We have explored Europe on a Eurail pass when we were younger and were able to see more without the stress of driving or the inflexibility of a group tour so when we had to choose between hiring a car and train travel in Italy, the benefits of rail outweighed the freedom of a hire car.
Italy has an incredibly well-connected transit system run by national supplier, Trenitalia. A combination of high speed express trains, locals and even quirky single car units zigzag across the country on their steel rails.
Quality and Comfort
If you stick to the high speed trains you’ll find new seats, power outlets, and often dining cars with a selection of pastas, sandwiches, beers, and even wine. More regional services are older and that can mean 90s era seats and toilets without any of the modern conveniences. Thankfully you use these as links along the way so you are never on them for more than three hours at a time.
When you are stuck in a car hurtling along an expressway at 140km/hour, you never really feel like you’re making a connection to the countryside. On the train, you carve through green valleys, lake sides, cross picturesque rivers and look up towards medieval hilltop town after medieval hilltop town. It’s a real treat to be able and zone out and take it all in rather than negotiating high speed driving, speed cameras, police, and other motorists.
You can travel fast or travel slow, but on the fast end, you’ll find most routes will equal or better your travel time than driving. The high speed locomotives shoot you along the tracks at peak speeds of up to 300km/hour.
No Check-ins, No refueling
Air travel is the fastest way to get across a country but you have to get outside the city to the airports in the first place, wait in line at security and come early enough to allow for any delays. With train travel, you can stay on track without pit stops.
Plenty of Room for Luggage
You will find more than adequate storage for your bags on the rack above your seat. This way you will see it at all times and feel reassured it isn’t being rifled through on a bag rack by the entrance to the car.
The Good Outweighs the Bad
As a kid, I traveled Europe and Italy always had a reputation for late trains. That remains true to a point. You won’t find the same razor sharp precision of the Swiss or German systems, yet we didn’t miss a single train even with some being up to half an hour late. If you give yourself a margin for error, you can sit back with a bottle of wine, your favorite Netflix show and binge away the day as Italia drifts gracefully by your window.Follow & Connect with us
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