Taking the trains in Italy

Old Jun 5th, 2008, 07:49 PM
  #1  
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Taking the trains in Italy

Help - Was checking out Rail Italia and was overwhelmed!

We (2 adults with our 7 yr old child) need to take the train with luggage:

1) from Milan Malpensa to downtown Milan where we're staying for 2 nights

2) then from downtown Milan to Bologna where we plan to rent a car for the remainder of our stay in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.

Ideas as well as a sense of how long it takes for these train rides? Plus, although we're not bringing a lot of luggage (maybe 1 suitcase + each one with a rolling carryon), is it relatively easy to navigate the rail system with luggage and a kid in tow?

Thanks for tips and what type(s) of train to take!
baileysmom2 is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2008, 07:59 PM
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Go to http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html
and type in your starting point and destination. It will show you your options and if you click on the shopping cart to the right and then click STANDARD FARE it will show you prices. Don't put a date more than 60 days out.

It's about a 1 hour 42 min train ride to Bologna aboard a Eurostar (ES). They're very fast and comfortable.
As long as you can lift the luggage aboard the train you'll be fine. The trains are very easy to use.

I would probably use the bus for the trip to Milano Centrale.

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2Italy is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2008, 08:12 PM
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Thank you, though I'm not sure about what you meant by "taking the bus to Milano Centrale"?

Are you suggesting taking the bus (which bus?) from the Malpensa airport to the Milan Central Train Station? From there, I'd assume we'd take either the subway or cab to our hotel?
baileysmom2 is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2008, 08:19 PM
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Yes you take the bus from Malpensa to Milan Centrale. Where is your hotel?
kybourbon is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2008, 08:52 PM
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Baileysmom2, there are two public transport options from Malpensa to the city center.

The Malpensa Shuttle bus goes to the main train station (Milano Centrale, where you'll catch your train to Bologna).

The Malpensa Shuttle train goes to the Cadorna Nord train station which might be closer to your hotel (and why Kybourbon asked your hotel location).

Both the bus and the train are very easy. Signage in the airport is good, and you don't need reservations.

If you take the bus, you could buy your tickets to Bologna while you're at Milano Centrale before heading to your hotel. If you wait on buying the tickets until you're leaving Milan, get to the station about 30 minutes before the departure time. The ticket lines move quickly, but you want to feel unrushed.

Jean is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2008, 08:57 PM
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I meant to add that you shouldn't have trouble with a child and luggage. But, if there was ever a time to pack light, this is it. You don't want to be watching/carrying too many bags, and you should be able not only to lift the bags onto the train but also be able to lift them overhead and into bins.
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Old Jun 6th, 2008, 12:38 AM
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Hello baileysmom, here is the website for the Malpensa/Milan shuttle bus.

http://www.malpensashuttle.it/e-default.htm

This shuttle bus will take you to Centrale Train Station in Milan. Enjoy your time in Italy with your family.

And regarding luggage while traveling by train, do have as small as possible suitcases.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2008, 03:34 AM
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Go to: http://www.malpensaexpress.it/websit...home/index.php

There's a Malpensa express train to Milan at 23 and 53 past every hour. Through that website you can choose the best solution for you.

There's also a train every 30 mins to Bologna Centrale and it takes just a couple of hours to reach Emilia Romagna. There I'd suggest to visit "Italia in Miniatura" in Rimini: http://www.italiainminiatura.com/ind...l?ID_lingua=en and Mirabilandia in Ravenna: http://www.mirabilandia.it/ a nice entertainment center, both great for your kid.

To rent a car: http://www.autoeurope.com/ or http://www.antares91.com/

Have fun!

Valeria_82 is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2008, 04:46 AM
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...is it relatively easy to navigate the rail system with luggage and a kid in tow?

It's "relatively" easy, but I don't want you to get the impression it's a piece of cake. Since you asked, I'll presume you haven't done this before.

You will want to familiarize yourself with the process:
http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/trains/index.htm
See the "At the Station" section.

There are posts on these forums about where to stand on the platform once your departure point has been announced and how to identify your train car. If you board the wrong car, it's ok...you can make your way from car to car after departure. One time we had an extremely short connection and had to board at the first car we came to, then walk the entire length of the moving train to our reserved seats.

The most important thing is to be prepared and organized as the train approaches. The loading time is very short, maybe 5 minutes. You and the other passengers will be trying to squeeze through the steep, narrow door with lots of jostling in the little storage area. I suggest leaving the child on the platform with 1 adult who will hand up the luggage. The other adult mounts the steps to lift the luggage (quickly) into the storage area. Once all luggage is up, the other two can board. The train may very likely be moving as you begin storing your luggage and finding your seat.

This isn't meant to alarm you. Simply to illustrate that you want to be organized and calm during the loading process. (My first time I found it quite frantic and stressful.) And you definitely don't want to be hauling an big, oversized suitcase (not over 24").

[This post is getting long, I'll address a luggage question in a separate post.]

JeanneB is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2008, 04:56 AM
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Luggage question:

"1 suitcase + each one with a rolling carryon"

Is rolling carryon the small "tote" type, i.e. you can carry it on your shoulder?

Or do you mean small suitcases?



JeanneB is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2008, 05:41 AM
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My husband and I just returned from a 16 day trip to Italy and we took the advice we got on Fodors to pack light and just took two 21" rolling carryon suitcases, a dayback, and a large purse. I'm so glad we didn't bring any big suitcases. We did have to do laundry, but that was so much easier than lugging around luggage. It will make your life so much easier if you eliminate the 1 suitcase. You'll be surprised how much you can get in the carryons. Have fun!
BarbaraS is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2008, 07:22 AM
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Everyone has given you great info re the bus and trains. One note is that
last week the ATM machine for euros
was not functioning at Malpensa
recommend arriving with some euros as
the machine was also down at the Milan
train station.
TRAVEL light........the bus drivers
load your bags however on the train
you are responsible.
For driving the michelin road maps
are excellent, even on the ss back roads...
Have fun
Ciao
lupinelady is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2008, 08:36 AM
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lupinlady:
(This is probably a stupid question)

Would you please clarify something for me regarding the "michelin road maps"?

I had read that elsewhere before our trip to Tuscany. We arrived armed with our trusty "Michelin Green Guide" ready to wander the backroads. But the maps in the guide were not adequate at all. We bought a Touring Club map and then we were fine.

What exactly are people referring to when they recommend the "michelin road maps"? Thanks.
JeanneB is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2008, 10:14 AM
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Michelin makes folding road maps like the Italian Touring Club map you purchased. It's less a question of whether to use Michelin or ITC maps but having the map the covers the right area for your plans and at the most useful magnification. For traveling backroads, I prefer the ITC maps in Italy and the Michelin maps for almost every other country in Europe. Here's a website that sells several Michelin road maps.

http://www.maps.com/maps.aspx?nav=MS&cid=1364,1508,1509

Jean is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2008, 10:32 AM
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One further piece of advice -- if the person selling the bus tickets in Malpensa offers to sell you a train ticket to Bologna, too, politely decline. We were there in February, and did not have enough cash to buy the train tickets at Malpensa (they would only accept cash). So we waited and bought tickets at Centrale after we got off the bus, and the train tickets were substantially less than the price quoted at Malpensa.
ladylawyer42 is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2008, 06:45 PM
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To everyone -- MANY, MANY thanks to all the tips and advice! I hadn't been able to check the forum in days and all the information since the last time is very helpful and detailed.

Re: our Milan hotel, we booked at Spadari Al Duomo (although I'm considering the Hotel Romana because the reviews seemed good and it's cheaper?). Any suggestions for one over the other?

Re: luggage, we were thinking of 2 21" carryons and 1 25" but may reconsider given your advice...
baileysmom2 is offline  
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