Getting Around Italy: Train, Car, Bus and Taxi Cab
Getting Around Italy by Train
Two major players account for most of Italy's rail service. The government-owned Trenitalia, the biggest of the bunch, also rolls under the name "intercity" and "Eurostar Italia," among others – technically different lines – but under the same umbrella. Trenitalia's service covers most of the country including Rome, Milan, Venice, and Turin. The other railway, Circumvesuviana, serves the Mt. Vesuvius area, with service between Naples, Sorrento, and Pompeii, among others. Most trains require your booking in advance. See the Trenitalia's website to find out more.
Getting Around Italy by Car
While the train is a wonderful for sightseeing, a train can't replace the flexibility of an automobile and chances for spontaneous adventure afforded by taking a car. Hertz, EuropCar, and Sixt are among the many companies offering rental car services in Italy. And while you may not want to squeeze a rental car down the narrow alleyways of certain Italian cities (at least any more than you have to), what better way is there to see the rolling hills of Tuscany, or take a three-hour day trip from Milan to Florence?
Getting Around Italy by Bus
Unlike the government-run Trenitalia, the Italian bus system is a mishmash of competing bus companies, which means city-to-city travel, while doable, is probably more headache than it's worth. On the other hand, while not as fancy as taking the train or hiring a car, riding the bus does cost less and is fine for short jaunts within a city or to a nearby town, such as SITA's Florence to Siena bus route, which is both cheaper and faster than taking a comparable train route. Buses in Italy are fine; just don't try crossing the entire country on one.
Getting Around Italy by Taxi Cab
While taxi cabs aren't necessarily the way to go when traveling from city-to-city in Italy (though you certainly could if you want to), these cabbies know how navigate a tight turn in the heart of a downtown. Make sure you only get in the white or yellow government-regulated taxis and try and call your cab from the depot if possible, as some services will begin charging you from the time of your phone call. The usual rules apply: Taxi cabs are more expensive than any of the above options, but you'll get to where you want to go quick and you don't have to get behind the wheel.
Photo by Robert Lowe via Flickr