Your trip to Italy is coming up! Hooray! Now wait a minute. How will you get there, and how will you get around once you arrive? If you think renting a car is the easiest way to travel in Italy… then read on! Despite the fact that Italy’s transportation system is different from the American one, it’s not that difficult!
Booking your flight to Italy is the first step. Direct flights to Italy are few and far between. Many go through London, Paris, or another major European city. Split flights offer a different choice, even if it’s annoying. Consider booking just the London flight instead of the entire flight. In either case, you would book another European airline for the second leg, like Ryanair or Easyjet, so you could spend a few nights there. Airlines like these offer fantastic travel discounts for Italy. You can also fly “open jaw” between airports. Avoid money traps, however. If you fly to Italy, you may save money, but you may have to pay more for incidentals. Find out whether the discount airline charges for checked baggage before booking a flight. Choose a one-time flight if you value time more than money.
Trains are the most convenient long-distance transportation in Italy. Visit more than one location within a country without driving or flying. The train connects most major cities and many minor ones. This system has two tiers. Some trains charge an optional seat reservation fee in addition to the base charge. Reservations are recommended if you’re traveling in the summer or have a specific schedule. Otherwise, no reservations are required. Sometimes, the option isn’t even available. If you use the train for three days or more during your trip, the gives you unlimited access for three days. It acts as an unlimited ticket, but reservations are still extra. If needed, additional travel days can be purchased.
When staying in a city, don’t rent a car! It’s the most common question about Italian transportation. Italian cities are compact and pedestrian-friendly, making driving challenging. Florence and Rome are off-limits to private vehicles. Also, parking is a hassle. Traveling from Florence, Rome, Venice, or another major Italian city does not require a rental car. Day trips can be done by bus, train, or taxi. Do rent a car when in Tuscany’s countryside or hill towns! You’ll need one for groceries and exploration in rural areas. There are exceptions, such as Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast. This tiny town is connected by a narrow, winding road - terrifying for a beginner. Buses and ferries are the best ways to travel between towns.
Italian public buses are the last mode of transportation. You can find schedules on the Internet before you travel. When dealing with Italian bus systems, you should simply wing it. Whether you live in a city or coastal area, there is likely to be a stop nearby. You can purchase your tickets at local tobacco shops in advance, then relax and enjoy the schedule. Locals will probably be able to tell you which bus will take you where you want to go even if the sign is completely unreadable - regardless of your Italian level!
Walking is the one form of transportation that will never go out of style in Italian transportation. There’s nothing like meandering around Italy once you arrive, whether by train, plane, or automobile. Visit an outdoor market… Take in ancient architecture… Enjoy a moonlit stroll… Italians are walkers, and they’ll inspire you to join them. If you’re in Rome, travel like a Roman!