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Travel vocabulary - 1: Trains and buses

When traveling, it's good to have a handle on the words we might need when getting around a new place. But depending on where we are and who we are talking with, we might hear different names for the same thing. 



Taking the train

The word for "train" is easy. It's il treno

Where do we catch or meet a train? Alla stazione. That's a good cognate, too. So already these two words, il treno and la stazione are essential to have in your toolkit.


One important question you might want to ask is: Dov'è la stazione (where is the train station)? Or you can keep it even simpler:

Allora, dico: "scusi, per la stazione?" Semplicissimo.

So, I say, "Excuse me, for the station?" Very simple.

Caption 18, Corso di italiano con Daniela Chiedere informazioni - Part 1

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We don't always need to speak in full sentences, and when we do try, we can easily stumble. You can even just say: La stazione?


The railroad

When we're talking about the railroad in general, however, we usually say la ferrovia. The rails are made of iron, and ferro means "iron." Via is "way" or "road," so it makes sense. 

Il ponte della ferrovia,

The railroad bridge,

Caption 45, Rosalba al parco della donna gatto - Part 1

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Ferrovia isn't too hard to pronounce, but when we turn it into an adjective, it's a bit trickier. 

...e la ricevuta di un biglietto ferroviario di sola andata Bologna-Roma.

...and the receipt for a train ticket, one way, Bologna to Rome.

Captions 16-17, Provaci ancora prof! S2E5 Vita da cani - Part 6

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Taking the bus

There are 3 different terms people use when they refer to a bus. The easiest one is autobus, as it contains the word "bus" we recognize. 


L'autobus often refers to local transportation within a city, but it's also used generally, especially by young people. 

Da qui partono gli autobus, tra l'altro, per gli aeroporti di Pisa e di Firenze...

From here, the buses leave for the Pisa and Florence airports, among other places...

Caption 47, In giro per l'Italia Firenze - Part 3

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La corriera is a term that's a bit outdated (and it was used for stagecoaches in earlier times), but if you are talking to someone of a certain age, or if you are in a remote village, corriera is a term they might use.

Mi scusi, la corriera per Milano?

Excuse me, the bus for Milan?

Caption 31, Il Commissario Manara S1EP12 - Le verità nascoste - Part 9

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Attenzione! Let's also mention that both la corriera (the bus) and il corriere (the courier) have the same origins. In earlier times, a stagecoach would carry passengers but also letters and packages. Nowadays, la corriera carries passengers and il corriere carries packages. We can detect the verb correre in the term, which hints at speed.


Usually, with la stazione, it is pretty clear you are talking about the train station, but if you are asking for the bus station, you will want to specify that. Il pullman, is a word you'll likely recognize from English. 

È arrivata zia, è alla stazione dei pullman.

My aunt has arrived. She's at the bus station.

Caption 48, Il Commissario Manara S2EP11 - Uno strano incidente di caccia - Part 11

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Note that la corriera is feminine and il pullman is masculine. Often, these two terms indicate buses that go long distances, from city to city (like Greyhound in the U.S). 


When there is a proper bus station, you can buy your biglietto (ticket) at la biglietteria, but more and more, there are self-service machines where you can pay in cash or by credit card. In some places, however, you have to buy your ticket at the bar or dal tabaccaio (at the tobacconist's). 


Taking the tram

Some cities have had trams since the 19th century. In some cities, they were once in vogue, then went out of vogue, but are coming back. Whoever is interested in an overview of the tramways in Italy can consult this Wikipedia article. It's called il tram in Italian (so that's easy!). It runs on rails and is (now) electric. 

Bene, una volta arrivati a Napoli, prendete il tram che vi porta al porto.

Good, once you've arrived in Naples, you'll get a tram that will take you to the harbor.

Caption 28, Marika spiega I veicoli

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Other cities have a kind of bus that's powered electrically, from above. It's called il filobus (the trolley bus). Il filo is the word for "the wire".




Here are the words we discussed in this lesson. In a future lesson, we'll dive deeper into travel vocabulary, as this list is only partial.


l'autobus (the city bus)

la corriera (the bus, the coach)

il corriere (the courier)

il pullman (the bus, the long-distance bus)

il treno (the train)

la ferrovia (the railroad)

il biglietto (the ticket)

la stazione (the station)

il filobus (the trolley bus)



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