(Italian) Planes, Trains and Macchine

Here are a few tips to help you understand whether you should use planes, trains or rental cars during your vacation from

 my wanderlust woman friend, Lisa Fantino.

Traveling to/from and in and around Italy is always an adventure. Planes, trains and automobiles each pack their own challenges, yet they also present you with an interesting opportunity for adventure.

Planes – Italy is served by major airports in Rome, Milan, Genoa and Florence to name a few and by numerous smaller airports throughout the country. Getting to any of these smaller airports from another European country is relatively easy because many airlines fly direct between London and Naples; Paris and Torino; Barcelona and Venice; and Germany and Pisa. These flights can often be under €100 round-trip. Yet, getting to Italy from the US is a bit more challenging if you want to travel south of Rome to Calabria, Sicily or the popular Amalfi Coast. However, during the summer, Italian carrier Meridiana has direct flights between New York’s JFK and either Naples or Palermo.

Trains – There are many regional trains servicing the entire country. You will often go to a small train station, such as in Chiusi in Tuscany, and find yourself boarding a train that is only 2 cars long. Don’t worry, it’ll still get you there. The great thing is the new high-speed Italian train service which was just launched this summer. Now you can get from Rome to Naples in 70 minutes for just $21 and from Milan to Rome in under three hours. Fantastico!

Automobiles – this is where you can have real fun in Italy if you dare. As I’ve explained here before, driving in Italy is not for the faint hearted in the cities and the country roads also present different challenges. Yet, driving is the only way to become one with the locals……….and the carabinieri. Just be careful on the Autostrada now because I hear there are cameras somewhere. There are speed limits posted (although no one pays attention to them). Manual transmission cars are the norm in Italy but it’s getting easier to rent an automatic car and I have been the happiest renting and getting good rates from AutoEurope.

* Photos: Welcome Tuscany and Salvatore Vuono

Traveling south? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip to Calabria or southern Italy.

4 Responses
  1. I agree with Lisa that travelling by car is the best way to really experience Italy. So many places are not easily accessible by public transport… And if you want to get off the typical tourist routes and see unspoiled Italy, a car is a must!

    True, true, true!

  2. I’ve just came back from a trip to Italy and had an unpleasant surprise on the train. All tickets without a seat number have to be validated before getting on the train. Otherwise it can result in fines! Nowhere else have I seen this system. Just letting everyone know…

    I hope you got away fine-free, Laura.

  3. Wow – Laura – thanks for that info. Must be new or just on some train lines. It never happened to me.

    I’m not sure “which” trains it is on, but they pretty much expect you to validate your ticket in that little yellow box before you board. Of course, here in CZ, our validate machine was jammed last week and wouldn’t validate. Still-I was worried about getting fined if one of the train guys didn’t know!

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