Even though they may be on the same route, there are many types of Italian trains. Although they may have different names, the most important things to know are whether they are faster, slower or how expensive they are.
Side note: A new train service is now available in the town!
It was the national railway service Trenitalia that ran trains in Italy until 2012. Italo has opened luxury high-speed trains to certain cities, some of which are also served Trenitalia. It plans to expand its network throughout the country.
You can use any train system you want. However, it is important to note that Italo trains do not always stop at the same stations as Trenitalia trains. Make sure you check your tickets! Italo trains run by private companies and are not covered by rail passes.
Okay, let’s get back to the list for trains in Italy…
Below is a list of all the types of trains that you will see in Italy. These are listed in decreasing order according to how fast and nice the trains overall. However, it is not a scale. It is in parentheses that each train is identified in Italy by its abbreviation.
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.
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Alta Velocita (AV)
It stands for “high speed” and is the fastest train set run by Trenitalia, the Italian rail system. The tracks used by AV trains are different from those used for other trains in Italy. This required the construction of entirely new tracks. AV trains currently serve a small number of major cities, although this is expected to grow.
Reservations are required for these trains, which can be expensive. There are three types of AV trains, each with its own name.
- Frecciarossa The fastest trains in the fleet, traveling at speeds exceeding 223 miles an hour (360 km/hr) and serving Turin, Milan Bologna, Rome Naples and Salerno.
- Frecciargente – The “silver arrow”, which travels at speeds exceeding 155 miles an hour (250 km/hr), and serves Rome, Verona/Lecce, Lamezia Terme/Reggio Calabria.
- Frecciabianca The “white Arrow” trains travel at speeds exceeding 124 miles an hour (200 km/hr) and serve Milan, Venice, Udine.
Italo trains were launched in 2012 by NTV. Italo trains have been operating in Milan, Padua and Rimini, Bologna. Pesaro. Ancona. Florence, Turin. Rome. Salerno.
Italo trains can be booked in advance and are comparable to AV trains. They also offer all the nice amenities such as reliable WiFi, a cinema car and a “no-sound” car.
Italo trains may not use Trenitalia’s primary stations. They might even use two different hub stations within one city. If you are taking an Italo train, make sure to check your tickets to determine which station you will need.
Eurostar Italia (ES)
This Eurostar is not the same Eurostar that runs between London and Paris. Before the advent of AV trains, the Italian Eurostar was the fastest train in Italy. ES trains are still very fast, often air-conditioned and comfortable. Tickets for AV or Italo trains usually cost less than ES tickets.
Although these trains do not connect all of the country, they are still more extensive than the AV network. Reservations are required for Eurostar trains like Alta Velocita trains.
InterCity trains, like their more expensive siblings above cover long distances in Italy. However, they do so a little slower and less cheaply. IC trains are a good option for travelers who have more time and money.
Reservations are sometimes required for IC trains, but this is not the norm. While most travel guides recommend reservations for IC trains, it is not always necessary. To find out if it is worth the effort, read my article on how to book reservations for trains in Italy.
There are many types of regional trains in Italy. They are all slower than the ones listed above, but they are also much more affordable.
These trains are used to travel between small towns on the coast. The distances covered may not be great. These trains are not often available for reservations and may not have first-class cars or air conditioning.