While you can usually buy Italian train tickets right at the station in Italy, it may be more convenient, and less costly in the long run, to buy them before you travel. By buying tickets before you go, you can pay in US currency, avoiding the foreign transaction fee. In addition, high speed trains often offer discounts for booking a few weeks in advance. The discount will be included in the price when you buy tickets from a US vendor. You will be charged a small handling fee by the vendor, however it is usually offset by the discount or being able to pay in US currency.
You can check schedules on Ferrovie dello Stato, the Italian train site. You can also buy tickets online if you sign up for an account, but some tickets have to be picked up in Italy and some foreign credit cards cannot be used.
For buying Italian train tickets in US currency, we recommend buying high-speed Eurostar Train Tickets from Select Italy. Your train tickets will be issued as e-tickets and include seat reservations.
Important Notes: Except for some Eurostar tickets, Italian train tickets are only sold within two months of the actual travel date so you will usually not be able to purchase tickets more than two months in advance.
Reserved seats are not available on regional trains (short distances on trains that stop at more stations) nor will you get a discount for buying these tickets in advance. Regional train tickets are inexpensive and you can buy them at the station, good for two months. Then you must validate the ticket before you board the train (see how to validate your train ticket in Italy).