Hotel/Train Reservation a must ?

May 2nd, 2003, 01:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
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Hotel/Train Reservation a must ?


My wife & I plan to travel around Italy from 8 June to 20 June. ie. Rome, Florence, Lake Maggiore, Venice, Assasi, Sorrento.

We plan to buy Rail Drive pass, but do not intend to book any motels/hotels.

1. Is there a need to book the train seat ?
2. w/o room reservation, is it fine ? Can we fine a decent accomodation easily ?

Peace is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 01:33 AM
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You'll undoubtedly get a lot of responses to this one so I am topping it for you. A lot of people here prefer to book the seat reservation and some even buy their tickets after they arrive in Europe because it is generally cheaper to do so there than over here. Since you already have passes then the seat reservations are the issue. I would advise booking the seats ahead of time if at all possible because at least that way you are guaranteed a particular place to sit. The pass will get you onto almost any train but doesn't guarantee you a seat. If for some reason you do not have a seat reservation and are worried, the strategy is always to get onto the train as soon as possible and look for empty spaces. Some people will tell you that the farther south you go in Europe the more necessary a seat reservation becomes. I, personally, have seen mixed results with this. It can depend on the time of year, the route you are taking, the time of day, etc. I've been on IC and EC trains in Italy in the height of the tourist season when they were running half empty and also when folks were standing in the corridors.
I think there may be an exception for Italian Eurostar trains on which reservations are generally described as "compulsory." Hope this helps a bit.
May 2nd, 2003, 03:33 AM
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I'd prefer to have reservations for a room in Venice, of all the places you list that may be the one where it is most useful -- but if you check at the Tourist Office at the train station, you may luck out.
uhoh_busted is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 05:20 AM
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If you want to take an ES* train in Italy a seat reservation is required, even if you have a railpass.
ira is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 06:02 AM
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How to phrase this diplomatically - - you're going about this all wrong, in my opinion.

Choosing hotels is all about location, features and price. By not thinking ahead, you're saying they're all the same to me - - and setting yourself up to get (relatively) poorer location(s) with fewer features at a higher price - - than if you had studied up these locations and selected before you travel.

By contrast, a train seat is more or less a train seat. They're cheaper if purchased there (i.e., no "pass") and you're committing - - in advance - - to use far more ground transportation than you need for a twelve day trip. Unless you have sales calls to make in these six locations, this is far too many destinations.

You CAN travel like this, but it looks to me like you are committing 30-40% of your waking hours to the following five activities:

getting to the train station

riding on a train

getting from the train station to someplace you can seek help in finding a hotel

finding out what rooms are left for you to choose from

getting to the hotel

You'll give yourself much more time for your actual trip if you "travel around less, see where you are more".

And not have to worry about where you will lay down your head.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 07:13 AM
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How much time will you be spending in each city? Another option - if you don't want to be completely tied to one hotel for a few nights - is at least make reservations for a hotel for the first night you will be there. That way, if you like the hotel you might be able to extend your stay (or if they are full the following nights you will at least be able to look for another hotel at a more relaxed pace), and if you don't you'll only be there for one night.
buffy888 is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 07:26 AM
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Agreeing with previous posters, to a degree,even if you are pretty casual when it comes to living quarters...

Your timing is such that you will be catching the first wave of vacationers and thus be competing with the Italians themselves for rooms.

IMO, you really should book ahead, at least for their two favourite vacation spots: Florence and, especially, Assisi, which has relatively few hotels.

Otherwise, as Rex has so ably put it, you will spend a disproportionate amount of your vacation fussing over where to sleep, surely not the point when exploring a new place?

Hope you have a good one. Let us know...
LJ is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 08:03 PM
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With the greatest of respect for Rex, a train seat is NOT just a train seat when you don't have one!
May 2nd, 2003, 09:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
I knew someone would point that out.

My response is two-fold. If I planned on a route served only once daily (none of the city pairs mentioned by "Peace" would qualify" as that), then I would buy at least 24 hrs ahead.

If I could not get reserved seats on any other route served frequently (buying say... 2-4 hours ahead), I would simply go on the next later train.

My point was more that I try to "educate" on the folly of using a rail pass. It's pre-purchasing more travel than most people need - - or your itinerary has too much traveling around (IMO).
rex is offline  
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