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erins128 Mar 19th, 2011 01:01 PM

Rail Travel in Italy
My husband and I are traveling to Italy in May. Our itinerary includes four days each in Milan, Florence and Rome. We are flying in and out of Rome. My last trip to Italy was in 2004, so I am a bit thanks for your help.

Two questions:

1) What is the best way to get to Milan from Rome Fuimicino airport via rail? I am looking for process here...

2) Being we will be traveling by rail to three cities, is it best to buy a rail pass? Reservations or no? First or second class?

Thank you in advance for your responses!

Poconolady Mar 19th, 2011 01:22 PM

Suggestion #1: If your airline tickets are not already purchased, then check into flying open jaw, into Milan and out of Rome. (Unless, of course, you have a reason for both arriving and leaving from Rome). Open jaw is generally no more expensive than round trip tickets, and sometimes costs less. If you are booking your tickets yourself, then click on the multi-city option of most online booking sites.Flying into one city and leaving from another saves a lot of time, in this case, almost a whole day on the train just getting from FCO to Milan.
Suggestion # 2: Rail tickets--first or second class depends on your own preference. We find that second class seats are just fine, but that it is sometimes beneficial to have seat reservations, especially if you are several people, and are traveling during a very busy time. We spent one trip between Bologna and Venice sitting on our suitcases in a hallway on a Fri evening, that was one time that it would have paid to have sprung for the extra cost of a reservation. Time of year also plays into this. Summer time peak time trains can be packed.
Suggestion # 3--I usually find that point to point tickets are more cost effective when traveling in only one country. You can book in advance online, or wait and book upon arrival. If you are traveling in an extremely busy period, then I would at least book in advance for the first leg of the trip. I find to be the easiest search engine for European train schedules.

kybourbon Mar 19th, 2011 03:24 PM

Book your air to Milan and out of Rome (air is cheaper to Milan from my area). Is there a reason for staying four nights in Milan?

>>>Suggestion # 2: Rail tickets--first or second class depends on your own preference. We find that second class seats are just fine, but that it is sometimes beneficial to have seat reservations<<<

All but the older slower R trains are reserved seat only in Italy so if you buy a ticket from Trenitalia between major cites on either an AV, ES, ESCity, IC train, it will come with your seat. You can also snag some sale fares if you know when you want to travel.

The trains between Milan/Rome (3-3 1/2 hours) and Milan/Florence (1:45) are much faster than they were a year or two ago. Florence/Rome is about 90 minutes.

The general consensus for the faster trains in Italy is 2nd class is fine. For longer journeys (4+ hours)you might want to look at first. Scroll down to what are Italian trains like and the first set of pics shows the AV,ES trains (1st and 2nd class). 1st class is marked up 30% over 2nd.

jscarbary Mar 19th, 2011 06:33 PM

If I am offered a mini rate what is the down side to the cheaper tickets?

kybourbon Mar 19th, 2011 06:40 PM

The change rules are different. Next to the rates (base, mini, etc.) you will see "more info". Click that for details.

If you purchase in advance for your day of arrival you need to factor in your plane being late, getting into the city to catch the train , etc.

jscarbary Mar 19th, 2011 07:05 PM

Next question: I know the website might not allow me to actually purchase my tickets because I am in the US, but I can't even get that far. I am using Firefox 3.0. I tell the site that I want to go from Rome to Florence on April 6 and then back to Rome on April 7. It brings up the outbound trains to Florence, I click next to get to the 8:15 train that I want and make my selection. It brings up the next screen for me to tell it how many tix I need and it says that my outbound train is leaving on April 7! Why does it change the date? I was almost ready to try to purchase when I noticed that it had me outbound from Rome on April 7 and inbound back to Rome on April 8. Why does it move my dates that I want ahead one day each?

fmpden Mar 19th, 2011 08:12 PM

Look carefully at how you are entering the dates date, month , year. Second, if selecting off a calender, Sunday is the last day of the week --- MTWTFSS not as in the US where Sunday is the first day. My quess is that is your problem.

kybourbon Mar 19th, 2011 08:53 PM

It doesn't do that for me (I have Firefox) and yes, you can actually purchase from the US (Visa or Mastercard). When you select round trip and enter your cities, you can also select times beside the date so it will show trains during that time, then select send. When the first list of trains appear for your outbound trip you should see the date on the upper right (note - Europe lists day/month format - April 6 = 6/4/2011). Select your train and hit continue. Then you should get the option for your second train with date on right. If you are doing all that and it still switches dates, then perhaps you need to enable cookies or something.

Although Trenitalia says it's no longer necessary to register online with them before purchasing, there are things you can't do unless you have registered first with them and established an account. You can't have tickets mailed so you need to select the ticketless e-mail option.

As for buying, if you haven't notified your credit card company that you will be making an online foreign purchase and given them 24 hours to put a note of it in your file, your purchase will probably get rejected. I always notify first and call back the next day to make sure it was entered on my file. List the name as it matches the ID you will be using (in case of any problems) and plan to take the credit card with you that you used for the purchase.

2010 Mar 19th, 2011 09:48 PM

Useful information!

Hope you don't mind if I ask ...

Poconolady: Not sure what's considered 'an extremely busy period.' We are also planning to take a train from Florence to Rome in May. We were going to wait until we got to Florence to buy our tickets but wondering now, if we should buy them before we leave home?


rineurope Mar 19th, 2011 11:37 PM

Erin, I tried to answer you questions on the RS board where you posted it also, but if you have not looked there, here's the same notation - although not quite as "pretty." Some of it may be what's already been said here, but some supporting articles - with lots of pictures - may be helpful to you.

Ron from Carbondale, IL has given you great directions on the routes you will have to take. To help you further, you might read these articles:

Arriving at FCO (
will walk you through the process of arriving at the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport - with plenty of pictures!

The FCO train station article ( give you directions to the train station, again, with pictures. It will also give you the scoop on where you can get tickets to the Leonardo Express. If you've already got train tickets to Milan - great. If not, you can use the Trenitalia counter, as shown in the pictures. Or you can use one of the kioks ( to purchase your tickets. DO VALIDATE your Leonardo Express ticket before you get on the train!

Then, your next step is arriving at Roma Termini Station ( You'll come in at satellite platform, Track 25, and have to walk 8-12 minutes to the main part of the station to catch your AV train to Milan.

There is always a big debate about which class of ticket to buy. GAC writes a great article, with plenty of photos, that can help you decide: 1st Class or 2nd Class tickets?(

No need for a railpass. You can save a ton of money if you buy tickets in advance, but this is a tad risky if your flight is late. I might only buy my Milan- Florence and Florence - Rome tickets in advance... and get the Milan-Rome tickets at the FCO train station. Look at this article: the Trenitalia MINI promotion ( which can save you up to 70%, rendering a rail pass less viable. DO NOTE, MINI ticket allotments are controlled by Trenitalia. As mentioned above, the MINI is far less FLEXIBLE if you miss the train... that's why I might hold off on the Milan-Rome route and buy upon arrival!

If you do want to buy tickets in advance, and more and more folks are reporting their US credit cards working - as suggested above - (Hooray!), then you should read this article for some assistance on understanding the Trenitalia website and the ticket purchaing process: Booking on the Trenitalia Website ( The last part of this article introduces the Le Frecce section of the Trenitalia website... where you can actually seats by number - much more advanced than the other booking processes on Trenitalia. If you want to ride the fastest trains to your three destinations, you might page down, read that, and book from that segment of the website.

Hope those help you - Good Luck!

Poconolady Mar 20th, 2011 06:18 AM

"extremely busy periods" are generally Fri afternoons and evenings. right around holidays, sometimes early on Mon mornings. time of year (summer time is notoriously busy), the same type of things that inpact travel anywhere. If you have a seat reservation then you are guarenteed that your seat is there for you (by the way, you may have to chase someone out of your assigned seat-don't worry about it, its done all of the time)
I tend to buy reservations for trips over 3-4 hours so that I can relax and not have to change seats and move bags during the trip.

jscarbary Mar 20th, 2011 06:25 AM

Thanks, everyone. I did use the calendar so the dates were correct as were the days of the week but I didn't notice the box for time. My best guess is that when I pressed the next button to scroll to see times later in the day it moved the day (April 6) to the next day (April 7), who knows. I did call the credit card company to tell them about the purchase I was going to make. WOOHOO! It went through, I have my tickets for Florence!!!

kybourbon Mar 20th, 2011 07:00 AM

Trenitalia's time seems to default to the time of day you log onto their site which is annoying.

Congrats on your tickets! Did you get mini-fares?

>>>>Poconolady: Not sure what's considered 'an extremely busy period.' We are also planning to take a train from Florence to Rome in May. We were going to wait until we got to Florence to buy our tickets but wondering now, if we should buy them before we leave home?<<<<

Poconolady's info is out of date for Italy. All train tickets in Italy are sold with seat reservations (required to ride the train even if you have a rail pass) so everyone will have a seat. It's been that way for about two years except on the slow R trains. The prices on Trenitalia include your seat for the AV,ES,ESCity and IC trains.

jscarbary Mar 20th, 2011 08:00 AM

I did get mini-fares!

2010 Mar 20th, 2011 09:56 AM

Another successful on-line train ticket purchase - YEAH!!!

Poconolady Mar 20th, 2011 05:50 PM

Good to know. I bought tickets last year from Civitechia to Rome & return and I don't think that reservations were included, could have been a more local train, though.

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