams in some countries. In Estonia, where you buy books of tickets at newsagents, you had to punch your tickets on a machine and the trams and buses were often so busy you couldn’t get near the machines. There was somewhere else we had to validate tickets, but at present I can’t remember where.

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    • We found the same thing in Rome. When we got on the tram you had to punch your ticket at a machine but sometimes it didn’t work. I never saw anyone coming around to check tickets. Most Romans who got on the train didn’t validate a ticket and I wondered if they had a pass or just took their chances and didn’t purchase tickets.

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      • We noticed that too, and came to the conclusion they probably had season tickets which didn’t need validating. Sometimes we forgot or failed to get near the machine but we never saw any inspector checking.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your Italy train experience! I’m getting ready to go the last week of March and I’m trying to figure everything out. From your pictures the train looks pretty spacious. Did you have room to bring your luggage on-board? I’ll be sure to get my tickets validated! Hope you enjoyed your trip!

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    • We loved our trip. There were places for luggage either above your seats or at the ends of the car. All the trains were slightly different. Not all trains had first class and some trains were older than others but most were comfortable enough for short trips. Enjoy your trip. We’re hoping to go back at some point. There’s so much to see and do that three weeks just wasn’t enough time.

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