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Traveling Italy near Christmas

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21. Posted by lil_lil (Travel Guru 462 posts) 7y

Sounds good. Rome can definitely benefit from an extra day of stay.

Another note re the Cinque Terre Pass that my friend reminded me of. You won't strictly need it for the 2-3 days that you're in the area, as general access is not pass requiring. Get one for the day that you'll be hiking the trail should be sufficient. If you're uncertain how many day of pass you should get, check with the information centre (there should be one at La Spezia train station).

Therefore, for the train tickets, buy accordingly. It'll be cheap enough to get R ticket for La Spezia-Riomaggiore on the first day of your arrival, and another on the last day in the opposite direction before heading to Pisa. On day 2, when you do have the pass, you can decide yourself if the train supplement is required. Could be an idea to get, say, if the weather forecast doesn't seem great and you may find yourself needing to hop onto a train after it starts raining or something. But then again you could also buy ticket individually if you actually need one. Your call. ;)

22. Posted by patjk (Budding Member 35 posts) 7y

Quoting lil_lil

Sounds good. Rome can definitely benefit from an extra day of stay.

Another note re the Cinque Terre Pass that my friend reminded me of. You won't strictly need it for the 2-3 days that you're in the area, as general access is not pass requiring. Get one for the day that you'll be hiking the trail should be sufficient. If you're uncertain how many day of pass you should get, check with the information centre (there should be one at La Spezia train station).

Therefore, for the train tickets, buy accordingly. It'll be cheap enough to get R ticket for La Spezia-Riomaggiore on the first day of your arrival, and another on the last day in the opposite direction before heading to Pisa. On day 2, when you do have the pass, you can decide yourself if the train supplement is required. Could be an idea to get, say, if the weather forecast doesn't seem great and you may find yourself needing to hop onto a train after it starts raining or something. But then again you could also buy ticket individually if you actually need one. Your call. ;)

Ah, that makes sense. I will definitely get it for the day I hike, because a train + pass for that day is nearly the 8.50 EUR anyways. Where do I buy Cinque Terre Treno Pass (pass+trains)? Also, do you know the estimated time I takes to train on the R from the southern most village to the northern most?

Additionally, I notice several hostels throughout Italy accept cash only. Are there lots of ATM's around? If not, what is the best way to get cash as I travel throughout Italy?

Also, is it normal to "tip" in Italy? I was in Germany a couple months ago and I was told not to add a tip at restaurants (meaning add like 15% to the bill to give to the person serving you). I am wondering if the same is true for Italy.

Thanks again.

23. Posted by lil_lil (Travel Guru 462 posts) 7y

You can buy the pass from the information centres at the train stations. Here's a list of them. Train from Riomaggiore to Monterosso takes about 20 minutes at most.

There are ATMs around in Italy but I can't tell you exactly where to find them. You should see a good few Banca Popolare around where they would have ATMs, or look out for signs of Bancomats at the major train stations. I tend to just carry cash with me, because regular withdrawals will incur quite a lot of bank charges (unless your bank has specific agreements with particular bank to not charge anything). If you're carrying cash, needless to say, be careful with where you keep them etc. Pickpockets work fast and your whole wallet could be gone within seconds. Always try to stash the cash in different places/compartments (e.g. wallet, inside passport holder, jeans front pocket, inside compartment of rucksack etc). I normally estimate how much I may need for the day and put that money in my pocket, using that as I go along so that I take out my purse in view as little as possible.

If you're carrying daypack e.g. in Rome, in busy places, try to swing your bag to the front so you can actually see it, and that it's not just at your back all the time.

In Italy, "coperto" (cover charge) is already charged per person when you eat at restaurants. If there's any service included, it would be indicated as "servizio incluso". Tipping at 15% level is definitely not required. You could leave say €1 or round up the figure to the nearest euro. Here's a recent article on tipping in Italy as general guide.

I don't know what the eating situation is now like in Cinque Terre (it has been a long long time since I was there) but there were places that sell pizza and savoury bread slices by weight and usually prices for those are reasonable. This is usually done on take-away basis as well.

24. Posted by patjk (Budding Member 35 posts) 7y

Quoting lil_lil

Well, we know now why tickets couldn't be bought beyond 12 Dec previously. Trenitalia has a new pricing system, and it seems like Amica prices have been replaced. Instead now there's possibility of meno15 or meno30 prices, meaning, depending on availability, 15% or 30% off the base price. (Amica would have given 20% off)

Yes, ES/ES* trains would usually be more expensive than IC, because of the newer train, plus they do tend to arrive just a little quicker than IC (although usually not too big of a difference).

As I have mentioned previously, whenever an option is given together with R trains, discounts will not be available. So if you buy your ticket straight on to Monterosso, the price is (2nd class, one way):

  • via ES*city then R - €47.40
  • via IC then R - €33.90

If you buy Rome to La Spezia and La Spezia to Monterosso separately:

  • via ES*city - €45.50 (base) / €39.00 (meno15) + no more than €5.50 for the R train
  • via IC - €32.00 (base) / €28.00 (meno15) + no more than €5.50 for the R train

Unfortunately I can't find the price for La Spezia-Monterosso on the R train, but based on searches, and IC train would have cost €5.50 so that's the maximum you'll be paying but based on experience/knowledge on other short-distance R trains, it really shouldn't be more than €2 - €3. Not being able to buy R train ticket online is not a biggie since it's a non-reservation train anyway. You can buy it when you're in Rome at the train station.

If you're don't mind the inconvenient of getting tickets separately, I would say buy separately because the discounts make sense. You could potentially save up to €4 - €5 for the ES*city and R combined. If you're going with IC and R, the saving is probably €2 - €3. Of course the IC and R combination is also going to be nearly a whooping €10 cheaper than ES*city and R combination.

RO OST refers to Roma Ostiense station, meaning the train will stop there for a pickup after departing from Roma Termini. Not sure what "* solution applies to next day" you're talking about since I'm not seeing that on my screen when I do the searches. I don't think it's particularly important in any case.

Sorry I don't know much re accommodation in the region to be giving any advises on that.

I am purchasing the tickets now, but I don't see how to get the 15 or 30% discounts you are referring to. Do I have to enter in a code somewhere, and if so, where do I enter it? I haven't seen anything yet, and I am at the payment page.

Cheers.

25. Posted by patjk (Budding Member 35 posts) 7y

Quoting patjk

Quoting lil_lil

Well, we know now why tickets couldn't be bought beyond 12 Dec previously. Trenitalia has a new pricing system, and it seems like Amica prices have been replaced. Instead now there's possibility of meno15 or meno30 prices, meaning, depending on availability, 15% or 30% off the base price. (Amica would have given 20% off)

Yes, ES/ES* trains would usually be more expensive than IC, because of the newer train, plus they do tend to arrive just a little quicker than IC (although usually not too big of a difference).

As I have mentioned previously, whenever an option is given together with R trains, discounts will not be available. So if you buy your ticket straight on to Monterosso, the price is (2nd class, one way):

  • via ES*city then R - €47.40
  • via IC then R - €33.90

If you buy Rome to La Spezia and La Spezia to Monterosso separately:

  • via ES*city - €45.50 (base) / €39.00 (meno15) + no more than €5.50 for the R train
  • via IC - €32.00 (base) / €28.00 (meno15) + no more than €5.50 for the R train

Unfortunately I can't find the price for La Spezia-Monterosso on the R train, but based on searches, and IC train would have cost €5.50 so that's the maximum you'll be paying but based on experience/knowledge on other short-distance R trains, it really shouldn't be more than €2 - €3. Not being able to buy R train ticket online is not a biggie since it's a non-reservation train anyway. You can buy it when you're in Rome at the train station.

If you're don't mind the inconvenient of getting tickets separately, I would say buy separately because the discounts make sense. You could potentially save up to €4 - €5 for the ES*city and R combined. If you're going with IC and R, the saving is probably €2 - €3. Of course the IC and R combination is also going to be nearly a whooping €10 cheaper than ES*city and R combination.

RO OST refers to Roma Ostiense station, meaning the train will stop there for a pickup after departing from Roma Termini. Not sure what "* solution applies to next day" you're talking about since I'm not seeing that on my screen when I do the searches. I don't think it's particularly important in any case.

Sorry I don't know much re accommodation in the region to be giving any advises on that.

I am purchasing the tickets now, but I don't see how to get the 15 or 30% discounts you are referring to. Do I have to enter in a code somewhere, and if so, where do I enter it? I haven't seen anything yet, and I am at the payment page.

Cheers.

Ah, I see. I waited too long. It has to be done 1 week in advance to get the discount.

26. Posted by patjk (Budding Member 35 posts) 6y

The trip ended up going incredibly well and smooth (other than the Megabus in London - tip, don't ever use Megabus going out of London Victoria Coach). Thanks a lot to lil_lil for all the helpful advice and direction.

I didn't get on a bus once in Rome. My hostel was a block from Roma Termini, and I was able to walk all over Rome quite easily. It allowed me to see much more of the city by foot, and I was able to avoid the incredibly crowded buses (yes, even in the middle of December).

Cinque Terre was practically empty, and the trail was amazing, and the weather was luckily very nice the day I hiked. The Mar-Mar was one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in, and I'd highly suggest it.

Pisa can easily be walked in a couple hours (it is about a 20 minute walk to the Tower from the Pisa Centrale). The easiest way to get to the Tower is head straight out of the main entrance of Pisa Centrale and head in that direction. In about 10 min, you will hit the river, cross over the river and cross the road on the other side. The road splits left and right. Take the right split (via Roma) and you will run straight into the Tower in about 10 minutes.

Florence is quite small, and can be walked easily. In 2 days you can easily see the entire city and relax.

A couple things I noticed: Florence seemed to have very little homeless people and scam artists around compared to Rome. In Florence, I saw police basically overseeing any tourist area, while in Rome, I saw no police overseeing any tourist area.

I will see if I can contribute anything to the existing guides.

Cheers.

27. Posted by lil_lil (Travel Guru 462 posts) 6y

Yay, so happy to hear your trip went well, although it was a pity that you missed out on the discounted train ticket. Happy new year!

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