How to see Italy by train

Discussion in 'Europe' started by sobore, Jun 23, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    In a new book, Tim Parks says that to get under the skin of Italy, you must board a train. Whether an ultra fast service to Palermo or a time-warp dawdler to Milan, all national life is there.

    Here are a few complications that may occur if you take the 18.36 Regionale Veloce on a Sunday evening from Verona (Porta Vescovo) to Milan (Centrale). Your underlying problem is that this is a small station where the fast through trains from Venice to Milan don’t stop.

    You could get a local to Verona Porta Nuova, the main station on the other side of town and then a fast Frecciabianca; but if some delay – hardly unusual – prevents you from making your connection, you’ll be left holding a ticket that is valid only for that one reserved-seats-only train. Not good.
    Or you could go to Verona and wait for another regionale. However, the westbound Milan departures seem timed to depart just seconds before your train arrives from the east. You’ll be caught waiting nearly an hour.

    Given this situation, you feel rather grateful that there are still four slower trains a day from Venice right through to Milan, stopping in Verona Porta Vescovo. Regionale Veloce, means fast regional, but is actually a slow train. Let’s say, the faster of the slower trains. On which you can’t reserve a seat even if you want to.

    It costs €11.55 (£10) to go 150km in just under two hours. A giveaway by British standards. The Italians still have the concept of social pricing, even if their rail system is monstrously in debt. The Frecciabianca costs €23 (£19.50). This could be why the regionale, when it arrives, is so grotesquely packed.

    Verona PV is a sleepy place staffed and managed only by recorded messages that warn you not to walk to your platform across the rails, which many still do, not to board the train without a ticket, when the ticket machines are not functioning, and to spread out along the platform to avoid crowding, when there are only three of you.

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  2. I have travelled the slow trains and always find them very culturally entertaining. As in it takes all kinds to make a world:D
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