Notices

To Train or not to Train?

Reply

Mar 30th, 2012, 12:09 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 49
To Train or not to Train?

My husband, 11 yr old son, and I will be staying at Palazzo Catalani in Soriano nel Cimino, Italy for the first two weeks in July, 2012. We are planning to rent a car on our arrival in Rome and drive up to Soriano. During our stay, we will be exploring the surrounding hill towns, and travelling to Venice for a 2 or 3 night stay. We may also do a day trip to Florence.

Mapquest tells me that Venice is a 4 1/2 hour drive, and Florence is a 2 hr drive from Soriano. In Venice, we would need to park the car at 28 euros per day. Should we consider taking the train for either trip and leaving the car in Soriano? If so, do we get the train in Orte, or do we have to travel to Rome to get the train to Venice or FLorence? How much would this train trip cost?

I have tried to research this myself, but the many train websites are confusing without some prior knowledge.

Can any offer and help?
monandeclan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 30th, 2012, 12:20 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,643
www.trenitalia.com is the Italian Railways web site with schedules and fares - there are also discounted fares sold in limited numbers which often means they need to be booked as early as possible and also are in practice hard to change or refund so you are locked into a certain train on a certain date, etc. If the regular full fare and fully flexible fare is not that much more than the Mini-Fare or other discounted fare then take IMO the full fare so that if you do change plans or there is a train strike or you miss your train, etc you can at least change that ticket to another train. And train strikes in past several years are not all that uncommon in Italy and promise to continue to plague tourists at the times they are most troublesome to that tourist it seems! And beware there have been scores and scores of frustrated posters here who have been flummoxed by actually trying to book on trenitalia.com so it can consume a lot of time as well - at least for novice users if the many complaints are any indicator. Some pros say trenitalia.com has straightened it all out but novices still report lots of problems getting it to actually finalyze some order. Offhand I would say since you have a car why not keep it any drive- stopping by places en route that would be hard to do by train - like Parma, a lovely lovely city or Modena or even Lake Garda to or from Venice. Cars are hassle in Florence especially but park at the Rifredi train station a few miles out of town in their lot and take the shuttle trains into the heart of town.

Check out these great sites for loads of info on Italian trains - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com.
PalenQ is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 30th, 2012, 01:04 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 30,520
You would need to pay for parking in Florence also and of course, you aren't allowed to drive in the city center so make sure you don't cross into the ZTL.

You don't need to go to Rome to catch a train, but it will take 2 1/2 to 3 hours to reach Florence by train and the cost will be 13 to 23€ each depending on which train you take. If you don't mind driving, it will be cheaper to pay parking and faster than the train.
kybourbon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 30th, 2012, 01:23 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 30,464
Re rail...you could make connections from either Viterbo or Orte and Orte is probably the better rail hub of the two cities.

You can find pay parking garages within easy walking distance of the part of Florence you are most likely going to be interested in.

As to Venice, you can certainly do it by rail and that might be more relaxing than driving and you'd end up paying for the parking in Venice as you know.

Personally, I'd probably drive to Florence but take the train to and from Venice.
Dukey1 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 31st, 2012, 01:39 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 49
ok, folks. Change of plans!

We are now flying into Rome, renting a car and driving to Soriano nel Cimino for two weeks, with daytrips into Rome several times and maybe once to Florence. When we check out of Palazzo Catalani, we'll drive to Venice, return the car and stay for two days before flying home from Marco Polo in Venice.

The change in airfare saved me $1000 which basically pays for rental car for two weeks and two nights in a nice hotel in Venice. No brainer!

So, now my question is not about trains! But about the easiest/least expensive way to get to/from Marco Polo airport in Venice. We'll drop the rental car there and need to get to our hotel. Then, we'll need to get from the hotel to the airport for fly home.

Any suggestions?
monandeclan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 31st, 2012, 02:24 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Unless you are carrying a huge amount of luggage -- and you shouldn't be because I assume you'll have a washing machine in Soriano nel Cimino -- I highly recommend you get rid of the car miles before Venice, rather than drive past Venice to get to the airport, and then take the cumbersome trip back into Venice proper.

I would ask contact your landlord at Soriano nel Cimino and ask for advice about the most convenient car rental drop off for the day you are leaving that offers an easy train connection to Venice. He or she probably knows the answer.
zeppole is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 31st, 2012, 02:24 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,083
Does the car rental company have an office in the Piazzale Roma on the edge of Venice? If you drop the car there, you'll be in Venice near the train station. Otherwise you'll have to drive beyond Venice to get to the airport. Plus it's a bit of a trek from the airport back into Venice. Least expensive is the bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma. Next is the Alilaguna shuttle, which brings you into Venice by sea (nice introduction) but has few stops. Finally and very pricy is a taxi (speedboat). Both these latter options require a bit of a walk from the airport terminal building.
Mimar is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 1st, 2012, 08:39 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 49
thank you kybourbon for your information on day tripping to Florence. We are perfectly happy to drive and it would seem to make more sense than taking the train.

PalenQ, thank you for your extensive train knowledge. And I do like the idea of stopping on the way to Venice for whatever strikes our fancy. That's what travelling is about, right?

zeppole and mimar, good points. I have just remailed the rental company to ask about an alternative drop off site.

Thanks again for all of your help.
monandeclan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 05:53 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,643
You could consider driving to a smaller city near Florence and hopping the train into the center of town.
PalenQ is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 06:07 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Easier than driving to a smaller city near Florence and catching a train would be driving to Florence airport and taking the shuttle bus to the main train station in Florence. The shuttle bus runs more frequently into Florence than small town trains do, and it is easier to drive into Florence airport than it is to drive into the nearest cities with rental car offices.
zeppole is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 06:16 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 49
Ok, the car rental company only has the one location in Venice, and that's the airport. Hmmmm . . . maybe I will look into your suggestion of dropping the car at the Florence airport. We could then take the shuttle to the train station and a train to Venice. Would I go to www.tranitalia.com to check fares for this trip? Is there a cost for the shuttle from the airport to the train station in Florence?
monandeclan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 06:24 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 49
Ouch! $142 for two adults and one child from Florence to Venice. Unless I'm missing something, I think we'll deal with the inconvenience of dropping the car at the Venice airport.
monandeclan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 06:32 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,213
You might want to check out prices to get from Venice airport into Venice. I belive a water taxi would be more, and even 3 tickets on the alilaguna may be more or less the same. The cheapest option is to take the bus to Piazzale Roma.

But when you factor in the hassle of the drive for the driver and the gas you may find that the train is the cheapest more conveneint way to do it. That is what I would do!
jamikins is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 06:39 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 30,520
Trenitalia has been updating their website in the last week or two and all fares don't seem to be showing yet. I find Mini Fares as cheap as 18€ for 2 people Florence/Venice (guessed your date to be July 12 since you didn't say). When I add the child in, the fares jump to over 100€. If I select a child only, I get a regular price (not a discounted price) of 21.50€ for the fast AV train.
kybourbon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 06:40 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Is that a family fare?

It is going to cost you about 50 euros in gas and tolls to drive to the Venice airport once you pass Florence, and then it is going to cost you about 40 euros in tickets to get backtrack to Venice itself from the airport. So that's 90 euros.

To me, the extra 50 euros might be worth it if dropping the car off at Florence airport got me into Venice sooner. (Remember, you will probably want to stop and fill your gas tank before you return the car.)

I live in Italy and drive the autostrade all the time, and I'm not so fond of them. I use the trains as much as I can to cut long-haul driving time.

Since you are 3 people, if you decide to drop off your car at the Florence airport, you might as well take a taxi into town.

But before I decided on the Florence airport, I would look at the train schedules and compare the time difference between dropping the car off at the Florence airport and dropping it off at the Venice airport as to which would mean I was checking into my Venetian hotel soonest.
zeppole is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 06:55 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
One more thought:

Since you are traveling in July, you should also think about whether you want the comfort of an air-conditioned car all the way to Venice. That would be a factor for me, but then i would also plan a nice lunch stop en route to get a break from all that driving, as well as a gelato stop before I got to Venice.

In July, it is not such a bad idea to time your arrival in Venice for later in the day to avoid the hordes of day-trippers clogging the streets and Vaporetti near the train station, and to have a cooler temp for hauling your luggage over bridges and upstairs.

So even if you ultimately opt to drop off the car in Florence, consider having lunch in Florence. (Stow your luggage at the train station and find a restaurant in the heart of town, 20 minutes walk to and from).

But now that I see you are traveling in July, keeping the car all the way to Venice might be the most comfortable option if you pre-plan some nice stops enroute.
zeppole is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 07:14 AM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 49
July 14 is the date we'll be checking out of Soriano nel Cimino and travelling to Venice.

zeppole, I simply plugged in two adults and one child from Firenze to Venezia St. Lucia and got $107.50 Euros Base price. Which of the two Florence stations would be better, Refredi or SM?

If we drive the whole way, you and I are of the same mind! A nice, leisurely lunch stop somewhere along the way, and of course, a gelato stop! It's a must with my 11 yr old. Hmm . . I think I'm talking myself into driving!
monandeclan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2012, 07:24 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Santa Maria Novella is the better Florence train station if you are dropping off the car at the airport in Florence.

In July, I would probably not survive hauling my luggage around more than once. So I would pack everything into the car and head for the Venice airport. Then you only have to worry about dragging your luggage to your Venetian hotel. I would apply the euros you saved not taking the train to a water taxi if you can at all swing it.

If you've never done this before in Italy, you should avoid any of the larger towns or cities for lunch if you are driving. You should get off the autostrade by noon at the very latest and head for a small town for lunch. Along the way you are likely to see directional signs with knives and forks on them , and if you follow them, you will find places to eat.

For coffee breaks or gelato breaks, just get off the autostrade for a small town. There are AutoGrille -- which are rest stops with food, but I don't think they are much fun. It is not hart to go to a small town. Don't plan to rush through the day.
zeppole is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:49 PM.