Discovering Italy by train is a real alternative to traveling by car. An excellent network of railways, some of them equipped with high-speed railways and a relaxed view of the changing Italian landscapes while finding yourself away from expensive motorways, lack of parking in the cities and the famous chaos in Italian traffic, can be found more and more appealing.
Those who book online in advance can save a lot of money. Because trains in Italy are not only fast and convenient but also relatively cheap and in addition, unexpectedly, relatively punctual. With the online-purchased Super Economy tariff, you can "fly" from Florence to Rome for just € 19.90 with a high-speed train in just under one and a half hours.
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Of course, you can also get your ticket just before departure at the station because the trains are rarely fully occupied. Then you have to pay more compared to an on-line purchase, nevertheless you will find out that trains in Italy are still a lot cheaper than in other Western European countries.
Different websites offer these early bookings with up to 60% discount. You can use for instance italiarail.com that is in English. If you are traveling with two or more friends, Italiarail can become quite cheap. Italiarail charges a booking fee of € 3.50, which you will get back as soon as you send an e-mail with your reservation number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The dense Italian rail network includes regional trains linking the smaller towns for which reservation or advance bookings are not necessary, it’s better to take this train only for short distance, because they stop in many villages and therefore they are not vey quick to reach the farest destination. Children's tickets are available until 12 years. The national longer haul trains also include high-speed trains:
• Frecciarossa, the red arrow connecting Italy from North to South
• Frecciargento, the silver brother who covers the most important cities of Northern Italy
• Frecciabianca, the white sister who connects Northeast Italy with the South.
The high-speed network connects the most important cities of Italy: Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, Turin and Venice with trains at least each hour.
There are also InterCity trains and InterCity Notte (ICN). On national lines, the children's card is valid for up to 15 years; on all Italian trains free rides are valid for children under 4 years.
Adrenaline junkies love Italian trains. Not only do they look fast, they are fast. The Frecciarossa, the Ferrari among the Italian trains which reaches a top speed of almost 400km / h and comes at a regular price with all imaginable comfort. The only pre-requisite is the reservation with in advance.
What is the situation in Italy with railways?
Interrail for European citizens and the Eurail Pass for non-Europeans are, of course, valid also in Italy but it is advisable to first check the rates. Due to the favorable offers of Trenitalia, only young people under 27 years of age will be able to use the railway pass in Italy. So it is better if you book an Economy or Super Economy ticket online at a low ticket price and save your travel day for another country. Especially, because on all national trains an additional reservation fee of 10 € is incurred.
The most amazing train routes in Italy
The fact that Italy is one of the most beautiful and varied countries in the world is beyond doubt. But there are a few unique to the world jewels to discover through railways.
From the North to Sicily
How about a sleeping coach train from Milan to Palermo, Catania or Syracuse? In comfortable compartments for 1 to 4 people you will be able to get to the Villa San Giovanni, the ferry station for Sicily. In the train there is food and drinks even though these are relatively overpriced, so do not forget to pack a nice Italian picnic. In Villa San Giovanni you do not need to get off the train to board the ferry. You simply stay on the train which is in its entirety boarded onto the ferry, a very special adventure that you cannot experience often in the world. Of course, you can get out of the train and go on deck to sniff the sea air. In any case, you arrive well at the destination and have also saved the cost of an overnight stay. Anyone who makes this trip by day must definitely provide for food and drink, sometimes there is no food or drink in the train.
The most important landmark of Sicily is the Etna volcano and there is something special about the volcano, the Circumetnea. Sicily used to be covered by a dense network of narrow-gauge tracks. The Ferrovia Circumetnea, called Littorino in the local language, is the last surviving relic of this 950 mm cable car. The train starts in Catania at the Borgo station and ends in Riposto. This is not a full circle around Etna, the largest and most active volcano in Europe, but work is being done on completion of the circuit. In any case, this route offers spectacular views of vineyards, chestnut and other forests and the morbid beauty of the volcanic landscape. In the medieval town of Randazzo, built entirely of lava stone, you can stop and possibly hike to the volcano peak. In the course of time, exquisite old military towers, castles and Norman castles pass by. The horizon of the Etna, whose slopes go down into the sea, dominate the horizon. This is a two-hour ride during which you cannot get bored, not even for a second.
Also Vesuvius, Italy's second active volcano, can be circulated by train. The train departs from the Naples railway station (Stazione Centrale) and ends in Sorrento after about an hour. On the way, you will pass the ancient cities of Pompei (station Pompei Scavi - Villa dei Misteri) and Herculaneum (station Ercolano), whose excavations are among the most impressive sights in the Gulf of Naples. The whole trip impresses with changing views of the great volcano from all sides. Unique is the combination of eternal snow, frozen lava and the incredible blue of the Mediterranean.
Discover the Cinque Terre by train
A particularly beautiful corner is located in the north-west of Italy, near the port city of La Spezia, the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park on the Italian Riviera. In fact, there are only 5 villages that are not connected by road, so they seem as far away from each other as countries. Drivers have to go down to each village individually and then of course go back up to the next valley. The streets are narrow and winding, and of course there are no parking spaces in the small villages that adhere to the rock wall. The train offers a perfect alternative. Through 32 tunnels, the tracks lead along the spectacular cliff and the train stops in each of the five villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Comiglia, Manarola and - one of the most colorful villages in the world - Riomaggiore.
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