RailEurope in Italy

I know this question has been discussed in the 2010 days. We are traveling to Italy during the high tourist days of June... If my schedule is tight and my locations in Italy all require a Regional Train which can not be purchased more than 7 days ahead of time, Is booking with RailEurope a good idea? I'm looking for high speed trains that can be booked ahead of time so all goes as planned. I keep coming back to RailEurope. I understand it may be a little more expensive, but it does take US credit cards, and I can book ahead of time, and there is greater comfort and space in first class which we can book.(my husband is very tall and needs leg room) I have been told to not worry- just book trains when we are in Italy, but I do not have a lot of flex in the times the trains run, and I worry when some say you may have to stand for 1-2 hours. I would like to book the trains so this is off my planning list, and plan the fun stuff, like where to eat! Should I wait until I get there, or plan ahead with RailEurope? Thank you.
Lori

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

You should book ahead, but on Trenitalia, NOT RailEurope. You will get much better prices with the new Super Economy Fares, like 29 € in First Class on the Frecciargento from Florence to Venice ( regular fare I'd 63€ in First Class). Issues withnTrenitalia and American credit cards have been resolved.

Posted by Lori
Los Angeles
7 posts

"You should book ahead, but on Trenitalia" I wish I could, but the Regional trains on Tranitalia I need to take to my locations do not allow me to book more than 7 days ahead of the travel time.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3064 posts

OK - Regional Trains are a dime a dozen. You miss one, you take the next one that leaves 20 minutes later. Don't know what you're worried about. This is exactly how RailEurope survives: off the fear of inexperienced travelers. Europe is so much friendlier and easier to use than RE would have you believe.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Lori, I wouldn't be too concerned about booking Regionale trains in advance, as there's really no advantage in doing that. It's just as easy to buy the tickets at stations in Italy, either at staffed ticket windows or using the automated Kiosks. The trains are rarely full and you shouldn't have any problems getting tickets. I tend to buy tickets a day or two before travel, often at the time I arrive in a particular city (since I'm at the station anyway) or the day prior to travel. I've never had a problem with that approach. With Regionale tickets, BE SURE to validate your ticket prior to boarding the train on the day of travel, or you may face hefty fines, which will be collected on the spot! The fines start at €50 PP and increase from there. The same fines apply to those riding the premium trains without a valid reservation, which are specific to a particular train and departure time. Happy travels!

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2826 posts

Your post contains a contradiction. First you say you are looking at destinations served only by regional trains, but then say you are looking at high speed trains. What actual routes are you looking at? Regional trains cannot be "booked." Think of them as a "city bus on wheels." Tickets for them are sold right up to departure. There is no guarantee of seats; if you do not find a seat, you stand. This is true no matter when you buy your ticket. So, you can get a ticket in advance, but there is no advantage. Be SURE to validate your ticket for a regional train BEFORE boarding, or you will get a heavy fine (since there are no reservations, the tickets are good on any train; validation prevents re-use). If you are looking at non-regional trains (high speed trains), these are all-reserved. If you have a ticket, it comes with a seat reservation. If you get on one of these trains and don't have a reservation for THAT train, you will get a heavy fine. So, if you're taking fast trains and want first class, you can book ahead on trenitalia; if you're taking regional trains, there is no reason to book ahead. Again, if you post your actual dates and routes, others can help you with the best plan of action for your needs.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

Just to be clear, there is no RailEurope in Italy. RailEurope is a travel agency selling train tickets to North Americans. RailEurope does not operate any trains anywhere.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8735 posts

I agree that your question is unclear. Please say what places you are going. If it is in fact only Regionale trains for the journeys you-get-absolutely-nothing by buying the tickets before you arrive. It will be the same train, the same people getting on, the same number of seats, and your ticket you bought in the States will give you no more seats than the one you got in the station. Actually it is worse - your ticket bought on the day, or a few days before, is valid for 6 hours on any Regionale train on that route. The ones from RailEurope are valid for much less time. If you are indeed using a high speed train that is another kettle of fish entirely. Both Trenitalia and .ItaloTreno have posted all their updated times and tickets (except Regionale beyond 7 days) are available.

Posted by Lori
Los Angeles
7 posts

Thank you all for the helpful information. It sounds like the best idea is to buy the tickets when I am in Italy with Trenitalia. My locations are: Rome to Assisi Assisi to Florence Florence to Cinque Terrre-Monorola (via La Spezia) Cinque Terre to Rome If anyone has travel/train tips on the above they are greatly appreciated. As someone had said- I am inexperienced in Italy train travel. Thank you everyone.
Lori

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Lori, Regarding the questions in your last post....
> Rome to Assisi - this will likely be via Regionale or Regionale Veloce trains for the most part. Buy your tickets at Roma Termini (use the Kiosks) a day or two before departure and validate them prior to boarding the train on the day of travel. There are direct departures at 07:58 and 14:23, if you'd prefer not to deal with changes. > Assisi to Florence - as the station in Assisi isn't right in town, you could buy the tickets for your outgoing journey when you arrive in Assisi. How many days will you be there? There's a direct Regionale Veloce departure at 11:19, which is probably the one I'd use. > Florence to Manarola - there are a variety of trains on this route, including Freccia, which have compulsory reservations. You'll have to decide which one will be the best option. My preference would be a Regionale departure at 09:53, arriving Manarola at 13:26 (time 3H:33M, one change at La Spezia). > Manarola to Rome - I'd suggest using one of the direct trains from La Spezia to Roma Termini (there are a few each day), as that will involve only one change at La Spezia. Using those trains will require departures from Manarola at 07:23 or 12:34, which will get you to Rome at 11:50 or 16:28. The part from La Spezia to Rome will be via Freccia, so compulsory reservations. You can get the complete details of all the trips I mentioned by using the Trenitalia website. If you're willing to commit to a specific train and departure time, you could pre-purchase tickets for the premium trains such as the Freccia, and buy Regionale tickets locally (DON'T forget to validate!). Cheers!

Posted by Lori
Los Angeles
7 posts

Thank you so much for the thoughtful well detailed train ideas,I'm printing this and will take it on our trip. So helpful, so thoughtful!
Lori

Posted by John
Van Nuys, CA, USA
154 posts

You can get an English menu at the self-service machines at most stations; some of the smaller stations may only have older self-service machines that aren't as useful. I find it helpful to print out train schedules for a few hours or the day while here at home; then I can choose which train I want when I'm traveling and quickly make the purchase at the station. I might find, for example, that there is a train from A to B at 25 and 40 after every hour between 8am and 6pm, so I put that in my note. Or print out the schedule. Then when traveling if we're up for an early start we might try for one of those trains, if we decide to move on in the afternoon we know when those trains will be. This is for the regional trains where any is as good as any other. For hi-speed trains, say Rome to Florence, we pick a train in advance.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

For a fantastic photo essay on buying tickets from a kiosk, see Ron in Rome. com. If you have other trips within a week's timeframe, you can buy several days worth of tickets if you'd like.

Posted by Amanda
Raleigh, NC, USA
24 posts

For the last section of your trip, the one that Ken suggested taking the Freccia train... you can get a much better price if you book that train ahead usually. You can get all the info on the trenitalia web site and compare the prices for yourself.