How to buy Italian train tickets online
Reserving Italian train tickets before your trip to Italy prevents you from getting stranded, as they are frequently sold-out in high season periods
You should follow these simple instructions carefully, and with some patience, it is an official national website, so it wants you to follow some rules:
(1) Go to the official national Italian railway website, at this address you will find the page in English (please open it in a different page in order to keep reading also this page):
(2) Although you might be tempted to fill-out immediately the train timetable, the first step you should actually do is to *register* or you will not be able to finalize any ticket purchase in their website.
Click on this link to go to the registration page:
Fill in your name, e-mail address, UserID, password etc. like you woud do in any other website.
(3) Go back to Step 1, and fill out in the search engine to the left: City of departure ("from...") and naturally City of arrival ("to..."). Fill out your date: for ex. 24 . 11. 2012 (remember, Italy follows the European pattern: day/month/year!).
(4) In the search engine, select also the *time* (hour, in the system) you would like to depart, and naturally *allow leeway time* for you to reach the train station from your accommodation or where from you will find yourself (for ex. from the airport to the train station).
(5) Of all possible trains, we suggest that you select the FRECCIAROSSA ("RedArrow" in Italian), and Eurostar (acronym ES). They are very fast trains. All others (Intercity or IC, InterRegionale or IR etc.) are rather slow. The FrecciaRossa (RedArrow) is a superfast train, competing time-wise with air flights: it brings you for ex. from Milan to Rome (600 Km.) in approximately 3 hours, and from Florence to Rome in 1 hour and a half (all other trains will take 3-4 hours). It costs less than airplanes, and it brings you right in the city centers. Also the Eurostar is very fast, and has reasonable prices. It should be your choice for mid-range distances, for example from Florence or from Venice to Rome. Italian trains are very inexpensive compared to other European countries, and are generally a lot faster. The Frecciarossa and Eurostar are also elegant and most comfortable (interrnet Wi-FI, electric socket to plug PCs etc.).
(6) Once you have filled out the online form, select also "number of tickets" - of course depending on the number of persons in your party - and regarding the fare, select the best you find (but caution, if you select "best fare in the first page", in case there are no special offers available, it might bring you to dead-end page, so just select the best fare of the available ones, including possible special offers).
TIP: the earlier you book, the best fares you will find!
TIP: We suggest that you buy 2nd class tickets, as 2nd class is comfortable and will bring you all the same to your destination. First class tickets are expensive, probably the only advantage is that the carriages are the nearest ones you find when you reach the train track at the train station, so you will have to walk less to reach them - however frequently the opposite occurs!
(5) In the lower part of the same page, *fill out UserID and password* (which are the ones you filled-in during the registration page). In the same lower part of the page, it will ask you if you want to select the seat (near window etc.) or if you want "automatic assignment". Choose "Automatic assignment", because if you choose "Select seat" or "Nearby" the system later will get stuck (!) and will not allow you to finalize purchasing the ticket!
(6) Pay with your credit card.
(7) You will receive an e-mail with the order confirmation, and ticket number / details. You might print it and show it to the ticket inspector on board of the train, but it is also sufficient that you show him the e-mail confirmation you received on your IPhone, computer or android (from the screen, he / she will read it).
In fact the ticket inspector will check from the e-mail a specific "PNR" code, which must match the one he/she has. So there is no need to go to the train counter to obtain a paper ticket, and there is actually no need to have a paper ticket at all (if you are able to show the inspector the e-mail with order confirmation from your Iphone, smartphone or IPad!).
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