Train Travel in Italy in August

Mar 5th, 2002, 11:47 PM
  #1  
Catherine
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Train Travel in Italy in August

My husband and I will be arriving in Milan via London from New York on August 11th. We thought we would go straight to Varenna, where we will spend 4 nights. I know 4 nights is a lot for Varenna, but we will be doing a lot of travelling in the following three weeks, so decided to start out slowly.

At any rate, since my husband has never seen Venice, I thought we might take the train from Varenna (can we do that) to Venice. The plan is to spend 3 nights in Venice, and then take the train from Venice to Parma, where we will spend one night. From Parma, we will take another train directly to Rome.

After Rome, we will rent a car and drive through Umbria and Tuscany, arriving in Florence where we will turn in the car. The last train trip will be a quick one to Rome, just to catch a plane home.

My questions are: Should we, and can we reserve seats from the USA before we leave? We will be tired on our arrival in Milan. How far is the airport from the train station. Should we buy some sort of rail pass to save on fares. We like to travel comfortably--not so young anymore--so would a pass prevent us from getting good seats?

Thank you for your help
 
Mar 6th, 2002, 04:42 AM
  #2  
xxx
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
There are no direct trains from Varenna to Venice. You'll have to change in Milano Centrale (or Lecco/Brescia).
I'm afraid that you're travelling at the highest of the peek season regarding trian travel. August 15th is the most important Italian holiday. Trains should be jammed packed. But with 4 nights in Varenna and considering that there are numerous daily trains between Milan and Venice and the fact that you'll probably travel in 1st class, you may get your reservations in Varenna.
Forget about passes. Travel on a point to point basis.
At what time is your flight scheduled to arrive in Malpensa?
 
Mar 6th, 2002, 05:53 AM
  #3  
Santa Chiara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
As the previous poster noted, I would not buy a rail pass. It's just not worth it, and it limits your choices.

From the Milan airport, you will take a shuttle into Milan Centrale, the train station. From there you get a direct train to Varenna (it's called "diretto," which like many things Italian means the opposite.) No need to get a reservation for this train. In fact you can't get a reservation.

Go to www.trenitalia.it if you already haven't.


Good luck. Have fun.
 
Mar 6th, 2002, 06:20 AM
  #4  
claire
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We travelled extensively by train in Italy this past August. The only time we really needed reservations was for the (approx) 9:00 am IC train from Milan (Centrale) to Verona. Well worth a first class seat reservation, for the tiny bit of air conditioning as well as the reserved seat. We did point to point and bought our tickets about 3-5 days in advance of needing them. Had no problems getting the tickets we wanted, but we did NOT travel on Aug. 15. Agree this is a bad idea; if you can avoid it, do! Do get the train schedules for your itinerary from trenitalia.it and carry them with you. It will help you to get on & off the correct trains and avoid the long lines for questions which may or may not be answered! At the most, you may want to purchase your tickets from Milan to Varenna in advance so as not to have the burden of any worries, (CIT Tours in NY can handle this -both tickets and seat reservations - for you easily), but I'd recommend doing the rest on your own via an American Express office or local travel agency once you are in Italy. Forget the rail passes. The best one isn't applicable in August anyway. The airport is a fair distance from MIlano Centrale, but there is easy public transport to get you from one point to the other. Have fun!
 
Mar 6th, 2002, 06:34 AM
  #5  
claire
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Just a thought....there may be a direct train to Varenna from Malpensa (if that is the airport of your arrival). That would eliminate the need to travel to Milano Centrale.
 
Mar 11th, 2002, 11:10 PM
  #6  
Catherine
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thank you for your help. I'm afraid we will have to travel on the 15th. I'm hoping we can purchase our train tickets to Venice ahead of time somewhere in Varenna.

Going from Venice to Rome, with one night to spend somewhere on the way, where would you suggest? I was thinking Parma, but any other suggestions would be welcome.
 
Mar 12th, 2002, 05:20 AM
  #7  
xxx
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Parma is a very nice choice, but it's somewhat "out of the way". From Venice, you'll have to change trains in Bologna, and trip takes about 3:30 hours. Most direct trains from Parma to Roma take about 4:30 hours. If you want a faster trip you may need to change in Bologna once again. As an alternative, I'd consider Ferrara, better located considering the packed trains scenario.

Depending on what time your flight from London is due to land in Malpensa, there may be a better option to Varenna then the bus shuttle to Centrale followed by a train. For instance, if you're set to leave the airport at 9:20am, I'd take the SPT bus to Como and an hydrofoil thereafter. You'd be in Varenna shortly after noon and trip would certainly be more pleasant than through Milan. At 12:20pm there's a SPT bus that may take you to Menaggio (arriving at 2:10pm). From there you may easily cross to Varenna by taking a ferry or hydrofoil.
 
Mar 12th, 2002, 08:11 AM
  #8  
GAC
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I suggest that you purchase your Varenna to Venice rail tickets (AND reserve seats) BEFORE arriving in Varenna. The station in Varenna may not be manned at all times, particularly in August. Buy them at Milano Centrale at the same time you buy the tickets to Varenna. Alternatively, buy them at a travel agency in Varenna, Bellagio or Menaggio (there is no surcharge). That way, you will be more likely to find seats on the train of your choice. Bear in mind that INTERCITY trains from Milan to Venice (which leave hourly except 10:00 a.m.) are usually VERY crowded, especially in second class, and especially on August 15th. Some originate in Torino or Genoa and pull into Milano Centrale already full. DON'T get stuck standing in the corridor of the train for three hours!!!!!! This can happy easily during the peak travel season. Remember too that there are three EUROSTAR trains on this segment (Milano-Venezia) which are a little more comfortable than the Intercity ones. (Eurostars require seat reservations at all times). By contrast, the "diretto" service from Varenna to Milan should not pose any problem, in fact, you cannot reserve seats on this route.
 
Mar 12th, 2002, 08:24 AM
  #9  
Dayle
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi Catherine! i'm glad GAC mentioned this, because I was going to add the part about the Varrena station not being manned. It wasn't when I did a day trip in May. I'm sure you could get tickets at a travel agent some where around the lake towns with no problem.

Also, the only crowded train on my last trip was Milano Centrale to Venice. If you tried to get on past Milan, you had to stand thw whole way. This was even a weekday. So, yes buy those tickets ahead.

buon viaggio!
 
Mar 12th, 2002, 10:20 AM
  #10  
Liz
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi everyone! I read this posting with interest because I, too, will be traveling in Italy via train in August. My main concern is whether or not I should purchase the tickets I need before I arrive in Europe and if I should do point to point or get a rail pass. My boyfriend and I will be arriving in Paris July 31 and taking the overnight train from Paris to Milan on August 5. Should I purchase this ticket when I arrive in Paris or prior? From Milan, we will take a train to Genoa and arrive in Monterosso Aug. 6. The rest of our trip encompasses train rides from Monterosso to Rome, Rome to Florence, then Florence to Venice. Would it be advisable to purchase these tickets prior to leaving the U.S.? I've been told that August is very busy for train travel and I'm worried about getting stuck without a ticket or reservation. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
 
Mar 12th, 2002, 02:36 PM
  #11  
ttt
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
topping
 
Mar 12th, 2002, 05:42 PM
  #12  
jahoulih
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Liz, I'm pretty sure a pass won't save you money. I'd advise booking your Paris to Milan tickets in advance through www.sncf.com. You can buy the tickets over the internet and then pick them up in the train station in Paris. You can buy your other tickets in Paris or wait until you get to Milan--the trains are very frequent along your route, so I don't think you should have a problem.
 
Mar 13th, 2002, 06:51 AM
  #13  
Liz
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Jahoulih, thanks for your reply. Very helpful. Would it be cheaper to buy the tickets from Rail Europe's website?

Liz
 
Mar 13th, 2002, 08:58 AM
  #14  
jahoulih
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Definitely not--buying through RailEurope is about 40% more expensive than buying directly from the source.
 

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


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:43 AM.