Italian train passes

Jun 9th, 2010, 03:19 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Italian train passes

I've used 3-4 day train passes in Germany before and loved the flexibility of riding the train when we wanted without a pre-set agenda.

Do the train passes work the same in Italy? We want to buy 3-day passes for high-speed trains (if possible). Do we buy ahead or purchase at Termini in Rome?

We will only be in Italy so we don't need Euro-rail passes. Thank you, in advance, for any advice!
travel_jean is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 04:25 PM
  #2  
 
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Because of recent changes in the system, the majority of train types in Italy (all but slowest type of train--Regionale) require seat reservations, even if you have a pass. The reservations cost 10 euro per ticket. All the high-speed trains would require a reservation.

So in essence you would lose the flexibility you love because you would be required to reserve. It might still be possible that a pass would save you money, but you'll have to do the math to be sure.
ellenem is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 05:50 PM
  #3  
 
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Assuming you are not from Europe, then you would have to buy the Eurail Italy Pass before you depart. There are different passes available to people who live in Europe. As Ellen said, each time you hop a fast train (AV,ES,ESCity,ICPlus,IC) you will have to purchase a seat reservation in advance for 10€ per trip/seat. There are slow R trains between major cities, but travel time is much longer (4 hours Rome/Florence vs. 90 minutes on a fast train).

On some routes, buses are as fast as trains, drop in more central location and cost much less. Depends on where you are going.
kybourbon is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 10:55 AM
  #4  
ira
 
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Hi tj,

Rail travel in Italy is very cheap.

Passes are rarely cost-effective.

See www.trenitalia.com for schedules and prices.

ira is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 11:23 AM
  #5  
 
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The passholder reservation fee for EuroStar Italia high speed trains indeed is 10 EUR, but it's only 3 EUR for IC trains. Even if you take trains requiring reservations, you still can be flexible on your departure times. You can buy a passholder reservation nearly up until the train is scheduled to depart. The station ticket machines sell them so you don't even have to stand in line at a ticket window. The machines have an English option and accept North American credit cards.
TimS is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 11:37 AM
  #6  
 
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Passes are rarely cost-effective.>

this is misinformation as me and an above poster hassled over and i gave some very typical itineraries on which passes were more than cost effective - especially in first class.

You cannot say that until you know what trains are being taken. if there are many the Italian Railpass becomes cheaper the more days you use - like about $20 a day after the base 3 or 4 -

Passes ma often be not cost-effective for what many do (Rome-Florence-Venice) but they can be cost-effective if you also go to Naples - Cinque Terre, Italian Lakes, etc.

sorry but sick and tired of hearing in Italy as this is pure disinformation.

And Ira check the prices of Italian trains - they have increased significantly in recent years - now with the euro sinking point to point become cheaper vs the pass but pass prices are often adjusted to reflect exchange rates so they roughly are in the same ratio.

The great thing about passes in other countries - total flexibility to hop any train anytime is totally lacking in Italy for all practical purposes so that kudo of passes is lacking.
Palenque is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 12:15 PM
  #7  
 
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FOR EXAMPLE A NOT TOO UNUSUAL ITALIAN RAIL ITINERARY

ROME - NAPLES

NAPLES - FLORENCE

FLORENCE - VENICE

VENICE - ROME

Fares from trenitalia.com which i guess are even a euro or two cheaper than bought at the station

1st/2nd class p.p. (In Euro)

e 57/44
e 101/71
e 59/42
e 99/73

Total
e 316 in first class
e 230 in 2nd class

x 1.25 euro to $400 (+3% for usual foreign credit card purchases = $412

4-day Italy Railpass first class $242 p.p. on a Saver Pass - 2 or more folks travelling together

+4 x 10 euro pass surcharges = 40 euro or $50

Total = $292 p.p. vs $412 if buying point to point tickets in Italy - savings of $120

and if you do more travel the 5th and subsequent days are just $28/dayfor first class (plus any surcharge if taking Eurostar trains)

Now for 2nd class comparison

4 days point to point 230 euro = $287 + usual 3% credit card for exchange fee - $296 p.p.

4-day railpass - Saver p.p. = $197 p.p. + 4 x 10 e surcharges or $50 =

total = $247 vs $296 point to point - $49 cheaper than point to point

And the 5th day up to max of 10 on a pass is just $20/day p.p. - so if doing more rail travel of any length the savings accumulate much more

If you say something enough others will repeat it without checking - this is true about saying a railpass is rarely cost-effective in Italy - it depends on the class of travel and what trips you take but it can well be cost effective as shown.

And just a few weeks ago when the euro was higher the pass would have been much more cost effective - and as pass prices are routinely adjusted i would expect the pass price to be readjusted down.
Palenque is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 06:43 PM
  #8  
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Palenque - thank you for the extra detail.

We are planning 3 different days of train travel.

June 29 - Rome-Florence-Rome
July 1 - Rome-Venice-Rome (we've found a workable schedule. Others tried to dissuade us, but we're convinced we can make it work!)
July 3 - Rome-Pompeii-Rome

Your thoughts? Pass + Reservation Fee vs. Point-to-Point?

And, do we purchase from the States before we go or at Termini before we start the journeys?
travel_jean is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 07:02 AM
  #9  
 
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Trenitalia.com shows these fares for tickets bought at stations

Return Fares P.P. 1st/2ndcl

Rome-Florence 124 euro/88 e
Rome-Venice 198 e/ 146 e
Rome-Naples 114 e/ 88 e

(Naples to Sorrento not part of Trenitalia so pass won't pass on it but this CircumVesuviana commuter train costs all of 3 euros - maybe less each way Naples to Pompeii Scavi (ruins) station)

Total fares
1st Cl 436 euro/ 2nd cl 322 euro = $545/$400

(1.25 $ to the euro)

plus 3% usual credit card foreign ex fee

$560 1st cl/ $412 2nd TOTAL for point to point

vs Italy Railpass*

3-day Saverpass p.p. = $218 in 1st class/ $177 in 2nd cl

+ 6 x 10 euro supplements- one for each person for each train = 60 euro x 1.25 = $72 + 3% for ex credit card fee = $75

Total cost with pass

1st cl $293 p.p. vs $560 point to point
2nd cl $252 p.p. vs $412 pt to pt

Pass Savings 1st cl = $267 - in 2nd cl $160 p.p.

You must buy your pass before getting to Italy as to my knowledge not sold there nor any equivalent. For lots of info on Italian trains and passes i always highlight these sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com - sites with more than the usual price list and add to cart button. Pass prices must be universal but mailing fees can be added on so try to find one without any fee.

Note i believe if you buy 7 days in advance point to point you may get a 20% or so discount but only IF the ticket allotment for that class is not exhausted - but even then you can see for your plans the pass is a boon - if i figured right - the fares are at www.trenitalia.com so you can re-check if want.
Palenque is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 11:47 AM
  #10  
 
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You say you've found a workable schedule to go from Rome to Venice and back in one day. Even so, I'll try to convince you that your balance between travel time and sightseeing time is way out of whack.


Have you considered this option? Take an early train to Florence, spend the day there, and take either a late afternoon or early evening train to Venice. Experience the magic of Venice after the tour bus hoards have left for the day. Spend the night and the whole next day in Venice, and then take an evening train back to Rome.
TimS is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 12:38 PM
  #11  
 
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I rather agree with TimS here - forfeit one night's lodging expense in Rome and if not wanting to actually stay overnight in Venice you could hop the overnight train back to Rome - as it leaves rather late you can capture the awesome magic of Venice after dark too - hearing the string orchestras in St Mark's Square in the evening is just one really really neat thing to do.
Palenque is offline  

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