The Italian train system is very efficient and convenient if you have to cover long distances. In Italy trains are very popular in everyday life. They are a common means of transportation for commuters, students, business men, etc. Taking the train in Italy can definitely get you closer to the Italian culture.
Let’s see how it works:
1. A train ticket can be purchased at several locations:
a. The train station ticket office (biglietteria).
It is very important that you have a clear idea of the kind of ticket (biglietto) you want to buy (comprare). It may be a good idea to write the trip plan on a piece of paper (pezzo di carta) to show to the clerk, in case the language barrier makes the process too difficult. Keep in mind that most clerks speak only very basic English, so a note showing information such as the city or town of departure, the city or town of arrival, the date (data) and the time (ora) of departure, and the number of people traveling in your party would be helpful. Another good idea is to have a map showing where you have to go and just pointing to the locations you want to travel to. Credit cards are accepted.If you are in a hurry, look for the Fast Ticket Window (Sportello Veloce). This is an option that may be very useful if you are just about to catch your train, but you still haven’t purchased your ticket. The Sportello Veloce ticket window is reserved for passengers whose train leaves within 15 minutes. Last January I was one of those passengers. My adrenaline was already going up when I saw this ticket window and literally ran to it. Thank God there were only two people in front of me. It wouldn’t have been my dream to spend two hours waiting at the Naples train station… Right now this service is available only in major train stations.
b. Self-service ticket machines (distributori di biglietti automatici).
These are big yellow machines, and they are very easy to use. They accept credit cards, ATM cards and sometimes cash (contanti). The machine will lead you through a series of detailed questions (which are available also in English) about your ticket: the origin of your trip and final destination, date, time, and so on. Ticket machines are a great way to avoid lines (file) at the ticket counter, even though sometimes lines form in front of the machines as well….
c. Travel agencies (agenzie di viaggio).
This is a good solution if you want to avoid language barriers, as travel agents are usually more familiar with English than the clerks at the train stations. At the same time, they are less familiar with the train system and its travel options. If you choose a travel agency to purchase your ticket, make sure that it shows the Trenitalia logo on the window or door, since not all travel agencies sell train tickets.
d. News stands (giornalai) and cigarette stores called tobacconists (tabaccai)
also sell train tickets, but only for short distance trips (usually up to 250 km = 155 miles).
e. On the Internet: http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html
You need to be a registered user to be able to purchase tickets through the Internet. It’s very easy to become a registered user: just fill out the online form with your first name, last name and email address. Tickets purchased on the Internet have the same price as those purchased at the train station. You can also browse the Trenitalia website to look at the official timetables and start planning your trip in advance.
f. The Call Center
(also this service is currently not offered in English). By calling the number 892 021 you have access to:
- The Information Service for train schedules and fares, etc;
- The National and International Ticket Purchase Service;
- The After-Sale Service and Online Purchase Refunds;
- Other useful services.