Italian trains are the best way to travel between big cities and to go to places where there’s not much parking, such as the Cinque Terre, or where parking may be expensive. If you’re traveling between Italy’s top cities, you’ll usually take the fast trains, frecce, and your ticket will have a specific time, date, and seat number so you don’t need to validate it.
Italian Train Tickets That Need to Be Validated
When you’re taking a regional train, however, you may need to validate your ticket before you board. You’ll use regional trains to travel to places like the Cinque Terre villages, Siena and Lucca in Tuscany, and many smaller towns not served by fast trains.
Important: Regional train tickets that do not have a specific date and time must be validated before boarding the train. Regional train tickets can easily be bought at the train station for use that day (or any date you specify) but they may not have a specific time on the ticket. Therefore, you need to stamp the ticket in the special machine (see photo below) to validate it with the date and time you are using it. Once you validate your ticket, it’s good for 4 hours. There are no seat reservations on regional trains and no discounts for buying them in advance.
What if you forget to validate your ticket? Usually if you tell the conductor as soon as you get on, you can avoid a fine but you may have to pay a small fee (a few euro) to have it validated on the train. If the conductor comes to check your ticket and it’s not validated, you may have to pay a fine. In the past it was often easy to get out of the fine by claiming that you didn’t know, but in the past few years I’ve seen a number of passengers get fined for not having validated their tickets. You will also be charged a fee if you buy your ticket on the train from the conductor so try to do it at the station.
Tip: Buy tickets for fast trains online in advance. Book frecce (fast) train tickets on Rail Europe for travel between big cities, paying in US dollars, or in euro on the trenitalia site. several Italian cities, including Italy’s 5 most visited cities, are also served by Italo, Italy’s private high-speed rail company. Book Italo Train Tickets on Rail Europe.
Look for this machine in the train station or near the tracks and stamp your regional train ticket to validate it: