Italy is roughly the size of the state of Arizona, yet within this small nation lie a large number of varied and interesting regions. Travelers often seek to visit at least several areas of Italy within the same trip. Here are some tips about transportation that might be helpful for those planning a trip to this glorious country.
Good Maps – Detailed walking maps are an essential item for visitors to Italy. I like Eyewitness or Streetwise maps. Many Italian cities are very old. Streets may not have an easily discernable pattern. They may meander. Streets may not have street signs or street signs may be very hard to spot. It is rather easy to get lost in cities where small alleyways are the norm in much of the city. While getting lost is often part of the fun and may even lead to unexpected discoveries, travelers will want to find the way back to their lodging eventually. If you are planning to drive in Italy, a good road map is also essential. Buy an up to date map for every region and city that you are planning to visit. My personal recommendation is to use a GPS programmed for Europe. If you do not want to bring your own they are available for rent. I, personally, never drive in Europe without bringing our my own trusty Garmin, aptly named Goddess. There are also some GPS models programmed for walking.
Bus Travel – Public bus travel allows the visitor a close-up view of an area. Major Italian cities like Rome are well served by a network of buses. Buses are also a very economical form of travel, with costs per trip typically under 5 euros per person. Bus travel is also ideal for exploring regions such as the Amalfi Coast, where the roads are very narrow and wind along high mountain passages. Many travelers find it dangerous to drive a car on these roads and sightsee at the same time. Buses travel fairly frequently between Amalfi towns.
Car Travel – Some Italian regions are not well served by public transportation, for example, Tuscany. Car travel can allow the visitor to see many more small villages and eliminate reliance on bus and train schedules. Car rental in Italy is available to those with an American driving license. Cars rentals are available at airports and larger towns. The trusty cab is always a good solution to get around in small towns if you do not want to walk. Of course, there are cars for hire, but you will pay a high price for that luxury.
Rail – Italy has an extensive network of high-speed trains that travel between major Italian cities such as Rome and Venice. Rail service is generally easy to use even for the American traveler confronting it for the first time. There are many signs in English in Italian rail stations. A ticket may be purchased in advance with an automatic ticket machine. Train service is usually divided into first and second classes. First-class service offers plusher seats and more legroom. Second-class service is pleasant with seating comparable to Amtrak. Trains have toilets. Snacks and light meals are usually available for purchase on board.
All in all, there are many options for getting around Italy! Go for it!