If you will be travelling by Regionale trains in Italy, this guide will tell you all you need to know
Accessing the train
Attributes of the train
Regionale (R) services are the local trains in Italy and call at every (virtually all) stations on the routes they take.
As a consequence wide variety of trains used on Regionale services - and that’s because Trenitalia is gradually replacing what were/are some of Europe’s oldest trains.
At the top end of the scale are virtually brand new air-conditioned, very smart trains, some of which are double-decked - and you are more likely to be boarding one of these trains when travelling to/from a major city in northern Italy.
If you are not so fortunate an old relic will be provided, prompting thoughts along the lines of ‘that can’t be the train I’m supposed to take?’… but it will be.
Some 'Regionale' services aren't operated by Trenitalia, for example in Lombardy the dominant operator is Trenord.
Therefore Trenord operates most of the Regionale services in and around Milano.
Also Regionale trains both new and (particularly) old are often seemingly irresistible to graffiti artists – though they may have assumed that the older trains won’t be used anymore.
And yes those views of the stunning Italian landscape and coast can be marred if you can barely see out of the window.
However, don’t let the graffiti put you off, the trains have a conductor on board to help ensure a safe journey.
On many routes, particularly in northern Italy, alternative Regionale Veloce (RV) train services are faster than these Regionale (R) trains.
Mainly because those RV services - skip some stations that the Regionale trains call because the RV services tend to only call at the major towns and cities.
Here are nine things worth knowing about buying and using tickets on Regionale services:
(1) The trains used for Regionale (R) services are nearly always 2nd class only, so 1st class class tickets usually aren't an option.
(2) The same 2nd class ticket prices are charged for journeys by Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains - despite the fact that on many routes those Regionale Veloce (RV) train services are faster.
(3) Tickets valid for journeys by Regionale (R) trains aren’t discounted online, so will cost the same if you purchase them last minute at the station.
(4) The local stations in Italy don't tend to have staffed ticket counters, instead the local tobacconist 'Tabacchi' stores often sell train tickets for journeys by the Regionale trains.
Look for a general store which happens to sell cigarettes, it will have a 'Tabacchi' sign in the window, and may also have a 'Trenitalia' sign.
(5) Don’t forget to stamp your ticket in one of the machines before boarding a Regionale train service.
(6) Once you have stamped your ticket you will have 4 hours to complete the journey - no scheduled journey by Regionale train will take more than 4 hours.
As long as you arrive at your final destination within 4 hours, you CAN stop over at intermediate stations and jump on later trains.
For example if you were travelling from Bologna to Parma and validated your ticket at 10:00, you could then stop off in Modena as long as you arrived in Parma by 14:00 (2pm) - do that and you WOULDN'T then need to buy a new ticket for the Modena to Parma train.
(7) If you weren't able to purchase a ticket before boarding, particularly due to a lack of, or broken ticket machines at a station, immediately seek out the conductor and purchase your ticket(s) from them.
Wait for them to find you and you will be fined €5.
(8) Tickets valid for Regionale trains CANNOT be used for journeys by Intercity or Frecce trains - but they can be used on Regionale Veloce services
(9) Seat reservations aren't available on Regionale train services - it's why rail pass users can hop on board.
Therefore seats are not guaranteed – particularly on the trains to and from major cities at commuter times.
Four Tips for Boarding a Regionale (R) train service:
(1) As tickets can be used on Regionale Veloce (RV) train services and Regionale (R) train services, on many routes you can choose between the two services.
When there is a choice the better option is USUALLY the Regionale Veloce trains as it's likely that they will transport you to your destination faster.
(2) On the paper departure sheets and electronic departure screens at stations the Regionale services are indicated by an 'R'
While for the faster Regionale Veloce service RV or RGV will be used - so look out for the subtle distinction.
(3) This matters because the trains themselves offer no clue as to whether you will be boarding a Regionale Veloce service compared to a slower Regionale train service.
You won’t see any ‘branding on the trains – so it is virtually impossible to tell RV and R trains apart by looking at them.
(4) If you will be joining a Regionale service at its starting point - aim to be at the station a minimum of 15 mins before departure.
When the binario/platform/track number is confirmed you can join the stampede towards the train - miss the rush and it can be too late to find a seat.
If need be walk through the train to find spare seats.
Despite the different types of train used for Regionale (R)services, these four things are common to ANY journey:
(1) There will be a conductor on board who will move through the train checking tickets.
(2) The announcements will be Italian followed by English, but the Italian names of places/stations are used - so Firenze = Florence etc.
(3) Pay particular attention to these announcements if you will be travelling after dark - the parts of Italian stations away from the exits often aren't very well lit, so it can be tricky to see what station you have arrived at.
(4) Also Regionale trains often call at multiple station calls in a city BEFORE they arrive in a main station - so be aware of the precise name of the station you are heading to.
Avoid seeing Firenze, Milano, Verona etc on the name of a station and jumping off the train because you have assumed that you have arrived at the right station.
Trenitalia's guide to travelling on its trains with bikes is HERE (It is in Italian so use Google Translate to make sense of it).
The particularly pertinent info for the Regionale trains is to do with the 'mounted bikes' - in the English translation.
You need to buy a bike ticket(s) from a ticket office prior to boarding - so don't assume you can just hop on board with your bike.
It’s definitely worth checking whether bike storage will be an option on a specific departure, by looking up the journey you want to take on the Trenitalia website – it also includes the services operated by Trenord.
On the journey search results click on the easy to miss 'i' icons.
Then having clicked on these buttons, you will see the equivalent of
However, there’s little point in booking a ticket for these R/RV trains online, you won’t save any money - and the Trenitalia website doesn’t sell the tickets required to take a non-folding bike on the train.
If bike storage is available, it’s location will be indicated by symbols on the outside of the train, if you don’t see it, an option is to board in any case and then be proactive and seek out the train conductor to check what you need to do.
Also seek out the conductor as soon as you are on the train, if you weren't able to buy tickets before boarding.
If you are proactive and explain that you weren't able to buy a ticket, you will pay the standard fares for you and your bike, but if you wait for the conductor to come to you there will be an additional €5 fee.
Some trains have storage room for no more than five bikes, so if you board and no space is available, you may have to take the next train, despite being in possession of a train and bike ticket – bike spaces can’t be reserved.
This is one of more than 150 train guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.