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Pre booking trains in France and Italy


Jun 4th, 2015, 05:37 PM
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Pre booking trains in France and Italy

Hi all,

Yesterday I pre-booked a flight from Barcelona to San Sebastian and a friend (co-traveller) mentioned she thought it was unnecessary to pre-book.

My understanding is that it isn't necessary on some services, but on fast trains such as AVE (which the above trip is) you should pre-book because the prices can and do increase closer to the travel date.

So, I am wondering about whether or not to pre-book (whether the price will go up) for the following services:

1. Antibes to Monterosso (It appears that you can book part of the way here through the Italian Thello, which looks nice and flash and like a fast train service? However you can also book that on SNCF or the (regional?) Trenitalia (I think Thello is still part of Trenitalia though so am confused as to the different options. All services seem to take as long in the end, despite going different routes).

2. Monterosso to Padua

3. Padua to Rome OR Verona to Rome

RT2015 is offline  
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Jun 4th, 2015, 06:53 PM
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Without directly answering your question you can always tell if it will be cheaper to buy tickets in advance by doing dummy bookings on the train websites. Look at a date for tomorrow and then check the same journey three months from now and see if there is a difference in price.
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Jun 4th, 2015, 07:47 PM
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Local train to Ventimiglia, then tickets here for available trains up to 120 days in advance using italian city names:


Regional trains in Italy you buy tickets there, good for any journey between destinations for up to 60 days, stamped on the way to the platform. Ticket machines accept debit cards with a 4 digit PIN and cash.
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Jun 4th, 2015, 08:08 PM
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>>>pre-book because the prices can and do increase closer to the travel date.<<<

There are discount tickets available if you purchase in advance. Prices don't increase like air fares do for supply and demand. The base price remains the same, it's just the early bird discounts get purchased and they are limited in numbers.

As for Thello, you can book on SCNF or on Thello's website. They will go as far as Genoa and then you would need to change trains for Monterosso there. While you could also buy a Thello ticket on Trenitalia, Trenitalia has always required international tickets to be picked up in Italy at a self-serve kiosk in one of their stations. Whether you could retrieve a ticket bought on Trenitalia at a kiosk in France remains to be seen (haven't seen any reports of this yet). No need to risk it when you can easily purchase Nice/Genoa from Thello website. They've been offering a discount on this route for only 15€. Thello currently has 3 trains per day, but I believe only one of them stops in Antibes. If that time doesn't work for you, you would need to get a local train to Nice (a couple of euro) and board there.


Thello will be more comfortable than other trains on this route and Thello trains will have amenities.

Monterosso is mostly slow regional trains. No need to buy those tickets in advance (can only be bought 7 days in advance on Trenitalia) as they don't sell out and there aren't any discounts or reserved seats (similar to a subway or commuter train).

Monterosso to Padova can be bought in Italy or from Trenitalia. There are a couple of route choices and both involve changes. Part of the route may have some discounts while part is regional trains.

Padova/Rome or Verona/Rome - If you are certain of your dates/times, you can go on a purchase these on Trenitalia and see if any discounts are available. You can purchase 120 days in advance.

Another option for Padova/Rome is Italo, but they don't serve Verona. The main station they use in Rome (Tiburtina) is not quite as convenient as the main station Trenitalia uses (Termini). Italo has a few trains that stop in Termini. Trenitalia operates a lot more trains per day though.

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Jun 4th, 2015, 08:44 PM
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Thanks all!

Kybourbon is the trenitalia one from Padova to Rome the fast train? (3 hours)

Re getting from Antibes to CT - so we should book from Nice on Thello (the only one from Antibes is too late in the day) and just buy from Antibes to Nice the day of travel? But do we just book the leg from Nice to Genova and then book separately/on the day for the rest of the journey to Monterosso?

Thanks again,
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Jun 4th, 2015, 09:14 PM
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After my experience buying a ticket from Rome to Florence I will always pre-purchase for Italian trains. I arrived at Rome Termini station to find very long queues. I tried to buy a ticket from a machine, which debited my credit card but gave me no ticket. So I had to join a queue anyway. At the head of the queue, I had trouble finding someone who understood enough English to solve my problem. All a bit stressful. Next time I will have any necessary tickets in my hot little hand before I even enter the country.
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Jun 5th, 2015, 12:27 AM
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OK so when I go to SNCF site it doesn't tell me I can book Thello there? It seems as though I would be booking on a regional French train?

Thello looks good and only costs 20 euros to get from Nice to Genoa, and I don't imagine it would be much extra from Antibes to Nice or from Genoa to Monterosso but SNCF is showing around 75 euro ...
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Jun 5th, 2015, 05:13 AM
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Trelitalia trains from Padova to Roma Termini are fast trains, taking 3:17. The price can be as low as 27€, depending on the date and time of the trip and how far in advance you buy your ticket.

NOTE: There is a much slower intercity train -- usually takes between 5 and 6 hours and stops a lot -- that only cost 9€, but unless you are really strapped for cash, I wouldn't recommend it.

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Jun 5th, 2015, 06:21 AM
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No, do not use thello.com or voyages-sncf to book Antibes-Monterosso.

You should book a journey involving both Thello + a connecting Italian train (e.g. Antibes to Monterosso) at the Italian Railways website www.trenitalia.com - this can book both trains as one journey. If you use Thello, it'll only book the Thello bit!

Remember, three Thello trains a day run Nice-Genoa so ask for Nice-Monterosso and you'll see THREE departures per day. Only ONE of these starts back in Marseille calling at Antibes, so if you ask it for Antibes to Monterosso you'll only see ONE answer.

If that suits, great, if not it isn't rocket science to book Nice-Monterosso at trenitalia.com then buy a ticket at the station for the half-hourly local trains Antibes-Nice.
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Jun 5th, 2015, 06:24 PM
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Thanks Man_in_seat_61. I find your advice very helpful!

Yes the Antibes to Genoa train only comes in the evening so we want to be on the morning train, which leaves Nice at 8.09am. The price on Trenitalia for first class Thello/second class regional from Genova to Monterosso is 47 euro so that is very good! I imagine the prices will stay the same? But perhaps it is wise for us to book now so we are organised. We have accommodation that night in Monterosso so we won't need a flexible ticket. But would you say it is worth the first class for the extra 12 euro. I read your point about being more likely to meet locals in second class, which appeals to me. I don't mind second class, especially if there is no real difference!
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Jun 15th, 2015, 03:19 PM
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Hi guys,

I am still a little confused about whether to book the following trains now or wait until we get there;

Antibes to Monterosso (I know HOW to book this, just not sure whether prices will go up between now and July 16 when we travel)

Monterosso to Padua (July 19)

Then we will either get a car or bus/train to Dolomites. I know everyone suggests car and book now but my travel companions is not that confident and I don't want to be bossy so am happy to leave the decision to the gods when we arrive ... knowing that that may mean we miss out. If we do - hey we're in Italy, life isn't so bad!

For the record, I have pre-booked a train from Barcelona to San Sebastian and got a cheap deal with the 2x2 tickets they have in first class (there are three of us for this bit and two for the other trains).

We will most likey leave the Dolomites and to to Rome and I have seen Padua has a fast train but don't really want to pre book that as not sure it we will be going back there.
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Jun 15th, 2015, 04:39 PM
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If I were you, I'd stick with kybourbon's advice and buy only the Nice to Genova part of this trip in advance. The vast majority of the trains from Genova to Monterosso are regional trains, and there's absolutely no advantage to buying regional train tickets online. In fact there are big disadvantages to doing so, because regional tickets bought online cannot be changed or modified for any reason.

For example: The last time I bought a regional ticket online, when I got to the station, I saw that the regional train was delayed for over an hour. I wanted to upgrade my regional ticket to an intercity ticket, because an intercity train was leaving very shortly. I was told that if I had bought the ticket at a train station I could have done so with no problem, but since I had bought it online, my only recourse was to tear up the regional ticket and buy an intercity ticket at full price.

Also, Kybourbon said that Thello tickets bought on Trenitalia had to be picked up in Italy, which would be hard to do if you're starting from Nice. I just checked this on the Trenitalia site, but they don't even offer the possibility to buy these tickets at all; they just show the timetable. There may be a glitch with their website just now, because I tried and failed earlier today to buy tickets on the website. However, Kybourbon is very knowledgable about Italian trains, and I would trust her (or is it his?) advice.

If you're not sure about your schedule, you shouldn't buy tickets in advance. Buying at the last minute usually costs more on the fast trains, but the discounted tickets are very inflexible.
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Jun 15th, 2015, 06:10 PM
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Thanks bvlenci. I will try the Trenitalia site but if we can't buy from there we will need to wait and buy when in Nice - perhaps on the morning we are leaving.
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Jun 15th, 2015, 06:11 PM
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And re our schedule, we have accommodation booked on our travel days both to Monterosso and to Padua so inflexibility isn't too bad (apart from what you say about linking trains in the case of it being late etc)
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