Tourists In Italy Need To Know This Crucial Train Travel Tip To Avoid Getting Stuck

Traveling by train is the most efficient and affordable way to get around Italy. However, it can also be stressful if you don't know what you're doing. Some of the challenges are expected, such as purchasing tickets from an agent who doesn't speak your language. Other issues seem to come out of nowhere, such as "Oh my God, it's my stop, the train door isn't automatically opening, I can't figure out how to open it, and there's no one around to help me." Believe it or not, people have missed their stop because they couldn't open the freakin' train door. 

To avoid this mishap, here's what you need to know. First, get up from your seat and be waiting at the train door as your train is pulling up to the station. Unlike some train doors, those in Italy do not open automatically, nor are there conductors stationed by the doors to open them for you. You need to open the door yourself, and you need to do it quickly, as the train only stops for a few minutes at each station. The train doors either have buttons or levers, with the latter being a little trickier to operate — you have to grab it and use some force to slide the door sideways. On older trains, be aware that there could be a slight delay between pressing the button and the door opening. When the door opens, exit quickly before people on the platform start entering the train. 

What to do if you miss your train stop in Italy

If uncooperative door handles or any other issue causes you to miss your stop, try not to panic. Find a conductor and explain what happened. Hopefully, they'll help you figure out a solution that doesn't require purchasing new tickets or losing a lot of time. You might just need to get off at the next stop and wait for a train going in the opposite direction that will take you back to back to your intended destination. 

Worst case scenario, you're on an evening fast train that only stops in a few cities, and there isn't another fast train on the same day that returns to your destination city. This happened to me once when I was traveling from Florence to Bologna on an evening fast train. I was snoozing and failed to get off the train in Bologna (epic train fail), and the next stop on that fast train was Milan, 140 miles away. My only options were to stay over in Milan and purchase a fast-train ticket back to Bologna the next day, or return to Bologna later that evening via a slower regional train. I opted for the latter, which didn't cost much but took many hours, putting me back in Bologna in the wee morning hours. Let's just say I never made that train mistake again!

For more tips on mastering trains in Italy, check out our article on how to tell if your train ticket needs validating.