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Questions with conflicting answers

Hi,
We are headed to italy next week. I've tried to search these questions, but get conflicting info. Any info is great, either to confirm or suggest the need for more research. Thanks in advance!
Do you need to book tickets in advance for fast trains? Do they sell out? How far in advance? (Rome to Venice). Sounds like other tx can be purchased day of?
Can you purchase tx for coliseum that are not time specific? The coop site looked like you could,but other posts made me think only for specific times?
Same goes for vatican...must you choose a time? Is there a way to book just for the date, not time?
Staying in Campo de Fiori, looks like we can walk to coloseum, spanish steps, trevi, just not vatican. Is that true? Just wondering if we need to worry about buying card for 3 day transportation card. If we do need to take buses, card seems smart since it sounds like tx are sometimes a pain to buy? Planning vatican, col, trevi, spanish steps and only more if we have time, don't want to try to do too much.
Thoughts? Arrive in Rome a Wed AM and leave Sat AM
Thank you!!

Posted by
9 posts

One more question, looks like lots paths closed in CT, we are staying in manarola, are there any paths open or are we limited to train yravel between towns? Good suggestions for day adventures to escape day time crowds?

Posted by
327 posts

You've asked a lot of questions ... I'll just answer one:

We stayed near Campo de Fiori and walked to the Vatican - it took us about 30 minutes. After touring Vatican Museums on a Friday night, we opted for a taxi ride back to the hotel. Taxis are fairly reasonable and easy to access at taxi lines. We walked to all of the areas you mentioned in Rome over 4 days. A copy of Rick Steves Pocket Rome book would be useful.

Posted by
1271 posts

Trains: You can buy any train tickets the day of. You can save money on the fast trains by buying way in advance, but if you miss your train, your lower-price ticket is no longer good, so you'll need to buy another. Therefore, it's not a good idea to buy a special- rate ticket for your day of arrival. Regardless of when you buy your ticket for a fast train, it comes with a reservation for a particular seat on a particular train. On the other hand, with the slower 'Regionale' trains, you just buy at the station, there are no reserved seats, and you validate (time- and date-stamp) your ticket shortly before boarding.

Posted by
9 posts

Marda, thank you! Very helpful to get an idea of what's do-able. I do have a lot of questions, but your one, answer, super helpful. I do have the book, but thanks for suggesting. It has been a great resource. Best-

Posted by
9 posts

Inbsig-thanks for your reply, was thinking fast trains, because of time, but maybe I can still buy those last minute? Hate to buy ahead a be in a rush or on a schedule, hut Regional from Rome to Venice is a good chunk of a day...thanks for your feedback, if you have any further thoughts,please let me know! This is the first stop for us and there is a lot to contemplate. Rome to Venice to florence to ct to sienna to ovierto to rome, 17 days

Posted by
492 posts

Tickets are not time specific unless you are taking a tour - which I highly recommend.

Yes, you must reserve a time. The Vatican is the most visited site in Rome and so, timed tickets are required in order to manage the crowds - especially in summer.

You should be able to walk to most places from where you are staying. However, it will be quite hot and, although the metro isn't air conditioned, it may provide a bit of a break in getting around. Tickets are quite easy to purchase - either from the office or from the ticket machines.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks Nancy, will look into a tour. I heard that's the only way to see where the Lions were kept.
Good to know we can walk. Metro sounds easy, but doesn't seem to service much. Buses seem a bit confusing, but I'm sure we can figure it out. Did you have any experiences with buses?
Guess I'll have to bite the bullet and schedule a time for the Vatican. I hate scheduling ahead, but, hate lines more.
Thank you!

Posted by
11983 posts

High speed train tickets can be purchased on line up to 120 days prior.
Economy and super economy offer substantial discounts (25 to 40+ %), but once you purchase those you are locked on the specific train you book. No changes or refunds allowed later.
If you buy on the spot you pay the full base price. Seats don't sell out because trains are very frequent (1 to 4 per hour on avg depending on time of day), each train has nearly 500 seats (and some are double) and they can't possibly fill all those seats. The only benefit to purchase ahead is the discount, not the fear of a sold out train. Very rarely the cheapest class (standard or 2nd class) sells out in the early morning trains. In that case you either buy a more expensive class (like business class) or you buy tickets for a later train with available seats in 2nd class (usually less than one hour later). If you travel after 11am, there is no chance of running out of seats in 2nd class. Never happens.

Posted by
11613 posts

I take buses a lot. You can buy them at some tobacco shops or newsstands. You cannot buy them from the driver.

You can buy an all-day or multi-day transportation ticket. But they expire at 11:59 pm on the last day of validity and are a good option if you plan to use buses a lot. Individual tickets are cheaper, and are valid for 70 minutes (I think; different cities have different prices and time limits). Validate on the bus in the little machine.

Posted by
9 posts

Roberto, thank uou. Train guro, all the info I might have hoped for. If you've any other tips for the legs of my trips, please please, share.
Thank you!

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks Zoe, any tips for route info/route maps? Read that it may be a pain getting a last minute tx at a shop, esp. At small stops, but you make it sound easy. Tx for the info!

Posted by
31076 posts

As the others have mentioned, you can save money with advance purchase tickets for the express trains (Freccia, Intercity) if you can obtain Economy or Super Economy tickets. The discounted tickets are sold on a quota, so once a particular class of ticket is sold out for a particular train, the prices move to the next highest tier. Tickets for these trains are specific to train, date and departure time, so you must be willing to commit to a specific departure.

You can also buy advance tickets for Regionale trains, although there's little reason to do so, as there are no price savings and those trains never sell out. One important point to note with locally purchased Regionale tickets is that these must be validated prior to boarding the train on the day of travel. If you forget to do that, you'll be subject to hefty fines which will be collected on the spot! When you buy Regionale tickets, be sure to check the date, as they're only good for one day.

"One more question, looks like lots paths closed in CT, we are staying in manarola, are there any paths open or are we limited to train travel between towns?"

On the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path) trails, two of the four segments are currently closed, and will remain that way for the remainder of the year. At the present time, the Corniglia - Vernazza and Vernazza - Monterosso segments are open. From Manarola you can easily take the short train ride (~5 minutes) to Corniglia and then hike the two open segments. You could also travel in the reverse direction by taking the boat or train from Manarola to Monterosso and then working back to Manarola. Note that a Park Pass is required to hike the open segments, but you can buy those easily in local stations. Be sure to take lots of water! One other point to mention - Corniglia is on the top of a rock bluff, so you'll have the choice of hiking up about 300 stairs or spending a few Euro for the small Shuttle van - your choice.....

Posted by
14039 posts

To clarify a little, the Vatican is two separate sights, the museums and St. Peter's. The tickets are for the museums, and the entrance to the museums is a 10-15 minute walk from the piazza. There is a security check to enter St. Peter's. The best way to avoid it is to get their early in the morning (opens at 7.00). There is also a security check to enter the museums. If you have reserved in advance, there's a separate (much shorter) security line - bring your reservation with you to show at that line as well as to collect the tickets once inside. There is an exit from the Sistine Chapel that is a very short walk to St. Peter's and avoids the security line. This exit is reserved for group tours. Sometimes guards let individuals use it, sometimes they don't.

The transportation card is good for buses, trams and the metro. Using them can save time, especially the metro, and save your feet. On the other hand, the metro doesn't run near the Campo de Fiori so it may not be very useful. Buses can get bogged down in traffic.

Posted by
31076 posts

A few additional comments......

I normally buy a 24 / 48 / 72 hour transit pass when in Rome, as it's usable on Metro, Buses and Trams. One important point to note is that the pass has to be validated before first use, but doesn't need validation after that. You can buy the transit tickets from Kiosks, news stands, etc. (I usually use a news stand for those).

If riding the #64 bus (and to a lesser extent the #40), be very vigilant to avoid pickpockets. I assume you'll be using Money Belts?

Posted by
9 posts

Ken, thanks for the great info on the trains and city transport. I was planning to buy the 72 hr pass, but after looking at the map closer. I wondered if we'd use it...but i also don't want to be hunting down tx so it has its perks. Traveling witb my son who tires easily. Sounds like I can wait to buy fast train tx, will make it less pressured.
Also, thanks for info on trails. Kind of sad that we can't hike anywhere from manarola itself, but maybe that will be a blessing that it will be less busy.
Thanks so much for your wealth of info! So much appreciated!

Posted by
1775 posts

Perri in Italy there is a tobacconists shop every 4 blocks, plus newstands.

Nobody worries so much about where to buy public transit tickets. But if you are actually worried, just get a couple of 1.5 € tickets more and keep them in your pocket, to be used in case of a tobacconists epidemic or in the late evenings.

Those 100 minutes tickets are so cheap that If you won't use them they'll be a nice souvenir from Rome.

Posted by
23983 posts

Kind of sad that we can't hike anywhere from manarola itself, but maybe that will be a blessing that it will be less busy.

Very unlikely. The whole 5 villages and everything between them is a madhouse whenever the cruise ships are in town (most of the time) and extremely busy when they're not.

Posted by
11734 posts

Nobody worries so much about where to buy public transit tickets. But
if you are actually worried, just get a couple of 1.5 € tickets more
and keep them in your pocket, to be used in case of a tobacconists
epidemic or in the late evenings.

This is what we do as we take public transit so little in Rome that passes wouldn't be worth it for us. I just buy a few at one time and tuck them away for if our feet simply won't go another step or traveling further outside the very center than a lot of tourists go. Individual tickets must be validated at the time you use them.

Kind of sad that we can't hike anywhere from manarola itself, but
maybe that will be a blessing that it will be less busy.

'Fraid the CT will be VERY busy regardless of some segments of the "Blue" being closed. And yes, you CAN do some hiking from Manarola to other points: you just can't do it on the "Blue". Parco Cinque Terra has a substantial network of trails, although the Sentiero Azzurro route is the most popular because it's shortest, most direct trek between all 5 villages when all sections of it are open.

Anyway, you can see the entire network on this map from the park's website:

http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/Esentieri-outdoor.php

Zoom into Manarola and click on any red line that connects it to another point, then click the "View the itinerary" text in the box which pops up: you'll get an overview about that particular trail, including estimated length of time it takes to hike it, and sometimes a difficulty rating.

Traveling with my son who tires easily.

In that case, you may want to reconsider doing any hiking? Most of the trails involve a lot of steep inclines/declines and /or steps. You don't say how old he is but it's not a place for carrying a good-sized child who decides he doesn't want to walk/climb anymore; probably not even safe to try. Those longer, less-direct trails tend to be even more strenuous than the "Blue" so I'd do some homework before just setting off with an easily-tired child.

Posted by
1700 posts

Perri: to expand on what Ken wrote, the current status of the "open trails" has been the same for many years at this point. The landslides that took those other trails out of service was not a recent event.

Be prepared for steps ; hopefully you will have limited large luggage.
I recently stayed in Manarola and had a great time other than breaking 2 wheels on our main luggage bag which made the rest of the trip less fun. In each town the "Main Street" for lack of a better term as well as the main lookout is always very crowded. Vernazza the most crowded. Corniglia the least. Once you get up the steps to the other streets in Manarola to where the majority of lodging is there are very few tourists at all ; mostly just those staying overnight.

Manarola has many cool uncrowded spots up the hill above the train station.
You can also walk/hike up a aways by the terraced area above the main lookout section. The main lookout is always crowded but few venture around.

Depending on the time of year you should have the option of both train or ferry to get to the other towns. The trains come very frequently and hoping to another town of the 5 is very quick and easy to do.

If you are really looking for long hikes, there are many other hiking trails other than the main Blue trail everyone knows about include some from Manarola.

In Rome; don't forget to visit the Pantheon ; I believe it is still free and not a far walk from the Campo de Fiori ; likely on your way to Trevi and Spanish Steps anyway.

Also, you must visit the Forum even if a quick walk ; tix for the Colleseum usually include entry to both places and it is right next store.
From your lodging as you mention the Vatican is the only one not easily walked. I would take a cab both ways personally and that way can avoid public transit buses in Rome along with the many pick pockets that hang out there ; I knowingly pay a little more for this convenience.

Posted by
31076 posts

To add to what Kathy posted, there's an extensive network of other trails in the Cinque Terre so you'll be able to do as much hiking as you want, including from Manarola. The other trails are longer and go higher in the hills and take a bit longer, so if you don't mind a more robust hike you should be able to bypass the two closed sections and then connect with the open sections of the Sentiero Azzurro. Note that a Park Pass is not required to hike the other trails. You can see the reason for the Manarola - Corniglia trail closure in this photo.

One other point to note is that a short section of the famous Via dell' Amore from Manarola to Riomaggiore is open, at least as far as the Bar. If you have time, stop by there for a "cool one" or a light meal and just enjoy the view. Go up the steel walkway behind the station, it's only a short distance.

If your son tires easily, it would probably be a good idea to buy the 72 hour transit pass in Rome. I'm getting "older" and have found that with the amount of walking I do in Rome it's easy to get tired out, so I always buy a Pass. I've had to use Metro / Bus connections to reach some of the places I wanted to visit, so the Pass is very convenient.

You can certainly by tickets for the fast trains whenever you want, but you'll likely be paying Base Fare, which is the highest pricing tier. I often buy tickets the day prior to travel so that I don't have to deal with that when I'm hauling luggage. Note that on the high speed routes you can use either Trenitalia or Italo Treno. Compare prices as one of them might be offering discounted tickets at the time you're travelling. They're competing networks, so the tickets are not interchangeable between them. The Italo trains are a bright maroon colour so you can't miss them.

Posted by
93 posts

95 degrees in Rome today so think about that when you consider walking. I usually walk but be sure to hydrate.

Posted by
93 posts

95 degrees in Rome today so think about that when you consider walking. I usually walk but be sure to hydrate.

Posted by
17 posts

If you are getting on a train on a Friday or Weekend I would get that ticket in advance and reserved seat. I had the experience of going from La Spezia to Rome on a Friday having to stand a huge amount of the time because it was packed.

Posted by
31076 posts

For the trip from La Spezia to Rome, use one of the express trains such as the Freccia or Intercity. All tickets come with seat reservations so you won't ever have to stand. That's easily the best option, especially at this time of year.

Posted by
85 posts

We bought all our tickets at the station on the day we were travelling, except for Venice to Florence. There were no problems getting tickets on any other trains.

As far as seeing the Vatican and Colosseum, I highly recommend the early morning Sistine Chapel tour and the Colosseum at night.

We had the 7:20 Vatican tour (take a cab) and the lack of crowds and cooler temperatures were well worth it. If you've ever been to Versailles in the summer, you'll understand how crowded it gets in the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. You head directly for the Sistine Chapel but then you can double back and see the museums at your leisure. You can re-enter the Chapel (notice how many more people there are) and go directly to St. Peter's through the door at the back on the right. When you waltz in, to the church, notice the massive line in the square to get to where you are going. Another bonus: we walked back to our apartment near the Pantheon (20-25 minutes) and were home by 11:30. A plus when you're in Rome in the heat of July.

The Colosseum is a truly fantastic sight. We did the 8:20 pm tour and there were literally less than 200 people there, spread out in groups around the Colosseum. We felt like it was there just for us, and to see it in the changing light was magical. The only drawback was that we had to buy a separate ticket to see the Forum the next day. Well worth it to spread the two sites out over two days, the Colosseum deserves your full attention.

I would keep your schedule flexible. When we were in Rome a week ago, it was in the low 30's. I hear it's going to be closer to 40 next week. The heat really zaps your energy so you need those mid-afternoon breaks.

A few quick words about your location. You are very close to Largo di Torre Argentina, a transportation hub. You are even closer to a fabulous restaurant right off Campo de' Fiori. We found it in Rick's book and we ate there twice. It's called Enoteca l' Angolo Divino. Try the lasagna and let Massimo choose the wine.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
9 posts

Cant thank everyone enough-what great info all the way around. Decided to do the Vatican at night since we will be there as suggested, great tip and booked already. I think I will follow the advice to purchase the fast train ticket in advance and not worry about the rest for now. So many great tips for getting around, hiking etc ect! Never used a forum before and so glad I did. I'll be sure to contribute on the other end of my trip!