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LowCountryIslander Oct 27th, 2010 07:01 AM

Purchasing train tickets in Italy...machine or ticket window?
I'll be in Bologna for a week in mid-November and have planned to take a few day trips via train from Bologna as well as take the fast train from Bologna to Rome.

I have reviewed the Tren Italia website and know which trains I'd like to take and have copied down the train numbers, train times and ticket prices for reference. (I understand this information could be changed)

I know I cannot purchase on the Tren Italia website because my US issued credit card is not accepted on the website. And I prefer not to use Rail Europe for my ticket purchase.

I plan to purchase all the tickets I will need the day after I arrive in Bologna. My questions are:

1. If there is a computer/ticket machine at the station can I use that machine to purchase my tickets with a US credit card? Will I find an English language option on such a computer/ticket machine? My understanding of Italian is VERY VERY basic. OR

2. Would it be better (easier?) to purchase my tickets from an agent at a ticket window at the train station? OR

3. Would it be better (easier?) to purchase my tickets form a travel agency in Bologna?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

fmpden Oct 27th, 2010 07:18 AM

The common answer is Yes. All is possible. All ticket machines have a British Flag option for English. Just know the local name, spelling for the station and not the English name. US, magnetic striped cards are generally accept in all machines. You may find some newer machines that take only the European card. You can use a ticket window if the line is not long or even a travel agent. The price is the same. Purchasing as early as you can might still get some discount. IF the ticket is not train/seat specific, then it is an open ticket that MUST BE VALIDATED prior to getting on the train -- ICs and regionals.

PalenQ Oct 27th, 2010 07:29 AM

I have used the machines a lot and they are, quite unlike, easy to use - a snap like fmden says. And IME there can indeed typically be long lines at ticket windows - perhaps Trenitalia is trying to force folks to use the machines?

ellenem Oct 27th, 2010 07:37 AM

All three are possible. And even when purchasing through a travel agency, the agent was able to book discount tickets for me based on meeting advanced purchase requirements.

LowCountryIslander Oct 27th, 2010 07:37 AM

Thank you both for the speedy replies. Looks like I will be able to easily use the ticket machines.

kybourbon Oct 27th, 2010 09:10 AM

>>>>All ticket machines have a British Flag option for English.<<<

There are still some old-style ticket machines that don't have English, but I would assume Bologna would have the new touch screens. Here's a link on using the touch screens with step-by-step pictures.

Some of the touch screen machines will be labeled cash only while others will accept credit cards. You can do a run-through without entering your credit card if you want to check a schedule.

>>>IF the ticket is not train/seat specific, then it is an open ticket that MUST BE VALIDATED prior to getting on the train -- ICs and regionals.<<<

Only the R trains will not have seats.

kraines Oct 27th, 2010 10:41 AM

The machines! They are easy, in English and fast!

LowCountryIslander Oct 27th, 2010 10:59 AM


Thank you so much for posting the link with step by step purchasing was very helpful. Now I know what the machines and screens look like, and won't feel so shy about using them. I have 3 round trip tickets and 1 one-way ticket to purchase for 2 of us traveling together and the explanation has really helped! :-)

MiamiBeachMomma Oct 27th, 2010 11:56 AM

I was wondering about buying the tickets online from the trenitalia site? It seems no one does that - wouldnt it be easier to just get it out of the way before the trip and not have to worry later. Traveling in December and would like to know that its booked in advance? Any advice?

vjpblovesitaly Oct 27th, 2010 11:58 AM

Apparently they don't accept US credit cards. I don't know about credit cards from other countries

fmpden Oct 27th, 2010 12:57 PM

The reason they cannot buy on line is that Trenitalia would not accept Am Credit cards -- fraud issues. Some are reporting success using a verified Visa card. Personally do not general book in advance because it reduces my options. Other than discounts there is no advantage to booking in advance. In 15 years of travel I have never seen a ticket machine that did not have an English option. However, I have seen subway or local transportation ticket machine that did not have any options. I don;t think you should have any problem in a regular train station.

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