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Traveling by train in Italy: which rail pass to use? Are reservations necessary?

We're really looking forward to our trip to Italy in April (2nd week). We want to see Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples and Pompeii for sure. We have 2 to 3 weeks to travel. What is the best rail pass for us. Will we need res. for most legs of this trip with a rail pass? We can't reserve ahead of time as were not sure when we will be at each place or for how long we'll stay , so if we just show up at the station will we have a hard time getting a seat without reservations.? Also, we don't speak any Italian will we have much trouble communicating at the rail stations?
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  • For your travel plans I recommend that you purchase the Eurail Italy Saver pass. The Eurail Italy passes are offered as flexi passes and offer anywhere from 3 to 10 days of travel within 2 months.

    Your railpass allows you to travel on the rail networks of the countries covered by the pass you purchase. It does not guarantee you a seat reservation. To make sure you get the accommodations you desire, you must purchase a reservation. You can do this online at http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/poi....

    High speed trains often require a reservation supplement.
    With a railpass you pay a special passholder fare which varies depending on the kind of train and the service offered. The supplement includes the compulsory seat reservation and sometimes other amenities.
    In general, seat reservations start at $11 USD per person, per train. Please note that the number of seats available at the special passholder fare is limited. Advance booking is highly recommended.

    Generally, a railpass will cover any rail line within it's corresponding countries (with the exception of inner-city metro/subway systems). Within Italy, there is one exception, which is the privately owned and operated Circumvesuviana Line running along the Amalfi coast to cities such as Sorrento or Pompei (for the ruins you will want the Pompei Scavi stop). Therefore, in this case, one of our railpasses including Italy would cover you as far as Naples, where you can purchase a separate ticket to continue on along the Amalfi Coast.

    Since this service is privately owned and operated, tickets are available at the rail station in Naples and can be purchased upon arrival. The tickets are rather inexpensive at a cost of about 3,30 Euro each way with a total travel time of approximately 35 minutes in each direction.

    Thus, to get from Rome to the Pompei ruins or Sorrento, you would reserve one of the direct trains from Rome to the Naples Centrale station and then purchase tickets for the train down to Pompei/Scavi once you have arrived in Naples.

    To get to Mt. Vesuvius, you can take the Circumvesuviana Line to the 'Herculaneum' stop, where you could then take a bus which will take you directly to the crater.
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  • Benjamin,
    My daughter and I are traveling to Italy from April 3 to April 26. We know exactly which days we need to travel, approximately 5 days, and would like to travel 1st class. Should I purchase individual tickets or a pass?
    We are traveling from Rome to Amalfi, Amalfi to Florence, Florence to Venice, Venice to Verona, Venice to Milan.
    Thanks, Marie
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  • I recommend the Eurail Italy Pass for this itinerary. You can find the prices and details for the Eurail Italy Pass by using the following link http://www.raileurope.com/rail-ticket....

    When considering a pass, you will want to add in the additional cost for seat reservations. To view the cost for passholder reservations please use the following link http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/poi....

    The Amalfi Coast can be reached by taking the privately owned and operated 'Circumvesuviana Line' from the Naples Piazza Garibaldi station which is located in the lower level of the Naples Centrale station. This rail line runs along the Amalfi Coast from the Piazza Garibaldi station in Naples to cities such as Pompei and Sorrento. To see the ruins at Pompei, you will want to use the the 'Pompei/Scavi' stop. Passes are not valid on the private 'Circumvesuviana Line' and the tickets can be purchased in Naples for a minimal charge.
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  • I will be traveling May 18-28 with my husband. We will be going to Naples, Sorrento, Cinque Terre, and Nice. Can you please assist me with trains/ buses- both prices and schedules? Thank you very much.
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) March 26, 2012 21:54
    Hi Debra,

    For your trip, I would just recommend purchasing point-to-point tickets instead of a rail pass.

    Please note, however, that Sorrento can only be reached by taking the privately owned and operated 'Circumvesuviana Line' from Naples. This rail line runs from the Piazza Garibaldi station in Naples to towns along the Amalfi Coast, such as Sorrento.

    Since these trains are privately owned and operated, tickets would have to be purchased locally upon arrival. These tickets are rather inexpensive. For example, according to Frommer's Travel Guide, the roundtrip ticket on the Circumvesuviana train between Naples to Pompei only costs the equivalent of about $2.85 USD per person, and the train takes about 35 minutes in each direction. Trains between Naples and Sorrento depart once every half hour and take about 55 to 68 minutes in duration, so you can expect a comparable ticket cost for a trip between Naples to Sorrento.

    Thus, to get from Sorrento to elsewhere in Italy, you would take a Circumvesuviana train up to the Naples Piazza Garibaldi station. Conveniently, the Piazza Garibaldi station is located in the lower level of the same building as the Naples Centrale station, which is considered the main rail station in Naples where most trains to elsewhere in Italy will depart from.

    If you're going to the Cinque Terre, you would have to search schedules on our website to either Monterosso (the northernmost town of the Cinque Terre) or La Spezia (a town just south of the actual Cinque Terre). You can check ticket costs and schedules for trains from Naples to either Monterosso or La Spezia under 'Check Fares & Schedules' on the homepage of our website, www.raileurope.com.

    A connection from Naples to Monterosso would involve at least 2 train changes along the way in either Florence and Pisa or else in Rome and La Spezia. To purchase tickets and view schedules for this connection, you may have to piece it together by doing separate searches for each segment of the trip (i.e. one search for trains from Naples to Florence, another search for connecting trains from Florence to Pisa, and then another search for connecting trains from Pisa to Monterosso).

    From either Monterosso or La Spezia, you can hop on any of the frequently operating regional trains that will stop at all 5 towns of the Cinque Terre (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore). You can just pay to board these short regional trains locally upon arrival.

    A connection from either Monterosso or La Spezia to Nice would involve changing trains once in Genoa and then in Ventimiglia en route, but you should just be able to enter the full route from Monterosso or La Spezia to Nice in order to pull up schedules and purchase tickets when you do your search.
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  • I am a travel agent and having a hard time getting prices on the agent.raileurope.com site and i have 2 adults looking to travel July 18 from Rome - Florence and then July 20 from Florence - Venice, how far in advance can this be booked.

    Thanks
    Missy
    • Jeff (Official Rep) March 30, 2012 19:28
      Hi Missy,

      Trains operating within Italy can only be booked within 90 days of an intended date of departure. Since your client's intended dates of departure happen to fall just outside of this time frame, you would have to enter a date within the next 90 days to get an idea of cost and view schedules when searching the routes on our website. You can then place your order once the 90 day booking horizon arrives.
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  • My wife and I will be flying into Milan and taking the Train to Florence, a few days later we will then take the train to Monterosso (Cinque Terre). After a couple days there we will take the train to Santa Marghertia Ligure for two nights. After that, we will take a train back to Milan.

    Will a 4 day flexi pass be best for us? I am not sure how it will work once we arrive in La Spezia and take the local train through Cinque Terre. I looked at purchasing reservations for 1st class tickets for all trips and I wasn't able to for the trains in Cinque Terre (Monterosso and Santa Margherita Ligure).

    Thank you.
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    • Thanks Jeff, I will purchase point-to-point tickets for our trip. When purchasing the point-to-point ticket, am I correct in assuming the reservation is included with this? I saw a train from Firenze to Monterosso that changes in Pisa so I think we want that one. We have lodging in for 3 nights in Monterosso and 2 nights in Santa Margherita so once in Monterosso, I think we will just get a local train pass to visit other towns.

      Thanks for the tip about going to Portofino, we will definitely do that.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 02, 2012 21:48
      Hi Tim,

      If a particular train requires reservations, then the reservation would automatically be included with any ticket purchase for that train.

      If a particular train does not accept or require reservations, then we would issue what is called an 'open ticket' for that route, which would not even reflect actual departure and arrival times (even though you would still be selecting a specific train on our website). Open tickets are valid to take any single train operating between the cities listed on the ticket for a 1 month time period beginning on the date you performed your search for when you placed your order. There is open seating on such trains, since they are trains that do not accept reservations.

      In any case, you would be issued the valid ticket for the train you are booking.
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  • Hi,

    I am spending 9 days in Italy with my grandson. Arriving in Milan on the 5th, then to Rome, Florence, Luca, Sienna, Assisi, Venice and back to Milan on the 13th. Should be get a flexi pass? I want to take the fast trains when possible.

    Thank you,

    Robin
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) April 16, 2012 14:50
    Hi Robin,

    For that much travel, I would recommend purchasing the Eurail Italy Pass. You can purchase this pass by clicking here: http://www.raileurope.com/rail-ticket....

    There are high-speed trains from Milan to Rome, Rome to Florence, Florence to Venice (as part of a connection from another town in Tuscany to Venice, be it from Lucca, Sienna or Assisi), and Venice to Milan.

    To book reservations on these trains, you would click 'Book a Reservation for Your Pass' on the homepage of the Rail Europe homepage, www.raileurope.com. These trains can only be reserved within 90 days of an intended date of departure.

    Trains between Florence, Siena, Lucca, and Assisi are all regional trains that will not even accept reservations. Therefore, the rail pass is all you would need to board any of these trains. Since you wouldn't book reservations for these routes, you can just view their schedules by entering the requested city-pairs under 'Check Fares and Schedules' on the homepage of our website and clicking the option to 'Check Schedules'.
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  • Hi, we are planning to travel by train from Milan to Venice to Florence to Rome. Would a 4 day Eurorail Italy Pass be sufficient to cover for that? What if we need to travel for a day trip and back within Italy? How are the 'day' counted? One trip a day? What if we didn't get enough 'days' for the railpass?
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  • @k r y s t l e -- A 4-day rail pass will give you enough days for your travels. The trips from Milan to Venice to Florence to Rome would take 3 days off of the pass. That would allow an extra day of rail travel for a day-trip. Rail days are measured from midnight to midnight. You are allowed to travel as many times as you wish in that 24 hour period and only one day will be taken off of the pass.
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  • I am arranging a group to leave to Davos Platz. The flight will arrive in Zurich airport at 1235 pm on Dec 8. Is it possible from Zurich airport to Davos Platz return by train directly ? Back to Indonesia Dec 14 from Davos to Zurich airport at 0300 pm
    • Jeff (Official Rep) May 09, 2012 18:21
      Hello,

      You have contacted the North American ticket supplier for the various national rail networks of Europe. We are generally not able to sell to residents of countries outside of North America, due to local restrictions. If you are a resident of Indonesia, you would place your order with an affiliated agency in Singapore (this agency services Indonesia, as well). Their website is http://www.raileurope.com.sg/.

      A one-way connection between Zurich Airport and Davos Platz would take just over 2.5 hours in duration and involve 2 train changes along the way; once in the city of Zurich and then once in Zurich. If you wish, you can just view schedules on our site by entering the cities under 'Check Fares and Schedules' on the homepage and clicking the option 'Check Schedules'. To do this, you would just piece together the connection by doing a separate search for each segment of the trip.

      To view the segment from Zurich Airport to the city of Zurich, you would type 'Zurich Airport' as the departure city and just 'Zurich' as the arrival city. To view schedules into Davos Platz for the final segment, you would just type the city name 'Davos'.
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