Means of transport
In Italy many different means of transport are used, both public and private. The availability of public transport, such as bus, train or subway, varies depending on the city where you live. Many people also use private vehicles, such as cars, mopeds or bicycles. Find out how the transport system works, the cost and how you can find useful information.
In general, in Italy there are many types of means of transport available to move from one place to another. However, their availability and the frequency with which they are second hand varies greatly from city to city. Many means of public transport are available in big cities.
People in big cities prefer to use the bus, tram or subway. Instead, they avoid using the car due to traffic and lack of parking. In small towns and cities distances are shorter, there is less traffic and more parking space, therefore people use mopeds or cars much more.
Here is a list of public and private means of transport that you can find in Italy. To find out which ones are available in your city you can search on the internet (for example: trasporti pubblici Bologna) or ask someone who has lived in the city for more time than you.
Here are the most common types of public transport in Italy:
The autobus (bus) is a means of public transport available in almost all cities. People use it to go to school, to work or to go shopping. If you decide to take a bus, here are the things you should know:
- Bus number
Each bus follows a specific route and has a number that you can read on the bus itself. To find the bus number that you need, you can check online the website of the bus service in your city or ask the people who work at the bus station. Specify where you want to go (your destination) and you will be told the right number.
- Fermata (bus stop)
Each bus has various fixed fermate (stops). You can recognise the stops on the street from a pole with a sign indicating the name of the stop and, sometimes, a canopy and a bench for people waiting for the bus. It is possible to get on or off the bus only at the fixed stops. If you fail to get off at the right stop by mistake, you have to wait for the next stop.
- Orario (bus timetable)
Each bus has a orario (timetable) that shows the arrival time at each stop. You can find the timetable on the signs at the stops or on the bus service website. Sometimes the bus may arrive late. In this case you just need to wait. If the bus is very late and you risk being late, look for another way to reach your destination.
- Biglietto (ticket)
To take the bus you need a biglietto (ticket). You can buy tickets in some tabaccherie, at the counters of large bus stations, or by sending an SMS with your mobile phone (search online for the way to buy a ticket with an SMS in your city). When you get on the bus you must validate the ticket in the machine next to the driver. If you don’t understand how it works, look at how other people validate their tickets or ask someone to help you. To ask for help, say “Scusi, può aiutarmi a timbrare il biglietto?” (excuse me, can you help me validate my ticket?).
- Controllore (Ticket inspector)
Always make sure you have the ticket and validate it. On the bus or as soon as you get off, you can be stopped by a controllore (ticket inspector). The controllore is the person in charge of making sure that all people on the bus have their ticket validated. If he finds you without a ticket or with the ticket not validated he will fine you and you will have to pay.
- Get off the bus
When you are on the bus and you hear or read the name of your stop, press any of the buttons on the poles that you see. This will make the driver understand that you want to get off at the next stop.
The pullman are buses that travel long distances, mainly from one city to another. You need to know the exact departure time of the coach and show up at the coach stop 5/10 minutes before, to make sure you don’t miss it. This is especially because a coach does not leave as often as a bus. You will need a ticket to travel on the coach, which you can find in tabaccherie or at coach stations. Sometimes it is also possible to buy it directly on the pullman. Remember to validate it as soon as you get on.
The tram is a fast means of transport and is usually on time because it moves on tracks. You will find trams in many Italian cities. You recognise the tram stops because they are on the sides of the tracks, have a sign and, sometimes, a platform under which you can sit. To use the tram you need a ticket, which you can buy at the machines at the tram stops or in tabaccherie.
You find the metro in some big Italian cities, including Rome, Milan, Turin and Naples. Metro trains travel underground. They are very fast, usually on time, and stop at many stations. The stations are therefore underground and are usually marked with red signs with the letter “M” (metro, in fact). You need to have a ticket for the metro, which you can buy at the counters or machines in all stations.
The train is a useful way to travel medium and long distances. In Italy there are regional, interregional and high speed trains. Regional and interregional trains are slower than high-speed trains, but they are less expensive. The train takes you to the train station of your city. In larger cities, there are many different stations, so make sure you go to the right station. Also make sure you know the exact departure time, which you can find on the Trenitalia website or on the display boards inside the stations. The train usually leaves on time, so arrive at the station at least 10 minutes early. To travel on any train you need a ticket, which you can buy online, at the counters or at the machines in the various stations.
Taxis in Italy are very expensive compared to other means of public transport. The cost of the trip depends on the distance you travel. You can find taxis outside train stations, hotels and taxi stands. You can also call a taxi company in your city and book a taxi.
Abbonamenti (passes) may seem expensive, but if you use the public transports often they will save you a lot of money. For example, if you use the bus every day, you can buy a bus pass that will allow you to take as many buses as you want for a fixed price. You can also buy passes for busses, for the metro and for trains. Passes are valid for one month, several months or one year. You can buy passes at the counters in stations or online.
Here are the most common types of private transport in Italy:
One means that is becoming more and more common is the electric monopattino. It is small and inexpensive compared to other means of transport and allows you to move easily over medium to short distances.
PRICE: the price varies a lot according to the quality, but the minimum you can spend to buy a new electric monopattino is around 150 euros. You can buy it on the internet or in appliances or sports shops.
The bicycle is a convenient way to travel short distances. If you live in a small town or your work is close to home it may be the right means for you.
You can buy a new or second-hand bicycle in large sports shops, bicycle shops or on the internet. A second hand bike costs less, but make sure it’s in good condition.
PRICE: The price of a new bicycle varies a lot. You can buy a basic model for around 100/200 euros. Instead, you can buy a second hand bicycle for around 60/100 euros.
IMPORTANT: Due to the lack of proper cycle paths in many cities, cycling can be dangerous. For your safety, try to use the cycle paths when available, and if they are not available, pay close attention to the cars and mopeds around you.
Also, bicycles get stolen very often. Make sure you have one or more locks with which to chain your bike when you leave it parked.
Scooter or motorcycle
Scooters (small motorbikes) and motorbikes are very common means in Italy, good for traveling for short or medium distances.
You can buy a scooter or a motorbike in motorbike shops, on the internet (second hand) or in shops that repair them. Make sure the vehicle is in good condition.
PRICE:It is possible to buy a new scooter starting from 1,500 euros. Instead you can find a second hand scooter even for 700/800 euros.
You can buy a new motorbike for around 6,000 euros, but some can cost up to 15,000 / 20,000 euros. A second hand motorbike can cost around 3,000 euros.
The 50cc car (or minicar) is a smaller and less powerful car than a normal car. As it goes slow, it is useful for those traveling short distances and is less suitable for long trips. Compared to the scooter, it allows you to travel covered, so without getting wet in case of rain, and allows you to carry objects with you.
You can buy the 50cc car in shops that sell cars and motorbikes or search online for second hand ones. If you choose a second hand one, make sure it is in good condition before making the payment.
PRICE:It is possible to buy a new 50cc car for around 10,000 euros. While a second hand 50cc car can cost around 5,000 euros.
Cars are useful because they allow you to travel any distance safely. They are the best way to carry passengers and things. If you live in a big city you might experience difficulties in finding a parking space and heavy traffic.
Many car shops sell both new and second hand cars. There are many second hand cars online too. If you want to buy a second hand car, make sure it is in good condition, perhaps with the help of a mechanic.
PRICE: A cheap new car can cost around 10,000 euros. You can find second hand cars in good condition starting from 5,000 euros.
Insurance and other expenses
It is important to be aware that for vehicles there are few additional costs. For cars, scooters and motorbikes it is mandatory to activate an annual insurance that covers the costs in the event of an accident. The cost of the insurance depends on the vehicle and the driver’s class of merit, but you can pay around 100 euros for the scooter, up to an average of 500/700 euros for the car.
In addition, it is mandatory to pay the bollo every year. The bollo is a tax decided by the region to use your vehicle on public land.
Furthermore, every 2 years, for each of these vehicles, you must do the revisione. The revisione is a check of the vehicle to certify its good condition. Its cost is around 70 euros.
In addition, it is important to know that the cost of petrol in Italy is generally more than 1 euro per litre.
This alternative way of travelling is available and widely used in large cities. It consists of bicycles or cars of private or public companies that everyone can use for a small amount of money. Bicycles or cars can be found in various places in the city. By downloading the bike / car sharing App of your city you can find the bike or car closest to you and use it. When you arrive at your destination you can park it wherever you want, as long as it is legal parking.
To find the bike or car sharing available in your city you can do this search online: car sharing + name of your city (for example: car sharing Milano).
Also this alternative way of travelling is widely used. In this case, a person who travels with his car, usually from city to city, makes available the empty seats for people who have to make the same journey. For example: I have a car and I have to go from Firenze to Milano. Since I travel alone and have 4 free seats in my car, I make free seats available for anyone who has to make my same journey. This will allow me to split the travel expenses and therefore spend less money.
There are platforms on the internet that connect people who travel towards the same destination. A very famous one is BlaBlaCar. You can register on the platform and find people to share a journey with. This method is often very cheap compared to the train, but remember that you will be travelling with people you don’t know and have never seen before.
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