Travelling high speed is reasonably easy, but travelling on Italian regional trains has many turists confused. On high speed trains you will find that the staff usually speaks English, but on regional trains is really hard to find someone who speaks anything else than Italian.
I have witnessed many scenes of foreign people having problems dealing with the conductor and finding out the information they needed. So here's a short summary of what you should know about travelling on regional trains.
1) Which ticket should I buy?
You can buy a First Class ticket or a Second Class ticket, the first one is more expensive.
2) Where can I buy it?
You can buy your ticket online or at the station: at the ticket office or at the self-service machines. Online tickets don't need to be punched, but if you buy a ticket at the ticket office or at the self-service machines you have to punch it before boarding the train.
3) What happens if I don't buy a ticket?
You can buy your ticket on the train paying the full price of the ticket and a surcharge of 5€. If you travel without ticket you can be charged with a fine from 50€ to 200€.
4) What happens if I'm sitting in the wrong class?
If you're travelling in First Class with a Second Class ticket you can either move to another carriage or change your ticket. To change your ticket to a First Class one you have to pay the difference between First Class ticket and Second Class ticket and a surcharge of 8€.
5) Do the surcharges always apply?
No, they don't apply in case:
- you're a blind person;
- you have to buy a ticket on board because the ticket office was closed and the self-service machines were broken (or there wasn't even one);
- you couldn't punch your ticket because the punching machines were broken (in that case you won't be charged with any fine);
- you're only changing class because Second Class is full (in that case you only pay the difference between the two tickets).
6) What if the conductor doesn't speak English?
Ask other passengers for help, you may find someone who can translate for you. Remember that you don't have to pay for anything they didn't tell you the price of.