Train travel is one of the most popular ways for getting around Italy, both for tourists and local Italians. If you are visiting Italy for the first time, train travel may be a little intimidating. From my experiences on trains in Italy I have learned a few things,so I decided to pass them on in the hopes that you may not make the same mistakes that I have. Here are some tips for traveling on trains in Italy. I hope that after a few rides you may feel like an experienced train traveler.
- Use the same door to exit as the one you entered. Some trains in Italy are very old and sometimes a door may not open. Believe me, I have had personal experience with this and ended up taking the train to the next town, only to get off, purchase another ticket, and take the next train back. Rather than being left to helplessly watch as the train leaves the station while you are still onboard, use the door that you know will work.
- Place luggage where you can watch it. If your luggage can fit in the overhead compartment of the train, sit in a seat close by where you can keep an eye on it. If you have a larger bag, then you can store it between compartments, and try to sit in an end seat, so you can watch it. If you are lucky enough to be on an uncrowded train, then you can set your bag next to you without worry that another passenger will need the seat.
- Be aware of the train stops prior to your destination, since many trains do not have an announcement or screen informing you of the next stop, or prossima fermata. In each train station there is a departures and arrivals list posted, where the train stops and the times are listed. If you have a chance to check this prior to getting onto your train, you will be prepared to exit the train when necessary.
- Be ready with your luggage to exit the train a minute or two prior to arrival at your destination. Trains in Italy attempt to run on time, particularly in the northern Italian cities, and they do not stay long at a station. Sometimes the stop is only for a minute, and Varenna in lake Como is an example of that.
- Stamp your train ticket at the yellow boxes, which are posted inside the station or on the platforms. The tickets with reserved seats do not require a stamp, and also electronic tickets ordered online obviously cannot be stamped in a machine. For these, you will show the train personnel when they ask to see your ticket onboard. A hefty fine will be charged if you forget to stamp the ticket.
- Once on the train, you can move from car to car to find a seat of your choice. If you have a reserved seat, then you are expected to occupy that specific seat on your specific car. This is important, especially if you do not want to engage in an argument with another passenger. I learned this the hard way.
Train travel in Italy can be fun and efficient especially once you have implemented some of these tips. Soon you too will be an expert at train travel in Italy and points beyond. Buon viaggio!