trains vs. busses in italy

Jun 2nd, 2006, 02:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2006
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trains vs. busses in italy

my husband and i and our 3 daughter 10, 12, 15 will be traveling in northrn italy for 3 weeks this summer.
We start in the ligurian coast, then to tuscany, florence, bologna and finally venice.
we do not plan on renting a car.
any suggestions on trains vs. busses?
is it advisable to pre purchace tickts from here?
any other tips or suggestions greatly appreciated,
onourway is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 02:39 PM
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Generally speaking, trains are more frequent, faster and more convenient than busses. Only for trips to (some) smaller towns are busses preferable.

If your first train trip is not on a Friday evening or Saturday morning between mid-July and mid-August or right around August 15, you can wait until your arrival in Italy to buy your tickets. If your plans are sufficiently firm, save yourself time by buying all the tickets you will need at the same time. It is often faster and more convenient to buy them from a travel agency, which should not charge an extra fee, than at a train station.
Eloise is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 02:44 PM
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P.S. Trains run frequently enough on main lines that you can often wait for the next train if the first train you are taking happens to be full (in the Friday evening/Saturday morning situation).

The fastest and most comfortable trains are the Eurostars (ES). Your ticket for an ES train automatically includes a seat reservation.

Eloise is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 02:50 PM
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In Italy, buses generally do not compete with trains. Trains are frequent and cheap on most routes. Buses are only useful for getting to places which aren't on a railway, or where the railway follows an indirect route. There's very rarely any reason to buy train tickets before you arrive in Italy.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 06:29 AM
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Hi ON,

>trains vs. busses in italy

I would much rather be bussed in Italy than trained.

Train schedules are at

There is very good train service to Florence, Bologna and Venice.
In general, the trains are faster and more comfortable.

Which buses to use depends on which towns you are visiting.

ira is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 07:11 AM
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I agree with all of the above with regard to trains on main routes. It is always worth looking to see if there is an alternative. When I needed to get from Rome to Siena earlier this year, it was faster and cheaper to get a bus than a train.
willit is online now  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 07:15 AM
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If you don't mind the restrictive space which most busses provide and often the inability to buy food/drink (as overpriced as these may be) then sure, they're fine.

Of course, there is no First or Second Class (if that's important to you) and probably much less possibility of changing seats when desired.

There is more possibility of a "traffic problem" on a bus than on a train.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 07:34 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 474
You can get busses on the trains if you try. And "restrive space" is pretty much the goal of bussing.
vedette is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 11:58 AM
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We, family of 4 just trainned around Italy and loved it and made all our reservations online in advance. Only needed the rez number to show the conductor once on board. Also needed to switch a train (decided to leave earlier florence/rome) and did it on the automated machine at the tran station 1/2 hour before our train left. Look on the web site and see if there are any specials.
rosexmke is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 12:10 PM
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In retrospect do you think it was necessary to make reservations for all your trains, or even for any of them? How much did you pay per reservation per seat?

hopscotch is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 12:16 PM
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Hi Hop,

If you travel on ES* trains, you must have a reservation. It is included in the ticket price.

If you have a railpass, it will cost about $10 for the reservation.

Also, if you buy tickets in advance, you could get the 29 or 39E special, sometimes the 15E special.

ira is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 01:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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ES Italia, CIS, and some IC trains in Italy require a reservation. The other 99% do not require a reservation. On the 99% group you can always stand until someone gets off.

Back to the OP's question, it is not advisable to purchase European train tickets in the US, unless you want to waste your money. For the amount of traveling you are planning a rail pass would seem to be worth considering. Go to the eurail dot com site and investigate the *saver flexipass* for example. Another source for rail passes is Budget Europe Travel Service in Ann Arbor. They will send you a great 32 page pamphlet titled "European Planning & Rail Guide." It has maps and plenty of other information about using the rails in Europe, and they sell backpacks of course!

hopscotch is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 09:28 AM
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Before buying any railpasses, enter your itinerary at and click "ony if it saves money".

ira is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 09:41 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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suggest you buy your train tickets at a local travel agency in the city or town you are in the few dollars charge, eliminates standing in long lines at the station, buy your bus tickets at a tobacco store, they arec easy to find. important you must validate your bus or train ticket. it is on the honor system. traveled for one month in italy using trains and busses, really cool, by the way long train rides go first class
milvin is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 10:34 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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If you plan to take the train in Italy, there is a free chapter of the eBook "Italy From The Inside" that you can download from:

Quite informative.
tosolini is offline  

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