The rail system throughout Italy is such a simple and enjoyable way to get around. We were recently on a trip to Rome and decided to take a quick trip to Florence by train. We researched the train schedule, tracked down the right station, chose the right train for us (high speed), decided on what class we wanted to take and how we would get to and from the train stations in Rome and Florence and booked it. We started the conversation of a visit to Florence over dinner and we were on the 1:00 pm train the next day. It is easy and really fun, especially with kids. You might even call it a little bit romantic.
Step One: Choose your destination
Roma to Firenze. Interesting note…you will need to know the name of the city in Italian. Type in Roma, not Rome and Firenze, not Florence. We departed from Roma Termini and arrived at Firenze S.M.N or Santa Maria Novella.
Step Two: Find out what train stations you want to utilize.
For example, there are a few stations in the larger cities. One of the stations is typically dedicated to the commuter trains. These trains make more stops and are much slower. Ideal if you are planning a trip to a smaller town and aren’t in any kind of a hurry. Do your research online or ask the concierge at your hotel.
Step Three: Visit website to purchase tickets.
There are a number of website that sell train tickets, but we purchased our tickets through Trainline Europe (http://www.thetrainline-europe.com/). The website has a number of menus that request information for your journey, but they are typically self-explanatory and simple.
You can also simply head to the train station and buy your tickets at the Biglietteria (ticket office) or the more recent addition is the ticket kiosk. They offer services in English and are pretty easy to navigate.
Step Four: Choose your departure and destination cities and whether it is one-way or round-trip.
Step Five: Choose your dates.
Once you choose your dates and departure time range (morning, afternoon, evening), you will then be asked the ages of the passengers. There is a cost break for children. We had a 50% discount for our children who were both 12 and under. Discounts vary.
Step Seven: Choose your class
There are four options: Executive, Business, Premium and Standard. There will be prices associated with the various classes and you can make your choice at that time for each ticket.
With Executive Class you are offered more space (larger seats, larger cabin, fewer travelers per cabin), beverages and meals are included, and a more private, quiet travel experience. You definitely pay a much higher price for these tickets, but also have a more relaxing and enjoyable experience and is especially nice when traveling with children. You can pay as low as $60 round-trip for standard tickets and up to $350 round trip for Executive Class tickets. The choice is yours.
The trains are also situated on the platform by class, meaning the Executive class cars are the first one or two cars in line, followed by the Business, Premium, then Standard class. When you are traveling with luggage, this might make a difference.
Step Eight: Input your personal information.
Step Nine: Input your payment details and BUY.
Step Ten: Print your documents.
All of this took me about 10-15 minutes to complete. We chose a high speed train with only one stop and traveled from Roma to Firenze in just 90 minutes, which would have taken us 4-5 hours by car, no to mention the headache and hassle of renting a car in Italy.
Traveling through Europe and especially Italy by train is a very pleasant way to get from town to town or city to city. Most of the train ticket companies offer a schedule of all their trains and times online, so you research where you are headed and can opt to take a commuter and stop or stay in the smaller towns. You can also do what we just did and get from point A to point B in a limited amount of time on the high speed trains and maximize your time in the cities you wish to visit. The trains are accurate to the moment, so don’t be late and travel light. There are no porters or people to assist you with your luggage. Bring a backpack that you can keep with you and a book to read or read up on your next destination.
Buon Viaggio al treno!