Why traveling Italy by train
You can travel to the most important cities like Rome, Venice, Florence - directly to the city center - as well as reach seaside or mountain destinations in few hours and great comfort. Either you choose between high speed trains or local trains, the trip through the Italian landscape will be charming and reasonably cheap.
Travelling by train in Italy can be very convenient both for business travelers and for leisure ones: train tickets are cheaper than in other European countries and it can be faster to get to a destination by train rather than by flight. For instance, you can get by train from Venice to Rome in 3 hours, quite as much as by flight (time to and from the airport included), arriving directly to the city center.
Railway Map in Italy
Rail companies and network in Italy
Railway companies in Italy
Overall, there are more than 23000 km (about 14300 miles) of conventional tracks and about 1350 km (840 miles) exclusively assigned to high-speed transportation in Italy. This extensive network is mainly due to the presence of a big national rail service, Ferrovie dello Stato (also known as Trenitalia) which connects basically all the Italian regions.
Besides Trenitalia, Italy is served by other local or private rail companies, like NTV Italo Treno, the most famous one. Italo Treno is dedicated to the high-speed train connections between the biggest Italian cities, like Rome, Milan, Naples and Venice.
Trenitalia has both a high-speed offer, with the Frecciarossa, Frecciabianca and Frecciargento trains, and a more local and cheaper offer, with the regional trains that connect small towns and Intercity, which cover long distance national journeys.
There are also other train companies which operate mainly at regional level, like Trenord, which connects Milan to nearby destinations, like for instance the Como Lake and Maggiore Lake areas, or Ferrovie del Sud-Est, which connects all the towns in Apulia, getting to famous seaside destinations like Gallipoli or Bari.
Train tickets in Italy are actually rather cheap if compared to other European countries, especially when booked a few weeks in advance: in the last years, more and more people choose high-speed trains to travel from one Italian city to another, and rail companies like Trenitalia and Italo keep offering special fares and promotions. In other words, you can actually speak of low-cost trains. An example? A Frecciarossa (high-speed train) from Naples to Rome can cost as low as 19€ (that is to say 20$ or 16£) and you’ll get to your destination in just one hour enjoying maximum comfort.
How to buy a train ticket in Italy
Buying your train tickets online
There are different ways to buy a train ticket in Italy. Most stations have an official ticket office or ticket machines. Many travellers prefer to book train tickets online, directly from the rail companies or through comparison services like Wanderio. When booking in advance, indeed, it is possible to take advantage of special fares, skip the queue at the ticket offices and get the e-ticket right on your smartphone.
Wanderio lets you seamlessly compare schedules and prices of different rail companies, like Trenitalia, Italo Treno, Trenord, Thello, and directly book the best deals without additional fees. You’ll just need to enter your destination, the dates of your trip and Wanderio will show you the available solutions. You’ll then compare the alternatives sorting them by price or travel duration and book your tickets paying via credit card or PayPal. The Wanderio free App for Android and iOS lets you book in a easy and fast way and access your tickets anywhere, also offline.
Peak hours and days on Italian trains
We guess you don’t like spending your journey in crowded trains or standing all the time, so here’s a few tips on avoiding such inconveniences. On high-speed and Intercity trains seats are assigned, you only need to get to the station in advance so you can find the right track and pass the security check with no rush. On regional trains there’s a chance you will get on board of a crowded train, as these are mostly used by commuters and seats are not assigned. Peak hours are in the morning, between 7 and 9:30 am, and in the evening, from 6 to 8 pm on average. Friday evenings can be packed actually, given that more people are travelling either for a weekend getaway or for coming back to their hometown.