These 186 mph Frecciarossa trains run on the Milan-Florence-Rome-Naples route...

  Buy tickets around Italy from €9/€19/€29 from who connect directly to the Trenitalia ticketing system. 

  If you live in the UK you can also buy in pounds at

  Loco2 & ItaliaRail also sell international train tickets from Italy: Milan to Zurich from €22, Rome to Paris from €35, Venice to Vienna from €39, see advice here.

  Booking opens 120 days ahead for most long-distance trains in Italy.

  Works for anyone:  All international credit cards accepted, and you either just quote your booking reference on board the train or collect tickets from the self-service machines at all main Italian stations.

  No booking fee!  ItaliaRail's €3.50 booking fee will be refunded if you email your booking reference to  Loco2 charge no fee if you use a debit card.

  €15 ItalyPass?  If you use Italiarail, just delete this from your basket if you don't want one, it's nothing to do with trains.

  Airport links:  These sites can sell tickets from Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa or Pisa airports to anywhere in Italy.

  Pompeii & Sorrento are not on the mainline network, so buy a ticket to Naples Centrale then buy a ticket locally for the Circumvesuviana Railway,

  Alternatively, you can buy tickets direct from Trenitalia, see the advice here.


Train tickets for Italy from just €9, €19, €29...

There's no better way to see the great cities of Italy than by train.  The trains link just about every Italian town or city of any significance, centre to centre, with advance-purchase fares from just €9/€19/€29.  Driving and parking in Italian cities is a nightmare and the new high-speed train network is now faster, more convenient and more relaxing than flying.  For example, Rome to Florence takes just 1 hour 32 minutes at up to 186 mph from €19, Rome to Venice 3 hours 45 minutes from €29, Rome to Naples 1 hour 10 minutes from €19, Rome to Milan 2 hours 55 minutes from €29.  Zero check-in, no need to get to and from remote airports, no baggage fees or weight limits.  Journeys to and from Sicily can be made overnight on a time-effective sleeper train or leisurely daytime InterCity train.

Information for train travel in Italy...

  How to check Italian train schedules & fares

  How to buy train tickets for Italy - online or at the station...

  Maps of the Italian rail network

  Railpasses for Italy - a warning...

  What are Italian trains like?

  Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, InterCity, sleepers

  Travel tips: ticket validation, luggage, bikes, food, lounges...

  Which station to use in which city?

  Luggage storage at stations in Italy

  How to reach to Sicily

  How to reach Herculaneum, Pompeii, Sorrento

  How to reach Capri, Ischia & the Amalfi coast

  How to reach San Marino

  How to use, the Italian Railways website

  How to use self-service ticket machines at stations

  Have your tour of Italy professionally arranged - trains, hotels, transfers to your own spec.

  Useful country information currency, tourist info, dialling code...

  City tours by Open Top Bus - hop on, hop off.

  Hotel price comparison with

  Hotels in Italy at  - Hotels in Italy at

  Map of Milan showing stations - Map of Venice showing stations

  Map of Florence showing stations  Map of Rome showing stations

  Map of Naples showing stations  - Map of Turin showing stations

International trains to & from Italy...

  UK to Italy by train, easy by Eurostar & TGV

  Train travel to Italy from other European cities

  Train travel from Rome to other European cities

  Train travel from Florence to other European cities

  Train travel from Venice to other European cities

  Train travel from Milan to other European cities

  Train travel from Naples to other European cities

Other useful information...

  Eurail passes - the railpass for overseas visitors

  InterRail passes - the railpass for European residents

  An introduction to European train travel - luggage, maps, timetables.

  Thello sleeper trains from Paris to Italy

  TGV high-speed trains from Paris to Italy

Sponsored links...


Useful country information

 Train operators in Italy:

Trenitalia (Ferrovie dello Stato) (advice on using it) or use or  NTV Italo:  Some local trains in Northern Italy:




 Buy Italian train tickets:


in the UK   in the USA   in Canada   in Australia, NZ, Asia, Africa, S.America   direct from Trenitalia

 Other useful links:


Circumvesuviana Railway (Naples-Pompeii-Sorrento):  Bus & metro: Rome  Milan.  Venice waterbuses:



Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online



GMT+1  (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October)



£1 = 1.25 euros, $1 = 0.8 euros.  Currency converter

 Tourist information:     Recommended guidebooks

 Hotels & guesthouses:

Finding accommodation in Italy      Escorted tours to Italy by train

 Page last updated:

3 March 2015

Italian train schedules & fares...

  Boarding a Eurostar Italia train at Rome Stazione Termini

There's no check-in, and no hassle. You simply walk straight from the city centre onto the station concourse, look at the indicator board to find your train and hop on, any time up until departure.  Here, passengers board a sleek, high-speed Frecciarossa train in Naples Centrale...

  Florence SMN station

The main concourse at Florence's classic SMN station.  The station is walking distance from the famous Duomo or even the Ponte Vecchio...


For hotels in Italy I recommend (an Italian specialist) &, an excellent hotel price comparison site I use all the time:

You can check train times and fares for any journey in Italy at the Italian Railways (Trenitalia) website, or at one of two private agency sites which connect to Trenitalia and which can be easier to use.

Maps of the Italian rail network

How to buy train tickets for Italy...

Do you need to buy tickets in advance?

Buying tickets at the station, the easy way...

Buy Italian train tickets online...

Buy tickets by phone in the UK on 0844 248 248 3...

Italo high-speed trains, competing with Trenitalia...

Railpasses for Italy...

If you'd like your train tour of Italy professionally arranged, click here

What are Italian trains like?

Frecciarossa (Red Arrows)...   Click for Frecciarossa information page

Trenitalia's top high-speed trains are the 300 km/h (186 mph) ETR500 Frecciarossas.  As with all Trenitalia's long-distance trains, tickets always include a seat reservation - in other words, you can't just turn up and hop on, you need to buy a ticket which will include a seat reservation for a specific train, but you can do this right up until departure using the self-service machines or at the ticket office.  Frecciarossa tickets are only valid on the specific date and train you've booked.  All Frecciarossa services are air-conditioned with refreshments, and most have a waiter-service restaurant car open to all passengers, with the set 3-course menu costing around €32, a half bottle of wine €9, credit cards accepted.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles (2-pin, 220v).  Railpass holders must pay a €10 reservation fee per trip (1st class pass = Business, 2nd class pass = Standard), which given the fares are relatively cheap anyway (for example, €44 Rome-Florence) doesn't make railpasses very good value in Italy.

4 classes of service:  Frecciarossa trains have now been refurbished with not 2 but 4 classes of accommodation, see the photos below and the Frecciarossa information page for an explanation.

Principal Frecciarossa route:  Turin-Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples.  Seat numbering plans.

Frecciarossa power car   Frecciarossa Executive class seats

A Trenitalia Frecciarossa ETR500 train capable of 300 km/h (186 mph) on the new Italian high-speed network.  The name means red arrow.


Executive class (= Premium 1st) has just 8 seats, all with power sockets.  A complimentary tray meal with wine is served at your seat.  More info

Frecciarossa Business class seats   Frecciarossa Premium class

Business class (= 1st class).  All seats have power sockets.  There's a complimentary 'welcome' drink of prosecco.  More info.


Premium class (= premium 2nd class).  All seats have power sockets.  Complimentary 'welcome' drink of prosecco...  More info.

Frecciarossa restaurant car   Frecciarossa Standard class

Restaurant car on the Milan-Florence-Rome-Naples route, 3-course lunch €32, ½ bottle of wine €9, credit cards accepted.


Standard class (= 2nd class).  Seats exactly the same as Premium, but cloth not leather.  All seats have power sockets.  More info.

Watch the Frecciarossa video...

Frecciargento (Silver Arrows)...

Next down the pecking order are Trenitalia's 250km/h (155mph) Frecciargento tilting trains.  As with the Frecciarossas, tickets always include a seat reservation, you can't just turn up and hop on, you need to buy a ticket which will include a seat reservation for a specific train, but you can do this right up until departure using the self-service machines or at the ticket office.  Frecciargento tickets are only valid on the specific date and train you've booked.  Frecciargento services are operated by 'pendolino' tilting trains of either the ETR450/460/485 or most modern ETR600 type.  They are air-conditioned with a refreshment trolley and cafe-bar.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles (2-pin, 220v).  Railpass holders must pay a €10 reservation fee per trip.  The trains reach 155mph on the high-speed lines and use their tilt to cut journey times through curves when running on classic lines.

Principal Frecciargento routes:  Venice-Bologna-Florence-Rome;  Verona-Bologna-Florence-Rome;  Rome-Bari.  Seat numbering plans.

Trenitalia ETR600 'Frecciargento' train at Verona   1st class seats on a Trenitalia 'Frecciargento' ETR600

The most modern Frecciargento services are operated by bullet-nosed ETR600 tilting trains...


First class seats on an ETR600 Frecciargento.  There are bays of 4, bays of 2, and many unidirectional seats.

2nd class seats on a Trenitalia 'Frecciargento' ETR600   Trenitalia ETR485 'Frecciargento' train at Verona

Second class seats on an ETR600 Frecciargento.  There are bays of 4 and many unidirectional seats.


Other Frecciargento services are operated by wedge-nosed ETR485 tilting trains...

Frecciabianca (White Arrows)...

One step down from Frecciarossa and Frecciargento, most Frecciabianca (FB) services use locomotive-hauled ex-InterCity coaches which have been refurbished to modern standards and run at up to 125 mph, either hauled by a locomotive or sandwiched between first-generation ETR500 power cars.  They are air-conditioned and have a refreshment trolley, some have a bar counter, but no restaurant car.  As with the Frecciarossas and Frecciargentos, tickets always include a seat reservation, so you can't just turn up and hop on, you need to buy a ticket with a seat reservation for a specific train before boarding, although you can do this right up until departure.  Frecciabianca tickets are only valid on the specific date and train you've booked.  Railpass holders must pay a €10 reservation fee per trip.  The Eurostar City branding has been dropped, although you'll still see it on the side of some Frecciabianca trains.  Some Frecciabianca trains, notably on the Rome-Pisa-La Spezia-Genoa route are operated by older ETR460 tilting trains downgraded from Frecciargento service, rather than the refurbished InterCity carriages shown here.  Watch the official Trenitalia Frecciabianca video...

Principal Frecciabianca routes:  Turin-Milan-Verona-Venice;  Milan-Rimini-Ancona-Pescara-Bari-Brindisi.

Frecciabianca train to Venice, seen at Milan Centrale   Frecciabianca 2nd class seats

A Frecciabianca at Milan Centrale...  Frecciabianca trains link Milan with Verona & Venice every hour or so, at up to 125 mph.


2nd class seats.  Most have a power socket for laptops & mobiles.  There's a small bar car, and a refreshment trolley comes down the train...

Frecciabianca 1st class seats   Frecciabianca at Milan Centrale

This is 1st class, more spacious and less crowded.  All seats have power sockets for laptops or mobiles, and there's a complimentary coffee from the trolley...


A Frecciabianca to Venice, about to leave Milan.  A strange train:  Two first-generation ETR500 power cars sandwich former intercity carriages...

InterCity trains (IC)...

Next in the pecking order are the InterCity trains, fast trains hauled by locomotives at up to 100-125mph.  Except for railpass holders, InterCity trains are 'seat reservation obligatory', so you must make a reservation before boarding, you can't just hop on.  Tickets sold at stations or online automatically include the reservation.  However, a concession introduced for railpass holders in 2010 is that passholders don't need to reserve places on InterCity trains, they can just get on and travel without any supplement or reservation.  Passholders can make an optional seat reservation if they like, for a €3 fee.

Principal InterCity routes:  Rome-Naples-Sicily;  Rome-Pisa-Cinque Terre-Genoa-Milan;  Milan-Genoa-Ventimiglia (for Nice).

Italian InterCity train   1st class seats on an InterCity

An InterCity train at Milan Centrale.  Some cars are open-plan, some have compartments.


1st class 6-seater compartment on an InterCity train, viewed from the corridor. 

6-seat compartment 2nd class on an InterCity train   2nd class InterCity seats in an open saloon

2nd class 6-seat compartment on an InterCity train, viewed from the side corridor...


2nd class open-plan seating on a Trenitalia InterCity train.

Espresso, Regionale & local trains (E, R)...

No seat reservation is necessary (or, in many cases, possible), you just buy a ticket and hop on.  Remember to validate your ticket at the platform entrance before boarding.  There's no supplement for railpass holders, you can just hop on and show your pass.  These trains operate all over Italy, including Florence-Pisa, Florence-Siena, Florence-Lucca, Venice-Trieste, Rome-Civitavecchia.  Fares for these trains are cheap, but remember that prices for local trains are only shown on the Trenitalia website if you pick a date within the next 7 days.

Italo high-speed trains, competing with Trenitalia:   Italo information page    Italo video

Private operator NTV (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori), started operating its Italo high-speed trains on the Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples route on 28 April 2012, and they started a Venice-Florence-Rome service on 3 October 2012, see for times, fares & online tickets.  Italo trains have three classes, all with free WiFi and Poltrona Frau leather seats:

'Smart' (2nd class) seats on NTV's new Italo train   One of NTV's new Italo trains at Rome Tiburtina

Leather seats in Smart ambience (2nd class) on Italo.


Italo at Rome Tiburtina.  See the Italo information page.

Italian overnight trains...

An overnight sleeper train is often the best way to travel long distances, for example from Milan or Rome to Sicily, or from Venice or Milan to Naples.  It's an experience in itself that's effectively faster than flying, and saves a hotel bill too.  Italian overnight trains have several types of couchette & sleeper.  Some also have seats or reclining seats, but a couchette or sleeper is recommended, as you can lie flat and sleep in a safely-locked compartment.  Yes, they are perfectly safe!

Standard 1, 2 or 3 berth sleeper...

Standard sleeping-car on Italian overnight train

Standard Italian sleeper on overnight train.  It has 12 compartments, each of which can be used as 1st class Single, 1st class Double or 2nd class 3-berth. This is the Naples to Milan sleeper, arrived at Milan Centrale.

  1- 2- or 3- berth sleeper on Italian overnight train - daytime mode

Standard sleeper in evening/ morning mode, with beds folded away.


First class single sleeper

1st class double.  If the 3rd berth was in use it would be 2nd class 3-berth.

4-berth C4 Comfort couchettes...

Italian 'Comfort' couchette   Italian 'Comfort' 4-berth couchette, night-time.   Italian 'Comfort' 4-berth couchette, in evening/morning mode.

A Comfort couchette car.  A good, economical choice.


A 4-berth Comfort couchette compartment in night-time and daytime modes.

Travel tips...

Which station in which city?

  Train going onto the ferry to Sicily

Sicily Express!  The sleeper train from Milan to Palermo is shunted off the ferry at Messina.  Yes, the trains to Sicily really are direct, they are put on a ferry to cross the straits from Villa San Giovanni to Messina. Photo courtesy of David Smith.

  Naples-Pompeii-Sorrento train

A Naples-Pompeii-Sorrento train on the Circumvesuviana Railway, every 30 minutes for just a few euros...

How to travel to Sicily...

How to reach Herculaneum, Pompeii & Sorrento...


The SNAV fast ferry from Capri to Naples.

How to reach Capri...

How to reach Ischia...


SITA bus on the narrow coast road between Amalfi and Sorrento...

How to reach Amalfi, Positano, Praiano...

How to reach Elba...

How to reach San Marino...

How to use


Video tutorial...

Watch me book a simple Florence to Rome train ticket on  (Feedback appreciated, it's the first such video I have made.  Did it help?)



Troubleshooting:  The usual mistakes with

1. No trains appear in the search results or only 1 or 2 trains at odd times of day. 

Reason:  Data isn't fully loaded yet for that date, either because you're looking at a date more than 120 days ahead, or at a date after the twice-annual timetable change, on the 2nd Sunday in June and the 2nd Sunday in December, when they are always late loading the data and the 120 days often slips to 60 day or even less.

Solution:  Wait till bookings open!

2. "The travel solution has at least a segment not purchasable."  

Reason:  All or part of your journey is on a regional train.  Tickets for regional trains can only be bought 7 days or less ahead, and fares only show up for dates in the next 7 days.

Solution:  If your whole journey is on a regional train, for example Pisa to Florence, you can see how much it costs by re-running the enquiry for a date within the next 7 days.  The price is fixed and doesn't change.  Then simply buy at the station on the day, or if you like buy online less less than 7 days before departure.

If only part of the journey is on a regional train and the other part on a long-distance train (for example Rome to Siena), split the booking and just book the long-distance part (in this case Rome to Florence) on which reservation is compulsory and cheap fares are available if you pre-book, then simply buy the regional part (in this case Florence to Siena) at the station, no reservation necessary or even possible.

3. Problem:  It says my arrival and/or departure station is invalid.  On you now need to use the Italian place name, such as 'Roma Termini' for Rome, 'Milano Centrale' for Milan, 'Venezia S. Lucia' for Venice, 'Firenze' for Florence.

4. Problem:  I want a sleeper and it says 'Double seat compartment'.  This is just a poor translation, this does in fact mean a 2-bed sleeper!

5. Problem:  Pompeii or Sorrento not shown.  That's because you need to travel to Naples Centrale with Trenitalia, then switch to a local private railway, the Circumvesuviana,

6. Problem:  I have to register but haven't got an Italian address.  No, you don't need to register, you just need to change the default Registered User to Non Registered User, then you can buy without registering.

Further problem:  There isn't a 'Non Registered User' option!  Reason:  Part of the journey is on a Regional train.  Solution:  Either just book the high-speed part of the journey and leave the regional ticket until you get to Italy, or simply try instead as it doesn't have this problem.

The Italian Railways website is well worth getting to know.  It can sell: used to be notorious for not accepting non-Italian credit cards.  But after a new payment system was introduced in November 2010, it now happily accepts almost all foreign credit cards.

You can use instead...  You may find easier to use than for sleeper trains, international trains and passholder reservations.  ItaliaRail is an agency who connects directly to the Trenitalia ticketing system to sell the same trains at the same prices as Trenitalia, but in plain English using English-language place names.  They charge a booking fee of around €3.50, but this will be refunded if you send them an email at after you book.

How to use

Trenitalia's self-service ticket machines...

How to use the self-service ticket machines at main Italian stations...

It's easy to buy tickets at the station, or to make reservations to go with a railpass, using the self-service ticket machines at all main Italian stations, as long as you have a credit card with a PIN (4-digit personal identification number).  They have an English language facility, and it's faster and easier than using the ticket office!  The machines are pretty self-explanatory, but to give you confidence and so you know what to expect, here's how to use them:

Trains in Italy:  How to use the self-service ticket machines   Trains in Italy:  Switch the self-service ticket machines to English

Self-service machines are installed at all main Italian stations, and it's quicker and easier than using the ticket office.  Touch the UK flag on the touch-screen to switch it to English...

Trains in Italy:  Touch 'buy your ticket' to buy a ticket or make a railpass reservation   To collect tickets, touch 'collect your ticket' then enter your PNR

To buy a ticket or make a railpass reservation, touch 'BUY YOUR TICKET'.

To collect pre-booked tickets touch 'COLLECT YOUR TICKET'.


To collect tickets booked with Trenitalia or, enter your PNR & follow instructions to enter the lead name & print your tickets.  Obviously, if your booking is 'ticketless' there's no need to collect any tickets, just quote the PNR on board!

Enter your destination, date and time   Choose your train from the list...

To buy a ticket or make a railpass reservation, enter your destination. The station you're at is pre-set as the departure point, touch 'modify' top right if you want to change this. Enter date & time.


Now select a train from the list of departures.  Ideally, look for a fast one with no changes.  Touch 'SELECT'...

Choose your ticket type - usually 'BASE' is what you want.   Enter number of adults and children

To buy a ticket, you should usually select 'BASE' for immediate departure,as Economy and Super-Economy  (Promo) fares are only available in advance, not on the day of travel.  'Flessibile' fares have now been discontinued, so don't worry about those.  Enter the number of passengers.  Children under 4 go free with no ticket needed, children aged 4-11 (inclusive) can use a child rate ticket, 12 and over must pay the adult fare.

To make a railpass reservation, select 'GLOBAL PASS'.  This makes a reservation to go with a Eurail or InterRail pass.

The machines allow you to select your train seat   Pay by cash or credit card

On long-distance trains you can even select your seat...


Pay with cash or card.  Chip & PIN not essential.


Paying for a guidebook may seem an unnecessary expense, but it's only a fraction of what you spend on the whole trip.  If you have a decent guidebook, you see so much more and know so much more about what you're looking at.  I think the Lonely Planets or Rough Guides are the best ones out there for the independent traveller.

Click the images to buy at

...Or buy in the USA from

Buy online at AmazonLonely Planet Rome - click to buy onlineLonely Planet Venice - click to buy onlineLonely Planet Florence - click to buy onlineLonely Planet Western Europe - click to buy online







The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from

Hotels in Italy

Find Italian hotels & guesthouses on

I find that is usually the best website for hotels in Italy, as they're an Italian-based company and have places in even the smallest towns.  I also like the fact that the price you see is the price you pay, no hidden extras, and you just pay the hotel when you get there.  After booking, you can change or cancel your reservation in line with the hotel's own change and cancellation policy.  Try these direct links:

Rome   Florence   Venice   Verona   Naples   Milan   Siena  Lucca   Bologna   Pisa   Sorrento   Genoa   Ancona   Other Italian towns & cities


◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison. checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less! is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

If you need something special... (no relation!) is the place to start if you want something special for an anniversary, honeymoon, romantic break or other special occasion. lists hand-picked boutique hotels in Florence, Rome, Venice, Milan, Tuscany, Sicily, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast and several other locations in Italy.

Tripadvisor hotel reviews... is a good place to find independent travellers' reviews of the main hotels.  It also has the low-down on all the sights & attractions too.

Backpacker hostels...  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget the backpacker hostels.  Hostelbookers has online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most Italian cities and elsewhere in Europe, at rock-bottom prices.

Homestays: allows you to pre-book nights in someone's home in cities all over Europe and indeed worldwide, just as you'd book a hotel.  Verified hosts earn extra money from letting out their rooms, and you get to experience the people & culture of a country in a way you wouldn't if you stayed in a hotel - but often for little more than you'd pay for a hostel bed.

City Tours by Open Top Bus

City Sightseeing Open Top Bus TourBuy a ticket for the hop-on, hop-off Open Top Bus...

City Sightseeing's red-and-yellow open top tour buses are now a familiar site in 100 major cities on 6 continents.  They do a hop-on, hop-off tour bus ticket for Rome, Florence, Pisa, Naples, Milan, Verona, Sorrento, Turin, Palermo, Genoa, Livorno & Messina.  I find their bus tours a good way to orientate yourself in a city, returning to explore in more depth later.  It's also less wearing on the feet, especially with kids!

Buy your tour tickets online before you go, redeemable on any day you like within 3 months of buying it, see

Car hire

In Italy, cars and city centres don't mix, so for a city-based tour, stick with the train.  But if you want to get out of the cities and into the countryside, for example Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast, hiring a car can be a good idea.  For an inexpensive hire with a reputable operator, try Holiday Autos.

Tours of Italy by train

020 3327 0761 (UK)

1-888-829-4775 (USA)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 002 034 (NZ)

Have your tour of Italy professionally arranged...

If you want to tour Italy by train, with train tickets, hotels & transfers sorted for you to your own specification, contact rail travel specialists Railbookers and they'll create the ideal rail holiday for you, hassle-free.  Unlike some overseas travel agents, they really do know all about train travel in Italy and right across Europe, and they know some excellent hotels, too.  They take good care of their clients and it's not surprising they get a lot of repeat business, so I have no hesitation in recommending them.

  In the UK call 020 3327 0761,

  In the US call toll-free 1-888-829-4775,

  In Canada call toll-free 1-855-882-2910,

  In Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526,

  In New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or

Travel insurance & health card



Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on mobile data and phone calls...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find a huge bill.  Consider buying a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone from, which can slash costs by up to 85%.  Go-Sim cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also allows cheap data access for laptops & PDAs.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not used between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.


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