Italy has it all for the budding explorer, the only problem is there’s that much to see you need to have plenty of time to spare to really appreciate what’s on offer.
Tren Italia (FS) operate the national rail service, throughout Italy; also offering many cross border trains into neighbouring countries. Tren Italia timetables don’t seem to be available to print but the Tren Italia site can be used to plan your trip online.
There are also open access operators offering regional services, completely exempt from FS, such as:
Circumvesuviana – operating regional services in the Naples & Sorrento areas; these trains are particularly useful for visiting Pompeii & Herculaneum. Cirumvesuviana timetables are available on their site in PDFs to download. Maps of the Circumvesuviana system are also available on their site.
A comprehensive list of both passenger and freight operators in Italy can be found on the helpful Railfan Europe websites’ Italy page.
Train times and Tickets
Booking tickets for travel within Italy (on FS operated trains) can be done on the Tren Italia (FS) website, even if you only require reservations for either Interrail, Eurail or railway staff passes then this can be done on the same website; you’ll need to start as though you were purchasing a ticket and part way through the operation there is an option to select “Global Pass” as your ticket option which converts the booking to a reservation only.
If choosing to use an Interrail pass, either for just within Italy, or to pass through Italy, all the relevant details on the passes, including the different types/lengths of validity available, can be found on the InterRail website.
For those travelling from outside Europe then the Eurail Pass is your ticket to Europe, details of which can be found on EU Rails’ website.
Finally travel in Europe can be made a lot simpler by using the very, very, helpful smartphone app courtesy of Eurail. This app is available both online and offline and is always up to date (well it has been for the countries I’ve used it in; including for any planned engineering works); for me it was an essential part of my travel in Europe. This app is linked to the Hafas system, which countries like Germany, Austria & Switzerland use for their train planning online tool. Eurail has done what the individual countries haven’t though and made it available offline.
For the Rail Enthusiast
A comprehensive list of Italian Locomotives by their respective railway system can be found on the Railfaneurope website’s Italy page. This also explains a bit the various operators of the network and how they have amalgamated over the years.
A comprehensive and detailed map/atlas is available from Schweers & Wall; also listing the distances within.
An excellent source of information to try and figure out what trains are booked for loco-hauled is the E656.net website. While handy beware that thing do change during the course of a timetable year so while its a good site it is not always 100% reliable.