How to buy Italian Train Tickets and Reservations

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Milan’s Centrale Station – Conor Lawless (creative communs)

This article will explain what your options are when it comes to booking tickets and reservations before or after you arrive in Italy.

Advance Reservations and Buying Tickets

You can plan your trip to Italy from your home, and you can even book tickets and make reservations online for Italian trains. People without European credit cards were unable to purchase train tickets from the Trenitalia website. However, this problem has been fixed. Trenitalia is not the only site that allows you to buy tickets online. This includes the “economy” or “super economy” tickets.

You can search train schedules on the ItaliaRail website and book both tickets and reservations for your trip. Trenitalia has partnered with ItaliaRail to give you the same advance purchase discount fares that you will see on Trenitalia’s site. You’ll also be rewarded for booking early. The prices are displayed in US dollars, which means that there is no exchange fee for US credit card holders. Also, the site accepts all credit and debit cards. ItaliaRail tickets are often e-tickets. This means that you will receive your tickets via email as soon as you order them.

Tickets for trips not entirely within Italy (i.e. If you are booking a trip from Zurich or Venice to Milan, tickets may not be available online and will need to be sent to you by mail. If you wait too long, you might not be able to purchase tickets once you arrive in Europe.

You can still use ItaliaRail if you have a Eurail Italy Pass. Just make sure you check the right boxes so that you are only looking up and not buying tickets.

Italo Tickets – Buy in Advance

The new Italo website allows users to purchase tickets for train trips up until six weeks ahead of time. Users aren’t reporting the same credit card problems. Italo trains can be booked in advance and are comparable in price to AV trains. Eurail Passes cannot be used on Italo trains.

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Italy Reservations and Tickets

You can buy tickets in Italy as you go if you don’t have a specific itinerary or need more flexibility. This can be done in a few ways, depending on the size and station of the train station.

The Ticket Counters at the Train Station

Each station will have one or more ticket windows. Greater stations will have more ticket windows but they will be busier. You can avoid waiting in long lines and miss your train by going to the station on the day of your trip. This will allow you to simply walk in the station the day before your trip and validate your ticket. Then, hop on your train and go!

You must bring your Eurail Italy Pass with you to the ticket window. To determine what type of reservation you require, the ticket agent will need to see your pass. Along with your rail pass, you will need to show your passport.

You’ll also find it useful to know that tickets can be purchased at any station regardless of whether you are in one or two cities on your trip. You could buy a ticket for a trip from Florence to Rome while you are in Venice. This is something you might not do often but it can be useful if you know that you will have limited time at the station during your trip. Never underestimate the value of a patient ticket seller!

Although ticket sellers at stations will accept credit cards, European stations increasingly only accept cards with electronic chips embedded. This is a standard practice in Europe but not across the globe (including the US). The credit card reader may reject your card if it doesn’t contain a chip. Cash is always handy for tickets to trains.

Automated Machines at the Train Station

Biglietto Veloce Machines – Chris Sampson (creative Commons)

There are automated ticket machines available at all Italian train stations. There are a few differences between machines. You might still see lines at machines during peak travel hours, but it is usually a faster way to get a ticket.

You’ll find these machines most often at Italian train stations. They have “Biglietto Veloce”, which means “Fast Ticket”. You can change the language on the touch-screen to make your transaction in English or any other language. It is easy to follow the instructions for booking tickets and making reservations.

When you are asked which type of ticket you would like to buy, the most likely answer is “Base”, which means that you don’t have any discount codes. A Trenitalia membership card is also possible. If you do not have one, you can select “Nessuna Carta”.

Automated ticket machines can be a great choice for those who aren’t sure what to do or don’t know how to go about booking their trip. You should be aware of the people who are waiting behind you to use your machine, especially during rush hour. If you have difficulty understanding what you need, you can always ask a person at a ticket window.

While these machines can accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards from Visa and MasterCard, the machines of today will not take cards without an electronic chip. This is a standard practice in Europe. However, it’s not always the case in America. American banks don’t yet offer cards with chips so your card could be rejected. You should have enough cash to pay for your train tickets. Some machines “forget” change, so be prepared.

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7 Responses to “How to Purchase Italian Train Tickets & Reservations?”

  • Francis has the following:

    Recently, 5/15 bought tickets on the Italian railway.

    Italicize. We were able to use the code provided by some of them.

    Some did not. It created a lot of problems for us.

    Trainitalia. We had to purchase more tickets.

    They are not allowed to check at the trainitalia stations.

    Our tickets. We also lost our tickets due to strikes by local trains.

    They were able to get us on an express train that had broken down.

    Local stops every mile, so we missed the next train.

    I had to purchase tickets again. I recommend purchasing your tickets at the machine



  • Paul Spadoni said:

    Thank you for this helpful summary. The majority of American credit cards come with chips. I have had no issues using my card at stations or buying tickets online. A credit card that does not charge a fee for international purchases is a good choice.

    Paul Spadoni

  • Lynda Thompson says:

    Hi, Jessica. Hi Jessica! I have downloaded your book about train travel in Italy, and have bought, well, something! After reading your article on purchasing tickets/reservations, I’m not sure what I have and am really nervous. I have two tickets and/or reservations from Trenitalia, and one from Italao. Each trip has a printout that shows the price paid, date of purchase, dates of travel, departure and arrival times, and seat assignments. Are you good or do I have something I don’t need?

    • Jessica says:

      Without seeing your inventory and knowing the details of what you purchased, I cannot say. ItaliaRail was the place you purchased your Trenitalia tickets. ItaliaRail has customer service representatives who can help you confirm your tickets and if you need any other information.

      • Lynda Thompson says:

        Thank you for your response. Is it possible to attach a photo for you to view? I bought one ticket from Italo, and two tickets from Trenoitalia.

        • Lynda Thompson says:

          Sorry, Trenitalia.

        • Jessica says:

          You can have reservations if you have specific seat assignments for trains. I don’t think it is possible to tell without seeing the tickets. If you are really worried, you can contact customer service at the place you purchased the tickets.

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