I'm traveling in June from Milan to Venice to Florence to Rome.. all the forums I have read have conflicting views on train reservations. I'm curious as to your opinions. Thanks for your input!!!
What are the conflicting views? We traveled Rome/ Florence and Florence/Milan in mid June last year. Bought tickets a couple days before each trip. Used second class. No problems.
We've done similar routes at similar times as Frank -always purchased 2nd class tickets.... no issues! There are many options available on the routes you list. Only when I purchase Eurostar (which assigns seats) do I ever "get" a reserved seat. Other trains are open seating. Again, no issues on the Intercity or Regionale trains regarding this...
What is confusing to most new posters on this site is "reservations". This is mostly about seat reservations. North Americans think "just like a plane trip". When are they required and when are they not required and I just have to make advance reservations.
No you don't. In Italy, Trenitalia runs 8,000 trains a day. Believe it or not, there are 55 train runs a day from Rome to Florence with most holding more people than a 747. I'm betting that they run more frequently than the ELL. There are different train categories. The local R (Regionale) trains do not permit any reservations. You can't even buy them online. Where you see any R train runs, it's just like the ELL in Chicago. You step up, buy a ticket, get on and take any available seat.
For the next category up the IC and ICPlus trains also don't require seat reservations but if you pay 3E when you buy your tickets, you can get them.
All higher train categories have mandatory seat reservations. This is the big booga booga. Just go down to the train station a day or two before travel, just like the Italians do, and buy your tickets. You don't need advance reservations. The seat reservation comes with the ticket purchase. If you use the self-service kiosk, the machine will prompt you in English and will also prompt you through the seat assignments.
Thank you for your help guys, because I was confused as to booking in advance. Sounds as though I can book when I arrive in the city rather than schedule a specific time now.