Subject: Italan trains
Hello Andrew

The Italian train system can't be considered the best of the world, but it works well enough to rely on it. :-)

>Train reservations can't be made by phone, can they? Nope, sorry, but you can do them in advance as much as you want

>If we reserve through a travel agent, will they expect us to buy the
>tickets from them rather than just pay the small reservation fee? I guess so, because the agency revenue on both ticket and reservcations are usually low. BTW, not any travel agency is able to issue reservations and tickets, just the few Authorized by FS (Railway Authority for those who wonder)

>because when I used the Umbertide travel agent four years ago, they
>weren't equipped to take credit cards. If that's still the case, would a
>big travel agency, such as CIT in Perugia, take credit cards for train
>tickets? Will the total cost of the tickets and reservations be the same
>whether I use a travel agent or book at a station? Credit cards use is spreading in Italy, together with ATM or bank cards like Maestro. You have anyway to notice before shopping you'll be paying by credit card; the prices for tickets/reservations are the same both at the station and the travel agency, but I suppose the agency will try to debit a little more to recover the amount lost to credit card company fee. If you're willing to go to Perugia, then you can book and pay everything at the railway station if you hold a VISA card. You can of course make any reservation for any kind of train leaving from anywhere at any date etc..>

>I'm planning to stop in Verona; I see that it will be the beginning of the
>Arena season and it may be hard to get lodging, so I was thinking of
>stopping for a day and getting a train to Milan when I'm ready, without
>advance commitment to one of the frequent trains on the route. If, when
>I'm ready, the next train requires reservations, can I make a reservation
>even though the train may have left its starting point in Trieste or
>Venice and the seats can't be marked? Would it be like getting on a plane
>where all the seats are presumed to be reserved? You can't make a reservation on a train already departed from its head station, but you can pay the additional charge required for intercity train and board it anytime, hoping for a free seat or stand all the way. I don't know if it works this way for eurostar trains too. BTW most trains on the route Venice to Milan depart from Venice at on hourly timetable, so if you can book half a day in advance you can probably grab a seat.One more thing you probably already know: 1st class is less crowded then 2nd one and you're usually able to find a seat without reservation.

Hope this helps.

Have a nice trip.

Paolo Trieste, Italy