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Train tickets ahead?

Old Feb 7th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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Train tickets ahead?

In your experience is it better to purchase train tickets ahead or do it at the station? We will be taking during our travels:
Rome to Milan
Milan to Venice
Venice to Rome
We want to book 1st class and my Italian is far from fluent. Should I just do it all on-line before we depart?
Thanks much, LisaS
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 10:58 AM
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Wait until you arrive in Italy to purchase your tickets. You can purchase them the day you need them or a day or 2 ahead of time. I would print out a schedule of the times you are interested in as well as the next couple of trains departing after, in case you cannot get on the one you wanted. Go to www.trenitalia.com and click on "english" put in the information and the approx time of departure. Once you get the listing of the first 5 or so options, just print that page. When buying, you can just point to the time, say how many tickets and Prima Classe and you'll be set.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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Lisa,
There's usually no need to book far in advance unless you are a group - say 5 or more - who all want to be sure to sit together, or if you are traveling on an Italian holiday weekend. you could wait until you get to Rome and buy all of your tickets there, at Termini station, at one of the multingual ticket machines (which accept credit cards.) If you decide to buy in advance online, do NOT use Rail Europe as they charge 30 - 50% more than what you'd pay at the train station in Italy. For the same prices as you'd pay at the station in Italy you can buy online (e-tickets or collect at a machine in Italy only, as they don't mail tickets to North America)at www.trenitalia.com although it's a little tricky for first-time users. Anyway the Trenitalia site is very useful for checking schedules and prices in euros. You can't reserve seats more than 60 days in advance as Trenitalia doesn't make them available before then. There have been many many many discussions about this issue over on www.slowtalk.com you can go there and do a search for this topic.
- Marie
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 11:09 AM
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Lisa: sorry to hijack your thread, but I would ask Sandi and Northern whether there answer would change for the Italian Eurostar trains? I'm taking the train from Rome to Florence and it appears to be an Italian Eurostar, (which is apparently different from THE Eurostar, because it does not appear on the Eurostar's website). Thanks!
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 11:25 AM
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I was glad I booked ahead, on line. It was not difficult and it was more relaxing to me to know that that part of the trip was taken care of.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 12:12 PM
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The prices on the Trenitalia website are no different than waiting til you get there. If you prefer to have it done ahead of time, that is a personal decision.

I used to buy ahead of time but now I prefer to use a local travel agency or the kiosk at the station.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 12:18 PM
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I think it's actually a psychological issue: Which would bother you more-having the tickets in hand and worrying that you'll arrive late and miss the train OR Not having the tickets in hand and worrying about long lines, miscommunication, etc.? Choose whichever route will set your mind at ease.

We did just buy the tickets at the station from Florence to Pisa and back. I realized after buying the return tickets that the agent in Pisa gave me the special "family" rate (without my asking), while the agent in Florence did not.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 02:16 PM
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Hi L,

If you know when you want to travel, you can do it online.

Use "ticketless".

You will get a confirmation number which you show the conductor.

You can also buy all of your tickets at the same time at any train station or a TA in Rome.

Whether it's ES* or IC, the procedure is the same.

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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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The only train trip I pre-booked required a change of trains. As luck would have it the first train was runnin glate and we missed the connection. We had to wait for a couple of hours for the net connection. It was no real problem and though. For all the other trips I bought on the day. Some I bought from the ticket machines which have English prompts and are very simple to use. They take creditcards. Others I bought from the ticket office at the station and it was not hard. The ticket officers sometimes speak some English especially in the larger cities. Our tickets were a mixture of first and second class, Eurostar nd regional trains. No matter it is very simple. It is a good idea to print out the times that trains go on the day you are planning though from Trenitalia. There are also poster boards in the stations that list every train and every stop that the train makes. These boards also list what platform your train should go from but you should be aware that this can change (and often does). Personally if (when) I do it agian I won't pre-book any trains unless it is a very busy time eg public holiday.
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 06:27 PM
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If we are planning on traveling by train over the "Labor Day" weekend in France in April should we purchase these tickets before we leave the States?
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