Feel like getting the hell out of Bologna?
It’s a great city, but sometimes you might want a change of air.
But not want to spend the earth.
No worries. That’s what trains are for.
Bologna Central station is an easy walk or bus ride from just about anywhere in the city.
And with a bit of local knowledge, you could be somewhere else in no time at all, for very little cash!
Trains are NOT all the same
The first thing you need to know: Italy has lots of different types of trains.
If you like trains, you’ll enjoy finding out the differences.
But for the purpose of this article, you just need to know that they fall into three broad categories:
- fast trains – the Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca (redarrow, silverarrow, whitearrow…)
- normal trains – the Intercity
- slow trains – the Regionale, and the (don’t laugh) Regionale Veloce (Regional and “Fast” Regional)
Have fun experimenting with different destinations on the Trenitalia website.
Beware the rather confusing search box, which defaults to “Le Frecce” (The Arrows).
This will give you results only for the expensive fast trains, which often don’t go to the smaller, local destinations anyway.
For cheap day trips near Bologna, you’ll need to select the other tab on the search box: “Tutti i treni” (All Trains)
Where to go first?
Don’t ask me. I hate sight-seeing (but enjoy reading the newspaper on trains).
However, here are the more obvious destinations within Emilia-Romagna, the Italian region of which Bologna is the principal city, and the ticket prices.
N.b. Prices quoted are for a single, 2nd class, ticket on Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains, and were valid at the time I wrote this (Nov. 2013)
If you want to come back to Bologna after your day-out, double the quoted price (you can’t buy return tickets in Italy by the way…)
Just click on the links to find out more about each place.
Leave a little time…
..to get your ticket from the machine at the station.
They’re relatively simple to operate, and take credit cards and so on.
But they let anyone travel these days, and you know what people are like. There’s always someone who doesn’t know where they want to go, holding everyone up….
Italy is a wonderful place, full of wonderful people.
But it is capable, how shall we say, of throwing up the odd unpleasant surprise…
One of which is the need to “validate” your ticket, BEFORE you get on the train. Guess it saves the ticket inspector a job.
Look out for a little machine near the entrance to each platform. Push your ticket into the hole to “convalidare” your ticket. Listen for a click, and inspect your ticket closely for a date/time stamp that wasn’t there before.
The ticket inspector will want to see that:
a. you have a ticket
b. you’ve validated it
Or you will be presumed to have attempted to defraud the Italian state of €3,90 or whatever, and be subject to a fine.
Being an ignorant foreigner is no excuse: la legge è uguale per tutti!
Enjoy your trip!