It seems that train travel is the way to travel throughout Italy. We found a distinct lack of information on buses, even when we walked into a bus ticket agency in Florence to enquire about a bus from Florence to Naples, the consultant advised us to go by train.
Train Travel in Italy
Our first rail experience in Italy started when we travelled by train from Cannes to Milan, changing trains at Ventimiglia, just inside the Italian border. We planned to spend three nights in Milan at the Hotel Panizza and whilst there plan our 3 weeks travelling through Italy. From Milan, we would travel to Venice, Florence, Naples and then to Rome to catch an Easyjet flight to Mykonos. Tickets for the train journey were to be purchased at Stazione Centrale in Milan.
As we could see there were two options – an Italian Train Pass or purchase individual train tickets. We found out from our hotel receptionist that if we caught regional trains the ticket prices would be lower but the journey longer and maybe if we booked far enough in advance we may be able to get even cheaper tickets.
Here is our breakdown based on 2013 prices:
Italian Rail Pass for 4 days travel in 2 months 264 euros per person total 528 euros
Milan to Venice
Regular ticket 52 euros per person total 104 euros
Regional ticket 19.50 euros per person total 39 euros
A saving of 65 euros
Venice to Florence
Regular ticket 62 euros per person total 124 euros
Our ticket price in advance 45 euros per person total 90 euros
A saving of 34 euros
Florence to Naples
Regular ticket price 68 euros per person based on 2nd class total 136 euros
Our ticket price 68 euros per person totals 136 euros
Naples to Rome
Regular ticket 2nd class 40 euros per person total 80 euros
Our non refundable ticket 19 euros per person total 38 euros
A saving of 42 euros
Total Cost of the Italian Rail Pass 528 euros
Total cost of regular ticket prices 444 euros
We paid 303 euros
Savings on Italian Rail Pass 225 euros
Savings on Regular Ticket Price 141 euros
Our 5 euro fine:
When you travel by regional train your ticket is valid for 2 months. We were unaware that you had to have the ticket validated at the platform as you board the train. The friendly conductor came around during the trip, noticed that we had not validated our tickets and kindly gave us a fine for 5 euros.
To Travel Too Tip on Train Travel:
If you are flexible in your date and time of travel you can take advantage of the regional trains. If time allows we would recommend you purchase your tickets in advance. We found all trains, clean and on time.
If you are stopping off along the way and not travelling to the final destination of the train route we recommend that you have easy access to your suitcases. Our experience found that others dumped their luggage on top of yours and it was a hassle to remove your suitcase from the bottom of the pile in the short time you had to disembark.
Be aware that the queues are long at the Rail Booking Centre of Stazione Centrale – we waited for 45 minutes.
If you have saved money on train travel we would love to hear from you.