The Italian train system can easily be navigated with a little know how.
First ask yourself
A. Do I need to get there fast?
If you answered yes to this question, you should take a domestic high-speed train, such as the Frecciarossa (FR), Frecciargento (FA) or the Frecciabianca (FB). Remember, though, these trains may cost two-to-three times, or more, than an InterCity train.
B. Do I want to save money?
If you answered yes to this question, you should take an InterCity train. InterCity (IC) trains connect major cities and are slower than domestic high-speed trains, but faster than regional trains. InterCity trains may require a transfer, or several stops on the way to your destination, but can be a very economical mode of transportation.
Once you have decided on the best option for you, step up to one of the two red machines at the station to purchase your ticket(s).
Notice that the machine on the left shows only a picture of a credit card – no cash is allowed. You will need a credit card that has a PIN number. If you are from the U.S. you may not have one. If that is the case, using cash is your only option.
The machine on the right shows a picture of both credit cards and cash – use this machine if you want to pay with coins and/or Euros.
Now choose the language you would like to use for this transaction. Let’s choose English for this example. You will immediately be told (in English) to beware of pickpockets. Heed this warning! Watch your purse/backpack and belongings.
Now choose the option “Purchase Ticket”
The departure city defaults to your current location. If you are purchasing a ticket for future travel and want to change the Departure station – choose the “Modify Departure” button on the right. Now choose your arrival station. Remember to research which station (in the city) is closest to your hotel, sightseeing, etc.
Once you confirm your arrival station you will see the following screen. You now must choose date and time. For this example I am choosing October 16 between 12:00 (12:00 pm) and 16:00 (4:00 pm).
Once you have confirmed your date and approximate time, you are now ready to choose the train. You will see the following screen.
This screen shot only shows the domestic high-speed trains, but you will also have a choice of the slower InterCity trains. Note, all high-speed trains require a seat reservation. Once you decide on the time and train, click on seat selection to choose your seat. Intercity trains offer no option for choosing a seat.
Now confirm your purchase and pay for your ticket(s). The following ticket will be dispensed.
Important – If you have purchased a ticket on one of the high-speed trains (Frecciarossa (FR), Frecciargento (FA) or the Frecciabianca (FB) you are all set.
If you have purchased a ticket on one of the InterCity trains you must validate your ticket in one of the machines in the station or near the platform. This is what the machine looks like. Insert your ticket for validation.
You are now all set. Check the departures board in the station to find your platform.
Please note that train departure platforms usually show on the board about 20 minutes prior to departure. Look for your train number and platform. Here is how you read your ticket.
This example shows: Train# 9517 – Ticket Class: Standard (coach) – Carriage# 007 – Seat# 6B
Once the departure board shows your departure platform head on over to the general area. For this example we are looking to stand near the sign for Carriage 007 – Standard (coach) class.
Once the train arrives make sure you enter the train on Carriage 7.
If you are traveling on one of the high-speed trains – it is now time for you to find your seat. For this example we are looking for Seat 6B.
If you are traveling on an InterCity train (IC) – choose any available seat in your class.
Now just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
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