You have to know that even travelling by train in Italy has its specific rules. The most important one is to validate your ticket! If you board a train without validating your ticket in the validating machine you will get 200€ fine!!! If you pay the fine immediately on board to a controller the fine becomes 50€ per person.
The concept of validation comes from the fact that the train tickets you buy are basically good forever. They have no expiry date. Only by validating them in one of the boxes you will find in the railway stations your ticket becomes valid. That’s the reason of the hefty fine. Because traveller could use the same ticket for the unlimited number of trips.
Here I explain what you should do to avoid this unpleasant surprise:
- After you have bought a ticket you have to find a validating machine. Usually, there is more than one on the railway stations.
- Insert your ticket into the slot of the validating machine. Try to slide the ticket to the far left of the slot.
- The machine will stamp on your ticket the date, the time and the name of the station.
- You pull your ticket and you should see all the information printed on it. They should be well visible.
Sometimes the validating machine is run out of ink or are out-of-order. In that case, you should find another one that works in the correct way. If all validating machines are out-of-order (you should be very unlucky) you have to find a controller of a train. The easiest way to find him/her is to spot them outside of the train at the stop. They are always the last who board the train because they have to make sure that all passengers are on board before the train departs. When you find the controller, explain that the machines were out-of-order (the majority of the controllers speak English). In this way, they validate your ticket manually. However, remember! You have to seek out the controller ACTIVELY! If they find you on the board without a validated ticket (even if the validating machines didn’t work) they will give you a fine anyway.
Good luck and buon viaggio! 😉