A Frecciarossa train to Florence & Milan at Rome Stazione Termini

A Frecciarossa 500 at Rome's Stazione Termini...

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Trenitalia or Italo, which to choose?

Italy by 186mph Frecciarossa...

Trenitalia is Italy's national train operator, and their premier train is the Frecciarossa Frecciarossa means red arrow, and they can reach 300 km/h (186 mph) on Italy's new high-speed lines.  Nobody flies between Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome or Naples now:  Milan to Rome takes as little as 2 hours 55 minutes by train, Rome to Florence as little as 1 hour 23 minutes, Rome to Venice just 3h45, with a restaurant or bar car & free WiFi.  The original Frecciarossa 500s have now been joined by new Frecciarossa 1000 trains.

Where do Frecciarossas run?...

  Turin - Milan - Bologna - Florence - Rome - Naples - Salerno (Frecciarossa 500 & 1000)

  Turin - Milan - Verona - Venice (Frecciarossa 500, some services Frecciabianca)

  Venice - Bologna - Florence - Rome (Frecciarossa 500 & 1000, some services Frecciargento)

Frecciarossas have 4 classes...

Frecciarossa 500s originally had 1st & 2nd class seats.  However, with private operator NTV's Italo trains now competing with Trenitalia on the Milan-Rome-Naples route, Trenitalia has refurbished its Frecciarossas with not two but four classes:  Standard, Premium, Business and Executive.  Here's an illustrated guide to the classes on Frecciarossa 500, and the new Frecciarossa 1000 also has these four classes.  Which class should you choose? 

Standard = 2nd class

Seats are arranged 2+2 across the width of the car, covered with cloth fabric and grouped in bays of 4 around a table either side of the aisle.  Power sockets at all seats.  There's plenty of luggage space on overhead racks, which will take anything up to backpack-size, and space between the seat backs, and racks for larger items at the end of each car.  Passengers may use the café-bar & (on some trains) restaurant car.

Standard class seats on a Frecciarossa from Rome to Florence & Milan   Typical table with 4 seats on a Frecciarossa

Premium = premium 2nd class

Absolutely identical seat layout as Standard class, with identical leg & elbow room, just with leather seats instead of cloth.  As in Standard class, seats are arranged 2+2 across the car width in bays of 4 around a table either side of the aisle.  The fare includes a complimentary welcome drink of coffee, soft drink or prosecco, and there are power sockets at all seats.  There's plenty of luggage space on overhead racks, which will take anything up to backpack-size, and space between the seat backs, and racks for larger items at the end of each car.  Passengers may use the café-bar & (on some trains) restaurant car.

The Man in Seat 61 says:  "It will depend on what prices you're offered, of course, but the leather seats and 'welcome' drink make premium a nice upgrade from Standard."

Premium class seats on a Frecciarossa   Typical table for four on a Frecciarossa, Premium Class

Business = 1st class

Seats are arranged 2+1 across the car width, so there's significantly more elbow room than Standard or Premium (although legroom is the same), and the leather seats are roomier too.  There are tables for 4 on one side of the aisle and tables for 2 on the other, the latter ideal for couples.  The fare includes a complimentary welcome drink of coffee, soft drink or prosecco, and there are power sockets at all seats.  There's plenty of luggage space on overhead racks, which will take anything up to backpack-size, and space between the seat backs, and racks for larger items at the end of each car.  Passengers may use the café-bar & (on some trains) restaurant car

Business Silenzio:  One Business class car is designated as a 'quiet' car.

Business class Salottinos (below right):  Each Frecciarossa has two fully-enclosed four-seat Salottinos (= little rooms).  Seats can be booked in this if you are a small group travelling together, ideal for private meetings on the move.

The Man in Seat 61 says:  "There's no need to travel first (Business) class if you're on a budget, as Standard & Premium classes are absolutely fine, and the legroom is exactly the same as in Business class.  But the wider seats, extra elbow room and the ability for couples to choose a table for two, make Business class a nice upgrade."

Business class seats on a Frecciarossa   A 4-seat Business class 'salottino' on a Trenitalia Frecciarossa

Executive = premium 1st class

Executive class consists of just 8 super-comfortable leather reclining seats at one end of the train (pictured, below left) with their own dedicated steward or stewardess.  Power sockets at all seats.  The fare includes a complimentary cold tray meal (or snack, on shorter runs) and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and all Executive passengers can use the Frecciaclub first class lounges at main stations.  Executive meeting room (below right):  Executive class also features a 6-seat meeting room.

The Man in Seat 61 says:  "Executive class is aimed at top executives and priced accordingly, with fully-flexible tickets and no discounted fares. But if your company is paying, Executive is highly recommended, you won't want to get off..."

Executive class on a Trenitalia Frecciarossa   Executive class meeting room on a Frecciarossa

Luggage on Frecciarossa trains...

It's really simple.  You just take all your bags with you onto the train.  Nobody weighs it, measures it or argues with you about it.  You can take pretty much whatever you can carry and you simply put it on the racks. 

Anything up to backpack-sized will fit on the overhead racks above your seat, or in the recess between the seat backs.  If you insist on bringing a giant suitcase, this will fit on the racks at the end of each car, just inside the entrance doors, see the photo to the right.

It's always best to keep your bags where you can see them, although they'll be perfectly safe.  Theft of bags from trains is as rare as theft of airline baggage.

More information about luggage on European trains.

Information about luggage storage at stations.

Food & drink on Frecciarossas...

Executive class complimentary meal   An ETR500 Frecciarossa at Milan

Executive class meal:  Executive class includes a complimentary cold tray meal with wine and prosecco....

 

A Frecciarossa at Milan Centrale....

Frecciarossa restaurant car   Frecciarossa cafe-bar area

Restaurant car...  Some Frecciarossas have a waiter-service restaurant car, open to all passengers, 3-course set menu around €30. There's also a cafe counter.

 

Or cafe-bar...  Other Frecciarossas just have a cafe-bar counter serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, snacks and hot dishes.  You can check if your train has a restaurant by using www.trenitalia.com.

Frecciarossa restaurant car main course   Frecciarossa restaurant car

The set meal...  A typical main course.

 

A table for two in a Frecciarossa restaurant...

Frecciarossa information screen   Two ETR500 Frecciarossa trains at Milan Centrale

Information screens in each car tell you the train's speed, destination, calling points and next stop...

 

Two ETR500 Frecciarossa trains at Milan Centrale...

Video guide:  Frecciarossa 500...

This video guide shows the difference between the four classes on the Frecciarossa 500.  The new Frecciarossa 1000 has the same four classes.

The new Frecciarossa 1000 is here!    Watch the video    Virtual tour

In 2015 the very latest Frecciarossa 1000 entered service between Turin, Milan, Florence & Rome, and you'll find it operating some Venice-Florence-Rome services too.  Like the Frecciarossa 500 it has 4 classes, shown below, and a cafe-bar (but no restaurant car).  All seats have power sockets.  It has faster acceleration than the ETR500, and a faster top speed of 360 km/h (223mph) although in practice it won't go more than 300km/h (186 mph) unless line and signalling improvements are made.  Incidentally, for some strange reason it's officially classified ETR400 even though it's newer than the ETR500.

How to tell which trains are Frecciarossa 1000:  Run an enquiry at www.loco2.com and select a train.  If it says Frecciarossa1000 in front of the train number it's a Frecciarossa 1000, if it just says Frecciarossa it's an original Frecciarossa 500.

Frecciarossa 1000 standard class   A Frecciarossa 1000 train at Milan Centrale

Standard class seats, 2+2 across width.  Larger photo.

 

A Frecciarossa 1000 at Milan Centrale...

Frecciarossa 1000 at Milan   Frecciarossa 1000 Premium class seats

Frecciarossa 1000 at Milan Centrale...

 

Premium class...  Virtually identical to Standard class but with complimentary prosecco.  Larger photo.

Frecciarossa 1000 Business class seats   At-seat meal on Frecciarossa 1000

Business class seats 1+2 across car width, with tables for 2 and tables for 4 and complimentary prosecco. Larger photo.

 

In business class you can order a simple meal at your seat, around €18...

Frecciarossa 1000 executive class   Frecciarossa executive meeting room

Executive class.  Larger photo.

 

The Executive class meeting room...

Two ETR500 Frecciarossa trains at Milan Centrale   Two ETR500 Frecciarossa trains at Milan Centrale   Frecciarossa information screen

Large luggage racks in every car, near your seat...

 

You're given complimentary snacks & prosecco in Premium & Business classes...

 

The ultimate:  Executive Class Courtesy John Hawkins.

Frecciarossa information screen   Two ETR500 Frecciarossa trains at Milan Centrale

Cafe-bar:  Wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, snacks, hot dishes.

 

A Frecciarossa 1000 arrived at Rome Termini...

Video guide:  Frecciarossa 1000...

A journey from Milan to Rome in Business Class (1st class) on the new Frecciarossa.  Also see the virtual tour...

So should you choose Trenitalia's Frecciarossa or NTV's Italo?

On the Turin-Milan-Florence-Rome-Naples route you can now choose between Trenitalia's Frecciarossa and NTV's Italo trains.  So which should you choose?  Both are excellent trains, but this is my personal take...

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