Subject: Trains in Italy and in Europe
Hi Ziners!!!

For all of you who asked about train reservations in Italy, a little explanation on the railway system. There are mainly 4 kinds of trains in Italy: - Eurostar (formerly known as Pendolino): the fastest one, requires a supplement and a reservation. The reservation can be done till 20min. before the train's departure at the station, a bit earlier from a travel agency. Usually there's not problem in finding a seat unless some special event (elections, demostrations, soccer games, ......). - Intercity: still a fast train, requires a supplement and the reservation can be done (2 hours before the train's departure) but is not obligatory. I was once on a train from Rome to Milan right after a demostration and the day after Roma played in Milan.... the train was packed but i found my seat without a reservation!). - Rapid and Inter-regional: slower trains (unless the name!), does not require a supplement and it's not possible to reserve a seat. Usually for short routes. - Local: very slow and usually not of interest for tourists. For buying the ticket and the reservation, from a big city as Rome and Milan, I would recomend to do it from a travel agency rather than at the station, in order to avoid the line. Travel agencies do not have overprices on train tickets. Be sure to check if the agency has the connection to the railway, otherwise they may require you to go back later to pick up the ticket. BTW most of the agencies do have the connection.

In the rest of Europe the system is similar. France and Germany has supplements on fast trains too, other countries usually not. TGV (in France) and Thalys (in Germany) follow the same rules of the Italian Pendolino and are rated Eurostar too. Other than these trains, the reservation is never obligatory, even if they say so in order to make tourists pay! (I traveled extensively around Europe by train and NEVER had a reservation!).

Hope this help. Later Flavio in Rome