Italy Tickets & Rail Passes

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Welcome to ShowMeTheJourney's GUIDE to booking train tickets for journeys within and from/to Italy.

The info covers the core basics of what you can expect to encounter when making bookings.

What we have set out to provide is some context for the tickets and journey options you SHOULD encounter when making a booking either online or at the station.

We have striven to ensure that the advice we present is as accurate as possible, but a guide such as this cannot cover every combination of journey options.

Click the questions to jump to what you need to know, or grab a coffee and scroll through the entire page - 10-15 mins reading will ultimately save you time, money and stress!

BOOKING TICKETS AT TRAIN STATIONS IN ITALY:

Will tickets be more expensive if I buy them last minute at a station in Italy?

Does it matter which train I travel by if I buy tickets at an Italian train station?

BOOKING TICKETS FOR  TRAIN JOURNEYS WITHIN ITALY ONLINE:


Will I save money when booking Italian train tickets in advance?

Can any Italian train journey be booked on Trenitalia.com?

When are tickets for the journeys by the express trains placed on sale by Trenitlia.com?

What should I be looking out for if I want to save money when booking train tickets on Trenitlia.com?

When looking up journeys on Trenitalia how do I select the stations I will be departing from/arriving at?

What about seat reservations?

What are the terms and conditions for child tickets?

What other things are worth knowing when booking train tickets on Trenitlia.com?

BOOKING TICKETS FOR  TRAIN JOURNEYS FROM and TO ITALY ONLINE:

What international train journeys can be booked on Trenitalia.com?

What international train journeys CANNOT be booked on Trenitalia.com?

RECEIVING AND USING ITALIAN TRAIN TICKETS:

How will Trenitalia send tickets to me?


Do I need to stamp tickets in those machine before I board the train?

USING RAIL PASSES WITHIN and TO and FROM ITALY 

Check out our dedicated GUIDE for how to use rail passes in Italy

It will tell you both how to avoid AND how to book the reservations that are often required when using rail passes.

BOOKING TICKETS AT TRAIN STATIONS IN ITALY:

Will tickets be more expensive if I buy them last minute at a station in Italy?


Not if you will taking a local train - either a Regionale or a Regionale Veloce train, or if you be travelling longer distances by the Regionale Veloce trains.

In contrast tickets for the express Frecce and Intercity trains will be (nuch) more expensive if you buy them at the station on your travel date.

Back to the questions list.

Does it matter which train I travel by if I buy tickets at an Italian train station?

When travelling between Italian towns and cities there can be a choice of up to four different TRENITALIA train services;

(i) Regionale trains

(ii) Regionale Veloce trains

(iii) Intercity trains

(iii) Frecce trains

This matters when booking tickets at the station.

The tickets for the Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains will be the cheapest option.

If you use a ticket counter, the booking clerk may assume you want to take the Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains - and if you use a ticket machine the cheapest price will be for the Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains.

Because tickets for the Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains are cheaper they CAN'T be used to travel on Intercity or Frecce trains.

So once you have booked the ticket(s) you can't just hop on any next train to your destination, you may have to hang back and wait for the next Regionale or Regionale Veloce train service to depart.

Try and use tickets for the Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains,  on a service on which they're not valid, and you can be fined by the on train conductor.

Similarly tickets booked at the station for Intercity trains can't then be used to travel by Frecce trains.

Back to the list of questions.

BOOKING TRAIN TICKETS ON TRENITALIA.COM FOR JOURNEYS WITHIN ITALY :

Will I save money when booking Italian train tickets in advance?

If you will be happy to travel around Italy at a more leisurely pace on the slower Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains then you won't save money by booking in advance online - so may as well book last minute at the station.

However, if you do want to travel by the express trains then there are big savings to be made if you book in advance - in fact Trenitalia, Italy's national rail company, can offer a bewildering number of ways in which you can save money by booking online.

Trenitalia's core online booking path is comparatively easy to follow - but check the terms and conditions before committing to discounted tickets.

We have produced step-by-step guide for booking tickets on Trenitalia.com (desktop version)which you can find HERE.

Back to the list of questions.

Can any Italian train journey be booked on Trenitalia.com?

Not all trains in Italy are operated by Trenitalia - so its website does NOT sell these journeys (and more):

(1) Trains between Napoli/Naples and Sorrento.

(2)The majority of local/regional trains in northern Italy particularly to/from Milan these trains are operated by Trenord.

(3) The majority of local trains in south east Italy including those from/to Bari and Lecce.

(iv)  Journeys by Italo AV high speed trains, these trains offer alternative services to Trenitalia's AV serices on Italy's high speed lines, but they are operated by NTV

Tickets for thse trains can be booked on the Italo website.

On most of Italy's high speed routes these Italo trains compete with Trenitalia's Frecce trains, providing a choice between the two high speed (AV) services.

However, the Trenitalia website does not sell tickets for the Italo trains and NTV mirrors this, by not selling tickets for Trenitalia's Frecce trains on its Italo website.

Between many Italian cities, there can be a choice of

(a) Trenitalia's high speed trains

(b) Other non high-speed express trains operated by Trenitalia

(c) Italo high speed trains

However, the TrainlineEurope and Loco2 ticket booking sites SHOULD list all three of these journey options.

So if you look up Italiian express journeys on those websites, you can can compare the prices and departure/journey times of both the Trenitalia AND the Italo trains.

Back to the list of questions.

When are tickets for the journeys by the express trains placed on sale by Trenitlia.com?

Tickets for journeys by Frecce (AV) and Intercity trains are available online UP TO 4 months ahead of the travel date - USUALLY.

They should be available if you're booking at least three months ahead.

We can't be more precise as Trenitalia does not seemingly have fixed booking periods, so the advice is -  if you're booking more then three months ahead and can't see trains listed on your travel date - keep checking back until you can see them.

Also keep in mind that the booking windows can be shorter when LOOKING up journeys in September - November (not when travelling in Sept - Nov).

Back to the list of questions.

What should I be looking out for if I want to save money when booking train tickets on Trenitlia.com?

Limited numbers of discounted tickets are made available online for journeys by Frecce (AV) and Intercity trains.

The very cheapest tickets are branded ‘Super Economy’, full price tickets are ‘Base’ tickets, with ‘Economy’ tickets being mid-price.

BUT NEITHER 'SUPER ECONOMY' OR 'ECONOMY' TICKETS CAN BE REFUNDED if you subsequently abandon your travel plans - OR if you miss the train you were booked on to due to circumstances outside of the control of Trenitalia.

An advantage of booking Economy tickets is that reservations can be changed to alternative departures, so you can choose an alternative train should you need to.

'Super Economy’ tickets for the most popular trains can sell out months in advance particularly in the summer - but they'll usually be available on alternative departures leaving later or earlier on your preferred travel date.

Other money saving tips:

(1) Before using the search engine on Trenitalia take a look at the ‘Offers’.

Trenitalia tends to constantly offer a series of money saving promotions, particularly when two or more people are travelling together.

(2) Different prices will be available for ‘Super Economy’ and ‘Economy’ tickets depending on the specific train.

So if you can be flexible re: departure and arrival times, search through the departures on your travel date to find the cheapest fares.

(3) 1st class ‘Super Economy’ ticket prices are usually cheaper than 2nd class ‘Economy’ tickets - so when 2nd class ‘Super Economy’ tickets are sold out, 1st class can be the cheapest option.

(4) Intercity trains are (generally) cheaper than Frecce trains.

However, on certain routes on which both operate, the IC trains are much less frequent, so you may need to search through the day’s departures if you want to compare prices - the ‘View All Solutions’ button on the Trenitalia website doesn’t seem to work.

(5) Tickets for Regionale (REG) and Regionale Veloce (RGV) trains used to be made available online only 7 days ahead of the travel date, but this is no longer the case (generally).

They can usually be booked online around 3 months ahead of the travel date - so prices can be compared with Frecce (AV) and IC trains.

However, tickets for Regionale/Regionale Veloce trains are not discounted online, so if you want to travel by these trains, the price will be the same if booked at the station.

We have produced step-by-step guide for booking tickets on Trenitalia.com (desktop version)which you can find HERE.

Back to the list of questions.

When looking up journeys on Trenitalia how do I select the stations I will be departing from/arriving at?

Keep these things in mind:

(i) Trenitalia only uses the Italian names of cities in its search engine, even when using the English language version of the website; Florence = Firenze; Venice = Venezia, Naples = Napoli etc, Muenchen = Munich etc.

(ii) Also some Italian cities, including Firenze Milano, Roma and Venezia/Venice have more than one station used by long distance trains

So it can be worth looking up on Google Maps (etc) which of these specific station(s) will suit you best before searching for tickets.

(iii) For cities with multiple stations, Trenitalia gives the option of selecting ‘Tutte Le Stazioni’ as Departure or Arrival stations.

In theory this enables all trains between cities with multiple stations to be captured by the search results.

However, the ‘Tutte Le Stazioni’ facility can have bugs, so using this option and then ALSO searching using the specific stations that you will be travelling from is recommended.

Back to the list of questions.

What about seat reservations?

Reservations are not available for journeys by Regionale (REG) and Regionale Veloce (RGV) trains.

Seats will be automatically assigned when booking Frecce or Intercity trains , but the page on which you select the ticket also has a ‘choose your seat’ option

Using this is highly recommended as you can select aisle, window, or table seats.

What you can't select is direction of travel, partially because most long distance trains reverse direction when calling at stations in Firenze/Florence, Milano, Napoli/Naples and Roma.

If you're not happy with the seat you have been assigned when boarding, you can ask the conductor if you can move to another seat, but avoiding assuming that what you think is an empty seat will be available.

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What are the terms and conditions for child tickets?

The terms below apply for booking child tickets for journeys WITHIN Italy by Trenitalia trains.

On Italian trains children aged 3 and under travel for Free.

Children aged 4 - 11 receive a 50% discount on  Regionale (REG) and Regionale Veloce (RGV) trains.

Children aged 4 -14  receive a 50% discount on long distance express trains inclduing any journey by Frecce or Intercity trains and on the 'Treno Notte' overnight trains.

However, on long distance Frecce (AV) and IC trains the 50% child rates are calculated against the full 'Base' ticket price.

But 'Super Economy' tickets can often be discounted by more than 50% - so if these tickets are still available for your journey, it can be worth paying the adult rate for a child aged 4 - 14.

On Frecce and Intercity trains, the adult price applies to those aged 15 and over

For journeys by Regionale (REG) and Regionale Veloce (RGV) trains, the adult ticket price always applies to children aged 12 and older.

Back to the list of questions.

What other things are worth knowing when booking train tickets on Trenitlia.com?

(1) When booking tickets on Trenitalia.com you have enter the personal details of the travellers, so for your ticket to be valid, you need to have a form of I.D. with you when travelling - so the advice is to have your passport with you when taking the train in Italy.

(2) Seats can sell out completely in advance on the most popular IC and Frecce trains - this seems to particularly apply to routes that have less frequent 'Frecce' trains, so if possible buy in advance and avoid booking at the station.

We have produced step-by-step guide for booking tickets on Trenitalia.com (desktop version), which you can find HERE

Back to the list of questions.

BOOKING TICKETS FOR  TRAIN JOURNEYS FROM and TO ITALY ON TRENITALIA :

What international train journeys can be booked on Trenitalia.com?


Trenitalia does not sell tickets for international journeys that involve a change of train OUTSIDE of Italy.

Long distance international train services that can be booked on Trenitalia are:

(1) The EC trains betweeen Italy and Switzerland (and Germany via Switzerland)

(2) The EC trains betweeen Italy and Austria (and Germany via Austria)

(3) The Railjet trains betweeen Italy and Austria

(4) The Thello DAY trains betweeen Italy and France.

(5) The Nightjet trains betweeen Italy and Austria/Germany 

It's worth making the effort to compare prices between Trenitalia and the websites in the countries you will be travelling to and from - using the links below. 

Particularly if you will be travelling with children, as Trenitlia.com does NOT discount child tickets when booking train journeys by daytime express trains to Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Though when travelling FROM Italy, Trenitalia usually has the cheapest tickets for the Nightjet trains.

Back to the list of questions.

What international train journeys CANNOT be booked on Trenitalia.com?

(i) The TGV France-Italy trains in both directions between Italy and France

Tickets for these trains also aren't sold at Italian stations.

There is a dedicated booking desk at Milano Porta Garibalidi station - or book journeys by these trains on Oui.SNCF, The Trainline Europe or Loco 2 - using the links below.

(ii) The Thello overnight trains between Italy and France.

Back to the list of questions.

RECEIVING AND USING ITALIAN TRAIN TICKETS::

Using tickets and boarding trains in Italy can differ from what you're used to.

How will Trenitalia send tickets to me?

Tickets will be emailed to you - they will be attached as PDFs.

If you will be travelling by Frecce (AV), InterCity (IC) or EC train you can print off the attachments and/or save them to your mobile device.

You don't need to download the Trenitalia app in order for tickets saved to your phone to be valid - what the conductor will want to check is the PNR number on your ticket.

At major stations, an option is to show a ticket saved on your mobile to the staff at 'last minute Frecce' desks and they will then print your ticket.

However, if you have booked a ticket for a Regionale (REG) /Regionale Veloce (RGV) train online, you will need to print it off - you cannot save it to your mobile.

Back to the list of questions.

Do I need to stamp tickets in those machines before I board the train?

Tickets valid for  Regionale (REG) and Regionale Veloce (RGV) trains must be stamped in the green/grey machines prior to boarding a train.

There is no need to stamp the ticket if you will be travelling by Frecce (AV) or IC trains.

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USING RAIL PASSES WITHIN and TO and FROM ITALY:

We have published a specfic guide to this, which you can find HERE.

Back to the list of questions.


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