I'm confused about trains in Italy!

Aug 13th, 2001, 09:32 AM
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I'm confused about trains in Italy!

Okay, Iíve got some questions about train travel in Italy...I understand about buying point-to-point tickets and even making a reservation for a seat in some of the trains but what is a supplement? How is that different from a reservation?

And when you but a point to point ticket, say Venice to Verona, is it for a specific train and time? Or if youíre running a little late or early for that matter, can you get on the earlier or later version of that train with your existing ticket or must you go to the ticket window and get a new ticket?

And (I know this is alot of questions) what is the deal with a rail pass? If I opted for one of those, could I get on any train---granted, I understand without a seat reservation, I might not have a place to sit---at anytime without going to the ticket windows to be ticketed for a specific train?

Iíve read my guide books and visited the raileurope site but Iím still not getting it! Must be the heat! Thank you for any help!
Aug 13th, 2001, 09:56 AM
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As well you should be, we have tried for years and still don't get it right.
Some info booths tell you no res. needed, then you get on the train and it is all reserved, except for two separate seats in smoking. I don't get it either.
Aug 13th, 2001, 10:05 AM
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having traveled all over 40+ countries via train, here is the general info. If you travel more than about 4 days or to multiple destinations, a eurail pass is probably your best bet. Different passes offer different features, but in general, yes you can hop on any train. some trains (many in Italy) require reservations and/or supplements. this means that before just hopping on a train that requires either of these, you must first visit the ticket booth and purchase the supplement or reservation. Don't worry about the supplement thing. all it is is a way for the train company to make extra money on the popular routes (they chareg everyone a few extra bucks). Usually, the faster trains will require both supplements and reservations.

The following is the advice that I give to first time backpackers:I used to take my chances and sometimes just walk the trains and sit in between the carriages (if no seats were available), but this is only in emergency situations because the conductors can kick you off at the next stop (and sometimes do). In fact, my last time in Greece, the train was full on the day that I wanted to leave and the next train didnít depart for about 10 hours and I decided to get on with my Eurail and no reservation (even though the boards indicated that a reservation was required), but the conductor just happened to board the train right behind us and when he saw we didnít have a reservation he kicked us off right at that station. We were pissed, but some other guys that were traveling with us (also without reservations) did not appear to get kicked off. Well, the next day when we arrived at our destination, we actually saw the other guys and they told us that the conductor eventually caught up with them and kicked them off the train at some little po-dunk town with nothing (no food, no bathroom) and they had to wait until the next train came by (the same one that we got stuck on). So, learn from my lessons Ė if at all possible, opt to travel with reservations (if they are required) rather than rolling the dice.
In general, you can make reservations right before you board the train, or a few days/weeks before. However, if you pull into a town and you already know that the next leg of your trip will require a reservation, then while you are at the train station, just make your reservation at that time - when you make a reservation, the only choice that you have (besides 1st or 2nd class) is smoking or non smoking

Aug 13th, 2001, 10:12 AM
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Wow! Thank you for all the information! Point well taken about reservations...I appreciate it! Since I will be traveling only in Italy, I guess my next task is to add up the cost of my planned tickets and see if a rail pass will be more economical. Thanks again!
Aug 13th, 2001, 10:39 AM
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This past April and May, my wife and I 'found out through experience' about trains, as first time train travelers in Europe (Italy, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and France). Did day trips, sleepers, couchettes - 1st and 2nd class.

Moral of the story.

1. A ticket allows you to go from point A to point B. You can get on any train during the day, but you may have to pay more (supplement) for faster / more popular trains / time of day. If you are crossing into a second country, you may need to pay a supplement to the first country as well as a supplement to the second country. The conductors usually take the extra bucks when they check your ticket. Some countries like the Czech Republic want the dough in cash - no credit cards accepted.
2. A reservation gets you an assigned seat on a particular train.
3. First class is generally less crowded, but much more expensive.
4. A couchette is a 'bunk' in a compartment with 6 people. (If it is not crowded and you are nice to the conductor, he/she can make it exclusive for you.)
5. A sleeper is a bunk in a compartment by yourself (spouse or family)
Note: 4 / 5 have veeeerrry little difference except price.
6. Buying tickets in advance (like through the internet before you leave for vacation) - a. generally costs more b. has an error (5 out of 5 on the advance purchases - 0 out of 7 on the walk up and buy purchases)

Rules for me.

1. Buy tickets point-to-point when needed. Only buy tickets in advance if travel is on a national holiday.
2. 2nd class does nicely.
3. Couchettes and Sleepers may save time on point-to-point night travel and save the cost of a hotel, but unless you are 'dead to the world' sleeping on one of these is nearly impossible - read noise, motion and stops and starts.

Hope this helps.

Aug 13th, 2001, 01:38 PM
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Thanks for such a concise list....see, I knew the fodorites were the right people to ask!
Aug 13th, 2001, 01:46 PM
Ken Hobbs
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I looked on the website TrenItalia, decided what trains I wanted to take and printed off the page. Then when I got to Rome I walked up to the ticket window handed them the pages and they gave me my tickets. I booked Eurostar 2nd class tickets from Rome to Florence and Rome to Naples for two adults for about $225 US roundtrips.

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