Travelling on trains in Italy – just a note

I’ve been gone for a while, but now I’m back and a new video is coming!

Today I witnessed a very embarassing scene on the train home. Embarassing for me ’cause I’m Italian. This Canadian family was travelling in the wrong class (their ticket was for second class and our carriage was first class – really there’s not that much of a difference anyway) and the conductor told them so, I couldn’t hear exactly what he said at first but he was telling them they were on the wrong wagon. He tried to explain that if they wanted to stay in the first class they had to pay the difference between first class ticket and second class ticket. Problem? He was speaking Italian, he couldn’t speak English.

However the lady understood he was asking them to pay more to stay on the carriage (though I don’t think she immediately understood that they could have simply changed wagon) and she was agreeing to pay the difference. Now, the conductor should have told them how much that would cost BEFORE pressing the ticket, of course he didn’t. Or maybe he did, in Italian.

What happened is that the lady only learned the final price after the ticket was made and had to pay it. She tried to explain that the price was too high, she tried to tell him that in Canadian dollars it was even more money, but of course he wouldn’t understand, ’cause he didn’t speak a word of English. So that’s when I came in. The lady asked other passengers for help with the translation and I went to see what was happening (having followed the exchange without really hearing what was being said). I then explained him what she was saying but he wouldn’t budge. The family offered to get off the train instead of paying and I actually thought it was going to end there so I got back to my seat.

Instead, when I went looking for a toilet, I found the family still on the train, still trying to get their problem across to the conductor. There was another Italian girl too, who was trying to translate for the woman, even if doing kind of a poor job at it. So I tried once again to talk the conductor out of making them pay, but he still didn’t give. In the end I had to explain to the lady that they would have to pay ’cause the ticket had already been done and pressed.

What I want to get out of this episode is a short video about how to travel on regional trains in Italy. High speed trains are easy, regionals are not. The conductor today was very wrong, he shouldn’t have been working as ticket collector if he couldn’t speak English, he should at least have found a way to make the price known before he pressed the ticket. That didn’t happen and the family had no choice but to pay because otherwise they should have gone to the police and wasted a lot of time. But thinking about it now, maybe they didn’t even know they could have gone to the police, that it was their right to.

So I’ll be making this video about how to travel on regional trains, how to deal with ignorant conductors and how to stand up for yourself even if the other person doesn’t speak your language. I hope it’ll be of some help.

See you soon!


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