The Italian train system is a fantastic method of getting around a country where driving takes skill (and a certain amount of a death wish in the cities) and where buses have the reputation for being slow. It’s fantastic, that is, until there’s a strike – and these happen more often than anyone would care to deal with. It’s a good idea to check in advance of setting foot in Italy whether there are any reports of train strikes either going on or impending, as you’ll have to make other arrangements for getting around.
Now it appears that the national train service, Trenitalia, has made some changes to its system – the exact same route can require different things at differen times of the day or different days of the weeks. Some may require reservations, some just a stamp from one of the many yellow machines around Italian railway stations. Again, be sure to check with a kind ticket agent (bigliettaio) before you board the train whether you’ll need a supplementary reservation with your ticket – you’ll pay a hefty fine if you’re traveling without a required one.