Italian Transport Network – Endless Ways to Visit and Explore
I love traveling around Italy with a backpack. It’s exciting, it’s real, it’s pretty easy, fun, and always some place to go just a bus or train ride away.
Italy is not a huge country, and its major cities are all very well-connected creating the Italian Transport Network. Using: motorways, buses, railway networks and national flights. Driving in Italy can take a little getting used to since the roadways are different and so is the driving methods. But once you’ve got it, it’s like being on a grand prix!
Here’s a breakdown of the normal methods for getting around the Italian Transport Network:
The top mode of the Italian transport network would be the train. Especially in the north of the country, generally eliminates any need to travel by bus or air.
All of the major cities are connected by high-speed train which is fast, reliable and affordable. Italian trains have a reputation for almost always being on time. There are occasional 10 – 20 minute delays on the longer distance trains, and the night trains can frequently be delayed by up to an hour.
But generally speaking, regional and national train services do run more or less on time. You can check www.viaggiatreno.it for up to date information on train scheduling.
High Speed Train Network
There are two high-speed rail lines in Italy which connect all of the major cities in the country and are part of the Italian transport network.
One line runs from Milan to Salerno, and calls at Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples along the way. The other line connects Turin and Venice and also stops at Milan along the way, although part of this line is still under construction.
This high-speed railway is designed to withstand speeds of up to 190 miles per hour. At this speed it is possible to travel the 360 mile journey from Milan to Rome in just under 3 hours. This journey would typically cost you about $80.
If you are planning to visit a few different cities within Italy it may be worth your while buying an InterRail pass. This pass will give you unlimited train travel on either 3, 4, 6 or 8 days within a month.
It can work out much cheaper than the cost of all of the train tickets between cities added together. Be aware that in order to travel on night trains or on the high-speed trains you may have to reserve a seat which could come at an additional cost; this has caught me out in the past. However, these passes are of great value and certainly part of the Italian transport network.
The InterRail pass also gives you flexibility; you don’t have to book a specific day on which to travel so if you fall in love with Naples or Milan, you can stay a few extra days without losing out.
The bus will work out to be the cheapest way to travel between Italian cities. However, the services are not at all frequent and the journeys often take twice the time and are half as comfortable as traveling by train.
There are quite a few companies which offer bus travel between cities but there is no one website which will compare all of the times and prices for you, so it can be a fairly long process of comparing them all. If you are traveling on a budget, though, it will be worth the effort as you are guaranteed to save money.
The main bus companies are Sais, Interbus, Sita, Autostradale and Baltour, all of which have websites which clearly list their timetables, routes and prices.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed this part of the Italian transport network, especially inner-city buses. They’re lively, fun, meeting interesting people, and see the cities up close.
Driving in Italy
Italy has one of the highest ratios of vehicles to people of any country in the world making it a must part of the Italian transport network. The motorways are called Autostrade in Italian. Driving from one city to another can be a relatively stress-free experience.
The motorways connect all of the major cities and tourist destinations in the country and you will be able to find a car hire company office extremely easily, wherever you are. However, driving within the cities is a nightmare! You have been warned!
In Rome, no matter what the time of day, a chorus of car horns can be heard constantly. There are often gridlocks in the town centers and tons of traffic elsewhere. But the experience driving outside of the cities and across the country are some of the most beautiful in the world.
If you do need to travel by car, taking a taxi is probably the best bet for short distances and in integral part of the Italian transport network. You should still leave plenty of time if you have an appointment to get to, as traffic jams in Italy are a constant issue and seem to arise from nowhere. There are a few things which you should know before taking a taxi in Italy.
If you call a cab from a company it will cost you a bit more as the drivers start the meter from the minute they receive the call, not from when you get in. This is not the driver attempting to make a couple of extra euros from the tourists; it is just the way the system works. This is especially important if you’re staying in a hotel in a remote part of town and the hotel must call a taxi for you.
It is also common in cities across Italy for Taxi’s to only pick up at marked locations. First time I was in Milan, I flagged down at least 10 taxi’s and didn’t understand why none would stop for me. I was eventually led to an area down the road where people were waiting for a taxi.
However, I did notice a few times that some taxi drives will pull the stunt “I don’t have enough change” routine. Trust me, they always do, they just want a few more euro’s. Stick to your guns and pay the meter. If he can’t break your bills, you’re in the right.
7 of Italy’s major cities have their own metro systems making it one of the most convenient of the Italian transport networks.
These cities are Brescia, Catania, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Rome and Turin. Rome has the busiest metro network in Italy. It currently has 2 lines, but a third is under construction and there are plans to build a fourth as well. The Metro is the fastest and the easiest way to get around Rome if your hotel is not directly in the center.
The stations are easy to find and well-connected and there are information desks which are usually manned by English-speaking staff to help you should you have any questions.
All of the cities in Italy are well-connected to one another creating an exceptional Italian Transport Network. They are not too far apart so journeys by road and rail are perfectly feasible. I would really recommend using the trains over hiring a car simply due to the traffic. But driving the country is breathtaking.