Trains and Stations Italy

Sep 17th, 2010, 08:13 AM
  #1  
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Trains and Stations Italy

After counsel from Fodorites I decided to take a group of 12 people to Tuscany and Venice - 8 May 2011 to 24 May 2011 and use the train service. Car hir is out because I am the only qualified driver.
I always before hired a car for me and my wife and we followed our noses. I have no experience with trains.
The train Journeys will be : Rome to Pisa, Pisa to Florence, Florence to Venice, Venice to Rome. It is thus 4 Journeys. Now for my questions:

1. 4 Day italian Pass valid for 2 months: Price in Rand 1380 (150 Euro) per person. Indiviual second class tickets will cost about R500 (53 Euro) more. (According to trenitalia) Any experience with these passes and any advice?
2. Stations: Do intercity trains use the same station in a city or are there different stations? Do all intercity trains eg go to central Station in Rome? And Pisa, Florence and Venice? I ask this question because some of the group are elderley and I want to book B&B's near the station. Further we are only three men and 9 women! You can just carry so much
3. Are there any pittfalls i need to be aware of?
By the way we are South Africans.
Thanks
Dennis
Dan404 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:19 AM
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When factoring in pass cost-effectiveness keep in mind that for each fast train you take it will cost 10 euros per person extra above using a day on the pass - that said in a similar analysis i did a few months ago here such a trip could mean the Italy Railpass is cost-effective - just check regular fares at www.trenitalia.com - the Italian railways web site - perhaps with a South Afrikan credit card you could also take advantage of reduced online tickets - americans cannot because most of our credit cards are rejected - as per many Fodorites report. But if you want 12 seats together then that could be problematic - you may want to work thru RailEurope, if they have an office in your country and ask for the group department.

But for a whole lot of info on Italian trains and passes, etc i always spotlight these fab sites - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com - check www.raileurope.com to see if they deal in your country as they do many. and watch for periodic specials on Italian Railpasses that come up with a 20% discount and you can use them within six months after purchase.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:24 AM
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This site, http://tinyurl.com/eym5b, will get you educated on trains in general.

The German rail site, http://tinyurl.com/c9jp54, provides details on the trains, schedules, routes, etc.
spaarne is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:32 AM
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Budgeteuropetravel is great..maybe not so great for someone coming from S.A.

As to stations...Rome to Pisa...from termini (the "main" station in Rome) you can either get a direct train or one which requires a change in Florence.

Trains from Pisa to Florence almost always terminate at the Florence Santa Maria Novella station and from there you can usually get service to Venice...unless you are NOT staying on the island itself then the station in Venice you want is Santa Lucia....some trains will terminate at Venice Maestre which is on the mainland and require a change..the ride onward is only a few additional minutes.


SOME services from Florence to Venice may very well originate at the Rifredi station as well.
Dukey1 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:38 AM
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"When factoring in pass cost-effectiveness keep in mind that for each fast train you take it will cost 10 euros per person extra above using a day on the pass"
and that you can't just hop on these trains. The 10 euro is for the seat reservation you must make.

"2. Stations: Do intercity trains use the same station in a city or are there different stations? Do all intercity trains eg go to central Station in Rome? And Pisa, Florence and Venice?"

Each of these cities have more than one station, but most trains between your locations travel between the main stations:
Rome = Roma Termini
Pisa = Pisa Centrale
Florence = Firenze Santa Maria Novella
Venice = Venezia Santa Lucia

Another good site for Italy train info:

http://www.slowtrav.com/Italy/trains/index.htm
ellenem is online now  
Sep 17th, 2010, 08:59 AM
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Adding to what's been said, in plain words - yes, the Intercity and such trains (the fast long-distance trains) stop in the central stations (unlike, for example, France where in cities like Avignon the TGV has a separate station outside of town).

On the Italian website of the Trenitalia state-run train system, www.ferroviedellostato.it, you will find the station of a particular train you're looking up stated in black, with other stations in that city listed in red. At first confusing, then actually handy when you think about it, because it tells you what other stations there are that this train is NOT going to, so it emphasizes the one in black that you'll have to go to.

You ask about pitfalls: You will have quite a job in making your elderly and hence particularly vulnerable folks understand about the good practice of making themselves pickpocketproof, without scaring them away from the trip but - instead - making them pro-active while still relaxed about it.

Not easy, but it is your responsibility.

Groups of folks standing around waiting, chatting, some resting a bag on the floor next to them (and then it's gone...), buying candy at the newstand and pulling out a wallet to pay and holding the wallet in their hand while awaiting change (it can get snatched so easily by a grab-and-run artist), then shoving the wallet into a pocket, for all to see who observe, a pocket that is probably no challenge for a highly trained specialist with subtle fingers who knows how to mingle with a crowd in a busy place like a busstop or train station... And on and on.

Nothing violent usually, stealth and skill, the damage not noticed until it's way too late. So - insist on there being no wallets in any accessible pockets, only small loose change in velcro pockets or zipper pockets for the daily trivial needs, just change of a magnitude that won't matter if something goes astray...

Serious money and personal documents to be carried in any of the many pouches and satchels and such that can be worn in hiding. I trust that you can find in South Africa the kind of merchandise I'm talking about that you see at
www.magellans.com/store/Safety___Security?Args=

And good practices like not resting bags on the floor without at least stepping through the handles ("I'll keep and eye on it" never works, the eye will wander...).

Waistpacks (what Americans naively and ignorantly call "fannypacks" - sorry, but that's what it is...) don't do the job, either, they're too easy and they advertise "this is where I keep my stuff, come and get it".

So read up and run some classes with your folks on how to do it right. There has been much info shared here and on other boards, and on www.ricksteves.com - a guy who runs tours and offers a lot of good commonsense advice.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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Most of the trains between Pisa and Florence are R trains which don't allow seat reservations and the cost is only 5.80€.

I can't see a pass being cost effective for this trip as you qualify for group discounts (10+ people). The discount varies whether you are traveling on a weekend or week day. I would contact Trenitlia to organize for your group.

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD

For Rome/Pisa on the fastest train (ESCity 2:50) the cost is 39.50 and you would get either 10% or 20% off depending on day of travel. The slightly slower IC train (3:11) costs 29€ and you would still get the group discount of either 10% or 20%. With R trains (your Pisa/Florence), you just get a 10% discount.

Since passes don't include your seats, you would have to add that cost to your pass cost. Trenitalia ticket prices you see on their website include your seat reservation (all train tickets require reserved seats except R trains which don't have them at all).

I'm not sure where you found your ticket prices, but by my calculations, buying your tickets from Trenitalia with group discount will either be 143.82 (10%) or 128.42 (20%). That's for ESCity train Rome/Pisa, AV trains (fastest trains) for Florence/Venice and Rome/Venice. You can lower that price further (about 8€)by taking the 15 minute slower IC train Rome/Pisa if the schedule is convenient for you.

>>>Stations: Do intercity trains use the same station in a city or are there different stations? Do all intercity trains eg go to central Station in Rome? And Pisa, Florence and Venice?<<<

Not sure what you mean by intercity trains. The fastest trains are AV/ES and only run between major cities with few to no stops. ICPlus and IC trains are a bit slower and make more stops. R trains are the slowest, but are the only trains on some routes.
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD

Do know that trains only stop for a few minutes in stations. You must be able to board quickly. I took a train a few weeks ago that the schedule said would stop for 6 minutes. It stopped for 2 minutes - barely enough time for people to get off and to others to jump on.

You also need to add in the train to and from the airport (14€ each way) in Rome unless you are having a limousine service transfer (cheaper than train - 110€ for 14 people). The airport train is not covered on the 2nd class rail passes.
http://www.romeshuttlelimousine.com/...t-transfer.php
kybourbon is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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I don't like booking B&B/hotels near stations when stations are not in the middle of the attractions.

Consider the whole experience and not just a slice of tasks you need to do at each city. First, restricting to B&Bs and hotels near stations limits your choices. Then you have make treks to get to the attractions in each city. Compare:

1. Easy to get from station, limited choices, treks to attractions.

vs.

2. Taxi to B&B/hotel (don't even have to pull luggage), more choices, closer to attractions.

I do stay near the station when my key activities consist of visiting OTHER towns by train each day. Even so, the B&B and hotels are usually not that close to the station requiring pulling luggage several blocks.
greg is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 12:33 PM
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kybourbon provides, as usual, a wealth of info - especially about the 10 and more group discount which may make the pass yes not cost-effective, at least in 2nd class.

and i do heartily advise any first-time travelers to Italy on the trip of a lifetime to pay the relatively little extra and go first-class - lots more roomy seats - often empty seats IME so that if you cannot get 10 seats adjacent to each other you may be able to move around - lots more room for luggage, etc. (talking about the trains between Rome and Pisa and Florence and Venice and Venice and Rome. And as passes i believe are a much better deal in first class vs regular first-class fares the pass in first class may be cost effective even when weighed against the mini-grooup discount. I do not know but check it out.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 18th, 2010, 10:24 PM
  #10  
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I am convinced to buy first class tickets. - saver pass or single tickets. But I will have 12-14 persons with me. I want to buy the tickets in South Africa through rail Europe - having 14 people standing around for tickets to be bought will be to much of a bother at the station!
That said, reservations must be made for all 14 seats with the saver pass. Still 14 people standing around. Do I understand it correctly that on this pass the first person named on the card can make the reservations for the rest? Can reservations be made, say 14 days before on the internet.
As to group individual tickets - I can find no where on the net to book these tickets, except trenitalia, and that is a e-mail you must send and I do not speak Italian - yet. Is there any way to book these tickets before leaving?
Thanks again for the information!
Dan404 is offline  
Sep 18th, 2010, 11:44 PM
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aussie_10 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 03:55 AM
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2nd cl for your travel is fine and I wouldn't waste the money on 1st cl, especially since your train rides aren't really long. As you can see from these pictures, the fast trains have plenty of room for people and luggage.
http://www.seat61.com/Italy-trains.h...0trains%20like

I would not buy tickets from RailEurope (a pass seller and ticket reseller). Buy your tickets from Trenitalia which is the Italian train company so there is not a mark-up (they will include seats).
kybourbon is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 06:09 AM
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Dan, your travelers need to be aware that they will not find porters at the stations. They will have to roll their suitcases themselves and cooperate in loading them up the steps into the train. And the steps are high--very high. I don't think three men can do this for all of you in the short time allotted. So be very strict about the luggage they can take. Look at some of the threads on here about packing, and how to use them fewest clothes and smallest suitcases.
charnees is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 10:25 AM
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As you can see from these pictures, the fast trains have plenty of room for people and luggage.>

pictures like that do not always tell the real story - i could show you pictures that would be far different.

spend the relatively little extra for first class if you are a tourist - i strongly believe that anyone who says second class is as good as first class simply has not ridden first class.

Apply the same criteria to train travel as you would to hotels, restaurants, etc. You can eat perfectly well at McDonalds, etc.

You are taking a trip of a lifetime why chince nickles and dimes when IME of four decades of travel on Italian trains the price will be well well worth it for the average traveler.

as for RailEurope prices being higher - they are often in Italy only a tad higher - do whatever you can to most easily accommodate your group IMO - just show up and try to get all those seats together well maybe kybourbon has a sure fire way to do that but i think it could be problematic. In first class even by just buying in Italy you have a much MUCH better chance of sitting together.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2010, 12:11 PM
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charness makes a very very salient point - train travel in Italy means going up and down steps in some stations and yes the step into the train is rather steep - pack light for sure.

that said Italy is one of the few countries that in huge stations like Rome and florence they actually do have porters - or did last year at least when i was there. That said verify that they are porters and not charlatans who will port your luggage right out of the station!
PalenQ is offline  

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