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Planes, Trains, And Automobiles: 10 Things To Know About Traveling Through Italy – TheTravel

With so many spots to see in Italy, it can be hard to decipher how to get from Point A to Point B. We’re here to help.
Italy is a vast country offering lush Tuscan hillsides to southern beach towns to bustling cities such as Rome and Venice. With some of the major spots being geographically spread out, it can be tough to understand how to get from one city to the next. Whether you choose a plane, train, or automobile, here are our top tips for traveling throughout the country of Italy.
The number one tip for traveling through Italy is to advise you to travel via train, especially if you only plan to hit major touristic cities. Trenitalia is the country’s main transit system, and there are hundreds of trains leaving every day from all major cities. The beauty of Italian trains is that many of them are bullet trains, meaning they are extremely fast. For example, a car ride from Rome to Naples is around two and a half hours, whereas a direct train is around 1 hour. If you plan to visit more small towns than major cities, then the train is NOT the best way to get around, and a car is necessary.
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There’s no use in stressing and overplanning your train departure. With the Trenitalia app, you can purchase a ticket up to 5 minutes before departure. You can also purchase a ticket at one of the many kiosks at most train stations or through a ticket agent. Trenitalia is the most reliable in seeing how frequently trains are running and basing your purchasing decision off of that.
Every train station in Italy has these little green machines that inform you to validate your ticket. After purchasing your train ticket, simply go up to one of the many machines and get your ticket validated. This is required for most departures.
On Trenitalia routes, there are assigned cabins and seats in the lower corner of your ticket. Though some do not require this (the cheaper trains with blue seats inside often do not have assigned seating, but the red bullet trains do), if you see something such as A1-B6 on your ticket, then the first letter and number is your assigned cabin, and the second letter and number is your assigned seat. You cannot simply sit wherever you feel like it, and when an employee comes around to check your ticket, don’t worry; they’ll be sure to let you know!
Flights throughout the country are somewhat frequent, and they are very cheap if purchased ahead of time. For example, flights from Rome to Bari often run as low as $10 on Alitalia, the country’s primary airline. Flights can indeed be worth it if traveling from, for example, Catania to Milan, Naples to Genoa, or even Rome to Bari. However, it’s important to keep in mind how far the airport is from the city center and weigh out the time travel will truly take. It might be more worth it to just book a train ticket.
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If you plan to take a taxi anywhere in Italy, be prepared to pay. Taxis are somewhat of a rip-off, especially in cities like Milan and Rome. They can be more affordable in the south, as nearly everything in Italy is more affordable in the south, but it’s still recommended to hail a taxi if there are any other viable options.
If you do find yourself needing to take a taxi, it’s worth downloading the app Free Now before your trip. Free Now is essentially Uber, allowing you to order a taxi. However, give yourself enough time for the car to arrive. It’s not like New York or Los Angeles, where a car will be ready to show up in 3-5 minutes. They often take closer to 15 or so minutes. Also, keep in mind it will only give you the base fare, which is about 0.80 euros, and when you order the car, you will not know how much it’s actually going to cost you until your trip is complete.
Kudos to those foreigners who dare to drive in Italy. Roadways in Italy, even in major cities, are extremely narrow. What looks like a one-way is often a two-way, shared with motorbikes and pedestrians as well. If you are a super confident driver and trust yourself to not have a one-way collision, go for it, but please proceed with caution. Drivers are often aggressively chaotic. Driving in Italy is not for the faint of heart.
If you’re curious as to what side of the road Italians drive on, it’s the right side, similar to the USA. However, as mentioned above, many streets are so narrow that it does not necessarily make a difference. This is really only applicable to major roads and highways.
Most cars for rent in Italy will be a stick shift. You can request an automatic, but options will be limited, and an automatic car, therefore, won’t be guaranteed. It’s wise to keep this in mind if you’re not as confident driving a stick. That, mixed with the narrow roads and chaotic driving conditions, are all important factors to weigh when renting a car.
Kaitlyn Rosati is an avid solo traveler, having visited over 60 countries on 6 continents. An adrenaline junkie at heart, her ventures around the globe have led her to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, getting scuba certified in the Great Barrier Reef, and even riding the world’s largest swing in Queenstown, New Zealand while on a solo road trip. She is currently enrolled in law school, sneaking in trips to far off destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Costa Rica during breaks. Her long-term goals include visiting every country in the world, and purchasing a villa near her great-grandmother’s town in Southern Italy.

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