Scared of those "crazy" Italian drivers? Want to ride in comfort without having to take time finding that illusive parking space?
Take the train.
Italy's slower regional trains are cheap to ride--athough the top routes can also be very crowded. Since trains are subsidized for underpaid workers, fewer trains run on Sundays and they, too can get crowded. I often buy first class tickets (for about 30% more than standard tickets) on regional trains I think will be crowded.
I buy my regional train tickets at the train station, either at the ticket window or at the machines that accept cash. It's easy to buy your outgoing train tickets when you arrive in a city station, then you'll have them before you leave, just in case something goes wrong or you've read the schedules wrong.
Rail Passes can save some money in Italy if your vacation plans include longer train routes.
For a map of Italy's main rail routes, see our Italy Train Map.
To see one of northern Italy's main lines and a compelling one for tourists, see our Torino to Trieste Rail Map.
Italy also has some private tourist railroads, some that operate with steam engines. See Touristic Trains in Italy.
Types of Italian Trains, from fast and expensive to Regional and inexpensive
Eurostar Italia trains, once the stars of the Italian rail system, have now mainly been replaced by the Frecce series that serve major cities and you'll see them designated on the Trenitalia web site as Frecciarossa, Freeiargento, and Frecciabianca. Seat reservations are manditory on these fast trains.
IC and IC+ (Intercity) Trains run the length of Italy, stopping at cities and large towns. First and second class service is available.. Seat reservations are compulsory on the Intercity Plus trains, and the fee is included in the ticket price. Seat reservations can be made for some Intercity trains, too.
Regionale, regional trains, can be crowded, covered in graffiti, and may stop in every little town you've never heard of--but they're cheap. You must validate your ticket because the ticket is not written for a particular train, which offers lots of flexibility.
Point to Point Train Tickets in Italy
Some people like to have their "big" tickets for faster trains or longer journeys in hand while in the United States. This will usually cost you more than just buying them at a train station, but if you find it convenient, check times and costs of European train travel in the box below. You can also order rail passes and some attraction tickets from this booking box from our partner Rail Europe.
Italy Rail Passes
We have a special page for determining if an Eurail Italy Pass will save you money. These days, when you travel long distance between cities like Naples and Florence, you will be better off with a pass over point to point rail tickets. See: Italy Rail Passes.
A more frugal idea for those combining a vacation in Italy with one of the adjacent countries is to try Multiple Country Passes as train travel is more expensive in France and Germany, for example.
Italy by Train - Is It a Good Idea?
I love traveling by train. In fact, even when I have a lease car, I often drive to our local train station and take the train. Who wants to drive in Rome? I have no need to spend my days looking for parking spaces and worrying about theft.
There are usually ample hotels around the train stations in Italy. In the off season, I just get off the train, look for a hotel, dump my bags and go exploring.