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Milan to Corniglia to Florence to Pienza to Rome, oh my!

I'm planning a 3 week trip to Italy with my wife this April. The dates we plan to travel by train are as follows: Milan to Corniglia(CinqueTerre) on April 21st, Corniglia to Florence (April 25th), Florence to Pienza (April 29th) and Pienza to Rome (May 3rd). What are our best options for those days of travel? Which sections would we need to reserve our seats? It's my understanding that on the days you use the pass, you can use as many trains as possible, so are there options to stop mid trip to sight see and then hop on another train to the final destination for the day? (example: from Corniglia to La Spezia, to Pisa - a great sight seeing option and then on to a "regional", no reservation required train, to the final destination for the day - Florence.) With those options, we would also want to make sure we don't miss connections, obviously, unless there are more than one train throughout the day headed to the destination. Also, if I'm not mistaken on our leg of the trip to Pienza, there is no direct access via train. Since we are coming from Florence, what is the best access point, with options for buses - we'd prefer not to rent a car. I believe I saw in another posting someone mentioned Chiusi, but that seems so far south. That might be good for our trip from Pienza to Rome though. I will take as much detail and options as you feel comfortable offering. Thank you in advance!

ps. we are comfortable with either 1st or 2nd class, maybe certain legs of the trip would be best 1st, please share your preference.
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) February 15, 2013 22:50
    Hi Zan,

    First, I want to apologize for not responding to your question earlier. Somehow, we did not receive notification of it being posted.

    For your requested itinerary, I would recommend purchasing the Eurail Italy Pass, which would cover the ticket costs for all of the trains you would be taking. You can purchase the Eurail Italy Pass here: http://www.raileurope.com/rail-ticket.... For the most comfortable travel experience, I would recommend purchasing your rail pass for 1st class travel, though some of the regional trains that make up your itinerary will only offer 2nd class seating.

    A rail connection from Milan to Corniglia would involve changing trains once in Monterosso along the way. The trains from Milan to Monterosso would require reservations in addition to the rail pass. The connecting trains from Monterosso to Corniglia are regional trains that don't even accept reservations, so the rail pass is all you would need to board (trains from Monterosso to Corniglia depart once every hour and only take about 10 minutes).

    After you add the pass to your shopping cart, you would click 'Continue Shopping' to add your reservations for any reservable trains, including one from Milan to Monterosso. On the next screen, you would then click 'Buy a Reservation' under where it says 'Reservations for Pass Holders' (to check reservation costs and schedules beforehand, you would click on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on the homepage of our website, www.raileurope.com).

    For planning purposes, you can just check schedules for non-reservable trains by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' on the homepage of our website. For schedules from Monterosso to Corniglia, you would do a search here for trains from Monterosso to La Spezia, because Corniglia is not recognized by our website. Most regional trains from Monterosso to La Spezia do stop in Corniglia en route, in which case you would just expect the train to arrive into Corniglia about 7 to 10 minutes after it departs out of Monterosso. You can distinguish the regional trains by their train number. The regional trains from Monterosso to La Spezia will have a 4 digit train number that begins with a '2' or a 5 digit train number. The trains from Monterosso to La Spezia labeled as 'Inter City Plus' (with a 3 digit train number) do not stop in Corniglia.

    A rail connection from Corniglia to Florence would take about 3 to 3.5 hours in duration and involve at least one train change in La Spezia along the way. Otherwise, the majority of connections from Corniglia to Florence do involve changing trains twice along the way; once in La Spezia and then once in Pisa. These connections are comprised of regional trains that don't accept reservations, so you can use your rail pass to hop on and off en route if you wish. However, some trains from La Spezia to Pisa are Inter City Plus or 'Eurostar Italia' trains, which do require reservations. Once again, you can distinguish these trains by their train number (the Inter City trains from La Spezia to Pisa will have a 3 digit train number, and the Eurostar Italia trains will have a 4 digit train number that begins with '9' and be denoted as 'Trenitalia' when you pull up the results of your schedule search).

    For schedules from Corniglia to La Spezia, you would do a search for trains from Monterosso to La Spezia, since Corniglia is not recognized on our website. Once again, most regional trains from Monterosso to La Spezia do stop in Corniglia en route, in which case you would just expect the train to arrive into Corniglia about 7 to 10 minutes after it departs out of Monterosso.

    All trains from Pisa to Florence don't accept reservations

    The closest rail station to Pienza by way of Florence is Chiusi. There are direct Inter City Plus trains from Florence to Chiusi or else there are direct regional trains from Florence to Chiusi. From Chiusi to Rome, there are also direct Inter City Plus trains or direct regional trains.

    The Inter City Plus trains require reservations, which you would be able to book by following the procedure described above for passholder reservations. The regional trains don't accept reservations, in which case the rail pass is all you would need to board. The Inter City Plus trains on these routes will have 3 digit train numbers, while the regional trains will have 4 digit train numbers that begin with a '2' or a '3' or 5 digit train numbers.
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) February 15, 2013 22:54
    I would imagine there are buses from Chiusi to Pienza. Otherwise, you can just use your rail pass to hop on another short regional train from Chiusi to Montepulciano, which may be even closer to Pienza. I do believe there are buses from Montepulciano to Pienza, for which you would purchase tickets locally. Trains from Chiusi to Montepulciano are all regional trains that only take about 13 minutes in duration.
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  • Thanks Jeff,
    I appreciate your response and our tickets have been purchased, including reservations. Thanks again.
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  • Dear Zan,

    Buon giorno and greetings. I'm David Walthall, an American educator, tour guide, and rail enthusiast living and working in Siena, Italy. I'm glad to hear of your interest in visiting Pienza, as it is a beautiful town, especially famous for its Renaissance architecture and pecorino cheese. I'm very familiar with the public transport options for Pienza.

    Coming from Florence, it is possible to reach Pienza via Chiusi, but it requires three segments, (1) Train from Florence to Chiusi (2) Bus from Chiusi to Montepulciano, (3) bus from Montepulciano to Pienza. There is a Montepulciano train station, but it is outside of town and would require you to change in Chiusi, and then again in Montepulciano bus station, so, again still 3 segments.

    Having said that, I believe a better option, requiring one fewer change, would be to take a train from Florence to Siena, then a bus from Siena to Pienza. The train from Florence to Siena is a regional train that does not require reservations and does not have seat assignments, so you can use your rail pass for any departure time. I don't think you'll see the schedule at Raileurope.com, but you can see it at www.trenitalia.com. There are direct trains almost hourly from Florence to Siena, leaving on the :10, and taking about 1 hour 30 minutes. Siena is the final destination for these trains, and they leave from Firenze Santa Maria Novella, the main downtown station in Florence, generally from tracks 2,3,4,or 5.

    Once reaching Siena, there are buses leaving from the piazza in front of the Siena train station to Pienza, especially in the afternoons. This will be bus #112, generally listed with Montepulciano as a final destination (Pienza being an intermediate stop). You can buy these bus tickets (5.50 euro each) from the bus ticket office in the station lobby, and they are good for any day or time- you just punch them on board at the moment of travel. Afternoon departures Mon-Sat include 13:10, 13:30, 14:40, 17:45. You can confirm bus schedules at this link:
    www.busfox.com/timetable. You'll want to list your departure in Siena as:
    Siena, Piazza Carlo Rosselli (the name of the piazza in front of the Siena train station). The bus ride takes about 1 hr 15 minutes from Siena to Pienza. There are several stops in Pienza, so ask your hotel or B&B which is the closed stop.

    When you are going from Pienza to Rome, Chiusi makes sense. In this case, you'll want to take the bus from Pienza to Montepulciano, then change for the bus from Montepulciano to Chiusi. The same website, www.busfox.com/timetable, can give you these schedules. For Chiusi's station, type in a destination of "Chiusi Scalo", which is the name of the neighborhood where the station is located, below the old city. You'll find that there is mostly service in the afternoon from Pienza to Chiusi, and I would suggest doing a search for Pienza to Montepulciano, then a search from Montepulciano to Chiusi, just so you can clearly see the layover time at the Montepulciano bus terminal (autostazione). There is not a bus station in Pienza, but you can buy your tickets to Montepulciano from a local Tabacchaio(general store), and just punch them at the moment of travel; they are good for any day/departure time. For the leg from Montepulciano to Chiusi, you can buy these tickets at the Montepulciano bus station, and just punch them when boarding.

    One consideration about the bus routes in the province of Siena is that they are fairly good Mon/Sat, but some routes don't run at all on Sundays, such as the Siena-Pienza and Pienza-Montepulciano routes. So, just keep that in mind when planning dates.

    I hope this information can be useful; feel free to email me at davidjwalthall@gmail.com if anything isn't clear. Buon viaggio!
    David
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  • I’m thankful
    Hey David,

    Thanks for the details! We have purchased our train tickets already and will be traveling from Chiusi, (set prior to your response). The busfox. link is exactly what we were looking for, which has provided us with great options from Chiusi already. Thank you very much, your response is much appreciated!
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