Italian Trains

Italian trains are generally reliable, reasonably priced and comfortable.

There are three main types:

  1. Regionale – these are the cheapest, the most local although if you have several hours to spend you can go from Florence to Rome on a Regional train.  They tend to stop frequently and are all one class – that is no first.  The trains can be old but increasingly are being replaced to something rather smarter.  Your ticket will probably not be train specific – that is you can travel without reservation.  It is essential to validate your ticket at the validation machine on the platforms.  These are often yellow and often quite insignificant.  You put your ticket in the slot and it is stamped with the date and time effectively cancelling the ticket and from that point only becomes valid for a limited time.  If you fail to do this, it can (and often is) be construed that you are ‘fare dodging’.  If you forget to validate your ticket, then write the date and time in pen on the ticket and tell the ticket guy that the machine would not work.
  2. Intercity trains – these are more expensive that Regionale but less than Eurostar.  They are faster than Regional but as one would expect slower than Eurostar.  You can make a reservation and have a guaranteed seat.  There is a small extra charge for this,  but is worth it.  You can usually opt for First Class and depending how full you think the train might be, this is often worth it.  When you look at the website of Italian Railways they are listed as I.C.  The trains are often old and it could be that this class of train is being phased out.  Again, it is vital to validate your ticket as above.
  3. Eurostar.  The most expensive, listed as AV (Alto Velocita / High Speed) or ES (Eurostar).  These trains are fast, more expensive and beautiful.  They do Florence to Rome in just 90 minutes – usually non stop.  In our opinion, there is little need to pay extra for First.  regular is perfectly comfortable and as the trains are all reservation you must have a seat.  When you book on these trains, you reserve for a specific train and you must stick to that.  It is possible to change although you will have to pay the reservation fee again.

The website of trenitalia (TrainItalia) (English version)  is:

http://www.ferroviedellostato.it/homepage_en.html

It is a good website and gives clear information about train times, cost, journey time etc.  You can also book tickets online.  Read the website, it is a good one

If you buy in advance you can save money – up to 30% and more.

You can buy tickets at the following:

  • On-line – just follow the instructions – it is all in English
  • At the stations – in the larger tourist areas, English will be spoken (to a greater or lesser extent)
  • At automatic ticket machines.  Some take only cash, others only credit cards and some both.  there is an English option and the cash ones do give change.
  • At selected travel agents – they will display the trenitalia logo.  You might pay a small surcharge, but it is often worth it.
  • Only as an absolute last resort buy on the train.  You will pay all sorts of surcharges and of course, special offers will not be available

As you would when you travel anywhere, sit near to and watch over your luggage.

Additional points:

  • All trains are non smoking
  • The newer trains have laptop power points (bring appropriate adapters).
  • Refreshments are often available.
  • If your high speed train is not crowded, you can sit anywhere – obviously in your class.  They often group reserved seats in one part of the train leaving the rest comparatively empty.  Be prepared to move after people join at an intermediate station – you might be in their seat.
  • There are at least three Florence stations.  the main one is Florence Santa Maria Novella (SMN).  I am sure you know that locally Florence will be written as Firenze.

For those of you who are staying at La Massa in addition to the above, you need to know about the private train line which runs along the valley from Stia to Arezzo.  This is a little ‘noddy train’ which trundles along in a lovely way.  Some of the rolling stock is old and decrepit, other is new and futuristic.   The train trundles, stopping lots of times, but it is a rich experience – and, you are supposed to be relaxing on holiday.

  • It is cheap – just two or three Euro from Porrena to Arezzo
  • the service is quite frequent.
  • The same applies with ticket validation.
  • The nearest station to La Massa is at Porrena.  You can easily park there for free.
  • Buy your tickets at the bar on the right just before the station.  The bar is called Francioni.
  • Buy outward and return tickets there.
  • Check the time of the last train back from Arezzo – it would be a costly taxi ride!
  • When you arrive at Arezzo, come out of the station go straight ahead up the hill – this leads to the old town.
  • To reach Porrena station – leave La Massa and drive through Strada following the signs for Arezzo.the road continues to a T junction,  Turn right and continue past River Piper on the left.  The road crosses the River Arno and soon after you will see a substantial left turn.  Take this and after 250 metres you will come to a T junction facing Atlantic Oil.  Go more or less straight across here – in fact, left and immediately right.  The bar Francioni is on the right – buy your tickets here, park where you can and the station is straight ahead.  Don’t forget to validate your ticket.

The website for this railway is:

http://www.trasportoferroviariotoscano.it/orari/successivi/%20Loc.50×70%20AR-PR-STIA%2012-2009.pdf