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Is buying a ticket enough? Do I have to stamp ("convalidare") it? What if all the stamping machines are broken? What if I didn't have the time to stamp my ticket?

  • I read all these comments about stamping tickets. This is the 21st century and most people buy tix online and no stamping required which is ridiculous if u ask me. – John Apr 21 at 10:36
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    @John, I disagree with you. I was in Italy last year, I did bring a computer but no printer and while both of us do own a smart phone, neither was willing to put an app on it. So paper tickets, bought from the machines or ticket windows, for us. And validating, (which might be uncommon where you live but is very common elsewhere.) – Willeke Apr 21 at 10:42
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It depends. If your ticket comes with a seat reservation ("PRENOTAZIONE POSTO") then you do not need to stamp your ticket: just board the train.

Shorter range tickets with no seat reservation, on the other hand, must be stamped. Your ticket probably reads "DA CONVALIDARE" somewhere at the top. Trenitalia personnel typically doesn't cut tourists much slack and if "busted" you will be forced to buy a ticket on board with a surcharge. I've seen plenty of tourists fall for this on the Milan-Bergamo line and it saddens me.

If this happens, keep in mind that you're not being fined. The ticket you bought is still valid; you're just buying a new one. You can use that ticket for your return trip (just make sure you do stamp it next time!)

It is worth noting that the rules for regional train tickets have recently changed and that one can only use the ticket for the day it was purchased, with a strict cutoff at 23:59

Also, try and be honest and avoid getting into arguments. Ticket checkers have no qualms with waking people up and locking yourself up in the bathroom does not really work (it's no excuse for not slipping the ticket below the door). They can also actually fine you for quite a lot more money than just buying a new ticket with the surcharge (although I've never witnessed things degenerate to this level), followed by forcing you to step off the train wherever it stops next. Yeah, not fun.

When in doubt, stamp the ticket. If it's a paper ticket, use any of the yellow stamping machines typically found at the station entrance (by ticket sales) or at the lower end of the stairways up to the tracks. If it's a magnetic ticket (?) then use the blue machines instead.

If all the stamping machines should be broken, or if you just didn't have the time to stamp your ticket, or if you are iffy about the quality of the stamping (maybe it didn't print very well?) what Trenitalia and Trenord personnel have told me to do is to board the train at the head and tell the ticket collector when (if) he comes. He should sign off the ticket with no surcharge. I don't know if this is something official or just an informal convention, but I know it's worked for me in the past.

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    The idea is that not all trains get checked. If you don't stamp your ticket and no one checks you, you've effectively traveled for free. That's obviously not good for the train company. – badp Nov 23 '12 at 12:16
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    There are many kind of stampers, the new ones are green, linking one specific might confuse them, I'd remove the link. – o0'. Sep 2 '14 at 11:12
  • @loh I have never seen that... I'd rather say the more links the merrier: those things are usually just out there without any explanatory text – badp Sep 2 '14 at 11:41
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    This is a great answer even 3+ years down the road, but it is worth noting that the rules for regional train tickets have recently changed and that one can only use the ticket for the day it was purchased, with a strict cutoff at 23:59. – mts Sep 1 '16 at 8:45
  • Also worth noting is that electronic tickets bought on Trenitalia's website (with the traveller's name on it, and delivered as pdf files) need not be stamped. – Federico Poloni Jun 14 '18 at 13:45

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