Arriving in Italy

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

It would be nice if we could take Europe’s network of public transportation and make it work in the United States, but the expanses between cities usually make it more convenient to fly. Distances in Italy are small by comparison. It sometimes makes more sense to board a train in Rome’s city center and get off in the center of Milan four and a half hours later than it does to get to Rome’s airport 45 minutes out of town, board a plane 30 minutes later, take an hour’s flight to Milan’s Malpensa airport, and end up in the city center maybe an hour after that. If you plan to visit cities and medium-sized towns on your initial trip, you should take the train. The railways go nearly everywhere and are relatively cheap. There is also always a reliable, though not always timely, network of buses. Getting to the countryside to visit farmhouses is another story. For that, you’ll need a car. Renting one in Italy is just as easy as in the United States, but if you’re coming during tourist season, reserve well in advance. Agencies can sell out quickly, especially on the Ferragosto weekend starting August 15. If you’re traveling in the winter, be sure to reserve snow chains also. There seems to be a short supply of these at rental companies, but chains are essential on wintry mountain roads. Actually, they are required by law.

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