Traveling by train is so easy and convenient in Europe. I was able to get my five-day, one country flexi pass in mid-August. From the date of activation, the pass can be used for two months. Visit Trenitalia Web site for more info on train travel in Italy. Note, your pass is activated when the reservation agent bangs the stamp when the first reservation is made. So for me, it was in the Venice train station of St. Lucia. I learned tips on train travel in Italy that I wanted to share to help others avoid any mishaps.
– Read the conditions of use: When I made my first reservation in Venice I misunderstood where the agent when directed me to list my month and year for the trip. So, I tried to scratch it off. A BIG NO NO! I did not realize this until I gave my ticket to the conductor en route to Verona. He apologized, then sat down to explain the rules to me. He would not stamp that day because it was difficult to read. I ended up losing a ride because it was unreadable. He told me there is a 100 euro penalty, which he did not charge me (thank goodness!). Luckily my travel agent had the good sense to get me a five-ride pass. I was only doing four travel days by rail, so I was fine.
– When making a reservation, verbally state your class: It was recommended to me that in Italy it’s worth the splurge to go first class, so I did. When I made my first reservation, I did not make a point to note first class since it was on the ticket. After stepping out of line I realized that my class read, “2”. I decided to get to the train station early to amend it. The agent quickly changed my ticket and there was no additional cost.
– There is a fee when you make your reservation: I mistakenly thought when I paid my upfront costs a month prior I was set. But, each train ride can vary — for me the trips varied from three to 13 euros.
– Reservations: When I first started I was worried about not getting a reservation, so I made sure to get my tickets early. By the end, I just got my ticket right before the train arrived. It was very easy.
– The regional train system is also great. When I went from Cinque Terre to Siena my Eurail pass was only good thru Pisa Centrale. Then, I had to take two regional trains. It was very easy and only cost me 7 euros.
– Traveling to/from Siena is easier to do by bus. The bus station is more conveniently located in town than the train station, and only few trains go thru Siena. I still took the train since I had the pass, but next time I’ll likely bus it. It actually takes less time than the train in most cases.
– A few more tips on train travel in Italy: Purchase your tickets right from Trenitalia.it for savings! Note: For Americans, it only accepts Capitol One credit cards. But, it is possible to use a Canadian credit card. If you buy your ticket 14 days in advance you save 30% off. Lisa said it’s as simple as going to the site and picking your train, then buy! For Americans either get a Capital One card, or make a Canadian friends.
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