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Eurail Italy Pass (Saver) vs. Point to Point purchase in Italy

Eurail Italy Pass (Saver) vs. Point to Point purchase in Italy

Mar 10th, 2011, 11:49 AM
  #1  
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Eurail Italy Pass (Saver) vs. Point to Point purchase in Italy

Aloha,
I've been using the search feature here and really appreciate all the good info on train travel in Italy.
I'm taking my mom to Italy for her 70th birthday and to fulfill a life long dream of hers to experience Easter in Rome. Traveling between April 15 and May 17, in Italy only. All hotels have been booked so my travel dates and destinations are set.
My question is common and I've read the normal response...which is often "buy train tickets in Italy going city to city...its much cheaper than a pass", however I really just need a double check cause I'm finding prices on Trenitalia.com to be more expensive than if I purchased a pass.
I'm wondering if I'm missing a bit of info in my calculations and asking for anyone with experience to help because the Eurail Italy Pass (Saver) sounds pretty good...even when I calculate in the compulsory reservation fees.

Only trip #1 is round trip. All others are one way, not traveling to any other country.
Trenitalia per person 2nd Class fare (includes all reservation fees):
#1 4/20 Rome - Orvieto using Regionale Veloc euro approx. euro 30 R/T
#2 4/25 Rome - Milan using ES/A train euro 91
#3 4/29 Milan - Venice (Ve S.L.) using EC train euro 31
#4 5/2 Venice - Florence using ES/A train euro 43
#5 5/14 Florence - Monterosso using Regionale Veloc and IC trains euro 16.30 (NOTE: This trip I'll likely buy a point to point ticket at train station, so I won't consider using this as a "Pass" day if I end up going with a Eurail Italy Pass).
#6 5/17 La Spezia Centrale - Rome TE ESCity euro 46.5

Total 2nd class fares would be approx. euro 258 (US 361 @ 1.40 exch rate...) per person.

Eurail Italy Pass (Saver):...all prices per person, in US dollars and do not include reservation fees.
5 day / 2 month 1st class: $263 2nd class: $214
6 day / 2 month 1st class: $286 2nd class: $232

Plus $23 optional Rail Protection Plan (covers everyone listed on pass...so one time fee)
Shipping of hardcopy pass to US address is $0.

Reservation fees appear to be about euro 10 ($14) per person for trips #2, 3, 4 & 6.

Trip #1 seems to be no res. fee if riding Regionale Veloc or about euro 8 ($11) if riding an IC train. Trip #5 I would NOT use the Pass for. Cheaper to just buy at station and it includes a reservation fee.

Even if I cost out reservation fees of $14 for each each trip it would be $14 x 6 (rome-orvieto is a round tripper...) = $84 per person

Trenitalia:
2nd class about $361 per person x 2 people = $722 for both of us.

5 day Eurail Italy Pass (Saver):
2nd class $214 + $84 res. fees x 2 people = $596 + $23 rail protection plan = $619 + approx. $45 for trip #5 point to point ticket purchased at station. Grand total = $664

1st class tickets using a Pass would be about $762 total...which would be worth it as my mother is 70 and perhaps a more comfy seat in 1st class would help reduce travel fatigue, especially on the longer train trips.

Am I missing a critical fee in my calculations? It seems most everyone recommends against buying a Pass vs. buying point to point while there. So I'm just trying to see if I'm getting ridiculously high prices off Trenitalias website and the actual cost of buying tickets in Italy would like be a lot less than what I've been quoted.

Thanks to anyone brave enough to mentally walk through this itinerary with me and clue me in to any additional fees I may have missed.

Ciao for now .
gehawaii is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 12:15 PM
  #2  
 
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Yes and as you aptly show the Fodor's myth perpetuated by some that a railpass in Italy is never - ever- never cost-effective is simply NOT true compared to regular fares you would buy at the station.

That said www.trenitalia.com has some online discounts that if you want to book yourself into specific trains weeks in advance to get you may save a few euros over the pass. But getting www.trenitalia.com to work has caused untold frustrations to many Fodorites for years now. Good luck.

and if I were taking my 70 yr old mom or anybody or even going by myself I would definitely go first class - a much much more relaxed trip for the average tourist and the pass is not really that much more in first than in second class, for what you get.

I have ridden Italian trains for years with passes and adamantly so first class is well worth the extra money.

For loads of great info on Italian trains and passes I always spotlight these fantastic IMO sites - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com.

I would forego the Pass Protection Plan personally and also check for any mailing/handling fees on where you buy your pass from - many do not charge any but some do - pass prices are universal and have to be sold at a certain price but mailing/handling fees can indeed by added on. TMK Italian passes not sold in Italian stations.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 10th, 2011, 12:48 PM
  #3  
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Thank you PalenQ for your time to read and respond with some great advice. I actually got the Eurail Italy Pass prices from ricksteves.com. I agree that the info. he provides seems very complete.
Purchasing the pass from his site states free shipping and as I worked my way through the online buying process (I did pull trigger yet) I see that shipping is 5 business days and is in fact free .
This trip is really all about my mother. Yes, I'm gonna have the time of my life also, but I'm gearing locations and travel arrangements with her in mind (choosing less train transfers and shorter trips when possible, even though it will cost a little more).
If I understand correctly, I can purchase my reservations at a variety of places once I get to Italy (assuming I go with the Eurail Pass), is that accurate?
I haven't tried to purchase online from trenitalia.com as everyone seems to say that they don't accept American credit cards or paypal as payment. If I do point to point purchase I'll do it from a machine at a station.
The only train trip I'm a little concerned about booking a reservation for in advance is our trip from Rome to Milan (actually going to Varenna from Milan). We will be traveling the day after Easter on an Italian national holiday. I'm hoping there won't be a mass exodus out of Rome on holiday Monday April 25th. So I might reserve through raileurope.com and just have that one bottled up before we even leave the US.
Thank you again for your comments and advice!
gehawaii is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 12:49 PM
  #4  
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sorry...meant to say I didn't pull the trigger yet on a pass but it is looking more likely that I will.
gehawaii is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 12:55 PM
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I have never ever had any problem making train reservations with a pass in Italy = especially in first class! I would not sweat it - just make it when you land in Italy - you could well do it and most easily IME at the Rome Airport train station - make any and all reservations you want at one fell swoop - just show the pass, which you will have to take to a ticket window to activate anyway.

a problem with Rick Steves IME is that his site will not make train reservations but tells you to go thru REurope - fine but to make just reservations and not buy your passes on RE I believe will result in a hefty handling and mailing fee (would be waived I believe if the total sum was $450 as it would be with two first-class passes) - so I would either do it all thru RE or just make the reservations when landing. If bent on making reservations before hand and yes I do understand wanting everything nailed down in your situation then I'd actually advise calling the folks at budget europe travel, whose site I also recommend - I have bought passes from them for years and can attest to their great personal service by phone with questions, etc. But if it were me I would not worry about making reservations for that day anymore than any other day - probably two trains an hour still Milan-Rome v.v. to Varenna is a regional train so no reservations even possible.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 10th, 2011, 01:03 PM
  #6  
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Excellent tips, thank you very much. I'll look at budget europe travel as well. Aloha!
gehawaii is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 01:30 PM
  #7  
 
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>>>I haven't tried to purchase online from trenitalia.com as everyone seems to say that they don't accept American credit cards or paypal as payment.<<<<

That was in the past. Most recent reports have been successful using either your Visa or Mastercard credit cards. You do need to register on Trenitalia first and notify your credit card that you will be making online Italian purchase. Sometimes it takes a day or so for the credit card to get this entered in you file as to not block your card.

Since you already know your travel dates, it's highly likely you can book these trips on Trenitalia at big discounts. For example, Milan/Venice on the fast train can be bought for as little as 9€ (includes your seat). Rome/Orvieto is only 14€ round/trip per person (regular price). Rome/Milan has minifares on the AV available for 55€. Venice/Florence minifares on AV are available for 34€. La Spezia/Rome 19€.

I'm coming up with 131€ ($183.40)for advance purchase tickets. I used random dates within your April/May dates and mini fares were readily available. Your 5 day saver pass was $214 + 56 for seats = $270.

R trains (Orvieto, Monterosso) do not have/allow reserved seats and many do not have a 1st or 2nd class, but a few do.

Similar savings can be had for 1st class tickets also as the minifares were readily available during your time frame.
kybourbon is online now  
Mar 10th, 2011, 01:37 PM
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Just noticed you were traveling Rome/Milan on 4/25. While mini fares are still available on that date, they are selling out. As they sell out, the price increases. It varies on time of day. Still works out cheaper than the pass.

Milan/Varenna is 5.75€ - no seats since it's a R train.
kybourbon is online now  
Mar 10th, 2011, 02:54 PM
  #9  
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Thanks kybourbon, I'll register with Trenitalia.com and see if I can get these rates. As you said, my travel dates are firm.

I'm just trying to find good rates, even 1st class for some of the longer journeys (rome-milan). I'll have a look at the 'mini' fares. Thanks for the tip of credit card use. I've notified them that I will be using that card during my stay but if I purchase through trenitalia then I'll let my card company know before hand. Thanks again for holiday travel rome/milan rates too!
gehawaii is offline  
Mar 10th, 2011, 03:53 PM
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Total 2nd class fares would be approx. euro 258 (US 361 @ 1.40 exch rate...)>

well that is the official in the NYTimes rate but you will be lucky to get that - figure a bit more and if like many credit cards yours charges a 3% foreign transaction fee then bump all up 3%
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 11th, 2011, 09:24 AM
  #11  
 
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anyway you want to IMO to compare with first class fares and since the differential because the cost of a first-class pass and a second-class pass is not nearly as much as the differential between first and second class tickets IME the pass in first class may well stack up better than even discounted first class tickets. Anyway it's all at www.trenitalia.com

And IMO keep in mind flexibility to change your reservations - cumbersome or more cumbersome to do with restricted tickets as a detailed post recently showed - must be seats left in that category of discounted ticket but with ordinary tickets bought there or a pass if you want to change your train you just make a new reservation for any train - no snafus - and yes you may IME find that say in Florence you ran out of time to see or buy something the day before and want to change your train departure time to later the next morning, etc. Easily done with full fare tickets and passes.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 12th, 2011, 05:52 AM
  #12  
 
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I have some friends who did the online ticketing a few years ago and had to retrieve their actual tickets from an automatic ticketing machine with their original credit card and they could not get the machine to do it - had to go to mobbed ticket window and they said it was frustrating - I understand that you get some codes with some tickets to give to conductors - saver I guess but only by having a paper ticket in your hand do you really just have to go hop on the train.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 12th, 2011, 02:30 PM
  #13  
 
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I am COMPLETELY clueless!

Traveling with my adult son and 2 grandchildren (13 & 12), first class. My travel dates are August 17 Rome to Venice returning August 18. I know I can't get the tickets now for the family fares but have to wait until 60 days prior.

I don't understand the use of RS' rail passes. Do I still have to buy the tickets from Trenitalia? How and where? Can someone tell me what would be the total cost using this method using an arbitrary date since it is too early for my dates.

Is buying the pass the way to go or just the family tickets from Trenitalia?

TIA
Lydia
lydialikestotravel is offline  
Mar 12th, 2011, 07:28 PM
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Can someone tell me what would be the total cost using this method using an arbitrary date since it is too early for my dates>

Yes just go back to trenitalia.com and put in a dummy date that is on and the prices should be about for all practical purposes for the dates you want to travel. The family aspect if you get the family fares may be cheaper than a pass - just use them and assume they are available at this point. Kids 12 and over unfortunately for pass purposes are considered youths and unlike kids under 12 who get passes for half price they get only the youthpass rate - regular tickets with the family fare if availabele would probably perhpas be the best way to go.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 12th, 2011, 07:28 PM
  #15  
 
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Can someone tell me what would be the total cost using this method using an arbitrary date since it is too early for my dates>

Yes just go back to trenitalia.com and put in a dummy date that is on and the prices should be about for all practical purposes for the dates you want to travel. The family aspect if you get the family fares may be cheaper than a pass - just use them and assume they are available at this point. Kids 12 and over unfortunately for pass purposes are considered youths and unlike kids under 12 who get passes for half price they get only the youthpass rate - regular tickets with the family fare if availabele would probably perhpas be the best way to go.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 13th, 2011, 07:33 AM
  #16  
 
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I don't understand the use of RS' rail passes. Do I still have to buy the tickets from Trenitalia? How and where>

On most Italian trains you need a seat reservation before boarding - all except regional trains where reservations are not even possible.

so with a pass you must make the required reservation - you could do this with the agent you buy your pass from or once in Italy - the price for the supplement being about the same here ($14 i think) or 10 euros or about $14 once there - thus for each train ride with a pass you must factor in $14 and add onto the cost of the pass for your total.

again with the family deal you can get from trenitalia.com or I think at stations once there, for just a round trip Rome-Venice or v.v. trip the pass may not be the best deal.

And if you want the math is all there - www.trenitalia.com for euros online or once there and sites like www.budgeteuropetravel.com or www.ricksteves.com or www.raileurope.com for prices in dollars here - prices in dollars vary as exchange rates do - pass prices are universal but handling and shipping fees can be added on.

The pass route with reservations would mean you land in Italy and just have to show up for the train - buying locally means either using station machines or going to a ticket window - most easily done at Rome's Airport after landing where you could book both trains you will take as well as ride the Leonardo Express into Rome (would be covered by a pass if going to Venice same day or if on the 3-day pass you will not use the tird day other places - and the 3rd day on the minimum 3-day pass could be a deciding factor - say you want to to a day trip from Rome to Pompeii or Venice to Verona, etc or Rome to Florence, etc. Booking ahead if you do not get a code to give the conductor once on the train means having to retrieve tickets in machines once there and some folks said they had snafus, etc. (Not sure if you can print out your own trenitalia tickets but if so I would) - thus for some folks having everything in hand and just hopping on the train is priceless.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 13th, 2011, 07:36 AM
  #17  
 
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Lydia - You should be able to buy your tickets online four months in advance, not 60 days. If one child will still be twelve when traveling, then you would get the familia discount. You will not be able to search these tickets for a while as Trenitalia updates their schedules effective mid-June (will probably not load them until May or possibly as late as early June) so routes are not loaded past June 12. Start checking in May for dates after June 12 to see when they load. Be sure to click round trip before entering your cities as sometimes there are r/t offers.

>>>I understand that you get some codes with some tickets to give to conductors - saver I guess but only by having a paper ticket in your hand do you really just have to go hop on the train.<<<

Have you been on Italian trains lately as there are ticketless options and many people just show a code. Lots of Italians don't have tickets at all. They just show their phone to the train personnel which contains their texted ticket code.
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD
kybourbon is online now  
Mar 14th, 2011, 06:53 AM
  #18  
 
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Trenitalia is infamous for not loading summer schedules until just before the early to mid June commencement of summer schedules so that often becomes a huge problem as when they all come on a pent up demand occurs for the limited in number discount tickets
PalenQ is online now  

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