Transport in Italy

Italy within the European Union

Italy has well developed public and private transportation options. Italian rail network is extensive, especially in the north, generally eclipsing the need for an alternative such as bus or air (both of which, however, exist to some extent). While a number of private railroads exist and provide mostly commuter-type services, the national railway, Ferrovie dello Stato, also provides sophisticated high-speed rail service that joins the major cities of Italy from Naples through northern cities such as Milan and Turin. Italy has 2,507 people and 12.46 km2 per kilometer of rail track, giving Italy the world's 13th largest rail network.[1]

Italy's road network is also widespread, with a total length of about 487,700 km.[2] It comprises both an extensive motorway network (6,400 km), mostly toll roads, and national and local roads.

Because of its long seacoast, Italy also has a large number of harbors for the transportation of both goods and passengers. Italy has been a seafaring peninsula dating back to the days of the Etruscans and the Greeks. Transport networks in Italy are fully integrated into the Trans-European Transport Networks.


A Frecciarossa high-speed train
New Italo high-speed train of NTV, capable of 360 km/h
A station on the Milan Metro, the largest rapid transit system in Italy

The Italian railway system has a length of 19,394 km (12,051 mi), of which 18,071 km (11,229 mi) standard gauge and 11,322 km (7,035 mi) electrified. The active lines are 16,723 km.[3] The network is recently growing with the construction of the new high-speed rail network. The narrow gauge tracks are:

A major part of the Italian rail network is managed and operated by Ferrovie dello Stato, a state owned company. Other regional agencies, mostly owned by public entities such as regional governments, operate on the Italian network. The Italian railways are subsidised by the government, receiving €8.1 billion in 2009.[4]

Travellers who often make use of the railway during their stay in Italy might use Rail Passes, such as the European Inter-Rail or Italy's national and regional passes. These rail passes allow travellers the freedom to use regional trains during the validity period, but all high-speed and intercity trains require a 10-euro reservation fee. Regional passes, such as "Io viaggio ovunque Lombardia", offer one-day, multiple-day and monthly period of validity. There are also saver passes for adults, who travel as a group, with savings up to 20%. Foreign travellers should purchase these passes in advance, so that the passes could be delivered by post prior to the trip. When using the rail passes, the date of travel needs to be filled in before boarding the trains.[5]

High speed trains

Italy was the world's first country to establish a High-speed rail network. In 1967, the Bologna-Florence high-speed line, with speeds up to 230 km/h, opened to passenger traffic and reduced the journey time from 1 hour 34 minutes to 59 minutes. Subsequently, high-speed rail tracks connect Milan to Bologna (1 hour), Florence to Rome (1 hour 30 minutes) and Rome to Naples (1 hour 10 minutes).

The Bologna-Florence high-speed line was upgraded to 300 km/h and the current journey time is 35 minutes. A new high-speed line linking Milan and Turin, operating at 300 km/h, opened to passenger traffic in 2009, reducing the journey time from 2 hours to 1 hour.

The high-speed line between Naples and Salerno are still under construction. Construction of the Milan-Venice high-speed line has begun in 2013.

The operator of high-speed trains (alta velocita AV, formerly Eurostar Italia) is Trenitalia. Trains are divided into three categories: Frecciarossa (Red) trains operate at a maximum of 300 km/h on dedicated high-speed tracks; Frecciargento (Silver) trains operate at a maximum of 250 km/h on both high-speed and mainline tracks; Frecciabianca (White) trains operate at a maximum of 200 km/h on mainline tracks only.

Since 2012, a new and Italy's first private train operator, NTV Italo, run high-speed services in competition with Trenitalia.

Intercity trains

With the introduction of high-speed trains, intercity trains are limited to few services per day on mainline and regional tracks.

The daytime services (Intercity IC), while not freuquent and limited to one or two trains per route, are essential in providing access to cities and towns off the railway's mainline network. The main routes are Trieste to Rome (stopping at Venice, Bologna, Prato, Florence and Arezzo), Milan to Rome (stopping at Genoa, La Spezia, Pisa and Livorno / stopping at Parma, Modena, Bologna, Prato, Florence and Arezzo), Bologna to Lecce (stopping at Rimini, Ancona, Pescara, Bari and Brindisi) and Rome to Reggio di Calabria (stopping at Latina and Naples). In addition, the Intercity trains provide a more economical means of long-distance rail travel within Italy.

The night trains (Intercity Notte ICN) have sleeper compartments and washrooms, but no showers on board. Main routes are Rome to Bolzano/Bozen (calling at Florence, Bologna, Verona, Rovereto and Trento), Milan to Lecce (calling at Bologna, Rimini, Ancona, Pescara, Bari and Brindisi), Turin to Lecce (calling at Alessandria, Voghera, Piacenza, Parma, Bologna, Rimini, Pescara, Bari and Brindisi) and Reggio di Calabria to Turin (calling Naples, Rome, Livorno, La Spezia and Genova). Most portions of these ICN services run during the night; since most services take 10 to 15 hours to complete a one-way journey, their day-time portion provide extra train connections to complement with the Intercity services.

There are a total of 86 intercity trains running within Italy per day.

Regional trains

Trenitalia operates regional services (both fast veloce RGV and stopping REG) throughout Italy.

Regional train agencies exist: their train schedules are largely connected to and shown on Trenitalia, and tickets for such train services can be purchased through Trenitalia's national network. Other regional agencies have separate ticket systems which are not mutually exchangeable with that of Trenitalia. These "regional" tickets could be purchased at local newsagents or tobacco stores instead.

Rapid transit

Cities with metro systems:

City Name Lines Length (km) Stations Opening
Brescia Brescia Metro113.7172013
Catania Catania Metro 1461999
Genoa Genoa Metro17.181990
Milan Milan Metro41011131964
Naples Naples Metro[6]215.8191993
Rome Rome Metro360.0731955
Turin Turin Metro113.2212006

Cities with commuter rail systems:

The Marseille-Vintimille railway line in Ventimiglia, near the French border

Italy has 11 rail border crossings over the Alpine mountains with her neighbouring countries: six are designated as mainline tracks and two are metre-gauge tracks. The six mainline border crossings are: two with France (one for Nice and Marseill; the other for Lyon and Dijon), two with Switzerland (one for Brig, Bern and Geneva; the other for Chiasso, Lugano, Lucerne and Zürich), and two with Austria (one for Innsbruck; the other for Villach, Graz and Vienna). The two metre-gauge track crossings are located at the border town of Tirano (enters Switzerland's Canton Graubünden/Grisons) and Domodossola (enters Switzerland's Locarno).

There is a railway line connecting Italy's northeastern port of Trieste to Slovenia, but no passenger or freight services operate on this track. Consequently, there is no direct connections between Trieste and Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, despite the proximity of both cities.

Vatican City and San Marino

The Vatican City is also linked to Italy with a railway line and used only for special occasions.[7]

San Marino used to have a narrow gauge rail connection with Italy; this was dismantled in 1944.[8]


Milano Centrale railway station, the second busiest in Italy after Roma Termini

Italy's top ten railway stations by annual passengers are:

Station passengers per year
Bologna Centrale 58
Firenze Santa Maria Novella 59
Genova Piazza Principe 24
Milano Centrale 120
Napoli Centrale 50
Roma Termini 150
Torino Porta Nuova 70
Venezia Mestre31
Venezia Santa Lucia 30
Verona Porta Nuova 25

Stations with darker background are also served by High-speed trains


Autostrade network in Italy
Italian motorways (Autostrade) are identified by green signs
A motorway in Italy

Italy is one of the countries with the most vehicles per capita, with 690 per 1000 people in 2010.[9][10] Italy has a total of 487,700 km of paved roads, of which 6,758 km are motorways generally with a speed limit of 130 km/h (81 mph). The speed limit in towns is usually 50 km/h (31 mph) and less commonly 30 km/h (19 mph).


Italy has 2,400 km (1,491 mi) of navigable waterways for various types of commercial traffic, although of limited overall value.[11]

In the northern regions of Lombardy and Venetia, commuter ferry boats operate on Lake Garda and Lake Como to connect towns and villages at both sides of the lakes. The waterways in Venice, including the Grand Canal, serve as the vital transportation network for local residents and tourists. Frequent shuttle ferries (vaporetta) connect different points on the main island of Venice and other outlying islands of the lagoon. In addition, there are direct shuttle boats between Venice and the Venice Marco Polo Airport.

Ports and harbours

Genoa has one of the busiest seaport in Italy
Busiest ports by cargo tonnage in Italy (2008)[12] Busiest ports by passengers in Italy (2008)[12]
Port Region Thousand tons %
TriesteFriuli-Venezia Giulia37,1957.1
Gioia TauroCalabria31,5276.0
Porto FoxiSardinia26,4075.0
Santa PanagiaSicily17,3053.3
La SpeziaLiguria17,0143.2
Italy 526,218100.0
Port Region Thousand pass. %
Reggio di CalabriaCalabria10,11611.2
La MaddalenaSardinia2,3742.6
Ischia PortoCampania2,3422.6
Italy 90,157100.0


Italy is the fifth in Europe by number of passengers by air transport, with about 148 million passengers or about 10% of the European total in 2011.[13] Most of passengers in Italy are on international flights (57%). A big share of domestic flights connect the major islands (Sardinia and Sicily) to the mainland.[13] Domestic flights between major Italian cities as Rome and Milan still play a relevant role but are declining since the opening of the Italian high-speed rail network in recent years.

Italy has a total as of 130 airports in 2012, of which 99 have paved runways:[11]

Airports - with unpaved runways in 2012:[11]

Busiest airports

Rome Fiumicino airport, the busiest in Italy.

This is a list of the top ten busiest airports in Italy in 2009.[14]

Airport Movements Passengers Freight (tons)
Rome Fiumicino311,67916,150,96516,294,53132,445,49664,06972,001136,070
Milan Malpensa169,3897,946,7257,885,43615,832,161159,687167,382327,069
Milan Linate92,8844,160,5264,130,5698,291,0957,9728,53216,504
Venice Marco Polo67,1603,220,0723,216,9226,436,99412,51113,00525,516
Bologna Guglielmo Marconi53,0222,117,1112,124,9224,242,0336,9208,88715,807
Naples Capodichino52,3672,406,8862,426,4184,833,3041,9351,1423,077
Bergamo Orio al Serio52,1203,310,4473,325,4686,635,9154,5974,9519,548
Palermo Punta Raisi46,1822,089,9042,071,7864,161,6901,6181,6563,274
Turin Caselle42,6491,494,3951,494,9812,989,3767946251,419


There are long-distance intercity buses run by local companies, but the services are infrequent during the week and usually provide a secondary link to railway services.

Italy does not have a nationwide coach operator.[15] However, in 2015, the British company Megabus (Europe) launched daily intercity bus services on several domestic routes

This makes a daily total of 12 services in each direction between Rome and Bologna.

Flixbus, a company founded in the course of the opening of the German intercity bus market also serves routes in Italy both domestic and international.

Airport shuttle

Airport shuttle buses, however, are highly developed and convenient for rail travellers. Most airports in Italy are not connected to the railway network, except Rome Fiumicino "Leonardo da Vinci" Airport and Milan Malpensa Airport. In Bologna, a light-rail track is under construction to connect Bologna Airport to the main railway station.

Local bus

Local buses are usually divided into urban (urbano) and suburban (interurbano or extraurbano) lines.

See also


  1. Compare List of countries by rail transport network size.
  2. CIA World Factbook 2005
  3. "La rete oggi". RFI Rete Ferroviaria Italiana. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  4. "The age of the train" (PDF).
  6. Metronapoli lines
  7. "La Ferrovia dello Stato della Città del Vaticano" (in Italian). Sala stampa della Santa Sede. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  8. "la "Ferrovia Rimini - San Marino"" (in Italian). Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  9. John Sousanis (15 August 2011). "World Vehicle Population Tops 1 Billion Units". Ward AutoWorld. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  10. See also: List of countries by vehicles per capita
  11. 1 2 3 "Italy". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  12. 1 2 "Graduatoria dei porti italiani". Istat. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  13. 1 2 "Trasporto aereo in Italia (PDF)". ISTAT. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  14. "Trasporto aereo 2003–2009". Istat. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  15. "Getting to Italy and getting around". TripAdvisor. Retrieved February 14, 2016.

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