Review: Trenitalia Executive Class Puts Amtrak to Shame
In early June, I decided to take a brief trip to Italy. This was the first trip I’ve taken in months that I took primarily for the destination and not just the flights. However, I still managed to fit a fairly complex itinerary into the beginning of the trip.
A major part of this itinerary involved taking Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa high-speed train from Rome to Florence and then from Florence to Milan. When I was planning this trip, I originally intended to book the cheapest fare. That’s because I wasn’t aware that Italy features a fantastic high-speed rail system. Upon discovering Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa service, I decided that booking a seat in Executive Class was in order.
I ended up taking two trips in Trenitalia Executive Class during my visit to Italy. The first trip was between Rome and Florence. The second was between Florence and Milan. To review Trenitalia Executive Class as thoroughly as possible, I’ve combined both trips into a single report.
Trenitalia Executive Class Frecciarossa: Rome to Florence to Milan
After a thirty-five minute ride from Rome Fiumicino to Rome Termini, I made my way through the hectic station. This was the first time that I’ve ever visited a European train station. In the US, the train stations are busy and somewhat disorganized but they’re nothing like European stations. In all honesty, Rome Termini was actually quite intimidating. The entire station was filled wall to wall with passengers. I kept my belongings close and after 15 minutes of wandering around the station, I finally managed to locate the FrecciaCLUB Lounge.
Trenitalia FrecciaCLUB Lounge
Trenitalia operates a network of FrecciaCLUB lounges for premium passengers. Passengers seated in Executive Class and Business Class, as well as elite members, can access these lounges.
When I printed off my tickets for the journey from Rome Termini to Florence, I was also provided a set of numbers and letters that acted as my personal code for access to the lounge.
After keying in the long code, the automatic doors opened and I was greeted by one of the Trenitalia representatives. I wanted to change my ticket to an early train so I made my way to the front desk. Each time I visited a FrecciaCLUB, the lounge attendants were super friendly and very helpful. At the Rome location, the agent was able to change my ticket and get me booked on a later train from Florence to Lucca, my final destination.
The lounges, as one would expect, are fairly basic. However, they still put Amtrak’s network of pathetic Business Class and Sleeper Class lounges to shame.
The Florence location was both larger and had a more premium feel than the Rome location. Additionally, though I didn’t visit this location, it appeared that the FrecciaCLUB in Milan was even larger and newer than the Florence lounge.
Trenitalia’s FrecciaCLUBs feature complimentary snacks, soft drinks, espresso beverages, wi-fi, and newspapers. Though I did enjoy a biscotti and shot of espresso at the Florence location, the most useful feature was the attentive and helpful lounge agents. As an American abroad traveling through busy European rail stations, I really appreciated the FrecciaCLUB agents. They managed to get me on earlier trains and direct me to the correct platforms.
Trenitalia Executive Class, Service
My train from Rome departed in the afternoon while my train to Milan departed in the morning. This allowed me to experience both Trenitalia’s breakfast and dinner services.
Executive Class features a dedicated attendant on each train. This might sound exclusive and premium, however, when all seats in Executive Class are occupied, it means slow service. This was the case from Rome to Florence. However, from Florence to Milan, I was the only passenger (out of three) that stayed awake for service.
Trenitalia Executive Class Dinner
From Rome to Florence, dinner service was offered. The attendant on this leg of the trip wasn’t very interested in doing his job as he had a friend hanging out in the galley with him. Still, he managed to complete the entire meal service with a nice cheesy fake smile.
Meal service started with the place setting. The attendant brought out a table cloth and silverware. Additionally, at this time, he took drink orders. I ordered some Prosecco with a glass of still water.
The attendant brought out drinks and appetizers to anyone that ordered them and then took entree orders. I decided to pass on an appetizer and saved my appetite for the entree. For my entree, I ordered pasta with a meat sauce. In another review of Trenitalia Executive Class, the meal service was anything but tasty and received a scathing review. That said, I wasn’t expecting much.
To my surprise, the pasta was cooked well and tasted great. The Prosecco wasn’t too shabby either. Following dinner, I enjoyed an Italian craft brew. I’m not a big beer drinker (I’m going to have a hard time in college!) however, I still managed to enjoy the drink.
Trenitalia Executive Class Breakfast
Breakfast was equally, if not more, enjoyable. The attendant from Florence, though less personable, was more attentive to the service.
For breakfast, I had a warm buttery croissant served with jam, yogurt, fruit, and a latte. The croissant was warm and fluffy, the yogurt was flavorful, the fruit was fresh, and the latte was fantastic. I ended up having a shot of espresso and a chocolate towards the end of the journey as well.
Overall, I found the meal service in Trenitalia Executive Class to rival what’s offered on short-haul domestic flights within the United States. Again, Trenitalia puts Amtrak to shame!
Trenitalia Executive Class, Cabin Interior
I traveled in both Trenitalia’s original and updated Executive Class cabins. From Rome to Florence, I traveled in Trenitalia’s original Executive Class while, from Florence to Milan, I traveled in their updated cabin.
The original interior features fewer seats. The seats feature gray faux leather covers with red headrests. Additionally, there are controls for the window shades and a reading lamp. Both the original and updated interiors featured leg rests and power outlets. On both trains, the power outlets and electronic seat controls worked flawlessly.
I found the new interior to be more premium, inviting, and comfortable. The original interiors felt cold and sterile compared to the warm interiors found in the new cabins. Other than going with champagne-colored seats featuring additional cushioning, the ability to rotate the seats toward or away from the aisle, and moving the seats closer to the windows, the differences between the original and updated interiors were minimal.
Both trains featured wi-fi, the Frecciarossa entertainment portal, and monitors displaying speed and travel information. The wi-fi was poor and at times, did not work. I only used the Frecciarossa portal for route and speed information so I can’t say if the entertainment is any good.
My travels on Italy’s high-speed rail system will certainly go down as one of the more memorable trips I’ve taken. It was surreal to be back in Italy after nearly 15 years. I was also impressed by Trenitalia’s fantastic onboard service, catering, and cabin comfort.
My journey from Rome to Florence and finally on to Milan also showed me just how terrible Amtrak is. Rail service throughout the United States is just downright pathetic compared to what’s available throughout most of Europe. Each high-speed rail ticket in Trenitalia Executive Class cost me around $112 a piece whereas, a bedroom on Amtrak’s outdated standard-speed service from St. Louis to Chicago costs around $300. The US certainly has some catching up to do!
Have you ever taken Trenitalia? What’s been your experience on Europe’s network of high-speed rail systems?