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Luggage questions for train travel in Italy.

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Jan 17th, 2015, 07:04 AM
  #1
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Luggage questions for train travel in Italy.

In May my husband and I fly into Venice and out of Rome. We plan to do most of our travel by train, and some bus. Our stops include Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore), Florence, siena, a quick stop in Pisa and lastly Rome. This trip stretches over three weeks.
I planned to pack a 24" soft suitcase that an be rolled, carried as a duffle or worn as a backpack. I will have a small day bag myself and then I am hoping to go with a similar style bag for my husband that I mentioned above but carry-on sized.
Can you tell me about luggage check while traveling by train in Italy. From what I am hearing/reading my trains should all be regional, correct? I read a horrifying detail this morning that it can take an extra day for your luggage to arrive if you check it? Someone please tell me this isn't true. Do I need to "check" a 24" bag on a train? I don't want to assume.
I have am considering bagging (pardon the pun) bringing a suitcase at all and just doing carry-on sized bags. If bringing a larger bag is this much of a hassle... I will reconsider.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 07:23 AM
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You will be MUCH happier if you can manage with a carry on size (21") plus a "personal item" (usually defined as large-ish tote bag/purse or small 'daypack' - check your airline for exact size - and also for weight limitations ).

I have never heard of 'checking' a bag on a train, certainly not on regional trains in Italy. You will have to carry your stuff on board (several steep steps up) and either put it in the rack above you (not big enough for a 24") or leave it unattended at the end of the carriage. Sometimes there is a space big enough for a 21" bag behind your seat.

I travel to Italy for 5 week trips all the time and manage just fine with a 20-21" bag and a big purse. There are a ton of threads here on packing light. Or just google 'packing light' and you will get lots of help deciding how much to bring.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 07:34 AM
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We have never checked bags on trains in Italy, never knew that you could. If you go with all carry on you will be glad that you did. We have lugged those large bags on trains and it is a real pain, doable, but a hassle. You have to leave them on a rack in the front of the car and they are not always easy to get to when your stop comes up, if others have piled their bags in front of yours. Also, you have to carry them up and down stairs at smaller stations and lots of times have to make quick changes with them from platform to platform. My theory is, the larger the bag the more you can cram into it, and that means a heavy cumbersome bag that must be dealt with. Go light with the fewest bags possible, you'll thank yourself later.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 08:02 AM
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I have never checked any bags on trains. For train travel, I like a bag that rolls easily between the isles. My favorite is a wheeled, narrow, very light weight, Timberland duffle style, that unzips around the top like a suitcase. DH like the new, super lt wt "it" bags with 4 wheels that can roll side ways through the isles. No need for any extra straps, etc to turn things into back packs.

Were you talking checked bags to Europe on the plane?
On non-stop flights, there is little chance of lost or delayed luggage, unless it never got on the plane. In twenty years, we have had luggage delayed only once, and that was on the trip home, so no problem.
Our solution. Put absolutely everything you will take into one suitcase. We usually do take a 24".
Remove one outfit of clothing, medicines and anything which would be a huge loss to you. Put that in your carryon. We use a lt, soft side for long trips. On arrival, put your soft carryon inside your suitcase, and you have only one bag to pull or carry on and off the train and to pull down the isle, nothing hanging on your shoulders.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 09:03 AM
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You take - you carry it - you heft it on/off the train . . . .
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Jan 17th, 2015, 09:40 AM
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Sassafrass- yes I was planning to check the one 24" bag on the flight. But if it won't be possible to take on the train I will reevaluate and go 21". It would just mean buying a new bag. Hopefully I can exchange my new 24". �� Do you take your 24" on the train and find it easy?
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Jan 17th, 2015, 09:56 AM
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You may want to take IC or high-speed trains from Florence to Rome and Venice to Genoa for the Cinque Terre (unless you want to spend several hours on the train) - trains have ample room for luggage unless you are carrying the kitchen sink - but if worried take first class where there is often a whole lot more luggage space - fewer people riding in same size train car - even on regional trains it can be a big difference.

Anyway to learn about Italian trains check out these IMO superb sources: www.seat61.com - great info on discunted tickets on all but regional trains (which have a flat fare - no need to buy tickets in advance); www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

and you can take any size luggage you can carry on Italian trains - there is I believe no checked luggage anymore. That said train travel with bulky bags can be tough - navigating crowded corrdiors, going up and down stairs - I'd say all hevy luggage should have wheels for those inevitable long walks in train stations.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 10:03 AM
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>>But if it won't be possible to take on the train . . .<<

It is TOTALLY possible to take it on the train. People take humongous suitcases on the train. It is just they are a hassle and a pain. Take the smallest suitcase that will hold what you need. Whether that is 21 (my preference) or 24 is up to you.

A 24 inch bag is not that hard to maneuver on/off a tran.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 10:19 AM
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Yes, have taken all kinds of luggage on trains, even a narrow 26" once. We are often taking gifts or art supplies, so need the 24" once in a while. When we have to leave a piece in the open area near a door, we try to sit where we can see it and DH goes and stays near before stops where we are not getting off. Never had any kind of problem.

There may be lots of stairs at some stations though and no lift. That is more of an issue than the train. It is only a few times though (often there are lifts), and we are in our 70s and managed it easily until the last couple of years.

Anyway, we tried only carry on a few times and decided it was easier to check a bag on the plane than to pull it around through the airport and heft it up on the plane. Easier for us to walk around the airport with only a little carry on.

Pack light, but don't stress about it. Take any luggage that you can easily carry up a flight of stairs once it is packed, and pull it around the block once full. It should also not be tippy. You do want luggage to stay upright, not always falling over when it is full, so you are not picking it up every time you stop. Some duffle style and very Lt wt ones do.

IME, all the talk about length is not as important as total size and weight of case. Some are only 21" tall, but 17" wide and quite thick, so may be as heavy as a 24" that is only 13" wide. DH likes short-wide. I like long-narrow.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 10:24 AM
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You are %100 in charge of luggage, getting it on and off trains, and up on racks. I would not attempt it with anything larger than a 21" rollaboard. When you see passengers with larger suitcases blocking the aisles, you can bet that they're Americans.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 10:37 AM
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Trenitalia does have a baggage delivery service. It's not the same thing as checked baggage. They'll pick it up at your home and deliver it to your hotel, for example. It's obviously not intended for people who are taking a multi-city tour around Italy.

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...008916f90aRCRD

I agree that you should try to travel much lighter if you're taking that many trips by train. Poconolady has explained the problem very well. It's not just on the trains that a large bag will be a problem, but also in the smaller stations.

Your trains will probably not all be regional trains. There should be some reserved trains on that itinerary as well. Between Venice and Riomaggiore, you would need to take three or four trains, some regional and some not. It's a long and tedious trip, usually 6 to 7 hours, and you'll grow to hate your luggage by the first change of trains.

Then from Riomaggiore to Florence, you'll need to take two or three trains, with a travel time of about three hours. (I hope you'll be staying at least two nights in Riomaggiore, otherwise you won't see much, with a one-night stay sandwiched between two tiresome travel days.)

I assume the trip to Siena will be a day trip from Florence, so luggage wouldn't be a problem. I would prefer taking the bus. If you plan to stop in Pisa on your way to Rome, it would be worth your while to take one of the direct trains, rather than return to Florence to catch a fast train. It may take a little longer, but you'll avoid one more annoying change of trains with the luggage.

I live in Italy, and often friends and relatives come to visit me when they're in Italy. You wouldn't believe the number of things that have been abandoned at my house just because the owners couldn't bear to lug them around any longer. I've acquired two backpacks, one duffel bag, several big purses, and one garment bag, along with all the stuff that would have been in those bags if they hadn't been abandoned.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 10:42 AM
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You can take any size bag you want on the train. We have often traveled (first class) with 25" bags - due to having both business and vacation clothes. BUT - you have to be able to easily lift the bag and carry it up or down a couple of flights of stairs. There is usually a steep narrow stairway between the platform and the aisle of the train - and there are often stairs from the ground level up to the platform level.

So pack your bag, pick it up and carry it around the block. If you can't, rethink it.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 10:42 AM
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I've traveled on the trains in Italy with large amounts of luggage. For example, when my daughter was spending six weeks here, with her child; and when my other daughter was returning from a year's research trip in Ghana, with all sorts of research materials, plus all she needed to live there for a year. However, it's one thing to make a train voyage with a lot of luggage, and it's quite another to hop-scotch all over the country, sometimes taking four trains in one day, with an excessive amount of luggage.

The amount of luggage described here would be fine for a trip to one or two places, with one or two direct internal train journeys. It's really excessive for the kind of trip described above.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 11:47 AM
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I've never in my life had to carry suitcase hardly at all, let alone the distance that would be around a block. I've just had to lift it a little by the handle to go up or down a step, or help with a hand to put it up on the luggage rack (not the overhead ones, the ones near the door. But I've never had to carry it for any distance in my arms. If stairs, you do one step at a time. So I don't undersatnd that advice that you shouldn't take a suitcase if you can't carry it around a block. I never carry my small 19" suitcase when I take it, either, on a train or plane. I have bags with rollers, of course, and those handles that collapse.

Sounds like the OP just heard about the special PU/delivery service and thought that was for anyone on a train.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 12:45 PM
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As the others have said, you will either carry the luggage with you to your seat and hope you can get it up to the overhead rack, keep it with you if you don't have anyone else in the seat across from you, or have to leave it at the end of the car. If you do that, you might want to think about taking a bicycle padlock that you can string through all of your bags or, easier, just get up and watch your bags every time the train makes a stop. It's very easy for someone to reach up and grab a bag, especially on the tourist runs.

One carryon size roller bag per person plus your day pack ought to be more than enough. We each have a small rollerbag and a very small day pack (I use a Baggallini messenger bag as both purse and day pack) and we often do several weeks in Europe plus a cruise--never wished we had more clothes.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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One further note-- remember that Italy has laundry facilities! You don't need to take enough clothes for three weeks. Use the laundry service at one of the hotels or find a laundromat. One of my favorite memories of Florence is of doing laundry on the day of the Florence Marathon. We watched the runners going by, the crowd cheering them on and had a great time,with some locals while the clothes washed and dried at a laundromat.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 09:35 PM
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>>>I planned to pack a 24" soft suitcase that an be rolled, carried as a duffle or worn as a backpack. <<<

You won't have a problem with a 24" (if you can lift it). I've managed that on and off trains traveling alone. A 24" softside will slide in behind the seats on the fast trains if you lay it down flat. I find when managing luggage if you have another bag as you mentioned, it's easier if it's a small backpack (regular backpack, not the convertible kind as they are heavier).
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Jan 17th, 2015, 09:52 PM
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>>>quick stop in Pisa<<<

You will need to store your luggage at the station. Not all stations have storage, but Pisa does.

>>>Florence, siena<<<

Best by bus, not train as the bus drops you at the edge of the historic center (train station is further out). If taking the bus, luggage goes underneath. It's up to you to put it in and get it out. The driver may or may not open the luggage bin If not, you do.

>>>I read a horrifying detail this morning that it can take an extra day for your luggage to arrive if you check it?<<<

Yes and that service is only available at certain stations and not at all on weekends.

If you are staying in Siena after Florence, then you can take the Sena bus from Siena to Rome. It takes the same amount of time as taking the train, but the train requires changes and the bus doesn't.

http://www.sena.it/
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Jan 18th, 2015, 07:35 AM
  #19
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Thank you all for your advice.
I am going to look into exchanging my bag for a 21". But if it too late I am glad to hear I can manage with a 24".
Yes I plan to do laundry during our trip.
Thank you for the advice kybourbon. That is my plan!
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Jan 18th, 2015, 07:47 AM
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You do need to realize that many train stops are only a minute or two for pull through stations (most of your smaller stations that serve regional trains). That means you need to know when your stop is coming and be at the door with your luggage or be ready to hop on with your luggage. Some stops are only 1 minute. Fast trains that only stop at larger stations are usually in the station 10-15 minutes (these stations are often pull in/back out), but not always. The Freccia train from Florence to La Spezia only stops in Pisa for 2 minutes.
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