Traveling via train in Italy is an absolute blessing and the fact that there are so many high speed trains that connect the different cities throughout Italy is a real treat. Clean, modern, and fast, these trains can have you on the other side of the country in a matter of hours. And since they’re reasonably priced, it’s almost ludacris to travel any other way unless you’re taking an extended trip and driving everywhere.
Rome Termini Station
I was traveling to Florence from Rome and took the train from Termini Station and arrived at Firenze (Florence). Termini station is probably where you’re going to end up if you take the train from FCO Rome International Airport so you might be familiar with the layout when you leave. If not, it’s like any other train station but I thought it was more modern and much easier to navigate. I’ve been to some stations where they only announce the plaform number 5-10 mins prior to departure (I’m looking at you Paris and London…) where here, it seemed like they announced the platform at least 20 mins prior. Also, all the platforms are in front of you vs. different parts of the sation so there’s no confusion as to where to go.
As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a massive row of kiosks for you to buy your ticket (if you haven’t already). You can choose your language and it’ll even warn you in the language you chose to watch for pickpockets. You might get away with buying your ticket the day of but you’ll also want to check to make sure tickets are still available before arriving at the station. I bought my ticket online the night before, expecting the train I was hoping to take would still have tickets available. I was wrong. Eventually I had to settle for a train that was an hour later than what I wanted but it was the earliest train that still had tickets available. When I checked again at the station, my train (that still had a few seats available the night before) was no longer selling seats and the earliest train was 2 hours after mine. Suffice to say, yes, it’s possible to buy tickets at the station but it may not be the one you want.
If for some reason you don’t want to use the kiosk, there’s also a ticket booth where you can go to buy your ticket from a person. I don’t know why you’d want to do this since there was a massive line there and hardly no one at the kiosks but that’s up to you. My guess is that these people missed their train and needed to change their tickets but that’s just a guess.
If you arrive via the Metro, you’ll have to go upstairs until you reach ground level so you can go to the platforms where all the trains arrive/depart. From there, you’ll just follow the same directions.
Once you get back that first portion, you’ll enter the main part of ther terminal. You’ll be greeted by a massive arrivals and departures board where, as usual, you’ll see most people just staring blankly waiting for their platform information. Sadly my train was delayed by 25 minutes so that was just some extra time I had to kill.
If you’re travelling Business Class, you’ll have accesss to the Freccia Lounge. That was located upstairs almost across from the Foccacia San Francisco eatery and past the 5 Guys burger joint on the upstairs level. Sadly I didn’t have access so I can’t tell you anything about it but due to the construction at the Termini, it seemed a bit hidden. There also seemed to be a 2nd lounge on the first floor (which almost felt like it was directly below the 2nd floor lounge…maybe they’re connected?) but it had frosted glass so I couldn’t see in.
As the platform is finally called, you’ll see the usual mad dash to the platform. Here, they had a row of electronic gates where you just had scan your QR code from your ticket for the gates to open. Mine was a little finky but after the 2nd try, it let me through. I had gone ticketless and just used phone to access everything but you can still get a paper ticket if you wish.
I was travelling in 2nd class in the quiet cabig and the seats were set up 2×2 with a table that separated couples between them. The quiet cabin discourages talking on phones and is mainly set up for people who want to sleep, work, or gerneally be around other considerate people. You can seat yourself in a regular cabin for the same price but I can only imagine it’s a zoo in there if my past train riding experience is any factor.
When you buy your ticket, you’ll choose your assigned seat right before you go and pay. I really like that method over the free-for-all method since that just leads to confusion and people being separated. It just makes for a much easier travelling experience in my view.
Sadly, the train had other delays throughout the journey so a ride that was supposed to arrive at 5pm ended up being 45 mins late. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but any delay is always annoying.
Once I got to Florence, I was pleasantly surprised as, compared to Rome, Florence has a small town feel to it. You step out of the station and it’s just simple. Nothing to overwhelm you. The metro stop is right there as well so if you’re staying somewhere close to the metro, it’ll be easy to catch one. However, the quickest way around will probably be walking. I felt like at most, it took 30 minutes to walk from side of the city to the other so you’ll probably be able to walk to your hotel. The only downside is dragging your suitcase through cobblestone streets but it’s either that or taking a taxi since the metro is pretty limited. If you’re staying on the opposite side of the Arno river, you’ll probably want to take a taxi or arrange for some transportation. Oh, and Uber doesn’t work in Florence (as of April 2022).