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Another Italy train question

We've (semi)successfully bought tickets and taken trains in Italy before, mostly @ station, shortly before trip, but I still can't claim that we truly understand the system.

Traveling from Venice to Varenna (change in Milan) in April, then back thru Milan ,a couple of days later, to other points after our stay. I can book all the tickets on the Trenitalia site. Deep discount tickets Venice (SL) to Milan is on a Trenitalia "Frecciabianca", which lets you choose seats, even in 2nd class (fairly restricted as far as changes, etc.). Milan to Varenna is on a regionale actually operated by Trenord that doesn't offer reserved seat in either class. Since we're coming back thru Milan, we would need round-trip (Milan-Varenna), or additional return ticket only from Varenna, so would have to do two bookings, anyway.

Questions:
a) Is there any advantage in buying the regional tickets on the Trenord site rather than Trenitalia? (no price diff.)
b) Do the regionale tickets still follow the usual regionale rules (essentially "open" for same train run until validation, so could take a different time if necessary...if train from Venice were late, or we wanted to alter our return time to Milan), or are they bound to the booked times if bought online? Would this change for 1st class since there are no reserved seats on those runs?

Edit: Looks like Treniatalia will not let me book another carrier's regionale over one week away unless it's booked on an itinerary along with one of their trains. I can book Venice to Veranna, now, but I can't book a separate return from Veranna or a Milan-Veranna round trip separately. Trenord site lets me book for April.

Thanks!

Posted by
16894 posts

I don't believe that Trenitalia sells any regional ticket more than a week in advance, and they do come with date restrictions that regional tickets sold in the station do not. We would buy the Milan-Varenna roundtrip tickets in the train station or a travel agency in either Venice or Milan, in order to get the most flexible, undated version for the same price.

Posted by
32247 posts

cath,

I wouldn't bother pre-booking any Regionale tickets, as there are no price breaks for doing so and it's just as easy to buy them locally at stations. The automated Kiosks are very user friendly and have an English-language option.

Although Regionale tickets may be available from Italiarail or other sites, I believe they come pre-validated and have to be used within four hours of the scheduled time.

Posted by
5258 posts

Cathammer,

  • You can purchase your freccia (high-speed) train ticket for Venice
    to Milano Centrale in advance (up to 120 days) to save money but remember that this
    type of ticket is nonrefundable and unchangeable so you need to have
    your date of travel fixed.

  • There is no advance in buying the train tickets (Regionale) from
    Milano Centrale to Varenna (Varenna -Esino) because the price does
    not change (€6.5 pp).

  • You can purchase these tickets in Venice or at any other train
    station since the tickets are good for 2 months as long as you don't
    validate them.

  • Make sure to validate Regionale ticket before boarding the train to avoid any fines.

  • You can buy your return ticket (Varenna to Milano) before heading to
    Varenna ( train station in Varenna does not sell tickets.)

  • If you forget to buy your return ticket to Milan, there is a travel
    agency in Varenna.

Happy travels!

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks all, the clarifications help a lot. I did go ahead & book our Venice to Milan & will book the other long-distance runs as soon as we settle on the times we want. It looks like the savings and the advance seat choosing make it worthwhile to do this. Some of the steeply discounted fares are already sold out in first class, but since second is also reserved seating, I don't think it will matter much for 3 hour rides....not going all the way across the continent.

In continued research, I had sort of already decided to do what you advised and just wait to buy the regionals, as the price doesn't change & there's no reserved seating, anyway. Will have a few days in Venice before the train trips, so will probably just buy the regionals there a day before we leave and avoid some stress. Have had enough of trying to deal with clunky ticket machines or long window lines, etc., while also rushing to get on the desired train. This caused us to forget to validate on one trip, and we got stuck with having to buy a higher fare ticket from the conductor.