Dreaming of traveling to Italy comes with a wild mixture of thoughts and emotions – cravings for the amazing Italian cuisine in Bologna, longing for the most iconic architectural sights in Milan and Rome, desires to visit romance filled Venice, and dread of the possibility of having to find someone to help figure out the train system.
That’s where Key to Learning Italian comes in. We’ve compiled our top tips and travel hacks for traveling in Italy like a local, by locals.
Traveling By Train In Italy
In Italy, it is quite common to travel by train simply because they really go anywhere! They are very quick, comfortable, and allows time to take in fascinating views of the country.
Fast trains are especially efficient. There are three lines: Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, and Frecciabianca. Freccia means arrow and they are often called Alta Velocità which means high speed.
• Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) trains travel throughout Italy. They run straight into the heart of the most magnificent cities, shortening your travel time.
• Frecciargento (Silver Arrow) trains run on both high-speed lines and traditional lines. Every day, passengers can choose from over 60 connections allowing you to easily reach Bolzano, Trento, Venice, Verona, Mantua, Genoa, Lecce, and Reggio Calabria from Rome, and the Adriatic coast from Milan.
• Frecciabianca (White Arrow) trains run on the traditional lines and connect medium and large cities.
There are two classes in each train: first class and second class. First class is more expensive. However, word on the train rails is that the latter is just as comfortable. Tickets must be purchased in advance and make sure you validate them before boarding at one of the machines around the station.
Regional trains are slower as they stop at all of the different stations. You do not need to worry about booking in advance when traveling on a regional train.
You can go from one city to another by bus too. This map courtesy of ComparaBus shows the extensive bus network that connects major cities in Italy such as Rome, Florence, Turin, Milan and Bologna.
Traveling By Air In Italy For Cheap
Depending on what city your destination is, oftentimes you can find a flight cheaper than any other means of travel! If you’re planning a trip to the islands, makes sure to visit Luke Air
Top Tips For Bus Travel In Italy
If you don’t plan on heading too far away from what will soon be your favorite city, you’re going to want to know the ins and outs of bus travel, bus tickets, and bus stops.
In Italy, once you buy the bus tickets, you should first validate them before getting on the vehicles.
The ticket system is solely based on trust in Italy. You can usually get on a bus without even validating your ticket. However, if the controller catches this, you will have to pay a penalty. Always remember to validate your bus and train tickets! Here’s an image that gives an idea about what that machine that validates your ticket looks like
Reading the bus signs can be a little tricky if you’re a first time traveler in Italy. This photo taken by Jessica Spiegel, gives an idea on how to read a bus sign easily.
You can find a timetable for the city busses that travel throughout different quarters of the city written on each bus stop. At the bus stop next to the timetable, you’ll find terms such as fer. (feriale – meaning “weekday”). Under it, fest. (festivo – meaning “holiday”) indicating whether that line is working on the specified days or not and dom. (for domenica – meaning “Sunday”) giov. (giovedì – Thursday) ven. (venerdì – Friday) sab.(sabato – Saturday).
In order to get you well prepared, we put together a Youtube video video with vocabulary of expressions you should know when planning your trip to Italy and buying your train or plain tickets.
The bus, tramway and metro tickets can be bought at any Tabaccheria (tobacco shop) and the newspaper stands that you can find (quite literally) everywhere. However, it’s best to go to the ticket counters at the stations for special touristic tickets. We suggest flagging places to visit later on Google Maps and download it for offline use so you can wander about without worrying.
With these tips, you can travel low cost and mimic the travel hacks that all the locals know. Whether you’re planning your travel enthusiast honeymoon, getting ready to live an Instagram worthy vacation, or starting to learn Italian and getting ready to move, these tips will have you traveling like a pro in no time.