Taking the train in Italy FAQ | ItaliaRail (2024)

ItaliaRailis the exclusive online provider of Italian train tickets and rail passes outside Italy, and are experts in European train travel. We have been in the hospitality business helping customers plan their train travel for 20 years. We know what information you need and will guide you to make your experience a pleasurable one. Take some time to browse through some of our tips and advice on train travel in Italy and in Europe. We promise it will be worth it!

Italy train travel - Frequently Asked Questions:

Jump to:

  • Should I purchase a rail pass or city-to-city tickets?
  • What type of pass should I purchase?
  • What does it mean to validate a pass or ticket?
  • Do I need a reservation?
  • When and how do I make a reservation?
  • What is an e-ticket or electronic ticket?
  • When can I expect to receive my tickets or passes?
  • What is the policy for refunds and exchanges?
  • What happens if there is a train strike?
  • What if my question is not answered here?

Should I purchase a rail pass or city to city tickets?

ItaliaRail offers both city-to-city train tickets and rail passes, providing excellent options for travelers looking to explore the Italian countryside.

What is a rail pass?

Rail passes are an excellent value if you want flexibility, if you plan to travel extensively throughout one or several countries, or if you plan to cover long distances during your travels. Passes provide access to most rail routes and allow you hassle-free travel since you won’t have to wait in lines at the train station to get tickets. In some cases, you will still have to make reservations or pay supplements, but many routes allow for unlimited pass use without requiring any extra fees.

What is a city-to-city ticket?

City-to-city tickets are good for short distance travel, such as travel from one city to another within a country (like Rome and Florence), or if you only plan to visit one or two places (like Genoa and Milan). The drawbacks come in the form of ticket lines, local currencies, languages and potentially higher prices. Purchasing individual train tickets is an ideal option for those wanting limited travel and who already know their exact destination prior to departure. There are a number of different options for individual train tickets depending on the destination and the type of train. Use our exclusive City to City search technology to find the best option for your travel itinerary!

What type of pass should I purchase?

With thousands of different pass and ticket combinations to choose from purchasing a ticket or pass could be a little confusing. ItaliaRail.com uses state of the art technology and connects directly to the Italian rail reservation system. Here are some things to consider when deciding what type of pass you should purchase:

  1. Which and how many countries do you plan to visit? Are you planning to travel in a single country? Are you going to two countries? Are you looking to explore three to five countries? Do you want to experience more than five countries? Knowing the number of countries you want to visit will help you determine which pass is your best option.
  2. How many days of train travel do you need? A travel date is a calendar day. Regardless of the number of trains you take in a calendar day, you will need to know the number of days you are travelling by train in order to purchase the correct number of travel days.
  3. How many days do you need the pass? All passes are valid for different lengths of time. The number of days you need the pass is the equivalent of how long your entire trip will be, not how many days you will be on the train. So if you’re going to Germany for a month, but you only plan on using the train for 3 days at the beginning of your trip and 2 days at the end of your trip, you will need the pass to be valid for 30 days.
  4. How many people are traveling, and what are their ages? Most passes offeradult passes, andyouth passes. Generally, the adultpasses are in 1st class, while the youth pass is generally a 2nd class pass. The adult pass is for a single adult traveling.Some passes also offer discounted rates for seniors and children.

What does it mean to validate a pass or ticket?

All rail passes must be validated twice. The first stamp is printed automatically by our office and will appear on the top right-hand corner of the pass. You must start using the pass within 6 months of this validation.

On the first day of travel, all people listed on the pass must go to the ticket office of the train station and have an official validate the pass. The station official should put a second stamp on the pass under the first one. Please note that the pass must be validated at the station—a conductor on a train cannot validate the pass.

If you do not validate the pass, or if you tamper with the pass in any way, the conductor has the right to confiscate it, at which time, the unused part of the pass is non-refundable. If you are not able to start using the pass within 6 months of its printed date, you will need to return this pass and we will reissue a new pass.

How do I validate my train ticket?

Only regional train tickets have to be validated. Regional train tickets must be validated before departure.

You can validate your regional train tickets from midnight on the day of your trip, up until your departure time.

Follow these steps to validate your regional train ticket:

  1. Use the check-in link provided in your order confirmation email from Italiarail.com. Your order confirmation email will have a subject line of “Your ItaliaRail order number is…”.
  2. Once the page loads and shows you your ticket, click on the “CHECK-IN” button.
  3. Once the page reloads with your passenger information, click on the “Next” button.
  4. You will then see a confirmation message saying “Check-In Complete. Enjoy your journey”. This means you have successfully checked in.

If you have an e-ticket that is not for a regional train, you can simply board the train, without printing or validating your ticket using the QR code provided in your order confirmation email. Simply show it to the conductor when asked on the train.

Do I need a reservation if I have a rail pass?

A rail pass does not guarantee a seat on a train. While it is possible to secure reservations while on yourtrip, pass holder seats are limited, making it difficult to secure a seat on a specific train without making reservations prior to your departure. To make a seat only reservation, go to our ticket search box, choose your cities and select "seat reservation only" to make a reservation. There are additional charges for seat reservations, sleepers, couchettes, and travel on certain high-speed trains.

Reservations are not necessary on many European trains,however in some countries (particularly France, Italy and Spain), a pass or a ticket does not guarantee a seat, so reservations are highly recommended. We also recommend reservations to guarantee accommodations on a particular train, date, and time. Reservations are also mandatory for high-speed service and overnight trains. In order to avoid being assessed a fine on board, we strongly recommend that you make a reservation in advance. Reservations can be made at a train station or through Italiarail.com up to 60 days prior to travel if you are sure of your travel itinerary. Please refer to the How To Make a Reservation section of our FAQs for further information.

When and how do I make a reservation?

We will make reservations for any customer who has purchased a rail pass or ticket from Italiarail.com. Reservations can be made up to 60 days prior to the actual travel date either online or through a Fax-In form.

You must be in possession of a valid rail pass or city-to-city ticket that covers the routing of the train they have reserved in order to make a reservation. It is helpful to research the train schedules before making a request.

Reservations are required on:

  • Sleeping accommodations on all overnight trains (not on day trains)
  • High-Speed Trains (e.g. Eurostar, TGV, TAV, Thalys)
  • Long Distance and Express Trains in Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  • Long Distance and Express Trains during high season (Jul-Aug)

What is an e-ticket or electronic ticket?

An electronic or e-ticket is the newest reservation confirmation method for booking trains in Italy. This is exclusively available on trains that originate within Italy. Upon completing an e-ticket booking, you will receive only an email confirmation for your train journey.

This email will include the booking confirmation code referred to as a "PNR". This PNR will also include specific train information, like the date, time, number of passengers, fare code and rules.

An e-ticket will either be:

  1. Pre-validated: The ticket received in your email can be used to travel without needing any additional steps.
  2. Need validation before you can travel: You will need to check in on the day of your travel before your departure time to validate your ticket.

In general, high-speed trains will be ticketless, requiring no validation. Regional trains will require you to validate your ticket before boarding your train for departure. Follow the steps listed {here} to validate your regional tickets.

Pay close attention to your email confirmation, as the specific requirements of your train tickets are included.

When can I expect to receive my tickets or passes?

You will receive an order confirmation email from us within 15 minutes after your purchase has been completed. Your order confirmation email will have a subject line of “Your ItaliaRail order number is…”. Your order confirmation will include your travel information, receipt, and e-ticket booking "PNR" confirmation.

What is the policy for refunds and exchanges?

Please see below for the refund and exchange policy for your pass or ticket.

  • Eurail passes are refundable at 85% of pass value if unused and returned within 1 year from issue date to the address listed below.
  • TCV tickets are 85% refundable when received at the address listed below 7 days prior to the train departure date.
  • Train Tickets: Many train tickets are non-refundable and do not allow for change. Some train tickets are 75%-80% refundable if canceled within 72 hours post booking and notification is received by ItaliaRail. Or if printed tickets are returned at least 7 days of purchase date on order, such tickets must be returned to address listed below.
  • Pass Exchanges: Pass exchanges must be made via the address listed below. Once your request is received in our office, we will exchange the pass. If there is a rate increase, you must pay the difference in price plus, a $15.00USD exchange fee, and new shipping charges. If the exchange causes a rate decrease, you will be charged a 15% cancellation penalty on the old pass, the cost of the new pass plus a new shipping fee.
  • Ticket Exchanges: Requests to change electronic tickets must be made a minimum of 72 hours prior to departure or at the self-service machines within the train station. If there is a rate increase, you will just pay the difference in price plus a $20.00USD exchange fee. Most e-tickets only allow for a one-time change to your booking, but it must be on the same train routes as originally booked and only for a train departure after your scheduled departure. See fare rules for more information.
  • Reservations: If your invoice says International Ticket ® you must return the ticket to the address listed below, and it must be received in our office outside of 7 days prior to the train departure date to receive an 80% refund. If your invoice says International Ticket (A), the reservations are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.
  • Shipping and handling fees are non-refundable.
  • RRP (Rail Refund Plan) is non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • Your PNR is valid only for the designated arrival and departure stations. No station changes or substitutions are allowed.
  • Train Exchanges: An exchange of date and time is allowed on some PNRs. No exchanges are allowed to a class of service. Please see your fare rules for more information or contact our customer care specialists.

All refund requests where noted above must be sent in a trackable manner to:

ItaliaRail Refunds
PO BOX 428
Franklin, MA 02038

All pass exchange requests where noted above must be sent in a trackable manner to:

ItaliaRail Exchanges
681 Washington St
Suite 17
Norwood, MA 02062

What happens if there is a train strike?

Train strikes, like other transportation strikes, are out of our control. Although we will work on your behalf with the railway, there is no guarantee that you will be refunded in event of a strike. It can take up to six months for a final response from the railway.

What if my question is not answered here?

If your question is not answered here, please email info@italiarail.com.

Taking the train in Italy FAQ | ItaliaRail (2024)


How early should I arrive for a train in Italy? ›

As a general rule, it's a good idea to arrive 20-30 minutes before your train's scheduled departure time so you can get familiar with the station, find the information monitors as well as find your platform without being in a rush.

Do you need to buy train tickets in advance in Italy? ›

In order to avoid being assessed a fine on board, we strongly recommend that you make a reservation in advance. Reservations can be made at a train station or through Italiarail.com up to 60 days prior to travel if you are sure of your travel itinerary.

Do you have to go through security for trains in Italy? ›

At each location, most of the station is accessible to anyone, with only the area around the tracks restricted by guards to those with valid train tickets or passes. To get through the checkpoint and onto your platform, you'll need to show a valid ticket (electronic or printed) to the guards at the access gates.

Do you need to check in on Italian trains? ›

If you intend to take that train, you still have to check-in before the scheduled departure time. If you do not intend to take that train, do not check-in: you can change the departure time until 11:59 PM.

Are there toilets on Italian trains? ›

Don't worry, all trains in Italy have bathroom facilities available for travelers. Generally, there's one restroom at the end of each seating car, though you may have to walk between cars to find one that's available. You'll find them marked with the letters WC.

Are train reservations needed in Italy? ›

EuroCity, InterCity, and international trains: Reservations are required, and cost about $10 if you have a rail pass. Regional trains: Most trains that aren't on the main lines, such as connections to Assisi, as well as most Florence–Pisa–Cinque Terre service, don't require (or even offer) reservations.

Can you bring luggage on trains in Italy? ›

Traveling by train in Italy means always traveling with carry-on luggage. You'll carry on board everything you have with you. It's your responsibility to bring your bags on board and stow them properly, which is a great incentive to packing light. There's no fee to bring luggage on the train.

What is the difference between ItaliaRail and Trenitalia? ›

ItaliaRail are a well-established US-based agency who link directly to Trenitalia's ticketing system. They don't sell tickets for Italo. Italiarail books the same trains as Trenitalia's own website, but in plain English with no quirky translations. You can use familiar English place-names such as Venice or Florence.

Do trains in Italy get fully booked? ›

Train tickets can get fully booked in Italy, so booking well in advance is extremely important near the Italian holidays as trains book up quickly with Italian locals and tourists competing to book their train travel during these times.

Do you have to sit in your assigned seat on a train in Italy? ›

Some trains require seat reservations, and on other trains it's optional. If you're riding a train on which reservations are only recommended or completely optional and you don't have a reservation, you can sit in any available seat in the appropriate class you have booked.

Do they check passports on trains in Italy? ›

If you're traveling with a train ticket:

You must show ID (typically a passport) and your ticket (with PNRs) to the conductor the train. You can do this on your personal device, such as a smartphone or tablet, or have your ticket printed out.

Do trains sell out in Italy? ›

It is unusual for trains to sell out, but you will get a better price by buying now. Tickets go on sale 4 months before travel, and the cheapest tickets often sell out quickly. Prices keep going up as the travel date gets closer.

Do you need to print Italian train tickets? ›

Most of the train tickets can be displayed on a mobile device for inspection and therefore do not need to be printed. However, if you want to print your ticket, you can of course do so before arriving at the station and travel with your paper ticket.

What do you wear on a train in Italy? ›

The general rule on how to dress: business casual.

Slim-fit pants, leggings and a blouse and jacket, pants and a button-up shirt will all be acceptable Italians tend to be sophisticated in how they dress for daily life and typically stick to neutral colors, and the same goes for train travel or around the city.

Is there food on Italian trains? ›

You'll find sweet and savoury snacks, pizzas, sandwiches, hot and cold main courses, salads and charcuterie, with vegetarian and gluten-free options, to be paired with soft drinks, fine wines, co*cktails, beers or bubbly, or with Illy espresso coffee.

How early should I show up for a train? ›

Train crews will direct you to the appropriate car and will help with your luggage. When should I arrive at the station? Unless you're taking the Auto Train, plan to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled departure. If you need assistance with baggage and/or ticketing, we recommend you arrive 60 minutes early.

How early should you show up to train in Europe? ›

For stress-free boarding, we recommend that you arrive in the station 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time of your train.

How many minutes should you arrive before a train? ›

If you have luggage to check in, arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before departure. If you do not have checked luggage, you can arrive 15 minutes before. Ensure you have your proof of entitlement card with you if travelling on a concession fare, or you may be fined.

How early should I arrive at Venice train station? ›

It has so many tracks that we recommend arriving at least half an hour prior to your scheduled departure as not to get lost and miss your train. Keep in mind that in Italy you have to validate your ticket before getting on the train.

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