I have now been to Italy several times and have travelled around this fabulous country by train most of the time.
Once you get the hang of it, train travel in Italy is easy. It is also a great way to see the beautiful countryside on the way to your next destination.
I have travelled a couple of times using a rail pass, but the last couple of visits have just purchased tickets for each individual trip as we went.
That said, we often have purchased tickets a day or two in advance - particularly if the particular train requires a seat reservation, or if it is a busy time of year.
Purchasing a little in advance also means that you don't miss the train you want to catch due to a huuuuuge queue for tickets....
You could try buying your tickets from the automatic ticket machines at the stations - we have found them quick and easy to use.
Also, I have travelled both first and second class, and didn't really find much difference - travel second class and you can use the extra money to buy more wine/food etc
Just remember with all tickets that you need to validate them in the small yellow ticket machines before you board your train.
Reasonably well organised station if a little crowded. We found the left luggage (deposito bagagli) no problem in the main lobby and the staff were agreeable. We wanted a map but the Tourist Office was closed for a bit. Maybe a toilet (or a smoke) break. Anyway, we got the map when we returned to the station to browse on the train to Rome. It would have been more helpful before! our stroll in Bologna but there you go.
I was approached by one gypsy woman whining for money so that is quite reasonable. It is when I am mobbed I get cranky.
One trap for the unwary is we had had to buy a first class ticket on Eurostar. Travelling just before Xmas and been a bit slack about booking. So we were in carriage 1. Matt worked out in which direction we were going so we headed up that end of the platform. Because I had noticed in Rome the first class carriages always are closest to the front.
Well - the train does the thing in Florence of pulling into the station and heading out again the same way.
So if you get on in Bologna carriage 1 is at the end of the train.
We ran like mad people and nearly busted a gut.
We had heavy suitcases and were a bit tired after strolling around for 4 hours - we are not as young as we used to be - so we were looking for a lift to get down to our platform. Not seeing any escalators.
We spotted a lift and approached it. A young man who appeared to be just idling and leaning against a wall manifested himself and made it clear he was in charge of the lift. Fair enough.
It was a great big goods lift and he deposited us in an underground corridor.
A young woman manifested herself and made it clear she would guide us.
We walked for quite a long way and up ahead we could see a small knot of people chatting. One of them manifested themselves and made it clear she was in charge of the lift that would take us to our platform so in we piled.
And there was our platform.
It took 3 people to get us there. We felt quite over indulged.
And it actually would have been quicker to just use the stairs.
There are a few types of trains going to Venice from Bologna. The fastest is the Eurostar AV train that takes about 1.5 hours and costs 28 euros (as at May 2010) 2nd class. The much more economical option is the regional train that takes about 2 hours and costs 8.90 euros. We picked the regional train. From what I can see, these trains take you from Bologna Centrale directly to Venezia Santa Lucia station, so you don't need to worry about missing your stop. (My friends took great advantage of that and napped the whole way.) It is a pretty doable day trip providing you don't need to go into any of the major sites. We got to Venice by around 10am and returned to Bologna by around 8pm, just in time for dinner.
As mentioned by many others, just make sure you get off at Venezia Santa Lucia, not Venezia Mestre.
Bologna can be easily reached by train from the north and the south of Italy. Although Bologna has its own airport you will probably get to Bologna by train, arriving at "Bologna Centrale" railway station. I am not actually a big fan of Italian Ferrovie dello Stato, trains are pretty old and quite dirty, and thay are often late. Be aware if you need to catch two different trains: if the first is late, probably the second won't, and you'll miss it!! When you buy the ticket, don't forget to validate them in the small yellow ticket machines before you board your train. For more infomation, click here.
From the station you can easily get to downtown by bus
We arrived to Bologna by train and I have to say that this city is well connected.
It is easy to purchase the tickets in the stations but do not forget to validate them before you get into the train. Passengers must validate their tickets by stamping them in the yellow machines, located on the platform, before boarding, to avoid having to pay an extra charge or penalty. This means that you can purchase any ticket before your traveling and when you use it, simple validate.
Bologna train station is big and well connected with buses and taxis.
We met up with Anna outside the station as our "meeting point" to start our stroll.
Bologna Centrale (Rail Station) is located at Piazza Medaglie d'Oro, in the north of the city.
Parking in Bologna -- even getting there via car -- is challenging. So we opted to use the train, which runs frequently to and from both Ravenna and Parma. (Round-trip was about ten euros.) The trip takes about an hour, and although there isn't much of interest to be seen en route, it is pleasant enough to be carried along in air-conditioned comfort. Buses and taxis run from the station on the north side of Bologna to the Piazza Maggiore in the heart of the old city.
Italian trains are safe, comfortable and efficient enough with an extensive network. Getting to or from Bologna by train is very easy.
Bologna Centrale station has been fairly recently extended to cope with the super-fast Freccia trains. I caught the fast Frecciarossa from Milan Centrale, travelling at 296km/h at times and making the journey in around an hour. I'd bought my ticket from the Trenitalia website in advance, taking advantage of online discount fares, so it only cost me 19 euro. I paid the same for the much slower return journey using the Frecciabianca train.
The newish Italo train company also serves Bologna Centrale, also with fast trains. Its fares can sometimes be lower than those of Trenitalia, so it's worth checking: http://www.italotreno.it/
The station can be hugely busy at times (it certainly was when I used it, most especially during commuter hours) but, like all Italian railway stations, it's easy enough to navigate. There's a big electronic departures board in the foyer, platforms are well-signed and there are electronic screens on platforms which not only tell you which train will arrive next but also, when appropriate, tell you which carriage will be where. That matters if you are catching a train for which you have a reserved seat.
The new platforms are deep underground, requiring a series of escalators to get to surface level. That was where I arrived and, to be honest, the signage wasn't particularly good. But the platform work is not yet finished so one hopes things will be better when it is. It was particularly galling to arrive at underground level 1 and then have to carry my bag up a flight of steps. There is a lift, but it's tiny and badly-signed anyway....I only discovered it later on.
You can find details of services at Bologna Centrale on http://www.grandistazioni.it/ (there is an English version).
One point to note: there are good clean toilets ('Servizi') in the station but they cost 1 euro to use. That's very expensive but the charge does at least mean they stay clear of undesirables.
The main station building is neoclassical style, its distinctive fifteenth century facade opens in nine entrance doors, and is towered by the trademark clock tower with its marble pillars. It has the fifth largest passenger traffic in Italy (58 million a year, 800 trains a day).
In August 1980 a terrorist bomb exploded inside the main station killing 85 people and injuring more than 200. The main clock stopped and the time and today still shows the exact time of the explosion so check the others before you start raining for the train.
A large electronic departure board shows the next few hours departures and there are smaller displays on each platform. Tickets can be bought to most destinations via the automated machines which also display in English. Remember to buy your tickets the day before if you want a discount. I found the machines easy to use and like euro notes better than credit cards though maybe it will like your's more lol. There are quite a small few shops in the main lobby area selling food, magazines and tourist tack.
There is a Tourist Information office at the station but I found it useless unless your booking accomodation. Go to the main office at Piazzali Maggiore instead. Busses leave from just outside the main entrance and will take you to anywhere in Bologna.
Bologna is a natural crossroads between Continental Europe and the Mediterranean
basin. It is crossed by goods and people from Europe and the Mediterranean area. The
construction of the Milan-Bologna and Bologna-Florence sections of the High Speed (TAV)
railway is almost completed and a huge multi-level transport hub station is being constructed next to Bologna central station.
Japanese architect Arata Isozaki won the competition to design the new station which is expected to take six years to complete. This doesn't surprise me at all since every day I was in Bologna I crossed the rail bridge there and I have yet to see anyone doing any work.
Bologna is the major centre for railway transportation for the region of Emilia Romagna. Which I find rather logical, given that it’s the region’s capital, after all. This is also the only place (or may be one of two places) where you can purchase Trenitalia, Interrail and other rail passes.
When it comes to rail links, there are many trains linking Bologna with other attractive spots in Emilia Romagna (I shall make a separate entry, I think, to deal with the links to other regions). Most of them are regional trains that stop at most stations, including Rimini, Cesena, Forli, Parma,Fidenza, Ravenna and many others. In fact, there are few rail routes that bypass Bologna.
Some faster trains also cross the region and they all stop in Bologna with stops also in Rimini (for Intercity and Eurostar), Forli, Cesena, Faenza, Imola, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Piacenza, and Fidenza (for Intercity trains).
The size and traffic volume of Bologna Centrale makes it Italy’s fifth-largest train station. An average of 159,000 persons every day, 58 million per year, pass through its 839.5 square-foot facility. Situated in Piazza delle Medaglie d’Oro, 700 trains per day travel in and out of this important rail hub, where Italy’s main North-South and East-West lines intersect. Also, numerous urban and extra-urban bus lines use the area around the station as a terminus.
Bologna Centrale was opened in 1876. The central core was designed by architect Ratti, of the Clementine Academy of Architecture, with 15th-century Florentine influences. In 1926 the west wing was added and in 1934 the east wing was added, combined with the post-World War II alterations these changes have altered the station’s layout and appearance.
This is how we entered Bologna from Milano; and when we took our day trips to Modena and Ferrara we travelled through Bologna Centrale.
It's not difficult to get to Bologna: all railroads pass from here, and most motorways.
The airport is growing, and you can even arrive biking (but be aware of the million cars on the roads).
As a tourist, it is enough to walk around. The centre of the old town can be crossed in 45-60 minutes... Busses can bring you everywhere, the service is quite good (but slow,
because of traffic). Careful, drivers are not very friendly, and you have to buy tickets before boarding. More info: www.atc.bo.it
From the train station to the very centre of the town it's 10 minutes by foot.
From the airport you can take a comfortable aerobus, every 15 minutes connecting the airport with the railway station. Taxi is very expensive.
The rail network is very good from Bologna and this would allow you to travel to lots of different places if you base yourself here for a week or so. The nicest place that we went to was Bolzano. It was a bit too far for a day trip, but we liked it so much that we went back there for 10 days.
the best way is to use the train, its fast and cheap.
Avoid to go to the center of the city with your own car,they have very though rules to regulate the inner city traffic.U probably have to circulate around to park your car.So get your city pass for 12,000 lt from the tabbaco shop and use the bus inside the city.