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a VirtualTourist member asked on Apr 12, 2016

Florence

Day trips from Florence in May

My husband and I will be staying in Florence for four nights in May Please suggest day trips besides the usual Pisa Lucca Sienna I read that Bologna is often overlooked Interested in your expert opinions Also , what is the ticket purchasing procedure? Is it possible to buy at the train station right before ( do not want to be tied to a specific date ) , or Should we reserve in the states

Thanks a million 



12 Answers


answered on 4/12/16 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

Of course it is possible to buy train tickets at the station. There are always ticket offices and, usually, ticket machines which have English language options. They usually take cash as well as cards, and give change. Look for the machines with symbols for cash & card on top (see photo below).

Buying tickets online in advance saves money on the high-speed routes. It's very easy: you just print out the eticket you receive by email and show that to the inspector (there's a QD code on the ticket...see photo below).

You can make excellent fare savings by buying tickets well in advance, although only on the faster trains. Regionale trains cost the same whenever you buy the ticket, and a return ticket on any train costs the same as two one-way tickets.

The only disadvantage of buying tickets in advance online is that the purchase ties you to a specific date and departure time.

For train times, details, fares and online purchase the official Italian railway website in English is:

http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

The newish company Italo also run some high-speed routes. They follow the same routes as high-speed Trenitalia trains, although they sometimes use different stations. Fares are pretty similar and Italo offers advance online discount tickets as well:

http://www.italotreno.it/en




answered on 4/12/16 by
a VT member from Moscow

Bologna is very nice for the day trip. Moreover I recommend Prato and Pistoia as well as smaller towns close to Florence: Fiesole (Line 7), Impruneta, Certosa di Galluzzo (line 17 bus). Besides, from Pisa you may visit Certosa di Pisa...
For the regional train, for towns around Florence, it is better to buy tickets on regional train (see on www.trenitalia.com) - the price does not change and you may just buy on the station before your departure (in ticket office, ticket machine or newspaper kiosk/tabacchi). For Florence-Bologna you may go by the speedy train and for such trains it is better to buy the ticket in advance (on www.trenitalia.com).
The ticket for regional trains must be validated before departure in the special machine on the platforms. For speedy train you just need printing or pdf in your mobile version of the ticket (or even just remember PNR code of the ticket).




answered on 4/12/16 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

Bologna is certainly a very interesting city to visit, with a great deal of history to explore. My Bologna page has info and tips about what to see and do (scroll down the page to see tips): It's a very easy and fast trip from Florence to Bologna by high-speed train (just over 30 minutes!) so it's certainly something worth doing:

[original VT link]

Make sure you visit the wonderful and ancient complex of San Stefano:

[original VT link]

As Bologna is so accessible, I'd suggest you make a further daytrip to see the wonderful Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna. Ravenna is an easy 30-minute train ride from Bologna Centrale station. You could combine Bologna and Ravello in one daytrip but, to be honest, there is so much to see in both places that it would probably be frustrating...you'd certainly miss a lot. Here's my Ravenna page and tips:

[original VT link]

Other daytrip possibilities: take the train to La Spezia and then visit one, two or all five of the Cinque Terre villages by train. I managed three villages in an October daytrip (Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Vernazza) but I spent three hours in La Spezia itself:

[original VT link]

[original VT link]

[original VT link]

Of course, if you haven't already visited then a daytrip to Rome or to Venice is perfectly feasible using Trenitalia or Italo high-speed trains.

NB I should have said above that when you are using the Trenitalia site you'll need to use 'Firenze' for Florence (the main station is Firenze SM Novella) , Roma for Rome (main station Termini) and Venezia for Venice (Venezia Santa Lucia).




answered on 4/12/16 by
a VT member from Sacramento

It sounds like you'll be taking local train trips so buying a ticket ahead of time is not necessary. Just go to the station and get your ticket. It's very easy. Next, I'll suggest you take the bus to Siena since the train station is a bit out of the way there. In Florence the bus is right outside the train station and easy to spot, as is the ticket kiosk. For Pisa and Lucca the train is the better choice.

If you have only 4 nights in Florence, you may want to choose only one or two places for day trips because there is so much to see and do in Florence. My preference would be Siena but it depends on your travel interests.
[original VT link]
[original VT link]
[original VT link]

Enjoy your trip.




answered on 4/12/16 by
a VT member

Thank you so much leics !!
Italotreno is in Italian :( and trenitalia wouldn't recognize Lucca , any suggestions on that




answered on 4/12/16 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

Italo is in in English as well as Italian. I just clicked the link in my post above and was taken directly to the English language version. Try again?

If not, go to http://www.italotreno.it/, scroll right to the bottom of the page and you'll see 'IT'. Click there and you can choose the English language option.

Trenitalia recognises Lucca for me, as it has done for the 10+ years I've been using it. I think you must have mistyped?




answered on 4/12/16 by
a VT member

Dear leics
Now that I've checked your links I have a few follow up Q :
How safe is being at the train station, let say in Lucca , at 10/11 pm
To Lucca they only offer 2a Classe tipe tickets, how bad is it ? I don't want to offend anyone, I just don't have an experience with trains in Europe, we've always hired a car
Thanks again




answered on 4/12/16 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

>How safe is being at the train station, let say in Lucca , at 10/11 pm

Just as safe as being at any railway station in any EU country and very considerably safer than being at railway statons in many other countries.Just use normal commonsense precautions...keep cash & cards underneath your clothing in case of pickpockets (same applies throughout the day everywhere, not just in Italy), don't get into conversation with beggars, hawkers, touts or those who want to 'help' you ,avoid dimly-lit or deserted places late at night. The risk is of pickpocketing or opportunistic theft, nothing more serious. Just don't give pickpockets and thieves the opportunity to steal from you!

>To Lucca they only offer 2a Classe tipe tickets, how bad is it ?

Second-class is not 'bad' at all. Not in any way. The vast, vast majority of people in EU countries travel second-class on trains, not just those who are the poorest. First-class seating is often almost empty and is generally used only by those who are travellling on business (and thus have their expenses paid). There is very, very little difference between second and first-class travel...usually just a bit more space, slightly larger seats, maybe a free coffee.....

To put all my comments into context, I am a late-middle-aged female who almost always travels alone. I've used trains in Italy extensively, and in other countries as well, and have never had any problems whatsoever.

The only thing you must remember if you are travelling on a Regionale train (as you will be from Florence to Lucca) is that you *must* validate (date and time-stamp) your ticket before boarding. Regionale train tickets do not have a date or time printed on them and validation is a way to ensure that people are not cheating the system.

There are validation machines at platform entrances and often on platforms as well. There are on-the-spot fies for non-validation. See photos below of the different types of validation machines in Italy.




answered on 4/12/16 by
a VT member

Thank you so much!!




answered on 4/12/16 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

You are more than welcome. :-)




answered on 5/21/16 by
a VT member

My family spent two weeks in Florence last fall. We did a day trip to Cinque Terre. It was beautiful there in the fall so I can only imagine how nice it would be in the spring or summer. We were booked a trip through Smart Trip and they provided transportation and some limited guidance. It was perfect for us. We liked being able to explore on our own. I would recommend this to anyone looking to save some money. It cost half the price of some of the other groups (we were literally on the same bus with people who paid twice as much) because it is geared for students. We weren't aware of that when we booked. I was concerned that we wouldn't be able to go with them as we clearly weren't students, but they said it was no problem. We were also able to save extra money with promo code. It was ANDREW and we were told it would be effective indefinitely. Give it a shot, maybe you'll save even more. We loved Florence and would love to go back. Enjoy your trip.




answered on 5/21/16 by
Mary Smith from Leicester

I'm glad you enjoyed your tour but must point out that you could have saved far more money by simply making a daytrip by train from Florence to the CT.

Italian trains are safe, comfortable and very easy to use. The journey from Florence to La Spezia takes just a couple of hours. There are frequent trains from La Spezia to all the CT villages...it is very possible to see all 5 of them in one day.

Train times, details and fares in English on the official Italian railway website:

http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

The CT information offices are excellent, providing maps, leaflets and info.





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