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Trenitalia – How I Successfully Bought Train Tickets on the Web

Trenitalia – How I Successfully Bought Train Tickets on the Web

Mar 14th, 2008, 07:25 PM
  #1  
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Trenitalia – How I Successfully Bought Train Tickets on the Web

Subtitle – “MichaelT’s Italian Trains, 101”

Success!

I actually bought train tickets (two trips worth) on the Trenitalia web site! Of course it was a Friday during lent, 7pm in Italy, I had said 3 Hail Mary’s, had to create 5 user accounts to do it and burned through every credit card in my wallet but it finally worked.

Some of you were with me on this thread (http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35114570 ) so you know that I’m anal and while I could easily purchase them while in Italy, my wife considers my best household skill as being our resident travel agent so I had to figure this one out. Some of this is also “Train 101” simply because I’ve seen some pretty amazing blunders by travelers unfamiliar with the European or Italian rail systems.

Between the tips gathered in the previous post, other threads I’ve researched and a lot of my own trial and error (I’m now a qualified Italian web site programmer), I’ve consolidated the hints of how I successfully bought tickets on the Trenitalia web site. I figured I’d start it as a new thread so others can add their tips and discoveries.

Here goes…


Trenitalia Registration

- Register by entering an email address and user name. The system needs to send you a password. That can take anywhere from a few minutes to a full day but it will come eventually.

- When you get the password via email, go back to the site to login.

- The first time you do, it will tell you the password has expired and that you need to click to enter a new one. Do that.

- Enter the password they sent you along with the new one your create and enter.

- The system will tell you the password didn’t work. Ignore that.

- Click the logout at the top of the page

- Log in again using your user name and the NEW password you just entered. Trust me, it will work.


Reserving

- Generally tickets can be purchased 60-days out EXCEPT on regional trains where the purchase time is only 7-days. (I discovered this by experimenting on my last trip – try it – plug in a date within 7 days of today on a regional train and it should show as buyable.)

- Enter your requested cities, dates and times (times in military) and if you see a little shopping cart to the right of the train you want, you can buy it now. Otherwise, it says NO which means try again when you get closer to your travel date.

- Select the shopping cart and add it. If you want to add return journeys or other trips, repeat the process.

- Carriages & Seating – this is generally if you’re trying to buy tickets near someone else that has already bought them. Don’t waste your time trying to figure this one out and also don’t waste your time (like I did) trying to see if you can Google a seat map. I’m pretty sure the one I did find from 1995 is outdated at this point and that carriage is probably now a reef somewhere off Amalfi.


Fares

- Try to get the Amica fare. This is the discounted fare and will save you about 20% over the other fares.

- The other fares buyable from the US are the Flexi and Standard fares. The rest I haven’t figured out yet but I have read that they are for Italian residents.


Purchasing (Where the system usually fails)

- The systems “supposedly” accepts all credit cards – Visa, MC, Amex, etc.

- Call your CC company first though to tell them that you will be buying tickets from a site in Italy so they clear it when it goes through. Most US cards generally charge a fee of about 3% on the international purchase.

- The easiest way is if you have any type of CC from Citibank. They have a feature called Virtual Account which randomly generates a CC # for each new transaction. (Thanks for the tip J62) It’s free to sign up for if you have any Citi CC, just call them or go to the Citi web site to do so. You download a simple program that randomly generates a number for purchases so you don’t ever have to enter your real CC number. I’m not sure if other credit cards or banks offer this feature so check with your bank.

- I have used CCs other than the virtual numbers and they do work but I cleared them with my bank first. Every time I tried to use one of them without clearing them first, they were rejected.

- Enter your CC info and then pause to acknowledge whatever your religious affiliation is and make a brief offering or gesture.

- Hit enter and cross your fingers.

(I know this sounds bizarre but this is where the system fails most often... the system uses an outside vendor for the transactions and it is very temperamental.)


Purchasing Issues

- If you try to enter any one or more CCs more than 3 times, the system will lock you out of your user account.

- If this happens, it’s far simpler to use a different email address and open a new account. The reason I say this is that if you click on the “reinstate my account” link, it says it takes 48 hrs. to get an email back from the system (mine was actually 72 hrs). You have to then respond (via email or fax) with your user name, a US phone # and a form of ID. Once you send this, again they say it takes 48 hrs but it’s now been over 3 days since I last did this and I still don’t have anything back from them.

- If you run out of email addresses or credit cards, jump below to “If All Else fails…”


Using Your Tickets

- If you’re still reading this, hopefully you’ve been successful enough to actually buy them on the site and print the PDFs.

- My experience with the web based tickets is that you do not have to validate them at the station in Italy. I’ve done it just to be safe but supposedly you do not need to. If anyone else has more info, please share it!

- NOTE: for those of you scratching your heads at this point, if you buy train tickets in Italy you need to validate them before you get on the train using the little yellow or red boxes that are located in every train station. This goes for almost any train ticket except the web versions.

- The conductors on the trains, at least on the regional trains, are not as familiar with these web tickets. Don’t worry about it, they work!

- On the train – when you’re on the longer trains and the little beverage cart comes through (you’ll hear the bicycle bell), remember it’s not like the beverage cart on a US airline (or at least like they used to be) and everything costs. I was actually on a train once from Milano to Geneva and a couple got a bottle of wine and then proceeded to argue about paying for it and comparing it to US airlines where things are free. Ah, the good old days!


If All Else Fails…

- Many people have recommended Marco at Pantheon Travel in Rome. (Thanks for the tip Images2)

- It is also really easy to just buy train tickets at any station while in Italy. If you go to the window, you need to learn some basic Italian (even at the English speaking window) and the Amica fare might or might not be available. The machines in the larger stations work really well too. They have an screen in English available (look for the British flag) and they take credit cards or cash. Remember to validate them before you board!!!


Finally…

- Enjoy your trip and if you have any tips to add to this post, please do so!
MichaelT is offline  
Mar 14th, 2008, 07:56 PM
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Congratulations! Thanks for the information. I think I've been talked in to just calling, but I'm always game to learn something new!
Brockbank is offline  
Mar 14th, 2008, 08:01 PM
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yes it still amazes me how so many otherwise seemingly semi-intelligent folk can have such a hard time with the easy easy easy trenitalia site. amazing...
russwuf is offline  
Mar 14th, 2008, 09:04 PM
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MichaelT: What a lovely, entertaining post.
josephina is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 02:28 AM
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ira
 
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Well done, MT

ira is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 03:38 AM
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Thank you so much. I've planned my whole trip and the Trenitalia site has been the most temperamenta of all.

This really helps. Especially about calling the bank first and the carriage and seat box.
bashamj is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 03:43 AM
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One more question MichaelT.

We will be connecting in Milan twice and only have 20 minutes b/w trains. Is that enough time for someone who doesn't know the ropes?
bashamj is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 04:35 AM
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Bashamj,

Yes, 20 minutes is a world of time when connecting on trains. The stations are far easier to navigate than airports.

When you arrive in Milano, there will be large display boards everywhere. Look for your departing train number and the binario (track) that it is leaving from and simply go to it. (Remember to validate your ticket on the way)

Don't be alarmed if the train isn't there yet. In larger stations like Milan it would likely be there 20 mins out but in smaller stations, they arrive just minutes before they are scheduled to depart.

Know your ticket as well. Your destination might not be the same as the train's final destination. You could be taking a train from Milan to say Bologna but the train is actually going to Florence with a stop in Bologna.

In every station there are large paper charts on the walls that list train departures (listed by hour) and they show all of the stops it makes. I've seen a lot of people confused, especially on trains to places like Pisa which is only a stop on a longer train.

One last note. On the Trenitalia site, for larger cities like Rome or Naples where there are more than one station, you might often see "Tutte Le Stazioni" and wonder which station that is. It means any station (in that area). It's good to know which station you'll be using and which is closer to your accommodations and then make sure it is a stop on the train you are purchasing.
MichaelT is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 04:49 AM
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Thx Michael, I was trying out the Trenitalia website yesterday and it was challenging - so your post is timely! I was trying to find trains for overnight journey from Rome to Venice. Interestingly it showed ne the train uptil Jun 14th, but when I went to my date of interest (Jun 22nd) the train did not show up. Is there a way to get a timetable for trains in Italy?
AjGupta is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 09:16 AM
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AjGupta: A good timetable and search resource for all of Europe is the German Train site http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

I always use it when the French rail pages go screwy on me.
josephina is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 11:33 AM
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Author: russwuf
Date: 03/15/2008, 12:01 am

yes it still amazes me how so many otherwise seemingly semi-intelligent folk can have such a hard time with the easy easy easy trenitalia site. amazing...


I hope the above was meant as sarcasm!

I'm of above average intelligence, and have tried each and every thing suggested, and it still refuses to accept my card.

My card companies do not offer virtual numbers, and their 'guy' looked into it for me. It is an issue with Trenitalia.

Thank you, for the attempt at help. I may try it one more time, then say buggar it. If that doesn't work, I'll be calling the travel agent Monday for help with the first leg of our journey, after that, it'll be us and the ticket kiosks.

lkemerson is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 12:18 PM
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lkemerson,

I’m glad you asked russwuf if it was sarcasm.

At first I wondered the same thing but then reality kicked in for me and I realized anyone that used the word “easy” three times in a row in a post about Trenitalia was either a.) Sarcastic or b.) A paid employee of Trenitalia!
MichaelT is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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Thanks for the tips MichaelT!
wtm003 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 06:03 PM
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bookmark
suz1672 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2008, 06:14 PM
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Searching for the car rental/train ticket scheme on the Trenitalia website, I found a great page that I had never discovered before, with the names of a zillion agencies that can sell you train tickets at no extra charge, and Pantheon travel is among them. That was on another thread, but I thought I would mention it.

Here is the page:
http://www.trenitalia.com/en/treni_s...ita/index.html

Look at that lovely menu on the right. How nice!
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Mar 15th, 2008, 10:26 PM
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LOL...no sarcasm meant...and I am not a trenitalia employee...
The primary problem people have is with credit card issues as it seems.
First ask yourself...Have I signed up on the trenitalia site as a member?>>>>go to the "customers area" then the "restricted access" area...sign on with your user name and password. If you are not a member you can sign up at this point in the game and enter your personal info there so that the site recognizes you when you come and go as well as allow you to do some handy functions as verify your orders change your password ..etc etc.
Cetainly let your bank of choice/credit card company etc know that you are purchasing via the trenitalia site beforehand so as to not set off a fraud alert flag. This is key along with signing up as a trenitalia member, both together will allow your transactions to go through instead of being blocked.
It is really very easy whether you are here in the USA or abroad in another country to purchase online via the trenitalia site.
russwuf is offline  
Mar 16th, 2008, 01:03 AM
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I jumped for joy when I saw this, and MichaelT, your suggestions gave me courage to try again. I already had created an account and jumped happily along, this time with the "amica" fare (yes, I am your friend, Italy!). At the crucial moment,
Denied.

Why why why? Do I really have to call BNP and tell them I'm buying from Trenitalia? They would probably say, Et alors? Do you think a plain cc would work better, like my Mastercard from the states (but OUCH! am avoiding that)?

If all else fails, I will order at the window. Stupid question: can I buy tickets at the window in advance and at the amica rate? I've only done the speak-to-an-actual-person-to-buy-tickets thing in Germany because somehow the ticket machine which sold the tickets to Michelstadt wasn't working.

Would it help if I were Catholic?
Sheepie87 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2008, 03:54 AM
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Author: russwuf
Date: 03/16/2008, 02:26 am

LOL...no sarcasm meant...and I am not a trenitalia employee...
The primary problem people have is with credit card issues as it seems.
First ask yourself...Have I signed up on the trenitalia site as a member?>>>>go to the "customers area" then the "restricted access" area...sign on with your user name and password. If you are not a member you can sign up at this point in the game and enter your personal info there so that the site recognizes you when you come and go as well as allow you to do some handy functions as verify your orders change your password ..etc etc.
Cetainly let your bank of choice/credit card company etc know that you are purchasing via the trenitalia site beforehand so as to not set off a fraud alert flag. This is key along with signing up as a trenitalia member, both together will allow your transactions to go through instead of being blocked.
It is really very easy whether you are here in the USA or abroad in another country to purchase online via the trenitalia site.


I hate to be the first one to tell you this, but...you are wrong.

I have signed up for the Trenitalia site.

My bank and credit card companies are fully aware of this trip, I've even double checked and triple checked that all is well on that front, even to the point of having one very nice man at their technical services department offer to check the Trentitalia site WITH me on the phone. HE said it is THEIR site.

I am quite Internet savvy, and find your post, incredibly rude.

And this part,

This is key along with signing up as a trenitalia member, both together will allow your transactions to go through instead of being blocked.
It is really very easy whether you are here in the USA or abroad in another country to purchase online via the trenitalia site.


has me shaking my head.

NO, it is not the key.

In fact, it seems you can do all of the above, and still have it not work. Because you had the good fortune (and apparently in your own mind, more synapses firing than the rest of us) doesn't mean others haven't done all the right things and it still not work.

So, please don't assume others are dim, slow, or what was it you said,

otherwise seemingly semi-intelligent folk can have such a hard time with the easy easy easy trenitalia site. amazing,

because, sir/madam, you may think you have all the answers because it worked for you, but alas...you do not.

I find you post a little presumptive, and it smacks of intellectual superiority. Seemingly semi-intelligent. *insert major eye roll here*

Be 'amazed' no more! Maybe even watch assuming things, you know what they say about that!

~One of the great unwashed, and apparently undereducated, "can't use the Trenitalia site" morons.

K
lkemerson is offline  
Mar 16th, 2008, 04:23 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Tuscan thank you for the kind information.

I'll be calling tomorrow. I will be fine buying the fare as we go once there, except I have reservations in Florence our first day in, and really would like to get the Amica fare.

Michael,
Great thread. Thank you as well for trying to help. It seems, from my investigating, that some card companies are more easily accepted via the web. My card company says they think it is just a quirk of the Trentitalia system. Again, I thank you very much for trying to help.


And bud, I'm hearing you on the "easy easy easy" with no punctuation. Good point. As I always tell my children, character tells, and sometimes it tells a lot!

I'm a little irked at myself that my html tags are messed up in the previous post, and I can't fix them. LOL EDIT before hitting post, K!

Happy travels everyone, and thank you, so very much, for all the help, direction and gentle nudges in the right direction.

K
lkemerson is offline  
Mar 16th, 2008, 04:25 AM
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Wow - congratulations! (Since you mention it I have to say - Yes! You do seem very anal)LOL!

I've booked tickets with Trenitalia for years without issue, so I was a bit off thinking you had so much trouble!

I do commend you on giving such detailed instructions for newbies, we should all be so thoughtful. Many people are so frightented to try and with your post now there are no excuses!

Hope you can relax and enjoy the ride now!
LilyLace is offline  

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