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Trains in Italy in August - when to book

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Apr 29th, 2014, 04:36 PM
  #1
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Trains in Italy in August - when to book

Hi!

We are novices, and need some help booking trains in Italy for this August. Here is what we are trying to do.

August 25: Vicenza to Venice (morning)
August 26: Venice to Vicenza (evening)

August 28: Vicenza to Florence (morning)

August30: Florence to Rome (morning)

Any suggestions/advice? We cannot tell if trains are already sold out, or just not available yet. The websites keep shutting down. What website should we use?

Any advice would be wonderful!

Thank you!
bobbietilkens is offline  
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Apr 29th, 2014, 04:41 PM
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Try 90 days out.
Andrew is offline  
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Apr 29th, 2014, 05:08 PM
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Train schedules for later in the summer probably won't load up on the Trenitalia website until on/after June 12. Twice a year Trenitalia changes their schedules and prices (December & June) so you may have to wait until the 2nd week of June.

If you opt to ride Regionale trains, you might be better served to wait until you're in Italy and purchase these tickets at that time. Trenitalia does not discount Regionale tickets.
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May 2nd, 2014, 01:52 AM
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The schedules for all the fast trains are already loaded, and have been for over a month. The best prices are available 120 days out, not 90.

The schedules for regional (slow, unreserved) trains usually get loaded at the last minute, maybe in early June. However, there's no advantage to buying these online as the prices never change and the trains are unreserved, so they never sell out.

Vicenza is served by both regional trains (regionale and regionale veloce) and fast trains. Since the regionale veloce trains are very cheap, and as fast as the fast reserved trains, I would try to take one of these, buying the ticket at the station before you leave. There are regionale veloce trains from Vicenza to Venice once an hour (7:02, 8:02, 9:02) in the morning. Returning in the evening, there are regionale veloce trains at 6:12 PM, 7:12 PM, etc.

As I said, these tickets are best bought in the train station instead of online; the schedules are not available yet for August, anyway. The fare now is a little over €5 each way. Buy your ticket for the return trip in the morning. You can use it on any regional train going back to Vicenza, but the ones leaving at 12 past the hour are much faster than the other regional trains. You MUST stamp the ticket before boarding the train; there's a little machine for stamping tickets near the track. Since these tickets are good for two months, an unstamped ticket can be reused, and it's not considered a valid ticket until it's been stamped with the date and time. Traveling with an unstamped ticket on a regional train will get you a big fine.

The schedules and prices for regional trains may change on June 14th, but they usually don't change much. Check the schedule again after that date, but you won't see the price if you use a date more than 7 days in advance, because they don't sell regional tickets online more than a week ahead.

From Vicenza to Florence, you would be better off taking the fast train with a change in Padova. From Florence to Rome, the fast trains are the best option. For these trains, you can get a good discount if you buy now, but the discounted tickets can't be changed or refunded.

This is the best Italian site to use:

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...005817f90aRCRD

If you find that site difficult to use, try this site, which is the American partner of Trenitalia.

www.italiarail.com

The prices are more or less the same, taking the exchange rate into consideration. The discounts are available on italiarail as well as on the Trenitalia site. Just don't buy regional tickets online from either site.
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May 2nd, 2014, 04:10 AM
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Buying train tickets in Italy requires a learning curve. It takes time and a lot of reading to figure the madness out. Some things are inexplicable. Plus, there are folks here who love to hear themselves talk. They post here with conflicting information, which only adds to user confusion.

The only ticket from your list that is available for purchase right now is your Firenze S. M. Novella to Roma Termini on Aug 30. Yes, the "schedules" are posted for each of your dates, but none of the Freccia trains are purchasable yet for your itinerary dates of Aug 25, 26, and 28.

For Vicenza-to-Venezia S. Lucia, Venezia S. Lucia-to-Vicenza, and Vicenza-to-Firenze S. M. Novella, the Trenitalia site is saying, "Seats sold out on train (9709). Solution can not be purchased." I don't know why the Italians use these stupid words. They do nothing but confuse travelers. The seats are not sold out. You just can't purchase them online yet because it's too early. I don't know when the late August tickets will become available for purchase through the website. Keep checking back when it's convenient.
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May 2nd, 2014, 04:51 AM
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Several weeks ago I purchased tickets from Rome to Naples on line for travel the first week in July. But then I tried to purchase tickets from Battipaglia to Rome the second week of July and it keeps saying 'no solution found'. If I put in a random date in June I get the same message but if I put in a date in later May I get plenty of 'solutions'. Since this is an even longer journey than the Rome to Naples trip (and there are 'solutions' that include trains with no changes, so it doesn't look like part of it is a regional route)I'm not sure why those schedules aren't loaded yet.
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May 2nd, 2014, 05:34 AM
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Check www.seat61.com for advice on Trenitalia tickets - buying online - a process that has frustrated many folks here for a long time - at least novice users often find it very very frustrating.
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May 2nd, 2014, 05:49 AM
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>>>They post here with conflicting information, which only adds to user confusion.<<<

I don't think there is much conflicting information. The fast trains (AV, IC) can be purchased 120 days in advance on Trenitalia. The slow regional trains can only be purchased online 7 days in advance, but online regional tickets are more restrictive than if purchased at the station.

isabel - To see the Rome/Battipaglia train/schedule/price, enter a date within the next 7 days. Schedules won't change much (probably not at all), but Trenitalia is slow to load everything. Just keep checking as there are IC trains that don't require a change or you could take a fast AV train to Salerno and switch to a regional to Battipaglia. There is also a once a day bus from the Rome airport (departs at 3pm or so).
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May 2nd, 2014, 06:20 AM
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"I don't think there is much conflicting information…The fast trains (AV, IC) can be purchased 120 days in advance on Trenitalia."

And one wonders why comments like these don't cause head scratches.

Well maybe it's only obvious to me, because the 120-day mark has already passed for the month of August, and the vast majority of trains for popular routes in the last three weeks of August are still not available for purchase. So clearly, as far I can see, there's no hard and fast rule for the 120-day thing.
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May 2nd, 2014, 06:38 AM
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I forgot to add:

Normally, if you try to purchase tickets too early on Trenitalia, the "Prices" section will read: "It's not possible to buy a travel solution if the departure date is 4 months after current date." What the translation means to say is:

If your date of train travel is greater than 4 months from today's date, it is not possible to purchase a ticket.

At a certain point the "Prices" message changes to the stupid words: "Seats sold out on train (9709). Solution can not be purchased." I don't know why the words change. I don't know why the message is incorrect. It's an Italian thing.

The bottom line: you have to wait and check when it's convenient. If you're not traveling the first few days of August (those tickets are already available), there will be tons of tickets available for customers traveling the rest of the month. I'm assuming you'll be able to purchase them sometime soon.
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May 2nd, 2014, 08:10 PM
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>>>Well maybe it's only obvious to me, because the 120-day mark has already passed for the month of August, and the vast majority of trains for popular routes in the last three weeks of August are still not available for purchase. So clearly, as far I can see, there's no hard and fast rule for the 120-day thing.<<<

There is a hard and fast rule - 120 days for the fast AV trains. Those trains are loaded and have been for a bit. As pointed out, these trains only run between the major cities. The end of August is MORE THAN 120 days away. AV trains between Milan/Venice/Bologna/Florence/Rome/Naples, etc. are loaded through Aug 30 which is 120 days from May 2 (probably already May 3 in Italy so Aug 31 trains are for sale).

There might be a few IC trains not loaded yet, but most of those are for sale 120 days out. As pointed out earlier, regional tickets are only online 7 days out.
kybourbon is online now  
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May 3rd, 2014, 04:42 AM
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Why is a route (Battiplagia to Roma) that has dozens of 'solutions' listed for May 21 have 'no solutions' for June 21 or July 21. (Those are random dates, I've tried numerous others as well).
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May 3rd, 2014, 06:32 AM
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"There is a hard and fast rule"

No there isn't, and no matter how many times you say there is, it won't make it so.

Do newbies even know what you mean by "fast AV trains, kybourbon?" In 2009, Trenitalia rebranded AV as "Frecce." So why do you insist on confusing readers with your old and outdated classifications? (Dear readers, AV (Alta Velocità refers to high speed rail corridors, which happen to be used by more than one Frecce train.)

"Frecce" is the current "high speed" train classification. Some Trenitalia bloggers consider all the Frecce trains to be "high speed," while Trenitalia explains it in further detail, if you have time to explore and learn. According to most train officials, Frecciarossa is the fastest "high speed" train. But since Frecciargento runs on both high-speed and traditional lines, it, too, is often considered "high-speed." Frecciabianca runs on traditional lines only, "outside the Alta Velocità network," so technically speaking, it's not a "high speed" train (even though it's plenty fast).

To further complicate matters and for instance, there is no direct service on Frecciarossa from Milano Centrale to Venezia S. Lucia. If you want to train direct from Centrale on a Frecce train (without changing trains), you'll need to take the Frecciabianca or the Euro City trains (same amount of time). You can purchase EuroCity tickets today, but the Frecciabianca tickets are not yet available on trenitalia.com for the end of August.

Now here's the kicker:

Trenitalia has more than one site, which really adds to further confusion. Much of this ridiculousness is explained on the seat61 website, but be prepared for an hour or two of mind-numbing reading.

On Trenitalia's former website, I believe you can purchase tickets for all Freccia trains in August, but many sale fares are not yet loaded for certain routes. Plus, the former Trenitalia link takes you to an Italian language page. If you click on English, the link will take you to the newer version of Trenitalia.com, which will not have the same options to purchase tickets. Bizarre, for sure.

All I can say to readers: you need to be patient, and keep in mind that train travel in Italy is a work in progress.

American shoppers experience much anxiety trying to get the "sale" fares. This anxiety is further promoted by posters here who believe they possess the holy grail of discount heaven. English-speaking customers are likely to experience inexplicable problems when trying to jump on the bandwagon too early for certain train routes in Italy, because the Italian system of loading sale fares does not conform to a precise algorithm or a single website. When a poster tells you there's a hard and fast rule, remember, this is Italy. Good luck.
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May 3rd, 2014, 09:18 AM
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>>>isabel on May 3, 14 at 7:42am
Why is a route (Battiplagia to Roma) that has dozens of 'solutions' listed for May 21 have 'no solutions' for June 21 or July 21. (Those are random dates, I've tried numerous others as well).<<<

Because the slow trains (regional) are last to be loaded as are the IC trains (even though IC are considered fast for booking in advance purposes). The fastest trains do not stop in Battipaglia. You can book the fast train Rome/Salerno portion through August (2 hours - 19€ discount available!) now. You can book a Rome/Napoli leg (I would rather change at Salerno) now also. Schedule changeover is 2nd weekend in June for summer - 6 month schedule(also 2nd weekend in Dec. for winter - 6 months). Once the changeover kicks in, faster trains can be booked 120 days in advance as can IC. Some people post 90 days, but that is the rule in other countries (France for one), not Italy.

Salerno/Battipaglia regional trains are frequent (2 per hour most times) and travel time is 12-20 minutes depending on train (1.80€ - no class choices).

If you want an IC train with no changes for Rome/Battipaglia, you will probably have to wait until closer to the schedule change date (June 15).

Italy's other rail company, Italo, allows booking 6 months out. They only serve major cities (check stations for Milan and Rome), but you can book Rome/Salerno (Rome Tiburtina station) now through late Nov (summer schedules already loaded) where you would change to a local train for Battipaglia.

http://www.italotreno.it/EN/timetabl.../overview.aspx
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May 17th, 2014, 07:27 AM
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To further update the inexplicable on Trenitalia:

The schedule and prices for Frecciabianca trains from Milan-to-Venice for August travel are now loaded on Trenitalia. Tickets can be purchased up to Sept 16 (as of today). The prices were loaded on May 14th around 1 PM (EST), which is 107 days from Aug 31.

Most of the Venice-to-Milan return trains can be purchased for August, but some scattered Frecciabianca train times are still waiting to have prices posted, even though these same train times in September are already posted with prices. (Makes no sense.)

I can't state this as fact, but it seems apparent to me that some Frecciabianca trains in August (Milan-to-Venice) will not offer Super Economy 19€ fares in 1st Class at certain travel times. For instance, Sat Aug 30 at 8:50 claims that 1st Class/Super Economy is "Sold Out." This is the case for all morning train times that I have checked for August. It's important to note that "Sold Out" has appeared from the minute the prices posted on May 14th, which suggests this price-point is not being offered at certain train times.

(The only reason I know what I know: I've been planning an August trip, Milan-to-Venice, for dear friends, and I've had someone checking Trenitalia every day, on the hour, since April 20.)

August is a traditional vacation month in Italy, so it makes sense that Trenitalia might use a special pricing algorithm for the busy month of August. August might be the month when they sell the most full-priced tickets in 1st Class to internet buyers. So why give away anything for less when you don't have to?

Finally, Trenitalia is offering a Saturday 2x1, Get Two Tickets and Pay Just One promotion. It's advertised on the Home Page among a 4-image slide show. If you don't linger on the Home Page long enough, you can easily miss it. You will miss the promo if you enter the Trenitalia site through another page (ie: Advanced Search).

So, if you miss the promo details, and you punch in two tickets for a Saturday in August, you might see a pricing option for 1st and 2nd Class that says: Speciale 2x1. Your natural instinct would be to click on the "i" icon that appears next to "Speciale 2x1." However, clicking on the "i" icon next to "Speciale 2x1" will NOT reveal any explanation of the "Speciale 2x1" promotion. In order to get more info, you have to go to the Home Page and wait to see the ad. IMO, this is terrible customer service and shoddy web design.

Trenitalia is not an easy site to figure out, because it often makes no sense. The best one can hope for is that you're a customer with a lot of patience.
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May 18th, 2014, 07:01 PM
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We have always bought our tickets one or two days prior to travel or at the station on day of travel. never had a problem. Can buy tickets at ticket machine at station. easy to use , has an English option. Can also buy tickets at any travel agency that dispays the Trenitalia logo. no extra cost. Only thing to look out for is strikes. they are usually announced 2 wks in advance, and last a day. Trains still travel but are limited. I wouldn't worry about strikes, but just be aware.
I have found train tickets in Italy to be inexpensive. 2nd class is fine.
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May 19th, 2014, 07:46 AM
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I too have never ever had a problem getting on trains by booking the day before or even on the same day - I usually have a Global Eurailpass but need to get the mandated seat assignment and never have had a problem. But I also have a first-class pass so maybe in 2nd class there is more a problem waiting until just before the train.
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May 19th, 2014, 05:01 PM
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>>>If you don't linger on the Home Page long enough, you can easily miss it. <<<

You don't have to linger. Just click "OFFERS" at the top of the page (between LEFRECCE and SERVICES)to see that offer and others.

>>>However, clicking on the "i" icon next to "Speciale 2x1" will NOT reveal any explanation of the "Speciale 2x1" promotion.<<<

While Trenitalia has gotten better about translating things to English, they don't do it 100%. If you use the Italian version and click the i next to the fare, it's there in Italian. Trenitalia also lists some discounts only in Italian so it's best to always check "OFFERTE E SERVIZI" on the Italian home page.

They are also still using the AV term for trains on their website for the Frecciargento and Frecciarossa if you are looking at purchasing passes.

https://www.lefrecce.it/B2CWeb/searc...D=J3T6mZsH04pz
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May 22nd, 2014, 07:10 AM
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"If you use the Italian version..."

I never assume that an American tourist has any foreign language aptitude. Plus, Americans aren't the only Trenitalia customers who rely on the English version of the website.

"While Trenitalia has gotten better about translating things to English, they don't do it 100%."

It should be 100%. There's no excuse for it not to be. But the problems are more complicated. The web designers mix things up when the languages change. Inconsistency is considered bad design. "2x1 Special Offer" appears under the English version "Offers," it's just located in a different area of the page when compared to the Italian version: "Offerte e Servizi." Also, "Offers" is not a word that immediately translates to "Special Offers" to English speakers. IMO, "Special Offers" or "Discounts" or "Sale Fares" is a better choice of English words.

Most people seeking train tickets go straight to the Ticket Search frame, and I'm sure Trenitalia code writers know this. So, if most customers won't see the "2x1 Special Offer" until the various price options appear, it makes the most sense to offer an explanation in the drop down "information" box (the "i" icon). Common sense. If you don't speak Italian, who cares if the information is present on the Italian version? How is this good customer service?

"They are also still using the AV term for trains on their website"

As long as the corridors continue with the name Alta Velocità, the term AV has relevance. But that doesn't settle the confusion you cause by continually using the term without further explanation.

There are still Frecciabianca trains in August (Venice to Milan) that have not posted prices for certain time slots. So much for that "hard and fast rule."
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May 22nd, 2014, 07:32 AM
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Correction: I just checked Trenitalia, and it looks like they recently removed certain time slots from the schedule. For instance, on August 27, there is no longer a 17:20 train, Venice to Milan.
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