Trains in Italy

Old Nov 15th, 2004, 04:53 PM
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Trains in Italy

Ok, I'm entirely confused about the Italian railway system. Coming from simple & convenient subways in NY, I'm totally perplexed.
In terms of practicality and budgeting, what are the differences between the various train that travel intercity, such as between Milan - Venice - Florence - Rome?
What's the advantages of buying online before my trip or buying once I arrive?
If online is preferred, what's the best and cheapest wesite?
What happens if I order tickets before and then change my plans or miss the train?
Also, what's the deal with seat reservations? If going mid-December is it necessary?
Yes, I know I sound naive and lost, but I am!!! Hope you experienced travelers can help me!
TouroBeacon is offline  
Old Nov 15th, 2004, 05:02 PM
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The poster named GAC has answered many of these questions in the past. Try searching with that name in the title.
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Old Nov 15th, 2004, 11:05 PM
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TouroBeacon, may I suggest that once you arrive in Italy you go to a Travel Agency and talk to them. Most will be able tosell you the train ticket(s) you will need. It does get confusing for sure. And this way you will not have to worry about change of plans etc. Have a beautuiful trip.

P.S. Your hotel will be able to tell you where the nearest Travel Agency is that can take care of your train tickets etc.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 07:07 AM
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Touro,

The slowtrav site has an excellent, comprehensive description of the Italian train system--everything you want to know.

Some quick answers from a fellow NYer:

Most people prefer to use the ES (Eurostar) trains between the major cities you cite. The tickets cost more, but the trains make few stops (therefore faster) and are more comfortable than the next level of train (IC--Intercity). Also, ES trains give you an automatic seat reservations with a designated seat number. IC is more like Amtrak--they sell you a ticket but don't guarantee a seat (though you can pay extra to reserve a seat). Both trains offer first and second class. In both cases, first class is less crowded and more comfortable.

Buying online before your trip may give you peace of mind, but it' really not necessary. The trenitalia site offers the cheapest tickets (same fare as in Italy). I'd only be concerned if you were traveling on a Friday, Sunday, or holiday--times when many Italians would be traveling as well. Buying your tickets a few days ahead once you are in Italy is usually adequate. If you are not particular about your travel times, same day purchases along these routes are not bad--there are trains almost hourly.

Since IC tickets have no reservation, they are good for any IC train between the cities you choose. Therefore, it's no problem to change your plans. Even if you got a reservation, the reservation is a separate ticket, so the basic ticket would still be good.

For ES trains, I think you can change your plans without a problem BEFORE the train leaves. If you miss your train, you would have to pay a penalty to rebook (since the ticket is for a particular train), but you wouldn't lose your ticket entirely.
ellenem is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2004, 07:51 AM
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You will find the answer to many of your questions in the following postings:

"Three types of trains between Milan and Venice"

"Three types of trains between Rome and Florence"

I also have a posting which explains what happens if you want to change an existing reservation on an ES train in Italy, and the permitted timeframes for doing so.
GAC is offline  
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