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I am planning a trip to Italy this coming January. My plan is to land by plane in Roma and then go to France by train/bus stopping in some Northern Italian cities on the way, enjoying the architecture, the atmosphere, the art and and the food.

I want to do it at my own pace, without heavy scheduling. Ideally, I would just decide which cities to visit, and take a train whenever I feel it. I often do this here in South Korea where I am living, taking advantage of the "standing seats" as it is called here, that is travelling (for a cheap price and no reservation) standing on the romm between two cars. From my experience, it is also doable in Taiwan (at least in some trains).

In France, regional trains usually does not need any reservation, so you can buy a ticket and take the train whenever you want.

Can I expect a similar system in Italy, that is a way to make short travels between close cities without reservation?

Example of "short travel": Pisa - Firenze.

  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/18110/… – JoErNanO Dec 31 '15 at 11:15
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    Note that often Freccia trains sell done tickets for really few euros, like 9, but only for a very limited number of tickets, do buying them note could save you dune tens of euros as opposed to buying them 1 day before out right before taking the train. – Bakuriu Dec 31 '15 at 11:24
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Usual regional (not highspeed) trains don't require (or offer) reservations;
so yes, you can just go there, buy a ticket, and enter the train.

However, the South Korean "standing seat" system (if I understood it correctly) is not known here. With reservation, you'll have a guaranteed seat; and without reservation, you may have to stand (anywhere) or you're lucky and find an empty, unreserved seat. There are no lower prices for people refraining from using seats at all.

For many high-speed trains (ES Frecciarossa/Frecciargento/Frecciabianca, InterCity), seat reservations are mandatory. For Pisa-Firenze, this won't be a problem, there are many regional trains (I'm not even sure if there are non-regional trains at all). If you need/want to take a high-speed train somewhere, usually it's still no problem to buy the ticket right before entering; most trains are not sold out. However, buying in advance is probably cheaper.

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    For the high speed trains it is advised to try to buy 24 hours before the train leaves as the prices are often still much lower then, but tickets will be sold much nearer the departure, maybe even after the train has left the first station on the line. – Willeke Dec 31 '15 at 9:07
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    @Willeke Yes, if a train goes A->B->C you can buy a ticket for the trip B->C after it has left its departure station A. What you cannot do is buy a ticket B->C after the time at which the train is scheduled to leave station B (which you may want to do if the train is late and hasn't reached B yet). – Federico Poloni Dec 31 '15 at 15:42

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