Italian Train Travel

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Over the last week I have done quite a bit of train travel.  Last weekend I was visiting my sister Lisa in Florence with Annabella and Joseph, back to Rome Sunday night and then off to Lucca for an appointment Wednesday.   You’ll hear a lot of Italians complain about the trains here, and while I have experienced the negative side of late or cancelled trains, usually I have a great experience when I travel.  Italy has two companies that run high speed trains.

The largest train operator in Italy since 1905 is Trenitalia, which is a division of the Italian government.  The fastest trains operated by Trenitalia are the Alta Velocità (AV) series, called in descending order of speed: the Frecciarossa (“Red Arrow”); Frecciargente (“Silver Arrow”); and Frecciabianca (“White Arrow”).  The Frecciarossa trains can reach speeds of up to 300 km/h.

InterCity trains are the next-fastest option, running at up to 200 km/h, and connecting mid-sized cities and towns across long distances, as well as the biggest cities served by the AV trains.

The slowest Trenitalia trains fall under the category of “regional” trains, known as ‘Regionale’.  These are intended to serve every last small town with a train station, and they typically stop at every single station between two larger cities.  If you’re headed to a remote part of Italy, this may be your only option.

Founded in 2006, the other company that offers high speed train travel is Italo.  They have  a fleet high-speed trains offered by NTV (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori), the first private operator in the Italian high speed rail network.

Both companies have loyalty cards with point systems, rewards etc.  I have never travelled on Italo because I have a Trenitalia loyalty card and I work hard (and spend a fortune) accumulating points.  I have finally achieved a GOLD card, which means I have access to the lounge.  I love this just for the fact of having somewhere comfortable to sit while waiting for my train. Having a clean toilet to use is also a huge plus in my book, not to mention the complimentary drinks and snacks.  You can also buy your tickets in the lounge which makes life a little easier too.  Accumulating points means you are also eligible for a free journey occasionally.

Usually the ‘Freccia’ trains are on time, and they are always very clean.  You can charge your phone and there’s also a bar to buy food and drinks.  You can travel Standard, Premium, Business, or Executive.

So, I am going to confess that I really enjoy my train travel.  I’ve been using the Freccia trains for a few years now, and I make the most of my trip by relaxing with a good book, listening to music, or just enjoying the scenery.

I was back on the Freccia trains again today, as I’ve come to Rimini to work at the biggest chocolate, gelato, pastry trade fair that Italy hosts every year.  It’s called Sigep, But I’ll tell you all about that in another post! 😀