Italy is much quieter this year, but Italians are having a fairly normal summer all things considered. With daily cases hovering around 250 for the country, and mask wearing mandatory in all indoor environments, the borders have opened to EU and Schengen area visitors. This means that trains are running around the country, but some things have changed for Italian trains because of coronavirus. (But travel from other countries, even those approved by the EU, is limited and we don’t know when it will be possible for all to travel to Italy).
Since the lockdown ended, we have traveled in Lazio, Puglia, and Veneto by train. There are new security measures in place that you should know about before you get on board. If you plan to travel around Italy by train in our post-COVID-19 world, here is what you should expect:
Masks are mandatory at all times. From the moment you step into the station, you must be wearing a mask. Pharmacies in Italy sell 10 surgical masks for €5 so they are easy to find. Masks that properly cover your nose and mouth must be kept on for the entire train journey. The AC seems to be working on all the trains we have taken, so you stay comfortable despite the face covering.
Temperature checks. Based on the standard in Rome, I expected more temperature checks. However, all we have seen are spot checks in Venice before boarding as well as a crowd thermal scanner at Termini. In Rome, this seems to only be scanning the arrivals from high above the crowd and we have not seen anyone stopped.
All trains are running at half capacity. It does not matter if you take a regional train, a FrecciaRossa high speed train, or book with Italo – half the seats are blocked off. This is to ensure social distancing despite the enclosed space. If you have a reserved seat, this means you will automatically have more space because no one, not even a family member, can sit next to you. If you are going on a regional train, try to travel off-peak hours because there are far fewer places to sit and you are not allowed to congregate closely together near the doors. For fast trains, you will want to keep buying tickets in advance to be sure you snag a seat on your preferred train.
Boarding and Exiting. Speaking of doors, most trains have specified specific doors as entrata (entrance) and uscita (exit). Keep in mind that you may have to get off a different door than where you boarded, but there will be arrows on the ground to guide you.
Disinfectant and Cleanliness. All high-speed trains have a cleaning person on board. They walk up and down the train to disinfect seats when people get off, as well as to clean the bathrooms regularly. There is also hand gel at every train door, even on regional trains. (The regional train bathrooms are also the cleanest I have ever seen them and stocked with – shocker – toilet paper).
Food service. There is no hot food service on any trains. The dining cars are closed (you can walk through them but can’t stand in them). Vending machines, when on board, are working normally. First-class beverage service is also taking place. And if you ride train Italia, everyone gets water regardless of their ticket class. In comes in a paper bag with a free mask, gloves, and headrest cover.
Have you noticed anything else? (Note: the main image in the post is from pre-coronavirus. Magazines are now digital-only).
Here is a general guide to train travel in Italy to help you plan your next trip.