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Is it cheaper to buy Train tickets ahead of time online to travel in Italy?

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Feb 22nd, 2013, 07:41 AM
  #1
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Is it cheaper to buy Train tickets ahead of time online to travel in Italy?

I am checking the trains on Trenitalia and the prices are so varied (someitmes three to four times the lowest price) if we book ahead of time. The fast trians seem really time saving, and have reasonable prices if we book far ahead of time. Can someone advise if it is safer and cheaper to buy the tickets couple of months before we travel to Italy?
Our plans: Rome - Florence and Rome - Naples (to tour Amalfi coast)
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Feb 22nd, 2013, 07:55 AM
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That's what I'm gonna do for my upcoming July 2013 trip and I don't understand how you can say on the one hand:

"and have reasonable prices if we book far ahead of time"

and then ask if it is "safer and cheaper."

You've already SAID it is cheaper; why wouldn't it be safer?

With the greatest of respect for you, what am I not understanding here?
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Feb 22nd, 2013, 07:56 AM
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Or are you really asking if the prices could go down even FURTHER after you book?

If that's the case then my apologies and my answer is I doubt they'll do anything but go up after you book.
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Feb 22nd, 2013, 08:01 AM
  #4
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No problem. You know how some websites, security is not good, so sometimes they may lose our credit card information etc...?? that is what I meant by safer. Also, wondering if there is an elaborate process to convert the online purchase into actual tickets once you get there.
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Feb 22nd, 2013, 08:05 AM
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I would be very surprised you could price July trains this early. You can only book 120 days in advance (faster trains - AV). Summer schedules don't start until the second week of June and typically Trenitalia is extremely slow in loading schedule/fare changes (sometime they don't get loaded until a week before the change between winter/summer).

There are advance purchase discounts for the faster trains as cheap as 9€ (super economy). More likely 19-29€ on your popular routes in summer. Base fare is the walk-up price. If discounts are sold out, you can still buy the base fare in advance or just go to the train station and pay that price for the next train with space available. Base prices will not change from what you see on their website now and walk-up unless Trenitalia make a fare increase for summer or next winter schedules. Base does not fluctuate.

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD

Trenitalia can and does change discounts from time to time. Hopefully they will keep the current super economy offer through summer.
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Feb 22nd, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Please note that cheaper economy tickets may be not refundable and not changeable if you miss your train or change your mind.
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Feb 22nd, 2013, 11:19 AM
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kybourbon - when you say that the summer schedules don't get loaded until a week before the change between winter/summer, does that mean that one isn't able to prepurchase tickets for say mid-June in advance? I've been checking and have noticed that the schedules for dates around June 16 - June 18 aren't coming up yet. Would you think they won't be available until late May or early June?
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Feb 22nd, 2013, 11:59 AM
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Right now, the winter schedules are loaded and run through June 8. Summer schedules will start June 9 and run through first week of Dec. Trenitalia may have some summer trains loaded already. It's also possible if you check dates after June 8 you don't find any trains listed or only one or two trains per day where there would normally be two per hour. They are very random about the winter/summer changeover of schedules. Often not finishing until a week or so before the change. You just have to keep checking their website at 120 days out from when you want to purchase. It never seems to be all at once - just in spurts and bits.

Summer schedules will not change much from winter. They may include a price increase or a few trains added. Typically, you don't notice much difference unless they have a new discount scheme.

Keep in mind they now have competition from Italo on these main train lines. Italo only allows booking 90 days out and I have no clue when they change schedules (or if they even do since they are fairly new).

http://www.italotreno.it/EN/timetabl.../overview.aspx
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Oct 1st, 2013, 09:31 AM
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We just came back from Italy. I had some concerns about booking online on Trenitalia site, but went ahead and booked some of my tickets online anyway. Here are some tips. Go to the Italian site, not the English site. English site only gives you Frecce (super fast) trains which are expensive. But, the best deals are on IC (Intercity) trains. Go to the tab that says 'Tutti Treni' (all Trains). Andata means one way, 'Andata e Ritorno' means Round trip (round trip. No discount for buying round trip. They take only slightly longer times. Booking about six weeks early gave me good prices. Rome to Naples, bought six weeks ahead - 9 euros per person. Return trip the next day Naples to Rome bought on the spot for 24.50 euros. So, you can see the big savings. Of Course, the Regionale trains are only about 12 euros per person all the time, but they are unreliable and dirty (according to a local guy) and take about 60 to 70% longer times. Pisa to Rome, bought online six weeks earlier for 19 euros per person, checked on the spot prices, about 46 euros per person on IC. I even got the Rome to Florence on FrecceArgento train for 19 euros per person by booking ahead. Just keep checking the prices about 10 weeks before your date and you will see the pattern.
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Oct 1st, 2013, 09:33 AM
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Sorry. Had a bad sentence there. The IC trains take only slightly longer times than Frecce trains.
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Oct 1st, 2013, 09:50 AM
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>>>Go to the Italian site, not the English site. English site only gives you Frecce (super fast) trains which are expensive<<<

The English option gives you access to the slower trains so you don't have to use the Italian version. On the English version, enter your cities/date and on the next screen there is a choice at the top on the left(under departure/arrival) where you can select "All Trains" or "La Frecce". Click update on the far right.

>>>They take only slightly longer times.<<<

That's only true on some routes. Some routes are quite a bit longer and other routes aren't served at all by fast trains (they only serve major cities). You could have booked the fast trains in advance for similar discounts.

>>>Of Course, the Regionale trains are only about 12 euros per person all the time, but they are unreliable and dirty (according to a local guy) and take about 60 to 70% longer times.<<<

That's not at all accurate. Regional trains aren't a set 12€ (prices vary by length of trip), nor are they all dirty and unreliable. IC trains can be just as dirty and much more uncomfortable (especially the old compartment style ones).

>>>Pisa to Rome, bought online six weeks earlier for 19 euros per person, checked on the spot prices, about 46 euros per person on IC. <<<

>>>Just keep checking the prices about 10 weeks before your date and you will see the pattern.<<<

No, that pattern doesn't exist. The discounts for either the fast AV Frecce train and the IC trains are available 120 days in advance, not 6 weeks, and are available until sold out or 24 hours before travel. Regional trains don't have discounts.
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 08:23 AM
  #12
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Thanks Kybourbon for more details. I meant to say that the 12 Euro price was for Naples to Rome on Regionale trains all the time. In terms of six weeks/ten weeks thing, I was just mentioning my own experience, so if someone is ready to buy 120 days in advance, they will definetely have better choices and prices.
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 08:32 AM
  #13
 
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Do bear in mind that the cheaper economy tickets have restrictions. They are usually non-refundable and can only be changed in particular circumstances. See Trenitalia site for details.
Basically, book them in advance only if you are 100% sure of your itinerary (of course if you find a 9 euro ticket then it's worth taking the risk).
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Oct 3rd, 2013, 09:15 AM
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ky - thanks for the tip about the buy one get one free tickets. This promotion is only good on Saturdays through October so we were lucky that that was the day we were traveling. It wasn't good for the Regionale trains, but we only paid for one Frecciabianca ticket for the two of us. We decided to go first class since we were saving a lot of money and we were so glad - in the next 2nd class car, there was a huge dog wandering around, and kid screaming and just general noise. Things were so quiet in our car!
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