June 9 1995 ,
November 30 1995,
February 7 1997
On many trains labeled "R" ("Regionale"), "IR" ("Interregionale") and "D" ("Diretto"), that is, short- to medium-distance trains, you can also carry your bike with you, by putting it in special compartments earmarked for carrying bikes. (No dismantling required.) On arrival of the train you want to take, notify the train personnel. They will tell you where to put your bike, but you are supposed to load it on the train yourself. (You would probably prefer to handle your precious machine yourself anyway.) Trains that allow bikes are marked with a bike icon in the timetable.
If you're traveling in a biggish group, it is necessary or at least advisable to check with the station of departure in advance. Some trains cannot accommodate easily more than half a dozen bikes at a time.
All you have to do to take your bike with you on an Italian train is to buy a special ticket, besides the regular ticket for you. For a local train, that is, those labelled M (Metropolitano), R (Regionale), D (Diretto) and iR (Interregionale), this costs 5000Lire, that is, approximately 5DM or less than 4.00$ (price and exchange rate as of October 1994).
Update on February 7 1997: The Italian Railways, in conjunction with FIAB, an Italian bicycle advocay group, has introduced a yearly ticket, that allows the bearer free transportation of a bicycle on all local trains (as defined above) for a year. If you take one of the trains which would require a 10000Lire charge (see next paragraph), you have to buy an upgrade ticket for 5000Lire. These yearly tickets are available through local chapters of FIAB. There are some additional bonuses for biggish groups of FIAB card-carrying members of which at least ten have the yearly ticket. Please inquire with the local FIAB chapter.
Update on June 9 1995: Price is 10000Lire on medium-to-long distance train, labeled E (Espresso), IC (InterCity), EC (EuroCity), EN (EuroNight). For international trips, price is 24000Lire. See the official timetable for a list of international trains offering the service. Currently (November 1995) the list is (No responsibility taken for mistakes. Thanks to Riccardo Iancer for typing it):
On beginning the trip, you have to stamp your ticket (which carries no date) on both sides at the machines you find in the stations. You are now entitled to free travel for your bike for 24 hours, no matter how many trains you take.
This information is extracted from the Official Timetable of the Italian Railways (Winter 94/95). I have used the latter option a number of times around Trento, and it works well.
Although the regulations, as written on the Official Timetable, appear to indicate clearly that the bicycle ticket is valid for an unlimited number of trips for 24 hours, sometimes the train personnel insists that the ticket is valid only for the outbound trip, not also the inbound one. I've always been able to talk these people to reason so far, but be warned. Refuse firmly to pay a fine, and have them take your statement that you are travelling with what you believe to be a valid ticket.