Italy is a wonderful country and there’s plenty of sights to enjoy during your stay, but getting around might be a hassle if you decide to rent a car, especially if you’re the kind of person who would rather leisurely stroll around the historical landmarks instead of looking for a parking spot or having to dish out extra money to pay for one. Moving around the city using taxis or buses is great if you’re planning on visiting places distant from one another, but if you’ve tailored your holiday around multiple cities of Italy, the best way to move from town to town and enjoy the local Italian countryside and sights in the meantime is to travel by train.
Frecce, Italo and IC, what is the difference?
Through the years, the railway system has improved and there are trains to fit your every need.
Regional trains connect small or medium sized towns, and they are great if you plan to visit many cities that aren’t too distant from one another and happen to fall under the same route. These trains take slightly longer to cover the same distance because of the many stops, so if you need to go to a completely different area of Italy, high speed trains are probably best.
Intercity trains (marked as IC on the timetables inside the station) cover long distances and are great to go from Northern Italy to the South, and also include night trains. Frecce are a category of high speed trains and are the Frecciargento, Frecciarossa and Frecciabianca, depending on the routes covered and the speed they operate at.
Italo trains are halfway between the cheapest and more expensive solutions, as they stop in major cities, travel at a high speed but are still affordable and comfortable at the same time.
You can book your tickets on dedicated websites, mostly on the website of Italian railways, Trenitalia, or on the website of the specific company you’re interested in employing for your travels, such as www.italotreno.it . It’s recommended you book your seat for high-speed trains, especially if you plan on travelling first-class, lest you find out that the train you needed is at full capacity already or if you prefer a certain seat or are travelling in a group. By booking online, you would get a receipt that will be checked by the ticket inspectors on board.
For regional trains booking beforehand is not always necessary and it’s not useful unless you’re booking a first-class seat, and beware of regional trains if you’re travelling during rush-hour, since regionals are the trains used by commuters.
You can also get your ticket directly at the station. Ticket machines work in multiple languages and accept credit cards or cash. A printed ticket lasts for 60 days, and once it has been validated it lasts for 6 hours, enough to cover you in case your train is delayed or canceled.
Don’t forget to validate your tickets and try to remember the Italian spelling of the city you’re going to so that it’ll be easier to check timetables!