Train Travel in Italy

Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 10:51 AM
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Train Travel in Italy

I'm a little intimidated! We will be in Venice in late May and will be taking a train to Florence. Is it safe to wait until we are there to book our tickets? Is Rail Europe a good spot to get tickets if we want to get them beforehand? Later in our trip, we will rent a car in Siena and want to return it before heading to Rome. We will be staying 30 miles south of Siena, but was thinking to return our car back in Siena and taking the train into Rome. Does this make sense and does anyone know if there is a car rental that is near the train station?
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 10:57 AM
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Rail Europe marks up the tickets. You can buy tickets there, but you might want to buy when you arrive in Venice if you want a specific time. Otherwise, if you buy at the station right before departure, that train might be full and you might have to book one departing an hour or two later.

The two train companies for the main cities are Trenitalia and Italo (Trenitalia is the national Italian train company). You can book on their websites in advance and save a few euro if discount tickets are available.

From Siena, you would take the Sena bus to Rome. It's as fast as the train and doesn't require any changes (with the train, you would either have to change in Florence or in Chiusi).

You could also drive to Chiusi or Orvieto and drop your car there and then take the train onto Rome. It would depend on which company you rent from and what day of the week you want to return it.

Are you staying around Montalcino?
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 10:59 AM
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>>>You can buy tickets there, but you might want to buy when you arrive in Venice if you want a specific time
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 11:19 AM
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You can also buy tickets using the www.italiarail.com site which adds about a $5 or less surcharge. The tickets can be printed out at home and SOME of us find that site a lot easier to use than the Trenitalia.com site.

RailEurope will sometimes mark tickets up considerably and they will, or at least used to, charge a shipping fee. In this age of printing things at home even RE might be considering how to provide that option.

You can usually book tickets about 90 or more days ahead.

Re Siena. The train station is located a bit out of the center. You can certainly return a car in town and TAKE A TAXI to the train station...it will not put you into bankruptcy.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 11:25 AM
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learn about trains - seat61.com
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 12:03 PM
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RailEurope actually in a recent comparison between its ticket prices and Italo Trains proved that they do not always always always jack up ticket prices - for Trenitalia trains they do but I notice they often about match the discounted Italo Train prices - well do a check and see and if those trains are fine it is perfect OK to go thru RE, anathema as that may be to some aficianados of Italian trains.

this may be because I think Italo Rail is part owned by the SNCF or French Railways as is Rail Europe - but RE does not list all the Italo Rail trains as the official Italo Rail site may offer. I would however check the handling or mailing fees if they still apply from RE could make a difference.

But Italo Rail only operates on high-speed rail lines and just a select few like Milan-florence-Rome-Naples I believe.

Anyway for loads of great info in general on Italian trains check these IMO supserb sources: www.sewat61.com - great info on discounted tickets bought online; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

If you need help navigating trenitalia.com and there have been mulitple posts about having problems in the past - kybourbon in the past has shsown a keen knowledge of the trenitalia.com site and Italian trains in general and she is always selflessly helpful in getting you thru the fog - but the site is said to be more foreign user friendly now than before. So if you find the best fares on trenitalia.com ask for help and it will all work out!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 12:54 PM
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If you have time drive slowly to Chiusi via some of those iconic Tuscan hill towns - like sweet Montepulciano - near Chiusi where there are several major car rental offices in the vicinity of the station, as there are in Siena. But a lovely half-dy or so drive thru Tuscan hill towns if you haven't done it... lovely!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 01:31 PM
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When arriving by plane or boat, I always buy my tickets on arrival, even if that means they'll cost more. What I hate even worse than missing a train is leaving too much cushion and realizing I could have got a train an hour or two earlier. (Those discounted tickets can't be changed.)

Totally full trains are very rare. I've only encountered a full train once, and that was heading to Rome on New Year's Eve. One other time, I found a train where 2nd class was full, and rather than wait for the next train, I bought a 1st class ticket. 1st class almost never sells out; sometimes they even have discounts available in 1st class at the last minute.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 03:39 PM
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Thank you Fodorites! I'm feeling better now! Kybourbon, we will be staying at a farmhouse in Civitella Paganico. Can't wait until May!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 04:00 PM
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Don't confuse Italiarail (a reseller) with Italo (an actual train company in Italy). Italiarail marks up too through the exchanged price they quote you along with their $5 fee. They impart their own rules to the ticket in addition (similar to companies like Expedia that sell airline tickets as opposed to buying directly from the airline).

>>>But Italo Rail only operates on high-speed rail lines and just a select few like Milan-florence-Rome-Naples I believe.>>Civitella Paganico
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Old Jan 22nd, 2015, 04:14 PM
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There is a Hertz office just two longish blocks from the Siena train station. Trains to Rome would involve at least one change. Taxiing up to catch the bus to Rome adds a step too.

But Civitella Paganico is actually very slightly closer to Grosseto, and the trains from Grosseto to Rome are no-change and have lower fares. A few take only 90 minutes. I know Avis has an office in Grosseto. I'm sure there are others.
Check autoeurope.com.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2015, 11:39 AM
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http://www.raileurope.com/us/point_t...nY=0&nC=0&nS=0

RailEurope on a dummy date Feb 11, 2015 shows tickets from Venice to Florence for as low as $25 and many in the $30 range - have not looked at Trenitalia.com but it does not seem they could be much lower - so keep RailEurope in mind as well if you get stuck! Times change.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2015, 01:55 PM
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I booked tickets yesterday (I'm from the US)for a trip in April between Rome and Naples using Trenitalia. The website is very easy to use and the price was discounted. Just find the train you want and to buy the tickets select "non-registered user". Follow the instructions and provide your email address and other information requested. You will receive a confirmation by email with the PNR number which you will provide once on the train. trenitalia.com is the website. Don't forget to let your credit card company know you will be using your card for Italian charges.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2015, 03:24 PM
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>>>RailEurope on a dummy date Feb 11, 2015 shows tickets from Venice to Florence for as low as $25 and many in the $30 range - have not looked at Trenitalia.com but it does not seem they could be much lower
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