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Trains in Italy for family of 5

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Mar 9th, 2016, 07:47 AM
  #1
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Trains in Italy for family of 5

My family is going to visit my sister who is studying abroad in Florence next month for almost two weeks. The five of us are going to take the train to Cinque Terre then to Venice and back to Florence. Then my sister returns to classes and the four of us will take the train to Rome for a few days and back to Florence.

Are we best off getting a Eurail pass for all this travel? Do we still need to make reservations on the trains? Would it make more sense to just get the pass for 4 of us and pay separately for my sister?

Can an Italian rail pass be used on the train between all the villages in Cinque Terre? Or can only the Cinque Terre trian card do that?

Will we need to make reservations for any of this train travel? I found a train itinerary that can get us from La Spezia to Venezia in just about 4 hours (via Pisa and Firenze). Since that's pretty short compared to most routes, do these trains get booked quicker?

I've visited Venice, Florence, and Cinque Terre before, a couple years ago. But my memory is rusty on the train details, and I did not have a Eurail pass.

Grazie!
brittany182 is offline  
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Mar 9th, 2016, 08:22 AM
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Passes are not cost effective. Italian train info on themaninseat61.
RonZ is offline  
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Mar 9th, 2016, 08:47 AM
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Check with the Italia railways (www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en) for the ticket prices, and notice the discount you can get get for the high-speed trains when bought in advance (payment by credit card and printing at home).
The cheap »regionale« trains can't be reserved. Tickets can be bought at the station.
tonfromleiden is offline  
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Mar 9th, 2016, 09:30 AM
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This is a simple computation. Look at the trenitalia.com site noted above. If you looked up the pass prices, you will find that you need to spend about $50/day to break even. You can't get even close in Italy. http://www.seat61.com/Italy-trains.h...sses_for_Italy

Regionale trains are CHEAP and cannot be reserved.

Long distance fast trains connecting Venice-Florence-Rome require reservation at ADDITIONAL 10€ per segment for pass holders. Considering that advance tickets in the segment you mentioned are about or less than $50 to begin with, how is it possible for $50/day pass + 10€ reservation to be cost effective than straight advance tickets including reservation? For example, the worst case Venice-Florence walk up ticket is 49€ = $54 including reservation. If you bought advance web fare, it could be 19€ = $21.
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Mar 9th, 2016, 09:44 AM
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Italian railpasses can be used on trains in the Cinque Terre but as greg has shown they are rarely cost-effective vs discounted tickets on www.trenitalia.com. If you have pass you must still get a mandated seat reservation on all but regional trains and for IC trains you pay 5 euros and for fast trains 10 euros - on top of using a day on your pass.

Anyway yes check out www.seat61.com for loads of info on discounted tickets and for general info www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. IME first class is more relaxed and roomy - easier to stow luggage and discounted tickets also come in first class, sometimes at not much more than the cheapest available 2nd class ticket so if not much more go first class, which I always do and am always glad I do but many folks here will say 2nd class is about the same - though I disagree on that 2nd class is perfectly OK - just that 1st class more perfectly OK.
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Mar 9th, 2016, 10:03 AM
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Actually, passes can be VERY effective BUT in order for them to be so you need to use them a lot. Some passes are more efficient in one country vs another depending on rail travel costs. They are convenient but you can learn to be just as convenient using tickets.

Whether or not you need, or can even make, reservations in Italy depends on the TYPE of train. Regionals, for example, usually don't require seat reservations; high speed services usually have a seat reservation built into the fare.

What you need to remember is that the further ahead you buy tickets the cheaper they will be on high speed services (Florence-Venice and Florence-Rome).

I will not get into the LONG-standing and IMO totally NON-productive pissing contest about First vs. Second Class.
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Mar 9th, 2016, 12:09 PM
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Looks like point to point is indeed a lot cheaper. My question now is what happens if we book a journey with a lot of tight connection times and there is some sort of delay? What happens if we miss our connecting train that we booked? I guess some of these we would be purchasing the tickets in the station as opposed to online anyways (high speed vs regional).
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Mar 9th, 2016, 12:45 PM
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>>> My question now is what happens if we book a journey with a lot of tight connection times and there is some sort of delay?

The segment I see in your itinerary with any connection is CT-Venice. For example, if you start from Monterosso.

The first train is IC, so your reservation is for the specific train. But it is the first train of your journey so you have full control on whether you miss that train or not.

The second train Pisa-Firenze is R train. You can hop on any train within the validity of your ticket. The validity clock starts running when you feed the ticket to the validation machine. The tickets says how many hours after the validation the ticket is usable.

If you can make the 10:32 train, the you have enough time to validate and hop on. The only gotcha is that the validation machine is not always at the platform level. You might have to run down to the underground passage level to find a machine. So, if by chance two connecting trains are on the same platform, but you have not validated the ticket, you might have to go down the stairs just for this.

If you miss the 10:32 train, you can hop onto 11:12 with validation. If not 11:32 train, etc.

IC651 9:03-10:17 Monterosso-Pisa
R3114 10:32-11:32 Pisa-Firenze

Pisa-Firenze
10:54-12:07
11:12-12:00
11:32-12:32
11:54-13:07
etc

So you probably have a fixed Firenze-Venezia train? There are several ways to deal with this.

1. If you care not to stop by Firenze for lunch, then allow for missing a train or two at Pisa and book safe Firenze-Venezia tickets.

2. If you eat lunch in Firenze anyway, you will need a big layover in Firenze before heading to Venezia. Choose a place to eat so you will not have to hurry. If you get short changed in this area, shorten your lunch to a simpler fare or buy sandwiches and eat on the train to Venice. Freccia trains also sell unexciting meals on board if you really get time crunched. This method is usable in other areas where you have to build in a safety margin. Try to build in margins that you can reuse for something else if you ended up not using the margin.
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Mar 23rd, 2016, 10:49 AM
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Thank you so much Greg! So as long as I've got the high speed trains booked, I'll be OK then? Can we book the regional ones online or are we better off just buying at the train station? Will we risk long lines?
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Mar 23rd, 2016, 11:43 AM
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You should go to Seat 61's website and knock around there for a while. He's chock full of info.
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Mar 23rd, 2016, 12:12 PM
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bookmarking
Saraho is online now  
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Mar 23rd, 2016, 12:59 PM
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Can we book the regional ones online or are we better off just buying at the train station? Will we risk long lines?>

No reserved seats possible on regional trains. No real long lines in the CT stations - buy a regional train ticket from Pisa to Florence in Monterosso at the station.

No reason to buy regional trains in advance. There are also automatic ticket machines - leave time for cancelling your own ticket - do that in Pisa.
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Mar 23rd, 2016, 03:46 PM
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And those machines usually have an English language option. DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow some supposedly friendly passer-by to "help" you. THAT is a scam that has been running in some of the busier stations for decades. They "help" and then they DEMAND some sort of "payment" for doing so.

There is a youtube video which explains the machines and here is the link to just one of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdw5y_xwVz0
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Mar 23rd, 2016, 04:24 PM
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I don't know if it's too late, but for a group of five people traveling together, it's usually cheaper to buy train tickets from the overseas agent of Trenitalia, https://www.italiarail.com . This is because on many popular routes the number of steeply discounted tickets is very limited, and it's not easy to get five of the on the same train.

On the Trenitalia web site, they will offer you the cheapest fare for which they have enough tickets for the entire group. In other words, if they only have 1 SuperEconomy ticket left, and 2 Economy tickets, they won't offer you any discounts at all, because they don't have five tickets all at the same price.

Italiarail will put together an offer that includes the cheapest tickets, even if they're not all the same price. In this example, they would offer you one SuperEconomy ticket, two Economy tickets, and three Base price tickets. The tickets would have different prices and different refund and exchange conditions, but you'd save money.

Italiarail prices are in US dollars, and Trenitalia shows prices in euros, so you have to consider that when comparing prices. Also, Italiarail doesn't have a brilliant exchange rate, and they have some sort of reservation fee, which can usually be waived. However, the savings for a groups of people can far outweigh those inconveniences.
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Mar 24th, 2016, 01:32 PM
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Interesting stuff about Italiarail- thanks bvienci! (a font of great info on Italy and trains!)
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