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Italy - Trains

Old Apr 27th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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Italy - Trains

My wfie and I will be arriving in Italy for the first time on May 18th. We plan to stay in Rome for a few days, but then will visit: Assisi, Florence, Venice, Bellagio, and finally Milan.

Do we need to pre-arrange our train tickets and train travel? Or can we just purchase tickets at the station or ticket machine?

Is it advisable to purchase 1st class? Or is "coach" class okay?

Our train travel is broken as follows:

Rome to Assisi

Assisi to Florence

Florence to Venice

Venice to Bellagio

Bellagio to Milan

We will stay a few days in each location. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 08:51 AM
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Do we need to pre-arrange our train tickets and train travel? Or can we just purchase tickets at the station or ticket machine?

No. Yes.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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Do we need to pre-arrange our train tickets and train travel? Or can we just purchase tickets at the station or ticket machine?>

IME definite NO - use the machines in station to avoid possibly long lines - machines IME are idiot proof because i could use them - it's all in English if you touch the British Flag icon

There are so many trains - at least hourly on most of those routes you should not have problems.

2nd class is fine - first class much finer IMO - bigger seats - more room for luggage - i would advise any first-time Italian train traveler to pay the relatively little extra (trains are cheaper in Italy than other countries) and go first class. Some folks say there is little difference between 1st and 2nd class - to what i say then they have never ridden in first class. But 2nd class is OK.

www.trenitalia.com has all the schedules and prices and in theory ability to book online discounts - GOOD Luck - legions of Fodorites have thrown up their arms after hours of trying to do so.

You can buy all your tickets at once from any station - ask for the Amica fare - automatic 20% off if tickets in that category remain - can get, if available, up to several hours before the train.

The Italian Railpass is not cost-effective for your plans.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 09:02 AM
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I was a wreck worrying about Italian train travel, and after much research on this board,I felt better. We started out in Rome, trained to Florence, then to the Cinque Terre, from there to Varenna (via Milan) and lastly, from Varenna to Venice. We bought all tickets at once from a travel agency (at no extra charge) who made the reservations as well. We stayed at the Albergo del Senato (LOVED it). It's next to the Pantheon. To get to the travel agcy, go left when exiting the hotel & the travel agcy. was about 2 blocks on the left, in a small square. You must be certain to validate your ticket in a machine before you get on the train.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 09:05 AM
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I forgot to add that we had 1st class tickets.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 09:05 AM
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I will be going to italy for the first time too in July. i had read a lot of posts here tht suggested buying tickets there. i am not sure abt the coach vs 1st class. i was planning on buying coach tickets, the longest train ride for me is 2 hrs and some, so it cant be that bad.
I was actually looking for one comprehensive website to give me for all the trains and timings in italy. i tried the trenitalia website and the rail europe and they only give me a few options. this is for my florence-venice leg. is there such a website?
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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I like to use www.bahn.de (german railways website) to find train schedules all over Europe.

A quick check shows departures every 1-2hrs all day long. (random day in May). When I check for July it shows far fewer trains. Seems as though schedules for July aren't loaded into the system yet. You can be assured that the July sched will be identical or nearly identical to the May schedule.

I've ridden both 1st class and 2nd class and find that 2nd class on ES, IC, and even regional trains is quite comfortable. If you choose to buy 1st class seats that's fine, but don't do so simply because you fear that 2nd class is bad.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 09:45 AM
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2nd class is not a cattle car - it's fine

first class is much finer IME and that's why Italians pay more to ride there

Italians are notorious every year for not loading summer schedules, which start in early to mid June until shortly before the changeover - that's why for trips after May on RailEurope.com it may show few trains - they do not have the schedules from Italy - ditto bahn.de and of course trenitalia.com.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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Hi there, I've had a crash course in Italian transport systems recently arranging a trip from Rome to Positano. Thanks to this site, I have booked a bus to Positano using a website that had no English translation and without speaking any Italian!

I have also learnt that it is not possible to book trains more that 2 months in advance or even see the timetable for some reason only known to trenitalia. They win the prize for the strangest website ever and I understand why people get so frustrated now.

Not sure where you are based but for those in the UK, I found this website http://www.italiarail.co.uk/. I phoned them and they were very helpful. When I get to 2 months before I go I'll use them!

HTH
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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Hi there, I've had a crash course in Italian transport systems recently arranging a trip from Rome to Positano. Thanks to this site, I have booked a bus to Positano using a website that had no English translation and without speaking any Italian!

I have also learnt that it is not possible to book trains more that 2 months in advance or even see the timetable for some reason only known to trenitalia. They win the prize for the strangest website ever and I understand why people get so frustrated now.

Not sure where you are based but for those in the UK, I found this website http://www.italiarail.co.uk/. I phoned them and they were very helpful. When I get to 2 months before I go I'll use them!

HTH
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 10:03 AM
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I too was really worried about not having everything bought ahead of time but it went fine. It really gives you more flexibility--you might want to spend a little more time sightseeing the day you were planning to leave and arrive there later in the day. We are so used to having to have all our transportation reserved with very few choices but it isn't like that there.

My ONLY problem with 2nd class was on a hot day it was VERY hot in 2nd class and not cold but much cooler in 1st class. If you do get 2nd class seats and it is hot and if the train isn't full, you can go sit in 1st class
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 10:05 AM
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Hi tb,

>.....looking for one comprehensive website to give me for all the trains and timings in italy.<

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...0080a3e90aRCRD is the Trenitalia website in English. You can find all of the trains as early as 60 days out.
..............................
Hi RRT,

If you are taking the AV or ES*, 2 cl is fine for trips under 4 hrs.

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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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On my last trip to Italy it was over 100F for 2 weeks straight. All of the trains I took had fully working AC in 1st and 2nd class, including several regional trains, so it was a very comfortable way to ride. These were newer model trains. It may be the luck of the draw.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 10:25 AM
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If you do get 2nd class seats and it is hot and if the train isn't full, you can go sit in 1st class>

And if you do the conductor will then charge you the difference between the normal first and second class fare - so yes you can go sit in first class but expect to have to pay for that - otherwise there would never be an empty seat in first class as all the 2nd class folks who flock there

And i do note how folks say 2nd class is just fine (and it is) to save a few euro and then write trip reports about spending well over 100 euros a meal in Venice - for 30 or 50 euros you can also get a great meal - perplexed why these folks then apply different criteria to train travel???
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 10:35 AM
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The services Milan-Varenna (your exit point for Bellagio)and vice versa are all regionals...there is little difference between 1st and 2nd on THOSE trains and I've been on more than one which had air conditioning which consisted of open windows!

On the trip up from Milan be sure to sit on the left hand side facing forward for the best lake views which begin at Lecco.

On Eurostar services ther difference between 1st and 2nd consists mainly of ROOM...i.e., 2+1 seating in 1st and 2+2 seating in 2nd.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 10:46 AM
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i did not realize the summer schedules for the trains weren't up yet. i went into mode panic when i saw so few trains available. thanks.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 11:11 AM
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travelinB i would be SHOCKED if the Italians had got their act together to post summer schedules this early - it's been an ongoing circus for years now - no trains for summer and novices panic. All other countries it seems (exc perhaps Spain) make their schedules known well in advance.

But not the Italians! Welcome to Italy!
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