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Monday, May 23, 2011

Rail Travel In Italy

Reggio Calabria - Piazza ItaliaImage via Wikipedia

By Lorena Caposassi

In 1945, at the end of II World War, Italian economy was very bad as there were no resources to modernize Railways Network. Fares were very low but service had also very poor quality too. Trains were always late as they stopped in all stations because they had to serve as many people as possible. Imagine: more than 20 hours were needed to go from Milan to Reggio Calabria (the main city of Calabria Region, down in the South of Italy) and it took 8 hours' time from Milan to Rome.

Slowly, but significantly, things have changed. In fact, nowadays you can travel very quickly and very comfortably by train all around Italy Trains are brand-new, fast, clean, safe and equipped in a modern manner, all connecting main Italian cities each other. If you want a first rate service you can take high speed trains which can travel up to 360 Km per hour and are called FRECCE (=arrows). There are three, FRECCIAROSSA (=red arrow, up to 360 Km/hour speed), FRECCIARGENTO (=silver arrow, up to 250 Km/hour speed) and FRECCIABIANCA (=white arrow, 200 Km/hour speed). FRECCIAROSSA in particular has on-board cleaning service and restaurants carriages, large seats, power outlets enabling you to use your laptop and many other comforts.
Of course ticket prices are higher, even if affordable. Italian train fleet has got other types of trains such as IC (=Intercities) which are less fast and a little crowded, especially in Spring and Summer, when Italy is more visited by tourists. Then, if your stay is short, traveling by FRECCE is the best choice. Besides, Italian Railways offer further services like car rental and hotel reservation and have a lot of promotions for on-line booking! Outside main stations you'll find all kind of further connections, such as buses, undergrounds, trolley cars, taxis etc. FYI: In Summer, lots of young people travel by train mainly in the night. Do you know why? This way they save time and money too. How? Well, they take ICN (Night Trains) which have Wagon lits and couchettes (and seats as cheaper solution) so that they don't have to pay night accomodation in hotels. They also arrive well rested at destination. The clever folks!

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