Don’t forget to validate your ticket
First of all, don’t forget to validate your train ticket as having a train ticket alone doesn’t tie you to a specific travel date, so to keep people from buying one date-less ticket and re-using it every time they take that train trip, Trenitalia requires that tickets be validated before you board your train.
Ticket-validating machines can be difficult to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for – but they’re strategically placed throughout train stations, so keep your eye out for them and you’ll find one near your platform or in the main lobby area. They’re usually small yellow or orange wall-mounted boxes where the only opening makes it obvious how to insert your ticket. The machine stamps a date and time on the ticket, and these machines are not on board the trains themselves. You risk a hefty fine if you don’t validate your ticket before you get on the train, so be sure to do it.
If you have a reservation, find the car number on your reservation and the seat number. Then locate the corresponding car number on the train and hop on. First class cars will all have a large number “1” near the door, and second class cars will have a number “2”. The style of train will determine whether your seat is in a compartment or a car with a center aisle, but you should not have trouble figuring out which seat is yours. If you find someone in your seat, just show them your reservation and they will move – this is fairly common, as most Italians do not make reservations and will just hop on the train and wait for someone to tell them the seat is reserved. If you are not running to catch your train, it is always better to find your specific car before boarding – think small aisles, large bags and two-way traffic and you will understand why.
If you do not have a reservation, the only thing you have to look for is the class of car that corresponds to the ticket you have purchased – if you are traveling first class, look for the cars with the “1” by the door, and if you are in second class, look for the “2” by the door. Then simply get on and find a spare seat. If you are not sure whether a seat is available, you can ask people sitting nearby by pointing at the seat and saying, “Libero?” or “Occupato?” (“Free?” and “Taken?” respectively).
What do trains offer?
Some trains, especially the faster ones, will have luggage compartments at the end of each car where you can leave your bigger bags so as not to haul them through the narrow aisles. Most trains will have overhead racks for bags which you can actually lift, and in trains where there are seats situated back-to- back there are small spaces between seatbacks where you can stow smaller bags.