We've tried to buy train tickets online at Trenitalia.com and at ItaliaRail.com and we get "sold out" for every time on Sunday, September 21, for the Lucca to Vernazza route. We've heard that trains rarely sell out especially on non-holidays and during "shoulder season." Do we need to change our schedule around, or could something be wrong with the websites? Should we just wait until we get over to Italy to buy tickets if we can't get them here? Thanks for any help!!!
I think the message was not available. That is a Regionale train which can only be purchased seven days in advance on line. However, Regionale tickets should never be purchase on line because they come with restrictions.
My husband and I never purchased more than 2 days in advance while in Italy, and never had a problem (excluding the train strike). We didn't get the rock bottom fares, but fare-to-fare is otherwise cheap in Italy. I would just wait until you got to Italy.
When you get on the ground in a city, run by the train station the first day and purchase your tickets in person.
RonInRome.com has a great section with pictures on how to purchase train tickets out of vending machines--with pictures, etc. You can also miss long ticket counter lines if you go at off peak times of the day.
You'll probably be using three trains from Lucca to Vernazza, two Regionale and one Freccia or Intercity. There's absolutely no reason to buy Regionale tickets in advance as there's no price break, and you probably won't save much by purchasing the Freccia / Intercity ticket in advance.
I'd suggest just going to the nearest station a day or two prior to your trip and buy the tickets there, either using a Kiosk or at a staffed ticket window.
One important point - BE SURE to validate the Regionale tickets prior to boarding the train on the day of travel, or you'll risk hefty fines which will be collected on the spot! Don't validate them before you use them, as they have a "shelf life" once validated. Also note that the Freccia / Intercity ticket has compulsory reservations, and will be valid for ONE specific train, date and departure time. If you board any other train, again hefty fines.
It may be easier to print schedules and train types through the DB schedule link. Then you have a clear picture of your options when you go to buy tickets in a train station or travel agency in Italy. Some tickets will be sold for a specific date, time, and seat assignment, but regional train tickets will not, and need to be validated in the date-stamp machine before entering the track area.