New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (2023)

New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (1)

Italian train ticket — creative commons photo by jayneandd

As I mentioned recently, there are some train-related stories that never go away. And sometimes you’ll be waiting for a train at the platform and something that looks like it might have been introduced around the time of Italian unification pulls up. What I’m trying to say is that it can feel like nothing really changes with the Italian rail system.

But that’s not reality.

This latest change was brought to my attention by my pal Rebecca, and it’s kind of a big deal if you take regional trains in Italy.

Buy Italy Train Tickets

Get your tickets before you leave home from ItaliaRail, a US-based company that partners with Trenitalia to offer real-time connectivity to the Italian rail reservation system. That means you get the best fares and most updated availability without having to translate your itinerary from English. Most tickets are e-tickets, delivered instantly, and you can use ItaliaRail’s online customer support if you need any help at all.

Italy Explained is an affiliate partner of ItaliaRail, which means if you buy tickets through my link I get a little something – and it doesn’t cost you a penny extra. Thanks for your support.

How Regional Train Tickets Used to Work

For as long as I’ve been traveling in Italy, tickets and reservations for regional trains were treated as wholly separate things. Every train required a ticket, but not every train required a reservation. So travelers could buy a ticket without forking over the several extra euro for a reservation – sure, they’d take their chances that the train would be crowded so that they’d need to stand, but that’s fine.

This system also allowed travelers who frequently made the same journey to buy a bunch of tickets at once – in bulk, basically – so they didn’t have to wait in line to buy a ticket every single time they made that trip. By validating a ticket before boarding a train, they’d give that ticket a date stamp that made it good for that specific day of travel.

Easy peasy, right?

Well, apparently Trenitalia thought this was no longer working the way they wanted it to. So, they made some changes.

How Regional Train Tickets Work Now

As of August 2016, all regional Trenitalia train tickets now automatically come with a specific date and a four-hour timeframe within which you can travel.

You can still purchase those same regional tickets in advance, but you’ll have to choose a travel date when you do (online or otherwise). The window of time within which your ticket is valid is four hours, though the example on the Trenitalia website says, “a traveller who chooses a journey from Pavia to Milan on train R20266 departing from Pavia at 12.51 can leave from 12.51 until 15.51 on the same day” – which sounds more like a three-hour window to me…

At any rate…

Tickets purchased online will have a date and a timeframe on them already, so once you print them out you don’t need to validate them at the station before you board your train. Tickets purchased at the station, however, either at a ticket window or from the machines, seem to only have the date on them – but no time. Those tickets still have to be validated, which starts the four-hour validity window.

Clear as mud, eh?

Personally, I like the satisfying kah-thunk of sticking a paper ticket in those bright orange (or, now, slick green) machines as my final act before climbing onto a train. It feels official. So, I say this – when in doubt, validate! It can’t hurt, even if your ticket doesn’t need it. Plus, did I mention the satisfying kah-thunk?

High-Speed Trains Are Not Affected

New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (2)

This change has to do with regional trains only, so if you mostly take the high-speed Frecce trains you won’t need to worry about any changes. Just keep it in mind in case you decide to take a spur-of-the-moment day trip to Lucca from Florence, which would be sort of a waste of money on your Italy Rail Pass, so you figure you’ll just pay for those tickets. That’s when you’ll need to know about this new system.

My ITALY EXPLAINED: ITALIAN TRAINS book has been updated to include this new information! Buy your copy today, or – if you already own it (thank you!) – download the updated version to your Kindle.

15 responses to “New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy”

  1. 8 November 2016 at 09:52

    (Video) How to use the Train in Italy - Trenitalia App and Physical Ticket

    It would seem that this change is not in favor of the customer. Also, when recently buying a regional ticket from a machine at a station, the machine didn’t give me a 4-hour window from the time I was buying the ticket. The choice was a ticket that began at noon or one that began at 4 pm. And to confuse the matter even more, the little ticket that came out of the machine stated, “This ticket must be validated before departure by the appropriate validators.”
    A regional ticket I bought from a ticket window just last week also stated that it must be validated. The 4 hours began from when I stamped the ticket.


    • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (4)Jessica says:

      9 November 2016 at 13:34

      Oh, my heavens… Thanks for the info, Karen. Maybe it’s an interim/transitional stage, having to validate it? I think this is one more reason for my “when in doubt, validate” MO.


  2. 9 November 2016 at 02:53

    Grazie mille for the update. Does this mean that the high speed Freccia train tickets still need to be validated?


    • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (6)Jessica says:

      9 November 2016 at 13:33

      I mention in the article that there’s no change to Frecce tickets – but because they already had to have reservations, they didn’t need to be validated before. So now, it appears, no tickets need to be validated.


      (Video) How to travel by train in Italy in 2023 🇮🇹🚅

  3. New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (7)Harley Arnett says:

    20 January 2017 at 15:07

    I purchased a couple of Regionale tickets in advance and will use them as E-tickets on my phone. The website noted that the tickets can be used for any trip up to 4 hours after the indicated time. My question is – can the ticket be used shortly before the time. For example, if I purchased a ticket for a 5:30 train on Mar 1, could I use it on the 4:30 train on Mar 1 if we finished early that day? If not, then it seems like it would always be wise to buy the ticket for a time slightly earlier than you expect to travel, thus leaving an hour before and 3 hours after your expected travel time.


    • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (8)Jessica says:

      22 January 2017 at 10:39

      Oh, that’s an interesting question, Harley – I don’t know the answer to that. I think your best bet for an answer is to see a ticket agent in Italy and find out what they say. I realize you’ve already bought your tickets for this trip, but it could be good info for the future. (And please let me know how they respond!) I’ll see if I can track down a reply, too.


      • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (9)Harley Arnett says:

        22 January 2017 at 13:17

        Thanks Jessica!


    • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (10)Alexandra says:

      27 January 2017 at 22:27

      (Video) HOW TO TRAVEL ITALY BY TRAIN - The Best Way to Travel in Italy! I Italy by Train

      Hi Harley, Jessica asked for feedback from a few of us living in Italy right now. I think that if you bought it online, it’s considered pre-validated, and it would be wise to pick the hour that you’re going to travel so if I were in your situation I’d indeed get a ticket valid also for the previous and later trains (ie imagine you might catch the hour before). Unless you’re visiting anywhere, or relying on a bus to get to the station, in which case skip it and have another coffee or gelato 🙂

      If you’re buying regional tickets ON SITE, here is a tip. The Machines spit out the hour of the specific train you choose. If you go to the tabacco store or window in the station, you can get a regional ticket for that DAY but that doesn’t have the hour specified. Then you can use it any time that day and it’s valid 4 hours from when you stamp it. Unfortunately they are no longer good the next day. (You can also go to the station to buy the day-long ticket for another day, not just “today”).


      • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (11)Harley says:

        28 January 2017 at 06:51

        Thanks Alexandra – great information!


    • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (12)Chris Flores says:

      23 May 2018 at 00:00

      Your can only use the tickets within 4 hours of the stamped time – beginning at that time (not earlier) whether that be an e-ticket or an actual ticket from the station.


  4. New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (13)Steve Arden says:

    31 August 2017 at 06:59

    I don’t know if this is technically starting a new thread, but it relates to Harley’s question about taking an earlier train, one befoe the 4 hour window.
    If I buy a ticket online, say Lucca-Rome, the first leg is on a regional train and the second on a high speed train. All the web sites I have found offer up tickets with a minimum amount of time to change trains (15-18 minutes). I would like a longer time in case the regional train is late or, since I’m 68, in case I just need more time to lug bags from track to track. Is there a way to get Italiarail, trenitalia or raileurope to offer choices with a little more time between trains?


    • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (14)Jessica says:

      (Video) Italian Train Ticket | How to Buy and Use Train

      11 September 2017 at 14:45

      That’s an interesting question, Steve. It used to be those non-specific tickets were valid at any time on that route, so you could just take whatever the next train was that you wanted to. And of course if you bought your tickets at the counter in Italy, you could make or request changes in the departure times easily. I just looked at the ItaliaRail site and I can’t see a way to do that, though I suspect if you contacted their customer support folks they’d be able to tailor an itinerary for you – they’re incredibly helpful.


    • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (15)Carlo Irlitti says:

      22 March 2018 at 05:37

      On the Trenitalia website you can lengthen the time between trains by doing two separate searches. In your example Lucca-Rome do searches for: Lucca-Florence (on a Regional train) and Florence-Rome (Freccie trains). This way you’ll have more choices. Booking from two searches is not automatically more expensive, it can be the same or cheaper. The ticket price(s) depend on the combination of trains, class of travel, time of day and time of purchase during the 120 day sales window.


  5. New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (16)Vatsal Parekh says:

    28 March 2018 at 01:25

    I have purchased a Ticket from Monrtreux (Switzerland) to Milan (Italy). The train passes through Brig (Switzerland) in 1 hour.

    Is it possible to Board Train from Brig instead of Montreux with the same Ticket? Or do I need to change the Ticket?


    • New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained (17)Jessica says:

      20 April 2018 at 14:24

      I’m afraid I don’t know much about Swiss train travel!


      (Video) HOW TO TRAVEL BY TRAIN IN ITALY 2021 | Beginners Travel Guide | 4K

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New Rules for Regional Train Tickets in Italy :: Italy Explained? ›

However, long-distance tickets for Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca & InterCity trains don't need to be validated in this way as they are for a specific date and train anyway. Nor do regional tickets, if bought online, as they are already pre-validated for a set 4-hour period.

Do they check tickets on regional trains in Italy? ›

However, long-distance tickets for Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca & InterCity trains don't need to be validated in this way as they are for a specific date and train anyway. Nor do regional tickets, if bought online, as they are already pre-validated for a set 4-hour period.

How do you use regional trains in Italy? ›

How to Travel by Train in Italy
  1. Know the name of the stations. ...
  2. Buy your Italian train tickets in advance. ...
  3. Select a highspeed train whenever possible. ...
  4. Arrive at the train station with at least 20 minutes before departure. ...
  5. Check the partenze. ...
  6. Validate your regional ticket before boarding. ...
  7. Board the correct carriage.
Jan 23, 2019

What is a regional train ticket in Italy? ›

“Regionale” is a service category that identifies trains in Italy which operate within the same region or between neighbouring regions.

Do regional trains in Italy have assigned seats? ›

All high speed trains in Italy require to have a seat reserved for a Rail Pass or a ticket/e-ticket with its seat assigned. In Regional trains passengers travel without seat reservations, that means there's no assigned seating. You run the risk of standing if the train is full, however.

What happens if you miss your regional train in Italy? ›

If you miss your train, simply approach the ticket counter, or Biglietteria, present your original ticket, and ask about your options. The representative will be able to advise you based on your individual ticket.

Do you need a printed ticket for trains in Italy? ›

Paperless train tickets In Italy are very common. Instead of a paper ticket, you'll simply get a code to show the ticket inspector. No printer required! You can present paperless train tickets on a smartphone or other mobile device, or you can simply write the reference down.

How far in advance can you book regional trains in Italy? ›

In Italy, regional trains can be booked 2 months ahead, while national and international trains may be available 6 months in advance.

Can you eat on regional trains in Italy? ›

On board our Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains we offer you a restaurant service to satisfy all tastes: innovative, modern and original dishes created with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

What is the difference between regional and high-speed train in Italy? ›

High-speed trains always require reservations and usually cost more than slow trains, but they're much more efficient if you're short on time. Regional trains in Italy are slower, but serve a much wider network of cities and smaller towns throughout Italy.

What is the difference between Reg and RV trains in Italy? ›

The difference between Regionale Veloce and Regionale services: Regionale (REG) trains are predominantly local services, while Regionale Veloce (RGV) services link towns and cities over longer distances.

Do you need to reserve seats on Italian trains? ›

In Italy, you must reserve seats on IC (InnerCity), EC (EuroCity), Frecciarossa and Frecciabianca trains. Reservations on the Frecciarossa and Frecciabianca trains are $14 USD per seat per train. ItaliaRail can make reservations on many but not ALL trains.

What is the difference between Trenitalia and ItaliaRail? ›

Trenitalia is the primary train operator in Italy and is owned by the Italian government. ItaliaRail is a private agency that sells Trenitalia tickets. Both companies sell online tickets to the general public.

How do I choose my seat on the Italy train? ›

If you want to choose your seat, please click on "Select" and the train seat map will appear. You can select a different coach if possible (subject to availability) or just choose an available seat by clicking on it. The "Cancel" button and the cross allows you to go back without confirming anything.

What happens if I get on a train without a seat reservation? ›

It will depend on the country and train, In most places there are no boarding controls so it may be possible to board but on reservation compulsory trains in countries where non-reservation travel is not allowed you may be ejected at an intermediate station or even face a legal demand for money from train officials.

What is the difference between regional and regionale Veloce? ›

Regionale Veloce (RV) are the semi-fast train services in Italy on which many different types of train are used, on routes they share with the slower Regionale, these RV services are faster because they skip more stations.

Can you sit anywhere on Italian trains? ›

Seat Reservations

If you're riding a train on which reservations are only recommended or completely optional and you don't have a reservation, you can sit in any available seat in the appropriate class you have booked.

Is there first class on Italian regional trains? ›

While they provide two classes (First and Second Class) on most of their services, they actually offer four different classes on board their Frecciarossa high-speed services – Standard, Premium, Business and Frecciarossa Executive.

Can you use the same train ticket if you missed the train? ›

If you somehow miss your train with a confirmed ticket then you will have to buy another reserved from the station (if available) to travel in the reserved coaches.

Do you have to pay for luggage on trains in Italy? ›

Traveling by train in Italy means always traveling with carry-on luggage. You'll carry on board everything you have with you. It's your responsibility to bring your bags on board and stow them properly, which is a great incentive to packing light. There's no fee to bring luggage on the train.

Can you buy train tickets with cash in Italy? ›

You may pay in cash, with debit or credit card. No additional charges apply. You can also pay PostoClick at Travel Agencies in Italy, (in cash, by cashpoint card, or by credit card), or at station ticket offices (in cash, by cashpoint card, or by credit card), or in the Customers Area of this website (by credit card).

What happens if you get caught without a train ticket in Italy? ›

You have to know that even travelling by train in Italy has its specific rules. The most important one is to validate your ticket! If you board a train without validating your ticket in the validating machine you will get 200€ fine!!! If you pay the fine immediately on board…

Is it cheaper to buy train tickets from station in advance? ›

Advance tickets are usually the cheapest way to travel by train, and generally go on sale 12 weeks before your date of travel. You have to travel on the train you're booked on, but you get a much cheaper price by foregoing flexible travel times. Full details on Advance tickets can be found here.

What is the best train to use in Italy? ›

If you plan to take a high speed train in Italy, it may well belong to Trenitalia. Red Arrow (Frecciarossa) trains are the fastest and all passengers benefit from amenities like charging sockets, free WiFi, air conditioning and a food carriage.

How early should I get to the train station in Italy? ›

As a general rule, it's a good idea to arrive 20-30 minutes before your train's scheduled departure time so you can get familiar with the station, find the information monitors as well as find your platform without being in a rush.

Do Italian regional trains have toilets? ›

There is typically one bathroom per train car on Italian trains. On newer trains, and especially high-speed trains, they are more spacious than what you might find on an airplane and offer the same basic features as those of a plane lavatory - a flushable toilet, sink with running water, soap, and paper towels.

Can you drink water on Italian trains? ›

Beverages available include coffee, soft drinks, water, wine, and beer. You can browse a fuller menu here. Separate restaurant cars are more common on longer train trips—particularly long-haul international trains—and on newer, high-speed trains.

Can you buy Trenitalia tickets at the station? ›

You can buy tickets at the Trenitalia counter at all stations, and Italo also has ticket sales at Termini and Tiburtina. Other smaller stations, as well as large train terminals, have ticket machines that accept cash or card.

What is the difference between 1st class and 2nd class trains in Italy? ›

First-class seating is more spacious, with fewer seats per compartment, and usually more quiet. There is more room for luggage and it will generally be less crowded as most passengers typically travel in second class.

What is the best speed train in Italy? ›

FRECCIAROSSA trains travel throughout Italy, reaching the maximum speed of 300 km/h; they run straight into the heart of the most important cities, shortening your travel time.

Which high speed train is better in Italy? ›

Trenitalia's high-speed trains are called Alta Velocità (AV), and are broken down into three categories: Frecciarossa (“Red Arrow”), Frecciargento (“Silver Arrow”), and Frecciabianca (“White Arrow”). Frecciarossa trains are the fastest of these, reaching speeds of up to 190 MPH (300 km/h).

What is the difference between RV and R in Trenitalia? ›

On many routes, particularly in northern Italy, alternative Regionale Veloce (RV) train services are faster than these Regionale (R) trains. Mainly because those RV services - skip some stations that the Regionale trains call because the RV services tend to only call at the major towns and cities.

Where do you put your suitcase on a train? ›

Small cases and bags can be stored under your seat, medium sized bags can go in the overhead racks and large suitcases must be placed in the luggage racks at the end of each carriage.

Can I bring food on Italian train? ›

Budget passengers are advised to visit the local supermarket and stock up before boarding trains, since carrying your own food is perfectly acceptable and expected. Dining car service is provided on international trains in Europe, but only at specific times. Trains equipped with bar cars serve light meals at any time.

What is the most reliable train line in Italy? ›

Best Italy trains

Trenitalia is the major Italy trains company which is responsible for operating both regular and high-speed trains. The high-speed Italian rail network connects cities like Rome, Florence, Naples, Bologna, Milan, and Venice (among many others) by modern Italy bullet trains.

What does special arrows mean on Trenitalia? ›

Italy by 300 km/h Frecciarossa...

Trenitalia is Italy's national train operator, and their premier train is the Frecciarossa. Frecciarossa means red arrow, and they can reach 300 km/h (186 mph) on Italy's new high-speed lines.

Can you bring luggage on Italiarail? ›

There's no fee to bring luggage on the train, nor do you need a special ticket to carry luggage on board. The limit on bags each passenger may carry on board is technically three pieces of luggage - but the limit is rarely if ever enforced.

How can I know my train seat type? ›

Such class of accommodation is abbreviated as below: 1A= First AC, 2A=2 Tier AC Sleer, 3A= 3 tier AC sleeper, CC= Chair Car, FC=First Class, SL= Sleeper Class, 2S= Second Class seat. 4.

How do I choose my train ticket? ›

Check Train Seat Availability Online
  1. Enter your Source and destination station.
  2. Choose the date of journey. ...
  3. Enter "Search Trains" and the list of trains, running dates, and their seat availability will be displayed on the screen.
  4. Choose your train and preferred class from the list to complete your train ticket booking.

How do I find my seating arrangement on a train? ›

One can select their allotted coach to know the seat arrangement of that coach. The reservation charts are prepared by Indian Railways hours before the train departs from the origin station. You can ask the concerned authority at the railway reservation desk about the train coach position.

Do trains in Italy sell out? ›

All seats on Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca & InterCity trains are reserved, so they can in theory sell out. However, as there are so many trains each with hundreds of seats there are almost always places available on most trains even just before departure.

Can I sit in first class if no seats on train? ›

If overcrowding becomes intense, first class can be “declassified”, i.e. opened up to all passengers, regardless of their tickets. But there is no automatic right to occupy first class.

Is seat reservation necessary? ›

For most high-speed trains and all night trains reservations are mandatory.

How are the regional trains in Italy? ›

Regional trains may not be the fastest option, but they're often the least expensive – and in many places they're the only game in town. It's also important to note that most regional trains only have second-class cars, require no reservations, and may or may not be air-conditioned.

Do they check ID on Italian trains? ›

You must show ID (typically a passport) and a rail pass that has been validated before boarding the train. For trains that require seat reservations, you must also show your reservation.

What happens if you don't validate your train ticket Italy? ›

If you do not validate the pass, or if you tamper with the pass in any way, the conductor has the right to confiscate it, at which time, the unused part of the pass is non-refundable.

Why do they check tickets on the train? ›

Ticket checks on trains and at stations by guards and the revenue protection team to make sure passengers have the right ticket for their journey.

What happens if you don t validate your ticket before boarding a train in Italy? ›

Please note that the pass must be validated at the station before boarding your train - a conductor on a train cannot validate the pass. If you do not validate the pass, or if you tamper with the pass in any way, the conductor has the right to confiscate it, at which time, the unused part of the pass is non-refundable.

Do you have to reserve seats on trains in Italy? ›

In Italy, you must reserve seats on IC (InnerCity), EC (EuroCity), Frecciarossa and Frecciabianca trains. Reservations on the Frecciarossa and Frecciabianca trains are $14 USD per seat per train. ItaliaRail can make reservations on many but not ALL trains.

Why do Italian police ask for passport at train station? ›

In order to ensure that they are on duty and not sitting in a warm cafe somewhere, their superiors probably instruct them to check a certain minimum number of passports, and in order to prove they have done so, they have to note the details on a list. Nothing to do with you personally.

Do you have to validate Italian train ticket? ›

If you buy tickets at the station and have a paper ticket, you will need to validate it before you board the train. Look for the green and white machines in all of the stations, stick in the ticket, and it will print a code on your ticket. Validate! Forgetting to validate your ticket can cost you a hefty fine.

Can I use a train ticket for a different time in Italy? ›

Your Ticket Reservation (PNR) is only valid for the Departure and Arrival stations on the ticket and the train number stated in the e-ticket. No station changes or substitutions are allowed.

Can you enter Italy without a return ticket? ›

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. Review our U.S. Travelers in Europe page. You will need proof of sufficient funds and a return plane ticket. For additional information about visas for the Schengen area, see the Schengen Visa page.

What happens if you don't buy a ticket on a train? ›

If you board a train without a ticket at a station where ticket facilities were available, you may be given a Penalty Fare Notice (PFN) and have to pay a Penalty Fare by a ticket inspector who has been appointed as a 'Penalty Fares Collector'.

Is it better to purchase your ticket at the station or on the train Why? ›

Higher fares usually apply when purchasing tickets onboard the train. To secure the best available fare, passengers should purchase tickets prior to boarding the train.

What do ticket inspectors check? ›

In most countries the ticket inspector will visually check the details on your ticket, including the journey information you added, so make sure to add the right journeys. In some countries the ticket inspector will scan the barcode and visually check the journey information.

Does your luggage get searched on a train? ›

If you're traveling by train and a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent asks to search your bags, you have the right to refuse. Law enforcement only has the right to search you or your belongings if they have probable cause to believe you are committing a crime.


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