High-speed trains in Italy
The high-speed trains in Italy – such as the EuroStar, InterCity, or the new Alta Velocita – can be quite a bit more expensive than a slow train on the same route. The slower trains, stopping much more frequently along the way, take much longer to get from A to B. The high-speed trains stop less frequently, so get to each stop more quickly. The high-speed trains are also typically newer trains, and so can be a little more comfortable.
With the high-speed trains, you’ll almost always be required to buy a reservation in addition to your ticket, which makes the cost of those fast trains even higher. The cost of the reservation, like the cost of the ticket, will vary based on the exact kind of train you’re on, which class car you want to be in, and the cities you’re traveling to/from. With some slower trains you may not even be able to a reservation.
Italian Rail Pass
Most travelers have heard of the Eurail Pass and countless people have used a Eurail Pass to get around Europe on a budget. Bu there is also Italy Rail Pass if you’re just going to be traveling within Italy.
Keep in mind that if you are carrying an Italy Rail Pass, that is the equivalent of a ticket, all you need to purchase is a reservation. If you don’t have a rail pass, you’ll need to buy a ticket and a reservation, which can sometimes get printed on the same piece of paper.
Do the math
The main question you need to answer when you’re considering an Italy Rail Pass is whether it will be cheaper to go with a pass or go with buying individual tickets once you’re in Italy. It used to be the case that it was almost always going to be cheaper to buy individual tickets instead of an Italy Rail Pass – provided you were only going to be taking trains in Italy and not going to other countries besides – but that’s changed over the years. As Italy adds more high-speed rail lines and routes to its network, ticket prices on those trains are going up. And it’s high ticket prices that make getting an Italy Rail Pass such a good bargain.
For those who will only be taking the slowest trains in Italy and will forgo the modern pleasure of taking a high-speed train, buying individual tickets may still be the cheaper option.