Traveling by train in Italy is extremely easy. It is still a very safe means of transportation and one that allows special enjoyment in the contact with places, peoples and panoramas that enrich our experience. Traveling in train is part of the experience, it is really essential to the trip.
Trains in Europe in general are very efficient and one of the advantages is that train stations are very well located, this together with the fact that there are normally many scheduled trains to the same destination offers great advantages for the tourist.
Many visitors and particularly those from United States are big fans of buying Eurorail passes. This is a rather expensive special ticket that allows one to travel -more or less unrestricted- for a number of days in the network of a specific country or several of them. I have found more and more that in reality this does not work as well as it sounds. The Eurorail pass itself is expensive, and unless one will be really traveling for two weeks without stopping it does not make too much sense. Travelers are restricted to just some trains and almost always there is a copay that in many cases can be as high as 50% of the local price.
I believe that the best thing is to plan ahead, to decide how many trains one will be taking and for how long and then decide if such a pass works. I personally always prefer to buy my train tickets directly and there are several ways to do so, particularly in Italy.
What many other visitors do is to wait until they have arrived to Italy and then they go to the train stations. It is possible to buy directly from automatic machines using cash or credit cards. These machines are located in the main halls of all of the major train stations and they offer options in different languages. It is possible as well to buy from the sales offices located in all the train stations, but frequently and particularly at some times of the day or the year one has to wait long in line. On the other hand it is not a good idea to wait until just before the train departs, if it is high season there is a high chance that tickets will be gone by then.
What it makes more sense is to buy ahead, even two months before the trip, directly in the website of the Italian train company. The website is in English and in other different languages. It is possible to use credit cards from countries other than Italy, the ideal is to call the bank ahead of time and let them know one will be using the card on an Italian website so as not to get blocked. The good thing of buying ahead is that one can take advantage of very good prices and special deals, paying as low as 20 Euro for a Super fast train from Rome to Venice. If one is buying tickets directly from the Italian website, one just has to be mindful of the station of arrival and departure being chosen since there are several stations in the same city, it is just a matter of doing a little research on the internet to find the one the best fits to the trip. Once the ticket has been bought just choose the option of delivery to e-mail, print a copy, bring it on board and that’s it! This is certainly the easiest way to buy train tickets in Italy.