How to deal with Italian Train Strikes

John Picken Photography (creative Commons): A calm Milan Central Station

It’s not easy to rhapsodeize about train travel in Italy. The train strikes in Italy are one of the most famous issues. Italian citizens are well-versed in the latest strikes news. They speak the language and follow the news. However, travelers can be caught up in strikes without being aware of what is happening. It is impossible to prevent a strike in transportation while you are in Italy. However, knowing how you can deal with it will save you a lot of pain.

For foreigners, it’s not difficult for the Italians to keep their strike plans secret.

Italian Train Strikes Are Scheduled in Advance

Yes, really. Yes, I know. It’s crazy. It seems like it would completely defeat the purpose for a strike. It’s actually true. It’s possible to find a website that lists all strikes in Italy months ahead of their occurrence. Although it is only in Italian, you can still get a sense of the information to be able to predict if you will cross paths with strikers and, if so, make changes to your plans.

The transportation strike tracking site is Commisione di Garanzia Sciopero (the word “sciopero” means “strike”). This post by Madeline on Madeline’s Italy Beyond the Obvious blog explains how to access. Here are the basics.

    • First, look at the column “SETTORE” for the word TRANSPORTI (transport). This will show you if it has an impact on any form of transportation.
    • To see if they correspond to dates on your trip, scan the “DATA” column.
    • Look at the “DOVE (where) column to determine if there are any strikes that could affect the area you will be in on that date. If you see the word NAZIONALE in that column, that means that the entire country is affected.
  • If you see a strike in the city that you are visiting, you can look at the “SCIOPERO” column to find out exactly what transportation is affected. It could be all trains or a specific station, or a combination of both. To see more information, click on the link in the column. You can also find the duration of the strike. They are often 24 hours long.

Trenitalia has a section that guarantees minimum transport services even during strikes. This means that even during a strike, there are still trains that run during peak hours (6-9am Monday through Saturday) and 6-9pm on Monday through Saturday. These tickets are a hot commodity for both Italians and tourists. You can be very fortunate if you book your trip in advance and are able to get one of these tickets.

Actually, that’s a good reason to buy a lottery ticket.

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What to do if you’re in Italy during a Transportation Strike

First, don’t panic. You can look up potential strikes prior to your trip, which gives you the chance to make alternate plans if necessary. Here are some things to keep in mind:

    • To find out the exact impact of the strike, pay attention to the details. It may not be necessary to change your plans. Madeline from Italy Beyond the Obvious states, “Although the baggage handling staff at Rome’s airport have gone on strike, the rest will be working perfectly normal.” You won’t need to cancel your flight in such a situation, although you should bring a carry-on.
    • You should double-check the website before you leave for work as strike dates are subject to change.
    • Be flexible with your plans and be ready to change as needed if there is an unexpected strike.
    • Travelers who find themselves stuck due to strikes will not be assisted by anyone. You’ll have to do it all on your own. You can change your travel plans to avoid a strike if you are aware of it. You can either stay an extra day in Florence, or you can leave one day earlier to avoid the 24-hour strike.
    • If the strike is limited to trains and not general transportation strikes, you should find out if you can take the same trip by bus or rent a car.
  • Not only will you have to make alternative plans, but so will others. If you don’t book your tickets in advance, it will be very difficult to get tickets on trains or buses right before or after a strike.

If you find yourself in a situation where there are no viable alternatives to transportation (or tickets are sold out), then you need to be patient and calm, consider all options and, most importantly, enjoy another day. This is not a common situation. There are worse problems. This will make for a great story to tell at home.

Italy Train Tickets

You can get your tickets from ItaliaRail before you leave the USA. This company is based in the United States and partners with Trenitalia for real-time connectivity to Italy’s rail reservation system. This allows you to get the lowest fares and the most current availability without needing to translate your itinerary into English. ItaliaRail offers online customer support and most tickets can be downloaded instantly.

Italy Explained is an ItaliaRail affiliate partner. This means that if I refer you to ItalyRail for tickets, I will get a small commission. It doesn’t cost anything extra. We appreciate your support.

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