Europe proudly boasts of its wide rail network and rightly so. We travelled the entire western Europe by train and had the most amazing time doing that. The best part is, trains are one of the cheapest and fastest modes of transportation in Europe. Comfortable seating, easy access to luggage racks, convenient schedules and no luggage restrictions made train travel an obvious choice of transportation for us. Are you thinking of traveling to Italy?
If it weren’t for the train rides, it would’ve taken us longer to reach different countries. With trains, we didn’t have to worry about renting cars, picking up and dropping the car at different locations, worrying about delayed buses, panicking about different traffic rules and regulations in different countries, and missing out on stunning countryside views while driving. If it weren’t for the train rides, we wouldn’t have witnessed some of the most beautiful Tuscan landscapes of Italy. In a way, what I’m saying is that I don’t regret our decision of buying a Eurail pass. We used it the most in Italy!
I will share a separate blog post on How to buy and use a Eurail pass.
We had created a set itinerary, so it was easy for us to make reservations wherever necessary. Most fast trains required reservations. Regional trains, however, could be boarded without reservations for Eurail pass holders. Our train rides weren’t on consecutive days, because we stayed at almost every destination for a couple or more days, but each journey was completed in a single day. Some train reservations were made without the use of our Eurail pass since the tickets were already cheap. It looked like this :
Train travel 1 : Nice – Ventimiglia – Milano
Train travel 2 : Milano – Zurich
Train travel 3: Zurich – Venezia
Train travel 4: Venezia – Firenze
Train travel 5: Firenze – Pisa – Firenze
Train travel 6: Firenze – Roma
Train travel 7: Roma – Napoli
We usually made reservations at every train station a day before our actual journey or, if we were to depart from the same train station we have arrived on, we bought our departure tickets right after arriving at the station. An app that saved us efforts, time and money is GoEuro app. I can’t recommend this app enough. I share it with everyone who tells me they’re traveling to Europe. We could easily compare the cheapest, fastest and easiest transportations to get to a new city. We could check which trains/buses/flights were scheduled to depart on what day, what time they would arrive at our destination, when to book the next train to score the cheapest tickets and create our own itinerary to keep track of our upcoming reservations. Some tickets we bought at the train station, others we booked online. Easy peasy! We travelled with Trenitalia, Frecciarossa and .italo. All three were fast and super efficient.
We used our travel rewards credit card, Chase Sapphire, to make all the reservations. It gave us the freedom and flexibility to make any number of transactions while on an international trip, without having to pay transaction fees. The card left us tension-free from having to carry cash or convert currencies. We accumulated a ton of points from our transactions and used it to buy flight tickets. There are a number of other such travel credit cards; for example, some people swear by their Amex Platinum card and benefits they have received.
At every train station, we noticed signs put up to warn travelers to beware of thieves and pickpockets. A small relief that we didn’t have a lot of luggage and cash with us, but we had to safeguard our passports and wallets at all times. Speaking of luggage, even though we only had 2 stroller bags with us, it was like hell to drag the bag on cobbled streets of Italy, to and from train stations. It not only exhausted us and made us sweat our asses off in the Italian summer, it also damaged our bags by the end. I made a mental note to myself, never to bring stroller luggage to Italy. If you do carry a big checkin luggage, make sure it is hard case and light weight so that you don’t ask or accept help from strangers to carry your bags or you’ll never hear the end of it. Another thing to note is that not all lodges and Airbnbs will have elevators. I would highly recommend checking on this before reserving your stay or risk tugging your precious bags up narrow stairways and may be dislocate your shoulder in the process.
Just kidding, it didn’t happen to me but it easily could’ve.
If you have any questions regarding train travel in Italy, feel free to comment on the post or email me.