There are two train operators in Italy. Trenitalia is owned by the state (government) and is the primary provider of train travel and transport services in Italy. The Trenitalia network includes commuter trains within the regions (like Florence – Pisa) and long distance, fast train services between Italian, and European capitals. A more recent, privately owned train operator, ItaloTreno, offers fast train travel between major Italian cities only.
Trains are one of the best ways to explore Italy. The regional trains are cheap and are fixed price. Fast trains are an efficient way to get between Florence and Rome/Venice/Milan and other major cities. For the fact that they are fast, they do cost quite a lot. There are however, many discounts for travelers that book early. The discounts are limited to a allocation of seats. Similar to low-cost flights, the first few travelers to book tickets get the best price.
Trenitalia discounts include:
- Super economy up to 40% off (no change, no refund)
- Economy up to 20% off (no refund)
- Full price (flexible)
Other special offers include:
- A/R in Giornata – To go and come back from a city on the same day
- 2 for the price of 1 on Saturdays
- Discounts for groups of 3-5 people traveling together
All of these deals can save you a huge amount of money, up to 50% off. ItaloTreno has a similar regime of discounts available.
Tip: When trains are busy, a Super Economy or Economy ticket in First Class can be cheaper than a full priced ticket in Second Class.
If you are booking train tickets to connect with a flight, there are a couple of things that you should take into consideration:
- If your flight is leaving early or arriving late, check the train schedule before you book your plane ticket. It may not be possible to make it to the airport in time on the first train in the morning. In this case your options will be to sleep in the airport (unfun!) or spend extra money booking a hostel or hotel for the night before you depart.
- A really low-cost flight from Milan or Rome may in fact cost more than a flight departing from somewhere closer if you can’t get a discount on your train ticket. A train to Milan is €50 plus the shuttle service to the airport which cost €11. A full-priced ticket to Rome aiport is only about €5 cheaper.
- Once you have booked your flight, by your train ticket straight away to get the best price.
How To Book
You can book online or in the train station. Most travel agencies charge a booking fee.
Make sure you book on the official train websites. If you book through third-party websites, you will be charged more.