As Italy was the first stop of our long term travels, we realised very quickly that many things stretched our tight budget. We spent a total of around 10-11 days travelling from Milan (with a day trip to lake Como) to Bolzano, from Bolzano to Badia and finally Badia down to Venice. So one thing we tried our best, was to save as much money on the transport to and from these places. As we were not really on a very tight schedule, time really wasn’t an issue.
So along the way we discovered a great way of saving money on what could possible be an expensive trip. We managed to take a journey which should have cost 96 Euros for 26 Euros.
using the regional trains:
The trick is to use the regional trains, and not the intercity trains. When purchasing your tickets from the machines, they will typically display many options. We always chose the train which had a capital R next to it which means they are regional/local trains. These were always much cheaper but probably took twice as long to reach it’s destination. This is because they are local trains which pretty much stop at every station along the way.
Whereas the intercity trains only stops 2-3 times. The regional trains are usually a lot busier with local people using them. We found that they were much more comfortable than the local trains back home. They even have plug sockets next to every seat.
The route we took from Badia to Venice used only regional trains and a bus. We took a bus to Brunico train station and asked the guy behind the desk how much it was to Venice, he quoted us 96 Euros. This was approximately 2-3 hours with 2 changes. There was no way we was going to pay that much. So we looked on Google maps at the best route and made our own way there. It took us around 7 hours and 5 changes but cost us 26 Euros. Definitely worth saving 70 Euros, especially when you have gorgeous views all the way.
how to use the train:
Before boarding the any train, you must be sure to validate your ticket. This could otherwise result in a fine. To validate your ticket, you must find one of the blue or green boxes. There are usually many of these dotted around the station and platforms. On the end of the ticket there are 2 arrows, these arrows indicate the way the ticket should be slotted into the boxes, which then prints the time and date at the end of the ticket.
I suppose this is a good thing, especially for locals. Because if you buy a ticket but then decide you don’t want to travel on that day, the ticket is open until you validate it. But they can also be easily overlooked by tourists. If you do board the train and realise you haven’t validated it, you must go a seek the conductor straight away and they will then validate it for you (don’t wait for them to come to you).
We enjoyed travelling by train in Italy, it was relaxing and a great way to see some amazing scenery and see how local people travel. It was also a great way to save money. Regional trains are far better value for money, the bigger international trains are quicker but are also full of tourists and at least 3 times the price. So save money and have a day on the trains!!