Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 28, 2016

Reading a train ticket

You might think this would be easy, but every time I get on a Freccia Rossa, Freccia Bianca or  Freccia Argento (Red Arrow, White Arrow or Silver Arrow) there is confusion over the seating arrangements.

These fast trains, which can travel at speeds of 250 kilometres per hour, are run by Trenitalia. They were previously called Eurostar Italia, but the name changed in 2012.

The whole thing can be very confusing for a first timer. You are in a bit of a rush, you have too much luggage and everything is unfamiliar. You can buy a ticket from the sales counter (expect a long wait) or from the automatic machines, a much speedier way to do it.

Here is the ticket you will most likely receive.

Train ticket


The circled and numbered items on the ticket are what you need to look for.

  1. This is the train number. Look for this on the departures notice board to see which platform (binario) your train leaves from. Your destination may not be the final destination of the train.
  2. Carozza is your carriage number, most important. If you get in the wrong carriage you will probably find someone sitting in your seat.
  3. Posti is your seat number. It will also tell you if you have a window seat, in this case, or an aisle seat.

There is no need to validate these tickets as they have a time and date.

You do need to validate tickets for regional trains as they are not dated and you can use them any time or date. The tickets will look similar, but there won’t be a carriage or seat number.

Train ticket

The validation machines should be near the entrance to the platforms. If you don’t validate your ticket you risk a fine.

I have a funny train story I’m sure my friend won’t mind me sharing. My friend’s son was due to arrive in Bagni di Lucca from Rome. His time of arrival came and went. I bit later there was a phone call. She said “Where are you?” He replied “I’m still in Rome. I wanted to catch the train to Florence. The bastards have changed the name to Firenze and I’m still here.” He did eventually arrive.


  1. The only thing worth mentioning is that when you get on the train you could find someone sitting in your numbered seat & (as happened to me) an argument can ensue which can be unpleasant!!! But stand your ground

    • There are always squabbles and it usually because the ticket has not been read correctly.

  2. Good advice and nice story! I have always thought it amusing that we insist on giving places English names rather than using the Italian.

    • It is odd that Firenze and many other place names are given other names. I wonder why it happened.

      • I blame Shakespeare and then the English Romantic Poets! Firenze, Padova, Napoli and Venezia do not easily rhyme in English

    • Not just Italy (Firenze, Milano, Torino), Andrew. The English/American maps change the names of cities in most European countries (just think Bruges, Copenhagen, Cologne, Prague, Kiev) Can’t even use phonetics was the excuse in most cases 🙁

      • That is so true!

  3. Excellent information. Last time i was in Italy my friend was fined €40 on the spot for not validating her train ticket to Bagni di Lucca

    • Remembering to validate tickets is very important.

      • Deb, would it be OK if I reblog this one. Lyn

  4. That’s funny! I was explaining the German system to a friend .

    • Every country has its own way of doing things.

  5. Useful, Debra, but isn’t the format/structure the same (dare I suggest standardised) in Germany, France etc?

    • I don’t know the systems in France and Germany. They could be, but the language would obviously be different.

      • Absolutely, Debra – some of the most important travel vocabulary – “platform, carriage, seat, entrance, exit, push, pull” 😣

  6. I’m thinking Dean Close?? I think I’ve heard that story from Helen. Very funny. 😁

    • Yes, and Helen tells the story much better than I do,

  7. I thought the validation machines were green Debra? They are at my local station certainly and at Rome. Have they changed them in the last 3 months?

    • You could be correct there. They used to be yellow, but there are new ones. I have removed that from the post until I do a bit more research.

  8. When I was in Italy two years ago we took the train from Florence to Venice. Everything was planned ahead of time for me and I did my research, all was fine with finding the train, the platform, validating, etc. We get to our seats with our giant luggage and not a minute after the train starts moving two gentlemen tell us we are in their seats. I pulled out my ticket to show them these were my seats and they look at them and tell me I am in first class at the head of the train. I had no clue! It was then quite an adventure making our way to the front of the train with giant bags in toe, looking the typical foolish American tourists! I will not make that mistake again! 🙂

    • It is a very easy mistake to make, it happens all the time with all nationalities.

  9. Great post Debra and good information especially for a first-time traveler! But I g a train ticket can be a bit intimidating. I bought one once and didn’t realize I needed to input the date and inadvertently bought it for the today. Imagine my dilemma when I arrived to my seat and found someone else it it!

    • You only need a date for the fast trains, the others are valid for quite a while.

  10. A very funny story, Debra. The ticket rules seem very confusing indeed. I’d take hubby with me every time. 🙂

    • It doesn’t hurt to have 2 pairs of eyes looking for things.

  11. Sounds a lot easier on trains in Vietnam

    • It is mostly a language thing, but even the locals get confused.

  12. Thats one story that deserves repeating – very funny

    • We have dined out on it for years.

  13. Great info Debra….always some confusion for tourists. Love the story…he is obviously not going to be able to forget his little mishap any time soon!

    • His mother won’t let him forget it.

  14. Goodness me it sounds like grounds for chaos! I love the Japanese train system. Fast and efficient and everything is clearly laid out.

    • The big Italian train stations can be very chaotic, but the trains are efficient, clean and fast.

  15. The Italians Italianise our place names too! I would say I live in New Zealand but they would say, Nuova Zelanda!

  16. Reblogged this on Travelling Italy with Lyn and commented:
    My friend Deb, from Bagni di Lucca and Beyond, wrote this post. I feel that it is so important for travellers to Italy to know this, that I have decided to reblog the article.

  17. Love the train story … and I know enough about Italian trains to know the info in this post is valuable!

  18. Great advice. My friend was looking for carrozza 2 and got frustrated because they were almost all #2. The ‘2’ on most of the cars meant 2nd class. She laughs about that now. The Italian train system is actually very efficient and practical if your destination is on the train route. Ciao, Cristina

  19. Wonderfully useful information as usual. Thank you!

  20. […] your seat. Debra Kolkka who blogs at Bagni di Lucca and Beyond has outlined it nicely in her post Reading a Train Ticket. I suggest it as quick but required reading for all train travelers in Italy this […]

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