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Trains in Italy: On the Train

Alice Twain

Splitting up trips

Non reserved tickets are valid for several hours after you have validated them. Depending on the length of the trip, they are valid for 6, 12 or 24 hours. This means that, as long as you haven't reserved a seat, you can use one ticket to travel from your departure point to a place halfway along your route, spend a few hours in this place (even sleep there if the main trip is long enough), than continue on to your final destination.

Although the time allowed for the "layover" is shorter, this is particularly useful on short daytrips because it allows you to see more than one town or village with a single ticket or for half range trips if you are traveling with kids that may get bored by a long train trip. The advantage of splitting up the trip with a single ticket is that it allows you to travel marginally cheaper. Ticket prices are based on the kilometrage, but they also include a fixed fee (approx. 1 euro), that is does not add on much for longer trips, but is a pretty substantial fee on shorter trips.

For instance, if you are traveling from Florence to Lucca, but want to quickly visit Pescia, you can get yourself a ticket to Lucca, leave the train in Pescia, spend a couple of hours seeing the sights than take another train to Lucca.

This solution cannot, obviously, be applied to reserved seat trips, because if you leave the train you also lose the reservation rights.

Connections

Traveling by train in Italy, especially if you are not traveling between two main cities, you may have to make a connection at some point of your trip. That's easy enough: you get off one train, and onto the other, and I doubt that anybody will have particular problems with it, especially if that person has read the information I have already given on taking rains in Italy. Yet, I feel there is some more advice that I must give.

Make sure that you have time enough to make the connection. Often, you will have to leave the train and move to a different platform to catch the next train, and in case your train is late it may mean having to really hurry. If you have to make reservations for both trains (either because they are two Eurostars or because the second section of the trip is long and you decide to reserve on an Intercity), make sure that you have a 30 minutes layover, just in case the first train is late. This is particularly true if you are not used to train traveling: do it often enough and you can forget about worrying about this, but if this is your first time on an Italian train, better to play safe.

Any decent-sized station has a waiting room, larger ones have manned waiting rooms, where you can sit and spend your layover time.

If your train is late and the connection you have to make is the last train of the day to your destination, you can ask the conductor to call the station and ask them to delay the other train. If this does not cause a cascading delays of trains, it may be done.


Written by Alice Twain, a regular on the Slow Travel Forums. Alice is Italian and lives in Milan. Read her blog in Italian: A Typesetter's Day 3.0. See her Slow Travel Member page.

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