Italy train tickets from Trenitalia

By Patricia Bunyard
This item appears on page 15 of the December 2012 issue.

Kathy Wilhelm made excellent points in her letter “Buying Train Tickets Online” (Nov ’12, pg. 11).

Before leaving for a May-June ’12 trip to Italy, in late February I purchased several tickets from Trenitalia by setting up an account on the company’s website and booking Mini Fares (now called Super Economy) for all my long-distance train trips. By booking ahead, I saved a considerable amount of money.

For example, a ticket from Trieste, Italy, to Padova usually costs €27 ($35), but, by booking a Mini Fare online, I paid only €9.

Mini Fares are available on most train routes throughout the day, but the number of seats available is limited. Also, purchasing this fare restricts you to the train and departure time booked, and refunds and changes are not permitted. However, I was able to easily book the routes and times I desired.

I paid with my Capital One credit card, as they don’t charge a foreign exchange fee.

By creating an account with Trenitalia, my reservations were saved online. (For increased security, I opted not to save my credit-card info online.)

The website is available in English, so language is not a problem for those not speaking Italian. However, when searching for some cities, it helps to insert the Italian spellings.

When purchasing a ticket, I had a choice to receive confirmation, including the necessary passenger number reference (PNR) code, by mobile device or e-mail. I could also choose to receive my payment receipt by e-mail or have the conductor issue it on the train. This allowed me to board my train without having to pick up a printed ticket or worry about getting a paper ticket stamped before boarding.

On the train, the conductor simply checked the PNR code of my ticket against his electronic printout. It could not have been simpler nor cheaper.

I put a link to the Trenitalia website and a copy of all reservations onto my iPad for easy reference as I traveled. Trenitalia does have a mobile app, but service is available only for domestic Italian numbers.

For shorter trips, I bought my train tickets from the machines inside the train terminals. I did need cash or a chip-and-PIN credit card for those purchases.

Cambria, CA