italian train

Italian Train: Answers to the Most Common FAQ’s

Traveling by train in Italy can be as bewildering as it is fun. Where are my seats located? What if I miss the train? Read on to find the answers to your most pressing Italian train travel questions to help you demystify the experience of riding the Italian railways and get you on the right track!

Q. What if I miss my train? Is it possible to grab the next outgoing train?

A. Policies regarding changes, cancellations, and refunds in train tickets change based on the type of train, its route, and the type of ticket. If you miss your train, simply approach the ticket counter, or Biglietteria, present your original ticket, and ask about your options. The representative will be able to advise you based on your individual ticket. As a rule of thumb, however, it is best to do all that you can to arrive  at the station a least 20 minutes before your departure time, as trains will not wait for passengers.

Q. In some countries in Europe you have to validate your tickets after you purchase it, using a special machine for that purpose. Is this required for Italian trains?

A. E-tickets for the Italo, Frecce and Intercity trains no longer require validation of any sort. They act as a sort of “boarding pass” and are completely validated upon issue. Regional paper tickets, however, do still need to be validated, which is easily done by stamping the end of the ticket in one of the hanging yellow boxes near the station’s platforms.

Q. My ticket says that my seat is, for example, 10B and the person I am traveling with is 9B. Are we sitting together? And if we are not, can I change my seats?

A. Yes. Seats booked together are generally placed together. Do note, however, that seat numbers can be deceiving in that you can either be sitting next to your travel companion(s) in the same row or be seated across from each other in one of the common four-seat arrangements, in which two seats in one direction face another two seats in the opposite direction, usually across a small table, restaurant-style. In our example the two passengers would be sitting across from each other in a four-seat arrangement. Once made, seat reservations cannot be changed. However, seat assignments on the trains are not enforced the same way as they are on a plane, and a certain amount of roaming (assuming you stick within your class of booking) is generally condoned – as long as the car is not entirely full and/or you find yourself among passengers accommodating of spirit (as Italian passengers usually are).

Q. What is the best way to safeguard your luggage while traveling on the train – any tips?

A. Most trains will include designated spaces for luggage with overhead racks above the seats for small items and racks at the end of each car where bigger bags can be stored. In addition, smaller carry-on sized bags will often fit in the triangular spaces between the rows of seats. There is a general respect for others’ luggage and bags will most likely remain untouched; however, as a general travel rule, extra precautions such as maintaining a certain amount of alertness, keeping a small lock on the bag and holding valuable items and purses closer to you, are good practices that will also ensure the safety of belongings.

Q. Are all Italian trains now non-smoking?

A. Yes. It is forbidden to smoke aboard the trains or in the train stations in Italy.

Do you have any other pressing questions or insights? Post below and we will respond with an answer!