How to get a bus in Italy

You can buy tickets on the bus, but it costs about a Euro more so it’s best to buy them before you get on. To buy them you need to go to a Tabacceria. Tabbaceria’s are the “corner shops” of Italy selling cigarettes, chewing gum and bus tickets and sometimes a bit more.

The cost of your bus ticket (in Ancona at least), is worked out on the basis of distance. So for example for me to get to Ancona, it’s classed as 18km and I pay €1,80. To go to the beach, it’s something like 15km and I pay €1,50.

So step by step:

  1. Before you do anything: What day is it? If it’s a Sunday – you’ll be lucky if you wait only an hour or two for your bus. Best to check the bus times if you can find them. Here’s where you can find the bus times around the Ancona region. Bus timetables can usually be found on the bus itself too. Bus times are split into “Feriale” and “Festivo” – Feriale is week days and Saturdays, Festivo is basically Sundays.
  2. Find a Tabacceria. Looks like this for example:
Camera 360

It isn’t the clearest of pictures – it’s the white T on the blue background you need to look for…

3. Buy a ticket – they don’t seem to do cheaper return tickets, it’s the same price so if you want to come back, just ask for two tickets rather than one. You can say “Vorrei un biglietto per xxxx” pronounced “Voray oon bill-ee-yetto per xxxx” or if you want two, “Vorrei due biglietti per xxxx”.

4. They’ll give you the tickets and they should look a bit like:

Camera 360

Un-stamped ticket – you can see it’s valid for 18KMs.

5. Find your bus stop. I can offer no help and guidance here, you’re on your own! All I can do is wish you the best of luck. Don’t be lured into thinking that you’re at the right bus stop just because there’s a sign above it giving the location. And be prepared for a long wait – if you manage to locate the bus times somewhere, they are more “guidance” rather than times the bus will arrive. If you’re at the beginning of the bus route and the bus is there waiting, then you can get on and be waiting for ages before it will leave. Apart from when you’re a bar monitoring the bus in which case it will leave immediately before the scheduled time in a Formula 1 style start. Stay alert! 🙂

6. Get on at the front of the bus, say “Buongiorno” or “Buonasera” to your bus driver, that’s all you need to say and then put your ticket into a little machine thing which is usually on the left hand side of the bus at the front. The ticket will come out stamped with the date and time. This is the finished “stamped” result.

Camera 360

The Stamping machine takes a notch out of the top and puts the date/time vertically along the edge. I don’t think it matters which way you insert your ticket but I’d probably do it face up if I were you…

6. Occasionally ticket inspectors will get on the bus – usually it’s just a case of showing them your ticket. If he looks angry or starts to speak quickly in Italian, say “Sono Inglese, non capisco” and hope that he goes away.

7. If you want to stand a chance of getting home again then before you get off, ask the driver where to get the bus going back:  “Dov’è la fermata per ritornare?” (doh-vay la fermata per ritornar-ay)  and if you do it in a convincing English accent, like I have nailed, then rather than launching into Italian, he’ll hopefully point in the direction of the bus stop. Have faith. If he points to a random bit of road with no bus stop sign, it doesn’t mean he’s telling porkies – the bus probably does indeed stop there.

That is all. If you have any other advice from this or other areas if I’ve got something wrong, please do let me know and I’ll add/amend!


3 thoughts on “How to get a bus in Italy

  1. Pingback: Amazing Mountains, Scary Earthquakes and er, Hot Heatwaves… | movetoitaly

  2. Alberto

    Nice post! Since local transports are managed by local authorities, the rules may change depending on the place your are visiting, so be prepared for local rules! In many big cities you can buy your ticket you directly on the bus, and usually it costs about a Euro more that compared to a 1.30 – 1.50 € of regular ticket is a huge extra charge. You can usually buy tickets at tabaccherie, bars, news-stands, vending machines in metro and train stations. In Turin you can also buy bus tickets at parking meters. In Milan you can buy them using your smartphone sending a sms message to 48444 number. News stands are open on Sunday morning

    • Thanks Alberto! That’s very helpful! I haven’t taken a bus in ages now – in my new town I think there’s basically only one bus a day!

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