Even if you booked a custom tour to Italy, you may end up using their mass transport system at some point during your trip. Why? There’s the fact that some popular destinations in Italy are only accessible by bus or train. And most often than not, the train system is actually cheaper, more efficient, and more convenient than riding a plane or renting your own vehicle.
So don’t be intimidated by commuting in Italy! Here are 7 tips to help you out on your journey:
Make sure you know the Italian name of your destination.
While an English language option is available if you want to buy train tickets from a machine, you can’t guarantee the same when asking for directions. So make sure you know the Italian name of where you’re going, as their English names may be slightly different. Some examples include Firenze for Florence, Roma for Rome, Napoli for Naples, and Venezia for Venice.
Buying a rail pass is not always the most economical option when you’re in Italy.
Sometimes it’s still cheaper to buy individual tickets for each trip that you’re going to make. On top of that, you can’t use your rail pass for all train trips. Some train lines are privately-operated and hence not covered by the rail authority issuing the passes. So before you purchase a rail pass, you have to do the math.
You have to buy bus tickets before you ride.
You can purchase them from newsstands or tobacconists that have the bus station logo; not all buses have tickets available on board.
For several long-distance train trips, booking a reservation is required.
This is true even if you already have a rail pass—you will need to pay an extra reservation fee, even if your pass already covers the trip itself.
Check bus schedules when you arrive.
Unlike Italy’s train system, which is generally run by one company per region, several bus companies may serve one region all at the same time. This means that to get a full picture of which bus trips are available, you’d have to check with different bus companies. And since not all of them post updated schedules on their websites, it’s best
Keep an eye out for your belongings, but don’t be paranoid.
Travelers who aren’t used to riding high-speed trains may balk at the idea of leaving their large luggage at the compartment at the end of the carriage. Some may have even thought of chaining their suitcase to a handrail—don’t be that guy.
While there have been some cases of luggage theft in the past, these are very rare, and are almost non-existent in high-speed trains. That said, if you really want to keep watch on your bags, just select a seat facing the luggage compartment. Also make sure that your valuables are in a smaller back that you carry around with you—it’s no different from checking in your bags at the airport.
Don’t forget to validate your tickets.
Whether you’re riding the bus or train, you’ll need to do this step. Simply look for the validation machines on the platform or near the bus stop. It’s usually a small rectangular box mounted on a pole, with a slot to feed your ticket in. If you forget to have your tickets validated, you may get fined once you’re already onboard the train or bus.