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Train versus rental car to travel within Italy - which is best?

Train versus rental car to travel within Italy - which is best?

May 15th, 2009, 06:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Train versus rental car to travel within Italy - which is best?

We are going to Italy in July for 12 days, flying into Venice and out of Rome. We have not finalized our itinerary yet, but we will probably visit Venice, Florence, Siena and Rome. Possible alternatives include Cinque Terre and Naples/Pompeii. We are a family of four, including teenagers aged 15 and 17.

Which is the best way to get around once we arrive in Italy? Should we rent a car or take trains? We have been to Europe many times (never Italy) and have done both with great success, but I can't seem to find a consensus on the best option in Italy.

jaxtraveler is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Unless you are planning to go off the beaten path to smaller towns, for the places you name the train would be perfect. A car can be a real bother in cities. You might consider renting for just part of the time, perhaps for a few days to explore Tuscany or the like.
ellenem is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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Thanks, How easy is it to navigate the train stations, figure out how to get tickets, find the right trains, etc.?
jaxtraveler is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 06:55 AM
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You don't want a car for Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome, Naples, Siena. You don't have time to go to all these places in only 12 days. From Florence to Siena the bus (Siena Mobilita) is better than the train.
kybourbon is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 06:56 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
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The train can be fun.
I have taken the train between Venice and Rome 3 times.
Make sure you dont have alot of luggage to haul around.
You have to be able to lift it over your head..

I would have a plan of where I was going when and buy all my tickets at the first window I got to.
You can reserve online too.

If you rent a car..
Never take a car into a city.
Have a sense of humor and nerves of steel
jetsetj is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 06:57 AM
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For me it is easy, but I live in NYC where I use public transportation regularly. However, if you have used trains in Europe before, I believe you will find the experience similar. Here's a great web site that will answer most of your questions.


You can research train schedules and prices at the site below, but many in the U.S. have difficulty making a purchase, so you may have to wait until you arrival to do so. I've been to Italy many times, always use the trains, and have never purchased beforehand. The schedules for after June 15 are not yet posted, so to begin your research, just use travel dates within the next week--the schedule shouldn't change that much.

ellenem is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I think the schedules are online now for summer.
kybourbon is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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Trains on most main routes in Italy are frequent, and run at least every hour. If you want to go from Venezia to Bologna or Roma to Napoli, you can usually just go to the station, buy a ticket and get on a train. Italian trains are cheaper than in most other western European countries, and few countries have such frequent train services.
I've been all over Italy by train without buying tickets before arriving in Italy.
GeoffHamer is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 08:05 AM
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You're going to cities, apparently, so there's no need for a car, and in fact having one would be a pain. So take trains. I never buy tickets in advance for trains in Italy - it's so easy and inexpensive just to buy them once you're there, but you can go online to the Trenitalia website and get them in advance if you like.
StCirq is online now  
May 15th, 2009, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,931
There are ticket machines in train stations that take euros and credit cards. There is an option for english. Very easy to use and quick. Beats waiting in line.

I feel your original plan of Venice, Florence, a day trip to Siena (use the bus, not the train) and then Rome will be the maximum you will be able to enjoy with just 12 days. The bus station in Florence is across the side street from the train station (to your left as you are standing in front of and facing the train station) and the bus drops you in the Siena center.

Enjoy your trip!
zoecat is offline  
May 15th, 2009, 10:04 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 3
I have done a similar trip with similar aged children and the train is the best way. Plan your trip and book in advance, I always use the Rail Europe site
Also you can get more info on trains in Italy from the Man in Seat 61, a strange name for a site but comprehensive on train travel
If you do drive from Venice to Florence, good luck on the A1 from Bologna to Florence, you will need it!
wessimmons is offline  
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