Buying a train ticket in Italy: the train ticket office

Buying a train ticket in Italy- Italy from the Inside

Photo by Francesca Tosolini

The Italian train system is very efficient and convenient if you have to cover long distances. In Italy, trains are very popular in everyday life. They are a common means of transportation for commuters, students, businessmen, etc. Taking the train in Italy can definitely get you closer to the Italian culture.
The primary train operator in Italy is Trenitalia.
A train ticket can be purchased at several locations, but, usually, the train station ticket office (biglietteria) is the place people prefer.

It’s very important that you have a clear idea of the kind of ticket (biglietto) you want to buy (comprare). It may be a good idea to write the trip plan on a piece of paper (pezzo di carta) to show to the clerk, in case the language barrier makes the process too difficult. Keep in mind that most clerks speak only very basic English, so a note showing information such as the city or town of departure, the city or town of arrival, the date (data) and the time (ora) of departure and the number of people traveling in your party would be helpful. Another good idea is to have a map showing where you have to go and just pointing to the locations you want to travel to.

If you are in a hurry, look for the Fast Ticket Window (Sportello Veloce). This is an option that may be very useful if you are just about to catch your train, but you still haven’t purchased your ticket. The Sportello Veloce ticket window is reserved for passengers whose train leaves within 15 minutes. I was one of those passengers once… My adrenaline was already going up when I saw this ticket window and literally ran to it. Fortunately, there were only two people in front of me. It wouldn’t have been my dream to spend two hours waiting at the Naples train station… Right now this service is available only in major train stations.

Oh, and in case you wonder, credit cards are accepted.

The ticket office is usually open from 6am to 9pm (in the major train stations), so buy your ticket the day before in case you have to catch an early train (and in case you wonder, yes, you can find many people waiting in line even at 6am…). Ticket office hours are listed on the Trenitalia’s website (choose a region and then click on the “Servizi in stazione- Biglietterie” link). ***

{This is an excerpt from chapter 1 “General transportation” of the eBook “Italy from the Inside. A native Italian reveals the secrets of traveling in Italy”}

When is the best time to go to Italy?

Best time to go to Italy- Italy from the Inside

Photo by Francesca Tosolini

People often ask when is the best time to go to Italy. I feel the best time is from April to June and from September to October. July and August are less appealing due to extreme heat and more crowds. August is the month when most Italians go on vacation, and, as a result, many tourist areas are extremely crowded but cities are emptier which makes them easier to visit. The drawback is that many nice stores and restaurants may be closed.

{This is an excerpt from chapter 15 “Miscellaneous information” of the eBook “Italy from the Inside. A native Italian reveals the secrets of traveling in Italy”}

National Italian holidays

National Italian Holidays- Italy from the Inside

Photo by Francesca Tosolini

In Italy, these are the days during which stores, post offices, schools as well as banks are closed, while public transportation is minimized. Keep this in mind in order to avoid inconvenient situations.

New Year’s day (Capodanno): as in the States, the 1st of January is a holiday.

Epiphany (Epifania): this is celebrated on January 6th every year. It is a religious holiday and it corresponds to the presentation of baby Jesus to the Three Wise Men. It is observed in the schools: while American kids return to school on January 2nd, Italians kids do it on January 7th. Some stores and banks may be closed as well.

Easter (Pasqua): the Easter Sunday changes from one year to the next. This day is the same both in the States and Italy. It is celebrated with family or friends: there’s a saying that goes “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi”, which means celebrate Christmas with your family, and Easter with whoever you want.

The Day after Easter (Lunedi dell’angelo or Pasquetta): it is the Monday following Easter Sunday and is also an observed holiday in which many businesses and all public offices are closed. Many Italians spend this day outdoor, picnicking together to welcome the spring.

Liberation Day (Giorno della liberazione): this holiday commemorates the day Italy was freed from the Nazi-Fascism. It is celebrated every year on April 25th.

Labor Day (Festa del Lavoro): on May 1st, every year.

Italian Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica): in 1946 Italy had to decide whether to remain a monarchy or become a republic. On June 2, 1946 Italy decided to become a republic. This holiday is celebrated every year on June 2nd.

Assumption (Assunzione): this is the holiday celebrating Mary, Mother of Jesus. It is observed every year on August 15th. This festivity very much reminds me of the American 4th of July, since friends and family gather together to enjoy the outdoor and the late night fireworks (Late equals 11:45pm in Italy…).

All Saints’ Day (Ognissanti): every year on November 1st. On this day Italians bring flowers to the graves of their deceased loved ones, even though November the 2nd is the “official” Day of the Dead (giorno dei morti).

Immaculate Conception (Immacolata concezione): this is another holiday dedicated to Mary and her freedom from sin. It is observed every year on December 8th.

Christmas (Natale): observed every year on December 25th.

St. Stephen’s Day (Giorno di Santo Stefano): this is the day after Christmas. Unlike in the States, on December 26th all stores and banks are closed. While Americans do their shopping, Italians eat another Christmas meal…

{This is an excerpt from chapter 13 “National holidays” of the eBook “Italy from the Inside. A native Italian reveals the secrets of traveling in Italy”}