Italy - Train reservations

Old Sep 17th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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Italy - Train reservations

Will arrive Pisa this Thursday about noon (24 sept) and need to train to Genoa. Then 6 October need to get from Venice to Florence and a few days later from Florence to Pisa. After reading everything about the fast Italian trains I called their customer service number in Italy to hear that US credit cards will not work on line. Will we be okay arriving off plane and needing to get on train without pre-booking? Any hints/comments please? Two of us - strong, gym rats - but speak little Italian and have NEVER been to Italy. Thanks; ciao!
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 08:06 AM
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You'll be fine. Buy your tickets for Pisa Aeroporto-Pisa Centrale and Pisa Centrale-Genova Brignole at the airport train station. If your plane is on time, you'll probably be able to catch the 12:43 train to Pisa Centrale. The next one leaves at 13:05.

Go to www.bahn.de and click on the drop-down flag menu for English. After you get summary timetables for Pisa Aeroporto-Genova Brignole, click on the arrow to the left of each departure time to see the connecting point (Pisa Centrale). Then click on "Print view" and print the timetables. Take them with you for handy reference when you buy your tickets.
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 08:33 AM
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You don't need to advance purchase. The Italian train company is Trenitalia and you can check times/prices on their website. To see all trains/prices, enter a date within 7 days. Schedules will be the same for your dates if you look at the same day of week.

The trains between Florence and Pisa are slow R trains and don't allow reserved seats so it wouldn't do any good to purchase in advance.
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Old Sep 17th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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Some observations.

Many of the routes you are traveling are served by seat reservation required trains. These are IC and ES trains. Note these codes when you look up time tables.

The slow train, R = regionale, is not capacity limited. The ticket does not even specify the time of travel, it is good for one trip during about 2 month.

Pisa Centrale to Genoa. You have a choice of Brignole or Piazza Principe stations. Brignole comes first when you arrive from Pisa. Choose the one more convenient to you. This route is served by R, IC, ES trains. Be sure to get the right kind of ticket; they are not interchangeable between these trains.

Venezia - Firenze is most likely on ES. I think there are a few IC trains on this route.

I would not wait until the day of the trip to buy tickes except for your first leg. The ticket window lines can be long, and even the ticket vending machines can have lines. These machines take US CC and cash. You may be in line on these machines to buy tickets using a CC, but the guy in front of you may be trying to buy using bills. These machines seem to be picky about accepting bills, so the guy in front of you may be feeding his bill over and over trying to get it accepted.

If you buy reserved seat ticket, how to you know which car to get on? At major stations, the platforms have train composition chart showing where on platform the cars will stop. At smaller station this information is conveyed a few minutes the train pulls into the station and given only in Italian. What you need to catch is when the announcement says "La prima clase e alla testa/coda del treno." If the 1st class is at the "testa"=head, then that is where the low car number is usually located. If the 1st class is at the "coda"=tail of the train, then the train usually pulls into the station with high car number first. If not sure, locate yourself at the middle section of the platform.
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