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Point to Point (1st Class) Train Travel in Italy -- how long have you waited in line at the train station?

Point to Point (1st Class) Train Travel in Italy -- how long have you waited in line at the train station?

Feb 12th, 2001, 04:18 PM
  #1  
Ann
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Point to Point (1st Class) Train Travel in Italy -- how long have you waited in line at the train station?

Hi all. I am back for more advice:

I will be traveling April 14-27, 2001 between the following points: Venice-Florence, Florence-Naples, Naples to Rome (return).

Point-to-point (first class) appears to be about $80 (!) less than the flexi rail pass (offered through Delta package $239 for 4 days).

I've searched by I could not find a website that sells point-to-point in advance. Does anyone know whether I have to purchase these in Italy at the train stations?

If so, I have read on this site that the lines can be very long...is this true for first class as well (we are going in Apirl)?

Also, regarding that Thomas Cook European Timetable, should we wait until March-April to purchase? Thanks in advance for your advice.
 
Feb 12th, 2001, 04:58 PM
  #2  
Tony
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Ann.

I don't think, from memory, that there are seperate lines for booking First or Second Class tickets point to point.

In April there should'nt be a major problem, except for April 14, 15, 16, 17 which is the Easter weekend. Apart from lines to book, many trains may well be full, if not seat not reserved ahead. After April 17 no problems.

I would suggest that you minimise your inter city travel over Easter.

Although the Thos.Cook timetable is published every month, this is mainly for travel agents benefit, as in reality 99.9% of timetable changes take place at the start of Summer, June 3rd. this year. If you were to buy a timetable now, it would show the schedules for all the trains you will be using in April, including any Easter specials.

 
Feb 12th, 2001, 05:18 PM
  #3  
JB
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Hi Ann - Last time we were in Rome and I needed to purchase train tickets, I just walked into a travel agency and purchased them that way. Back then I only spoke a little Italian but the transaction was easy and the people were nice. I'm guessing that they charged a small fee for their services but I don't remember it, so it must have been minimal. All in all the transaction took about 10 minutes and was painless - much easier than the other times I had made the ticket purchase by standing in line at the stations (as I had in Venice, Florence, Rome).
 
Feb 12th, 2001, 05:20 PM
  #4  
Ed
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We've always used a travel agency in Italy, usually AMEXCO in Rome. I believe no added fee, or if there was one it was quite modest.

Ed
 
Feb 12th, 2001, 07:29 PM
  #5  
Joanna
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We used a first class Kilometrico ticket in 1996 and it cost less than 200,000 lire. It would certainly cover the distances you wish to travel. You do have to have the ticket endorsed at each station, but I don't recall queuing very long for this anywhere, not even Rome or Florence had long queues (September/October).
 
Feb 12th, 2001, 08:03 PM
  #6  
Patrick
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I too have used a local travel agent to book train tickets. Usually I have better luck finding someone who speaks and understands English than I do at the train station windows. To my knowledge they do not charge any fee for their services. In fact, once while waiting for my train, I played around with one of the ticket machines, punching in my destination and type of ticket and it came up more than what I had paid to the travel agent -- can't figure that one out.
 
Feb 14th, 2001, 03:22 AM
  #7  
wendy
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Tony, Do I understand you to mean that Tuesday 17 April 2001 is also part of the Italian Easter holidays. I had thought -after advice from this forum-we could purchase tickets from Milan to Paris say 2 weeks ahead of that date, when we get to Italy. I didn't realise the Tues was a holiday as well in Italy. Do you mean many people delay travel until after the Monday (16th) holiday is over?
 
Feb 14th, 2001, 04:55 AM
  #8  
elaine
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Ann
People here have mostly said that they have purchased their rail tickets early
on day of travel or the day before, in order to assure themselves of having seats, particularly on busy routes.
When I first went, I wanted to be assured of my seat reservation and tickets for the Milan-Venice and Venice-Florence trips because I was nervous about traveling in Italy for the first time. So I ordered my tickets and seat reservations in advance in the US, realizing I was paying a premium for doing so.
I used CIT Tours:
email [email protected]
or phone 888 CIT TOURS
 
Feb 14th, 2001, 05:46 AM
  #9  
pam
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I have bought tickets in Italy at American Express offices. They speak English and as far as I know they do not charge a fee--if they do it was so small as to be unnoticeable.
 
Feb 14th, 2001, 08:46 AM
  #10  
Thyra
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With one exception, we were able to just stroll into an Italian train station, wait in line between 5-10 minutes and buy our tickets. However, we had to wait in line for nearly an hour at the train station in Naples to buy tickets to Milan in March 1999. I don't know if it was before a big weekend or what but it was a long, SLOW moving line.
 
Mar 2nd, 2001, 09:39 PM
  #11  
Leslie
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Ann - I purchased tickets for Easter weekend train travel in Italy plus seat reservations by calling CIT Tours in the US at 1-800-248-7245, hours are M-F 9am to 8pm EST. Within a few days I had my tickets and reserved seats in hand. There was a $20 service fee on the whole order and, who knows, maybe the tickets were inflated a few dollars since they were priced in US dollars...but I'm glad for the peace of mind. First I went to the train schedule website:
http://www.f-s-online.com and got the schedule. Pick the Eurostar and fastest train time beforehand so I knew exactly what tickets, trains I wanted when I called CIT. The FS website says you can buy online them butinvariably the train I wanted was the exception - their site says CIT is their official rep. With two kids in tow, baggage, and not speaking Italian (plus caution to be alert to pickpockets in train stations) I just knew I'd be more relaxed if I didn't wait till getting to Italy. Good luck!
 
Mar 2nd, 2001, 10:32 PM
  #12  
Tina
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Ann -

I've always waited until I'm there in Italy for purchasing my train tickets. However in your circumstance I'd suggest getting at least your first segment (Venice-Florence) ahead of time. Or I'm assuming that's where you're beginning on April 14th --- the Easter weekend is a busy time for visitors to Italy AND the Venice-Florence route is heavily trafficked. Especially if you're going on a EuroStar (ES) train (and OF COURSE, you should) the more popular travel times can sell out (for instance, the train leaving Venice around 8:30-ish to 9:00 am).

http://www.f-s-online.com

NOTE: when using the above site to check travel times, etc. make sure that you enter the names of the city as they are in Italian.
- for Venice, it's "Venezia"
- for Florence, it's "Firenze"
- for Naples, "Napoli"
- for Rome, "Roma"
 
Mar 12th, 2001, 06:10 AM
  #13  
Michèle
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We have found that we can purchase and reserve seats on trains at our local AAA office.

Rather than rely, or more politely, burden the clerk to figure which train we would prefer, we would do the research on the Net. Once we made our choices, we printed out the information and brought it to the AAA agency.

After the clerk's data entry and confirmation of the train number, seat numbers, non smoking car, etc. we paid for the tickets. Less than a week later we received our tickets in the mail.

It really simplified our planning and concerns for our last trip which by the way was 17 days beginning in Geneva ending in Rome - all by reserved train.

 
Mar 12th, 2001, 06:18 AM
  #14  
betsy
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Michele

This is great info. Did AAA add on a charge for doing this?
 
Mar 12th, 2001, 06:48 AM
  #15  
Elaine
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My daughter and her husband leave for Rome tomorrow and on Sunday will take a train to Genoa where they will be met by aunts, uncles and cousins. They fly out of Genoa a week+ later. So their only train ride will be the one above. They have been wondering when and how to buy their tickets. From what was said above, I'll advise them to keep an eye out for an AE office and get them there during the week. They thought they might try to buy them at the airport when they arrive Wednesday morning since they've got a schedule already and know which train they want to take. Can they do that? I guess they do need to do one or the other to make sure they get a reservation on the train they want as I imagine Sunday is a busy travel day. Any advice would be appreciated..Thanks!
 
Mar 12th, 2001, 07:21 AM
  #16  
Lee
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Try the electonic on-site ticket purchase. Worked for us at Rome airport, Rome Termini and in Florence...all you need is a credit card or cash.
 
Mar 12th, 2001, 08:56 AM
  #17  
Tina
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Elaine:

I think your daughter/hubby can buy tickets for their Roma-Genova train trip when they arrive at the airport tomorrow (or guess it'll be on Wed when they arrive). And if they don't want to hassle with it right away, they certainly can wait until they get into the city & purchase tickets at Termini station in Rome or at an American Express office.

Do note that ticket sellers at train station are usually fairly limited on their English speaking skills. What I've found helpful is to write down what you want --- make sure that the date of travel (in their case, you said Sunday? is written "18/03" --- day first, then month) AND also included 'Sunday' --- don't have my phrasebook handy, but think it's 'Domini' ? in Italian. Then where you want to go and the approximate time, so the ticket seller can pull up what's available.

ALSO, you can check schedule ahead of this by logging into:
www.fs-on-line.com

Did a quick check & looks there are several InterCity (IC) runs during the day --- travel time on these trains is about 5 1/2 hrs. If going on IC, opt for 1st class seating. OR there's the quicker EuroStar (ES) which is a nicer train (2nd class is fine) --- only see 2 runs on Sunday via the ES, early train leaving at 7:04 am and one leaving at noon.
 
Mar 12th, 2001, 02:27 PM
  #18  
Elaine
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Thanks for the info..I'm going to print the above and give it to them to read. Oh, if only my husband had taught our kids to speak Italian. She has a cousin or two that speak a little English but she won't be able to converse with her aunts and uncles whom she hasn't seen in about 20 years. But everyone is excited and looking forward to getting together.
Thanks again!
One other thing which has nothing to do with the question this is under but have you been on the Scavi(?) tour and if unable to get an advance reservation, do they have any chance at all of getting in the day they go? They emailed them over a week ago and just heard back that there are no slots on the 2 dates they requested. They are a little disappointed because of the raves they've heard. They are booked for the Borghesi (I'm probably mispelling all this!) so they are assured of at least the one tour of the two they had hoped to go on while in Rome. Anyway, thought you might have some ideas or may have run in to this situation yourselves. Once again.. Thank you!
 
Mar 13th, 2001, 04:54 AM
  #19  
Michèle
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For BETSY:
I cannot recall whether or not AAA charged us for the service but it would seem they wouldn't for their members. Besides, even if they do, it would be worth the fee to save any hassle or aggravation once overseas.

(btw-native fluency in French and fluency in Italian so language is not a hassle for me; it was just an incredible convenience to have taken care of that aspect of the trip before our departure)

 
Mar 13th, 2001, 12:13 PM
  #20  
Betsy
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Michele

Molto grazie!
 

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