In the circulatory system of Italian public transport, the trains are the arteries and veins, and the buses are the capillaries. They will be the last leg of any journey to an out-of-the way village or neighborhood. Though many small hamlets often have their own train stations, those on top of a hill or otherwise off the railroad grid can be reached only by bus. Italy has more of them than any other European country. A bus stop is easily recognized by an orange, yellow, or blue sign marked Fermata. Schedules for each bus and a list of stops on the route are usually posted at the stop. Unlike in most other countries, you cannot buy a ticket on board. You need to buy them beforehand at a local bar or tobacco store (marked by a black-and-white sign with the letter T).
In cities, tickets work much as they do on a train. They need to be stamped by the little yellow or orange machine on board to be valid. But, unlike on a train, the tickets are almost never checked. Rome has cracked down on freeloaders in recent years, but in Milan and less-touristed towns, authorities tend to assume that no one would go through the embarrassment of being ticketless in the rare event that an official were to climb aboard. Like anywhere else in the world, buses never come as often as you would like them to, and they are not always on time. If you plan to live in a place where a bus is the only connection to the outside world, you should carefully consider buying a car.