RailPass in Italy

Feb 26th, 2007, 10:26 AM
  #1  
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RailPass in Italy

Hi all...my wife and i along with another couple are going to italy for the first time in the beginning of april. i am confused on whether to purchase tickets when we get there or to by a saverpass. some of the prices that i have seen you guys listing are way lower than what i am finding online. so i thought you might have some good insight. also, we are trying to decide between 1st and second class. here is a basic itinerary....

flying into rome.
going from rome to venice
venice to florence
in florence taking a day trip to cinque terre
in florence taking a day trip to sienna, pisa
florence to cinque terre
cinque terre to rome.

let me know what you all think.
thanks!!!
Jon
jon711 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 10:46 AM
  #2  
 
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What website are you using for fares? If it's RailEurope, that explains it. They charge quite a bit extra. Have you looked at www.trenitalia.it? Train fares in Italy are pretty cheap. You're unlikely to find a pass cost-effective. But check at www.railsaver.com or Rick Steves' site: www.ricksteves.com/rail/rail_menu.htm

And you don't need to buy tickets way ahead of time. I usually buy them at a travel agent when I run across a storefront in the course of my walking around. There's no surcharge and most travel agents speak English. This avoids the lines at the station.
Mimar is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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I agree that for your itinerary a rail pass would probably not be cost effective. For ES trains, I find second class perfectly comfortable, more comfortable than economy class airline seats.
ellenem is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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It would probably not be in your interests for an Italian railpass for this itinerary...simply because to take the best trains, ES or EuroStar Italia trains means a 15 euro surcharge each time you ride them with a pass. ICplus trains it's 5 euros for the mandatory reservation. You can ride IC and regional trains without surcharge and just show up. But to go between Venice and Florence for example the ES trains are by far the ones to use. It's easy for you to compare prices for walk up tickets at www.trenitalia.com with those of the passes (check www.budgeteuropetravel.com for current Italian pass prices or www.raileurope.com or www.ricksteves.com but they should all be the same price - shipping fees can vary. But i think the pass doesn't perhaps pass for you though first class passes stack up better than 2nd class do. Also there are cheaper online Italian fares available at www.trenitalia.com, albeit this can be a most fickle site when it comes to booking. Once you get to Italy if point-points are better you can buy all your ticket and needed reservations in one fell swoop at any train station, including at the Rome airport.
I'm a big believe in the value of first class - more room for luggage, bigger seats, etc. and the prices in Italy for trains are so cheap that the different in price is not all that much. That said 2nd class on Eurostar italia trains is not slumming it just that first class is much nicer.
The day trip Florence-Siena is much better done by bus..for a few euro...bus takes you right up into the hilltown itself, trains dump you at the bottom of the hill a good poke from the old town royally crowning the hill.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 26th, 2007, 11:16 AM
  #5  
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thanks so much for the help everyone. so i went onto trenitalia's sight and from doing point to point, i am at about $243 per person for second class. if i do the pass i am only at $195. but you are saying that for the high speed trains in italy it costs 15 euro extra because you have to reserve a seat??? because if thats factored in, than point to point would in fact probably be cheaper. they need to make this less confusing! so if i decide to do point to point, should i buy the tickets ahead of time or just get them when we are there? thanks for the tip on the bus trip to sienna from florence. any other good ideas to think of. what about from florence to cinque terre?
jon711 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 11:26 AM
  #6  
 
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tickets are cheaper when bought in Italy currently than here. As extra days on an Italian pass are very cheap the pass pays off the more days you use the train. Note that you are probably taking only two ES trains - Venice-Florence and v.v. Florence-5 terre is probably an ICplus train or IC - 5 euros for ICplus none for IC seats (but no reservation which can be made for a few euro extra)
5 Terre to Rome may well be a ICplus as well so it seems the pass may stack up well. And with the pass you can make all your needed reservations are once at any station. For passes i always recommend Budget Europe (800-441-2387) i mentioned above as unless rush orders you'd pay no mailing fee with RailEurope or Steves i think a $15 fee and Budget Europe in my experience are tops as they will answer any questions by phone unlike other agents. You could also make your necessary reservations when you buy your pass but reservations but at a few more bucks - i think about $25 for ES vs 15 euros in Italy or $20 and then have everything in hand and just have to show up at the train and get on.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 26th, 2007, 11:37 AM
  #7  
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so now i am confused again. so are you now thinking it might be best to do the rail pass? i am guessing we are kind of right on the edge of whether its worth it? from the prices i am seeing, if we had only two trains where we have the 15-$20 add on charge with the ES that would push the rail pass more than point to point? i think i am leaning towards buying the tickets there point to point unless someone can talk me out of it.
jon711 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 11:45 AM
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well yes i may have been thinking $15 for the ES and not 15 euros - yes it's a wash so point-point in Italy makes perfect sense - no pass to order and get and take, etc.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 26th, 2007, 12:28 PM
  #9  
 
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Thanks Jon711 for asking such great questions, because I have similar ones. In addition, my husband and I are traveling from Rome to Florence for the first time the first week of April. I visited the trenitalia and found a train ticket. Being my first time in Europe should I buy the ticket beforehand? Is there only one major train station in Rome? How do I know I am picking the correct train? I know these questions may seem elementary, but it is our first time.
jansenke is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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jansenke,

<<Should I buy the ticket beforehand?>> For this popular route, you can buy the ticket once you arrive, perhaps a day or two ahead if you are traveling on a Friday.

<<Is there only one major train station in Rome?>> There are a number of stations in Rome, but for your route you will probably want an Eurostar (ES--fastest) train departing from Roma Termini

<< How do I know I am picking the correct train?>>
Pick a train that goes from Roma Termini (sometimes called Roma TE) to Firenze SMN (Firenze Santa Maria Novella). Firenze (Florence) also has a few different stations, but SMN is the one where ES trains from Rome stop.

There are virtually hourly trains for this route.
ellenem is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 01:10 PM
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someone mentioned using a bus to get from florence to sienna as a day trip. where do these buses leave from. how do you buy tickets?

thanks again.
jon711 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2007, 01:33 PM
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ellenem has said it all very good - two trains an hour Rome-Florence so no problem getting a ticket. The self-serve machines in stations are idiot-proof and the best way to buy your ticket. all in English so there's no waiting in line. buy there...can buy at Rome airport train station too. anyway a snap.
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Feb 26th, 2007, 01:41 PM
  #13  
ira
 
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Hi J,

The major drawback to the Railpass, even if the price is the same, is that you still have to buy a seat reservation for ES* trans, which means you have to spend the same amount of time as if you just went and bought a ticket.

For what you are planning, PtP tickets are no more expensive, and you are not locked into having paid for a train ticket if you decide not to take the ride.

The SITA bus from Florence to Siena leaves from Via Santa Caterina de Siena, abt 3 blks from the SMN train station, and drops you in Siena - 1:30 hr - 13E RT.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 07:11 AM
  #14  
 
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<The major drawback to the Railpass, even if the price is the same, is that you still have to buy a seat reservation for ES* trans, which means you have to spend the same amount of time as if you just went and bought a ticket>

Actually you will probably have to spend a whole lot more time in line than buying a point to point ticket involves in Italy. This because the idiot-proof automatic ticket machines in stations tell you clearly in English how to purchase tickets in a few seconds, but to get a reservation with a railpass involves having to go to the ticket window as the machines, when i tried several times recently at least, seem to have no facilities for making reservations with a railpass. They may but ticket window staff told me also that the machines couldn't do it.
Thus it can take a lot longer making railpass reservations than buying pt-pt tickets. Of course you can make all your pass reservations at once at any station or Rome's airport if the pass would save you money overall.
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