The purchase of tickets for trains in Italy can be compared to the purchase of plane tickets. In the area of high speed there are two operators, the state Trenitalia and the private Italotreno. The majority of the rest of the network is operated by Trenitalia and by some regional companies. There are also some international connections.
Train tickets for the high-speed trains
The high-speed trains operate on special high-speed tracks. The routes run from Turin and Milan to Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Cosenza and also from Bologna to Venice. By train, you are at least twice as fast on these routes as by car and on the route between Rome and Milan, the trains have almost completely replaced air traffic.
On the routes compete the two operators Trenitalia and Italo. The trains run at speeds of up to 300 km / h and are very reliable and punctual. You can use these trains only with seat reservation. As with airline tickets, these trains are cheaper the earlier you book. For the cheap tickets there is no refund.
Cheap tickets are available for all classes. With a little luck, you can travel from Rome to Milan and back for less than 100 Euro on the same day in the first class. From Rome to Florence or to Naples you need less than two hours and in the best case pay around 50 Euro.
So it’s well worth your while to spend a day exploring the Uffizi of Florence or the Gulf of Naples. You can also travel to Venice in one day, take the gondola through the canals, and return to Rome in the evening.
In order to get the best prices, you should plan your trip in time. The tickets should be booked on the internet. Otherwise you risk to wait longer at the ticket office than the whole train journey lasts!
Train tickets for regional traffic
Also for the regional connections I advise to buy the tickets on the Internet. You can also buy the tickets at the ticket vending machine. The use of the machines, however, is not easy. But with luck, sooner or later you’ll get the right ticket out. For the regional connections, with the exception of the Leonardo Express between Termini and Fiumicino Airport, you can also use the zone tickets of the Metrebus regional network.
If you buy the tickets on the Internet, they will be valid for four hours from the train you have booked for. So you can take a later train in regional traffic than the one you have booked. On the internet ticket your name must be stated as a passenger.
If you buy the tickets at the machine, they must be validated and are valid for four hours.
Of course, even more convenient are daily or weekly tickets for regional traffic.
Some time ago I wanted to register a customer card at the ticket office in Termini. Unfortunately, neither my time nor my patience was enough to bring this procedure to a happy ending.
Overall, I counted five queues:
- The queue to get a waiting number for the ticket counter
- The queue at the ticket counter
- The queue at the customer satisfaction counter
- The queue at the luggage storage and
- The queue at the checkpoint on the way to the platform
I tried it again at Ostiense station and managed to register the customer card in about 15 minutes. I came across a sign with quite interesting opening hours:
In summary, Mondays – Fridays, at least one counter is open from 6:20 to 20:42 (!!).
Between 13:26 and 13:36 both counters are closed!
On Saturdays and Sundays the counters are closed.
My advice is therefore: Save yourself the time and stress and book your train tickets on the Internet!