Transport in Italy

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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 2507 people and 12.46 km2 (World's seventh) per km of rail track.[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.


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

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:

  • 112 km (70 mi) of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) gauge (all electrified);
  • 1,211 km (752 mi) of 950 mm (3 ft 1 38 in) gauge (of which 153 km (95 mi) electrified)

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[edit]

Italy is 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[edit]

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[edit]

Trenitalia operate 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.

  • Trentino-Alto Adige / Trentino-Südtirol: Südtirol Bahn (South Tyrol Railway) runs regional services on Ala/Ahl-am-Etsch to Bolzano/Bozen (calling at Rovereto/Rofreit, Trento/Trient and Mezzocorona/Kronmetz), Bolzano/Bozen to Merano/Meran, Bressanone/Brixen to San Candido/Innichen, and a direct "Tirol regional express REX" service between Bolzano/Bozen in Italy and Innsbruck in Austria.
  • Lombardy: Trenord runs the Malpensa Express airport train, a few Milan's suburban lines and most regional train services in Lombardy. Trenord also co-operates with DB and ÖBB on the EuroCity Verona-Munich service, and with SBB CFF FFS (joint-venture TiLo) on the regional Milan-Bellinzona service.
  • Emilia-Romagna: Ferrovie Emilia Romagna provides vital connections across cities on different mainline networks, including Modena, Parma, Suzzara, Ferrara, Reggio Emilia and Bologna.
  • Abruzzo: Sangritana runs daily services between Pescara and Lanciano.

Rapid transit[edit]

Cities with metro systems:

City Name Lines Length (km) Stations Opening
Brescia Brescia Metro 1 13.7 17 2013
Catania Catania Metro 1 4 6 1999
Genoa Genoa Metro 1 7.1 8 1990
Milan Milan Metro 4 101 113 1964
Naples Naples Metro[6] 2 15.8 19 1993
Rome Rome Metro 3 53.4 67 1955
Turin Turin Metro 1 13.2 21 2006

Cities with commuter rail systems:

Rail links with adjacent countries[edit]

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.

  • Italy-France: Fréjus Rail Tunnel at 1,338 m above sea, currently SNCF TGV trains Milan-Paris and Turin-Paris and EuroNight trains of Thello Venice-Paris
  • Italy-Switzerland: connecting Varese (Italy) to Bellinzona (Switzerland) and runs on the eastern coast of Lake Maggiore
  • Italy-Switzerland: Bernina railway at 2,253 m above sea, metre-gauge trains of RhB Tirano-St. Moritz and the Bernina Express tourist train
  • Italy-Austria: at 1,175 m above sea connecting San Candido/Innichen (Italy) and Lienz (Austria)
  • Italy-Austria: connecting Venice and Udine (Italy) to Villach (Austria), currently EuroCity trains of ÖBB Venice-Vienna, EuroNight trains of ÖBB Vienna-Rome/Milan, and DB CityNightLine Munich-Venice

Vatican City and San Marino[edit]

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 Mestre 31
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[edit]

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 %
Taranto Apulia 49,522 9.4
Genoa Liguria 46,469 8.8
Trieste Friuli-Venezia Giulia 37,195 7.1
Gioia Tauro Calabria 31,527 6.0
Ravenna Emilia-Romagna 30,075 5.7
Venice Veneto 29,920 5.7
Livorno Tuscany 28,667 5.4
Augusta Sicily 26,849 5.1
Porto Foxi Sardinia 26,407 5.0
Santa Panagia Sicily 17,305 3.3
La Spezia Liguria 17,014 3.2
Savona-Vado Liguria 16,370 3.1
Milazzo Sicily 15,405 2.9
Olbia Sardinia 12,875 2.4
Brindisi Apulia 10,767 2.0
Other 129,851 24.7
Italy 526,218 100.0
Port Region Thousand pass. %
Messina Sicily 10,380 11.5
Reggio di Calabria Calabria 10,116 11.2
Capri Campania 7,169 8.0
Naples Campania 6,185 6.9
Piombino Tuscany 5,036 5.6
Portoferraio Tuscany 3,927 4.4
Olbia Sardinia 3,567 4.0
Livorno Tuscany 3,251 3.6
Civitavecchia Lazio 2,677 3.0
Genoa Liguria 2,510 2.8
La Maddalena Sardinia 2,374 2.6
Palau Sardinia 2,364 2.6
Ischia Porto Campania 2,342 2.6
Palermo Sicily 1,949 2.2
Sorrento Campania 1,887 2.1
Other 24,423 27.1
Italy 90,157 100.0


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]

  • over 3,047 m: 9
  • 2,438 to 3,047 m: 31
  • 1,524 to 2,437 m: 18
  • 914 to 1,523 m: 29
  • under 914 m: 12

Airports - with unpaved runways in 2012:[11]

  • total: 31
  • 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
  • 914 to 1,523 m: 11
  • under 914 m: 19

Busiest airports[edit]

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)
disembarked embarked total disembarked embarked total
Rome Fiumicino 311,679 16,150,965 16,294,531 32,445,496 64,069 72,001 136,070
Milan Malpensa 169,389 7,946,725 7,885,436 15,832,161 159,687 167,382 327,069
Milan Linate 92,884 4,160,526 4,130,569 8,291,095 7,972 8,532 16,504
Venice Marco Polo 67,160 3,220,072 3,216,922 6,436,994 12,511 13,005 25,516
Bologna Guglielmo Marconi 53,022 2,117,111 2,124,922 4,242,033 6,920 8,887 15,807
Naples Capodichino 52,367 2,406,886 2,426,418 4,833,304 1,935 1,142 3,077
Bergamo Orio al Serio 52,120 3,310,447 3,325,468 6,635,915 4,597 4,951 9,548
Catania-Fontanarossa 50,503 2,768,158 2,794,629 5,562,787 5,229 3,204 8,433
Palermo Punta Raisi 46,182 2,089,904 2,071,786 4,161,690 1,618 1,656 3,274
Turin Caselle 42,649 1,494,395 1,494,981 2,989,376 794 625 1,419
Other 333,181 15,470,588 15,507,497 30,978,085 37,396 32,991 70,387
Total 1,271,136 61,135,777 61,273,159 122,408,936 302,728 314,376 617,104


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.

From 24 June 2015, Megabus (Europe) launches daily intercity bus services on the following routes

  • Turin-Naples calling at Milan, Bologna Florence and Rome
  • Milan-Naples calling at Bologna, Florence and Rome
  • Venice-Naples calling at Bologna, Florence and Rome
  • Milan-Rome calling at Bologna and Florence
  • Milan-Rome calling at Genoa and Pisa
  • Turin-Venice calling at Milan, Verona and Padua

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

Airport shuttle[edit]

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.

  • Venice: Venezia-Mestre station - Marco Polo Airport (50 minutes) and Treviso Airport
  • Milan: Milano Centrale station - Malpensa Airport (1 hour 5 minutes), Linate Airport (35 minutes) and Milan Bergamo Airport (1 hour)
  • Brescia: Brescia station - Milan Bergamo Airport (1 hour)
  • Rome: Rome Termini station - Fiumicino Airport by train
  • Verona: Verona Porta Nuova station - Villafranca "Catullo" Airport (20 minutes)
  • Bologna: Centrale station - Bologna Airport (20 minutes)
  • Abruzzo: Pescara Centrale station - Abruzzo Airport (10 minutes)
  • Florence: Firenze S M Novella station - Florence Airport

Local bus[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  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). 
  5. ^
  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. ^ a b c "Italy". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Graduatoria dei porti italiani". Istat. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Trasporto aereo in Italia (PDF)". ISTAT. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Trasporto aereo 2003–2009". Istat. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Transport in Italy at Wikimedia Commons