The Best And Most Affordable Travel Method In Italy, Per Giada De Laurentiis

When visiting Italy, most tourists spend time in more than one region, as a key thing to know about Italian food and culture is that each area offers something unique and different. But what's the best way to get from one region to another, especially considering that the peninsula's length is over 700 miles? The most convenient and affordable option may be to take the train, says Regan Hofmann, writing for the blog of internationally revered chef and Italian lifestyle expert Giada de Laurentiis. As she is someone who grew up in Rome and has built a wildly successful brand on her passion for her home country, we can trust this recommendation under de Laurentiis' name.  

Train travel, Hofmann says, is "much cheaper than trying to get around on small commuter flights," the latter of which connect larger cities but won't land you in small towns or get you deep into rural areas. Train service, on the other hand, interlinks thousands of municipalities from north to south and east to west all over the country, with most train stations centrally located in their respective towns and cities. This means that at the end of your journey, you can hit the ground running in your destination without having to wait at the airport to collect your bag or hire a taxi to take you to the town center. This can save you gobs of both time and money. 

The how-tos of Italian train travel

The first thing to do when planning your itinerary is to decide where in Italy to go based on your interests, time, and budget. For a little help with that task, check out these essential Italy travel hacks along with this guide to some of Italy's top foodie destinations that were recommended by Giada de Laurentiis. If you elect to spend time on islands like Sicily or Sardinia, you're obviously going to have to diversify your means of transportation beyond trains. But if you're staying on the mainland, you can probably do all or most of your intercity travel by train. 

On de Laurentiis' blog, Regan Hofmann suggests purchasing train tickets in advance online through Trenitalia to secure your spot. Also, for long-distance trips, tickets purchased in advance can be considerably cheaper than the ones you buy at the station on the day of travel. To view the Trenitalia page in English, select "ENG" in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage and then enter your starting and ending cities and travel date. The system will then generate a list of options based on departure time, trip length, number of transfers, and price. You can select the option that best meets your needs, choose the type of fare and class, and then pay for the tickets using a credit card, debit card, or other options like PayPal, Google Pay, or Amazon Pay. 

Additional train travel tips for Italy

Giada de Laurentiis' blog cautions that if you're planning train travel on the day your plane arrives Italy, avoid purchasing online train tickets in advance. This is because if your plane is delayed, you may miss your train and lose the ticket. Another tip is to remember to validate any regional train tickets online or in one of the little time stamp machines you'll see scattered throughout the stations before boarding the train, or else you can incur a hefty fine. Any tickets with a preassigned date, time, and seat number, such as those for fast (frecce) trains, do not require validation. 

A question Italian visitors often have is how to read the digital monitors in the train stations to determine their train's platform (binario) number. First, make sure you're looking at the correct monitor, as there are usually separate monitors for outgoing and incoming trains. Second, de Laurentiis' blog suggests that you use your train number to find the correct binario rather than your destination point, because if that city or town is not the train's final destination, it may not be the one listed on the monitor. Once you find your platform, board the train, and get settled into your seat. Here's one last recommendation: Enjoy the journey! The amazing views you have from the train window may turn out to be among your vacation's most memorable moments.