Italy by train

Jan 13th, 2016, 10:10 AM
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Italy by train

I am grateful for any and all help.

I am planning a 5 week summer trip to Italy.

A bit about how we travel. It is me.. one adult and my two boys now ages 12 and 8.
We have been doing a summer trips like this for the last 5 years. The trips range from 4-6 weeks.
Usually we drive. For example last summer we did the Uk and Scotland - from London thru cotswolds
yorkshire, the boarders, highlands, edinburgh and back down.... with about a million stops... its was truely a great trip.

But what I have found is that the driving although to me it is the absolute best way to see new places exhausting.

So I am considering trying to do italy by train this summer. IT might not work out but I would like to give the itinerary a try. I have been to italy several times but I always picked up a car.. for Ravello or tuscany for example , I even think I used the car to drive to Venice.

I know from Rome to Florence via train and Siena I think I may have done via train although that may have been a different trip where we drove I dont recall. I wasnt sure if place like the lake region was train accesible that is an area I have not been to.

So I was hoping for some help putting together a train itnerary. We love art musums and small quaint villages .. and yes I already know that comment on the villages is gonna be a tough one going via train

many thanks
elizabethG is offline  
Jan 13th, 2016, 10:20 AM
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For lots of great info on Italian trains and planning a rail trip check - official site of Italian Railways;; and - check the Italy section of the latter site's online European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of stuff on rail itineraries in Italy.
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 13th, 2016, 01:15 PM
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Various towns on the Italian lakes are accessible by train. Last year we visited Switzerland by train (from our home in Italy) and stopped on Lake Como for several days on the way to Switzerland. There is a train station in Varenna, and from there you can get to other towns on the lake by boat. There are also train stations in the town of Como, but most tourists want to visit Varenna/Bellagio/Menaggio and vicinity.

On our way home, we stopped over in Lugano, which is on the lake of the same name, in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.

Lake Garda would probably be more fun for the kids. There are train stations in Desenzano, Peschiera del Garda and Rovereto. There's a big amusement park, Gardaland, on the lake. You could also, depending on what part of the lake you're based in, make day trips by train to Verono and Venice.

Lago Maggiore has a train station in Stresa (and maybe others).

You can use boats and buses to get to other parts of all the lakes.

The rest of your request is a bit broad. Can you give us an idea of where you'd like to go? Or are you thinking of staying just on one of the lakes?
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 13th, 2016, 01:17 PM
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It is really not hard to enjoy small quaint villages using the train in Italy. It is hard to do the wine country of Tuscany, but in many other areas it is quite easy.

Since you are going in summer, you might consider including the Italian Riviera, where every tiny town has its own train station.

Just to give you an idea, you can look up on Google some of these smaller towns and villages that you could reach by train whether you are starting from Milan or Venice or from Rome and Florence

Reggio nell'Emilia

-- and that's just northern Italy and only a fraction of what I could have mentioned. I could tack on, easily, dozens more.

Also know that it is easy to pick up a rental car almost anywhere in Italy and drive it for a few days, and drop it off. Then take the train to some other places, and later, if you want, you can rent another car if you are in an area you think you will need one.

You don't need to rent a car the whole time. Just for a few days, here and there, or not at all.

Do you know which airports you are using? Do you have any "must-see" cities for your family? Would you rather be in the mountains or at the sea if it is hot?
sandralist is offline  
Jan 13th, 2016, 02:00 PM
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Thank you for all your help -
ITs very funny when i start out planning these long journey
I always sound a bit lost - but in the end it works its way out.

I thought i would either start low and end high or reverse
I could start in Rome or Naples and work my way up
or Milan and come down. The Lake area would be nice since thatwould be an area I have not explored. I have had a terrible illness and I want to be the one to take my boys to Rome and Venice for the memory of it but other than that I am totally open.

I have been to Amalfi and Ravello and would loveto return but dont
know if that would be an option with the trains .. or we can miss it or rent a car for a few days for that .. although not looking forward to that drive

I mentioned Bologna is that an area that we can do day trips from or are there better places .

I guess my ideal would be if there were some locations that we can stay a few days and do great day trips from instead of moving rooms everynight -

When we were in france I rented 5 gites in 5 locations for a week each and
did day trips from there . we also had a car .. I am not saying the same is possible with the train but it does make travelling with kids a bit more managable ,,,,

many many thanks
elizabethG is offline  
Jan 13th, 2016, 02:15 PM
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I think Umbria would be a nice area to explore by train for five nights or so. It's easily reached from Rome and from one of several bases, you could explore Spello, Spoleto, Perugia, and Assisi. If we were willing to rent a car for a few days, there are a number of other lovely towns within easy reach. Umbria is not heavily touristed and we didn't find driving there very stressful. We stayed Spello, and found it to be a good central location for touring, if a bit sedate.
indyhiker is online now  
Jan 13th, 2016, 02:57 PM
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You can use boats and buses along the Amalfi coast in lieu of trains.

Bologna is a perfect place for settling in and using the train to make day trips to a long list of interesting places: Ferrara, Ravenna, Modena, Parma, Brisighella, Reggio nell'Emilia, Florence, Milan. One of the great pleasures of Bologna is buying fresh made pasta/ravioli and other foods at the marekts and enjoying meals that are very simple to cook (boil water, melt butter) at "home", so I highly recommend considering that you rent an apartment.

Umbria is best if you rent a car for some of it, but that is a perfect example of an area you can reach by train and pick up a car and then have very simple drives. Umbria has a number of very interesting attractions for younger people, including waterfalls, the town of Narni and the fun elevaotrs of Perugia -- where the museum of painting is outstanding. But then you can drop off the car in towns with train station and go on to Bologna or Rome, depending on which way you are headed.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 14th, 2016, 06:56 AM
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Hi, I use bicycle and trains for getting around Italy whenever I go (only use cars rarely). I'd get out the train map of Italy (use google) and you will realise how dense the lines are.

A few years back we thought about staying in Bologna (which is great BTW) but stayed up the track in Ferrara which is bicycle heaven (more bikes than cars) and used the trains and bikes ot visit little villages, Ravenna, Moderna and all the foodie places along the Po valley

Once you have understood how it all works on the flat in that sort of area go look at the little stations in the Dolomites, you can catch trains up into the hills and walk back to your hotel towards the mountain floor (if you focus in the ski areas for the winter you will find that prices fall for the summer and some great deals are availble)

I'd set the kids at the research with a plan for each area.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 14th, 2016, 11:55 AM
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biblo: Parma Italy was also a bicycle have on par with Dutch cities practically - bikes everywhere!
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 15th, 2016, 12:26 AM
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Don't forget buses too. There is a good network of buses, albeit sometimes not very frequent. Bus companies tend to be regional and their timetables generally available online.

I have been to Italy quite a few times and always used public trains, buses and ferries. I find it much more relaxing than driving.
dreamon is offline  
Jan 15th, 2016, 06:40 AM
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Thanks P, never made it to Parma but I hear good things about it, I find the whole Po valley is just wonderful for bike routes and trains that take bikes, what is not to like?

Someone, (was it sandra?), mentioned mossies, they are there but not been attacked yet
bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 15th, 2016, 07:15 AM
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here are bicycle paths around Parma

It was me who mosquitoes, but I just now noticed I also mentioned "elevators" in talking about Perugia. I should have of course written "escalators."
sandralist is offline  
Jan 15th, 2016, 07:26 AM
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Did you by any chance visit The Po Delta from Ferrara by bike? I'm probably going in October and won't have a car. Thanks.
Keren is offline  
Jan 15th, 2016, 07:41 AM
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a few articles by me and Mrs Bilbo. Bike rental prices are probably a bit low now (say 10%) but yes we rode to Ferrara across the Po and then down to Faenza
bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 15th, 2016, 08:46 AM
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The biking sounds amazing however my youngest son who will be 9 by when we travel has cerbral palsey very mild case and therfor biking is not his strong suit yet so if we want to see anything we need to stick to buses and trains
but maybe in the future he can have more stamina on a bike .

I will look into errara, Ravenna, Modena, Parma, Brisighella, Reggio nell'Emilia,
as mentioned and see what the train situation is about
I am very grateful for all the help and great ideas
elizabethG is offline  
Jan 15th, 2016, 08:57 AM
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not sure if you've come across tag-alongs, a back wheel that bolts to a normal bike, or tandems. But you know best. is the website, a bit clunky and you need to spell the town names correctly (an awful lot start "st" or "sa")

I had to look up Brisighella, glad I did.

Regional trains (regionale) are like commute trains (often a little dusty and busy), often double deckers, slow but very cheap, just a quick flavour from Bologna Centrale to Ferrara you get two an hour,
bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 15th, 2016, 12:44 PM
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If you are planning on including Florence in your 5-week trip in summer, one interesting way to do it by train is, if you are starting in Venice, is to go to Bologna and then take a train to Marradi in Tuscany and spend a night or three up there doing some walking in the cool mountains. It will be a pleasant break. From Marradi, you can take a train to Florence.

A wonderful place to stay in Marradi is Palazzo Torriani, which has an apartment as well as rooms. They offer some meals as well as breakfast, but there are also pleasant restuarants in town and good places to shop for a picnic.

From Marradi it is an easy day trip to Brisighella (you actually pass through Brisighella on the way to Marradi, but if you have luggage, it is easier to make it a separate day trip).

With children, if you are planning to use Bologna as a "base", it might be that Ferrara and Ravenna would impress them most and Ravenna has a not-very-scenic beach, but decent enough for an afternoon swim to cool off.

You could also visit Marradi if you were starting in Rome and finishing in Venice.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 12:58 AM
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Keren is offline  
Jan 17th, 2016, 10:02 AM
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Many regional trains also have first class for just a bit more and IME regional trains can become SRO at times - especially during rush hours or when school kids swarm aboard as these trains also act as school buses - 1st class gives you nearly an empty compartment at times IME - never really full - well worth the relatively little extra IMO.
PalenQ is online now  
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