High speed trains in Italy

High speed trains in Italy: Italo vs. Trenitalia

We recently traveled between Rome and Venice by high-speed train and are writing this article to report on our experiences with the two Italian operators, Trenitalia and Italo.

Here you will find all necessary information you should know before booking a high speed train during your Italy-vacation. Stay tuned if you want to learn all about travel comfort, prices, booking and special fares.

The Italian high-speed train network

High-speed trains, or treni ad alta velocità in Italian, offer the fastest connections between cities such as Turin, Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples. On the main axis Milan – Bologna – Florence – Rome – Naples, the trains run on dedicated tracks at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour.

High-speed rail network Italy

Prices and fares of the Italian high speed trains

In general, the earlier you book, the better the price. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. You can often find last-minute deals, but there’s never a guarantee that booking last minute won’t be expensive. Another exception is if you are taking advantage of special fares like the Freccia Young fare, but more on that later.

How to book

The most reliable way to book your train ticket is online and in advance. Both high-speed train operators have their own booking sites:

Another excellent option is to search for connections on a booking portal. The Omio portal is very convenient and informative, showing the different types of bus, train and plane connections with the corresponding travel times and prices.

Tickets can be purchased online or at ticket machines and counters at most major stations until the train departs. However, you run the risk of the train being fully booked. Since you can only travel on these trains with a reserved seat, you may have to change to another connection.


Trenitalia Standard

Both Italo and Trenitalia offer a good range of classes in which to travel. Trenitalia’s cheapest class is called “Standard”, while Italo’s is called “Smart”. Both companies offer comfortable seats in a classic setting. Food and drinks are not included, but you can always make your own way to the dining car.

Italo Business

Italo offers two other classes, Prima Business and Club Executive. We chose the Prima Business fare and had a comfortable trip. The seats were roomy, with good legroom. The food cart came by twice in 4 hours and we were given a choice of a variety of soft drinks, both hot and cold, and a salty or sweet snack. The fare for our trip was quite affordable as we got lucky. There was only a 10 euro difference between the Smart and Prima Business classes, so we didn’t hesitate to upgrade. And we think you should, too, if you get the chance!

Trenitalia has three other classes: Premium, Business and Executive. While Premium Class is a slightly more elegant standard class with two seats to the right and left of the aisle, Business Class offers slightly wider seats, like in Italo. Executive Class offers reclining seats with footrests and a seat pitch of 1.50 meters.

Extras on board

Italo Business

Before you begin your train journey, there are a few things you should know. Regardless of the class or company you are traveling with, you will always have an electrical outlet to charge your devices.

Depending on your itinerary, your phone may not always have service. In this case, it’s important to know that both Italo and Trenitalia offer free Wi-Fi on board. It’s not always the fastest, but it works well most of the time. For reference: On our train ride with Italo, we were able to stream an entire movie without interruption.

Italo also offered us onboard entertainment. Once on their online portal, you can access a variety of media such as music, videos, courses and podcasts.


A/R offers:

Italo and Trenitalia offer special fares for same-day and weekday return trips. Discounts for same-day return trips (A/R in giornata) range from 40% to 60% and can be booked up to four days before departure. For return trips between Monday and Thursday, Italo offers the A/R Smart fare on some routes, which can be booked until the ninth day before the trip. On Trenitalia, the A/R Frecce in Settimana fare is valid from Monday to Friday and can be booked up to four days before travel. The return trip can be changed for all A/R fares.

2 x 1:

Both companies offer the opportunity to buy two tickets for the price of one. With Italo, the offer is valid until the 9th day before the trip and is partially refundable in case of cancellation. With Trenitalia, the fare can be purchased up to 7 days before travel without the possibility of a refund.

Trenitalia: Freccia Young / Senior:

If you or the passengers you are booking for are under 30 or over 60 years of age, you can benefit from a fixed and discounted fare. To benefit from this offer, you must create an account with Trenitalia and obtain a personal CartaFRECCIA number. This number can be inserted at the time of booking to benefit from the special fares. The three price options in this case are 19, 29 or 39 euros. Depending on the trip you are booking, you will get the best price. In our example, we paid 39 euros for a 4 hour trip on the Frecciarossa between Venice and Rome. We recommend this option, especially if you’re traveling at the last minute, because this fixed price is valid up to 3 days before the scheduled departure. However, this type of ticket is non-refundable and can’t be used for class upgrades or time changes.

Which is better, Italo or Trenitalia?

There is no clear answer to this question. We recommend that you compare the prices and schedules of the two companies and choose the more convenient one. Italo offers only high speed trains, while Trenitalia offers all types of trains, from local to high speed. The Freccia Young or Senior offer seems to us to be particularly advantageous. However, Italo also has lucrative offers. During our research, we noticed that Italo and Trenitalia sometimes offer similar discounts. For example, if you want to travel between two cities and return the same day, Italo and Trenitalia offer discounts on selected routes. This can be especially useful if you are staying in one city but want to take a day trip to another city.

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