Riding the Trains in Italy
Riding trains in Italy is like a free tour through the beautiful country… only it’s not actually free. But it’s really reasonable and much more enjoyable to take in the scenery than trying to navigate roads and parking (parking? What like that tiny spot there? Pfft). And you won’t be disappointed with the views: poppy fields, mountain-top stone villages, vineyards, rugged coastlines and rolling hills. Simply stunning!
Tip 1: Choose a Carriage with People
Find a carriage with plenty of other people already in it. I was tempted by the quiet of a completely empty carriage and thought it’d be nice to have some time to myself. But what happened, was I was then targeted by a group of guys who sat all around me intimidating me, and they tried (unsuccessfully) to get my bags. They did get my bag of fruit but hey… that wasn’t so bad. After this, I always chose carriages with plenty of people and never had another issue. I’m fact, I met some lovely people by choosing to sit near others.
Tip 2: Purchase tickets with GoEuro
Use GoEuro app for buying tickets and check that the one you buy can be shown on the phone rather than printed. This app was really useful, particularly in busy areas where the ticket counter had huge queues. It also gives you all the options and prices so you can make the best decision. And quite often, you get a discounted fare this way (or updated to a better seat), cheaper than a counter ticket. I usually wait until I’m at the station to buy the ticket, but still use this app. (Thanks Emma for this tip)
Tip 3: Watch Your Luggage
Keep your luggage with you on the platform and on the train. I watched several times as a thief worked his way around the platform and up and down the train carriage caging his unsuspecting victims. But if you keep your bags in front of you, your wallet or valuables in a secure bag (not pocket), then you’ll have no issue.
Tip 4: Go Slow and Save Your $’s
Only pay extra for the fast trains if it’s a really long distance. Most of the time, the difference in time is only 1/2 hour or less, and yet the price can be substantially more. So check your options and save your euros for the longer trips where it will save you hours.
Speaking of going slow… just so you know, the trains are usually running late in Italy. Just allow extra time between train connections or expect delayed arrival times and you’ll be fine.
Tip 5: Sit Back and Relax
Do I really have to explain this one? But seriously, the trains are super clean and comfy, and some even come with a welcome drink and snack (similar to a flight), and most of the longer trips have a cart to buy snacks from. There’s power plugs to charge your phone and a table/tray for your things. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, and meet some amazing people while you’re at it.