Train travel in Italy...
The best site I have run across to date describing train travel in Italy, is the one I have indicated below. It will show you everything you need to know, from buying tickets, to chosing your mode of travel, to figuring out which car is 'second class', or how to deal with a person occupying your reserved seat. This site really is a gold mine.
I take no credit for this information. The author of that site (Alice Twain) has devoted great time and effort in collecting the tips as indicated. Many thanks Alice from our VT readers..., you will save us all a lot of confusion.
If you have found this tip to be of assistance to you, please send me an e-mail so I in turn may notify the author. She really deserves a lot of credit for compiling this wealth of information. ....Pa (mapakettle)
- Budget Travel
Automated ticket machines 'speak' English...
The automated ticket machines found at the train station take a bit of getting used to, however the task is easier than you think.
The opening screen allows you to chose the language you will do the transaction in. Just 'touch' the flag of your choice. Follow the steps, but be aware that you will be offered various 'classes' of travel, one more expensive than the next. It is interesting to compare the prices, often there isn't too much of a difference.
You can play with the machine, and can go all the way with various transactions to get used to how it works, and you can 'escape' at the very end once it indicates the price.
Suggest you check the departures board prior to purchasing a ticket to find out when each train 'class' to your destination leaves. You may wish to purchase a more expensive ticket in order to depart earlier. Remember, if you decide to wait for a cheaper train, and then spend your idle time in the restaurant, then you may have defeated your purpose.
Don't let it deter you, take your time, and don't be intimidated by the long lines of people behind you.
- Budget Travel
Validate your train ticket...or pay a fine !!
Once you have gone through the stressful process of buying a train ticket, remember, you must validate it, or chance getting fined by the conductor.
If you purchase your ticket through a machine, there is a slot to insert your ticket into. Often, they do not work properly, so listen for the stamping mechanism in action, then check to see if an imprint was made on the end of the ticket.
If not, there are numerous validation machines spotted throughout the station. Look for yellow boxes situated before the doors on either side of the entrance leading to the platform. Failing that, don't despair, there is a machine located at the entrance to every binario along the underground tunnel.
Often the yellow boxes are on the platforms themselves, but not always. Don't count on it. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
If you board the train, and realize you have forgotten to validate, search for the conductor. Find him, before he finds (and fines) you.
Automated Ticket Vending Machines...learn how
These machines are great...when they are functional. First thing to look for, are signs taped to the machine advising of a malfunction. Second, not all machines accept credit cards, or conversely, will accept cash (often will not accept 50 euro bill, so carry smaller denominations). Look for the permanently attached notice affixed to the face of the machine. We have stood patiently in many lines, only to find the machine would not accept our payment method. LOOK FIRST.
All machines display flags of origin, just like ATM machines do, select your language on the touch screen. Just follow the directions given, but be advised if you must 'spell' your destination, the touch screen is not very accurate. Check to see if the letter you touched actually was displayed. Speed does not work here. Take your time, and don't hesitate to look over your shoulder at a fellow traveller, and shrug, with a questioned look on your face. They are very willing to assist. (...they want you out of the way so they can purchase their own ticket)
I suggest you practice on a machine while waiting for your connection. You can do all the functions, up to the point of inserting payment, just to see how they work. Will save you time and anxiety the next time you need to make a last minute connection.
After your purchase, remember to validate your ticket. Also, check for change if you used cash. The machine is slow on giving it.
Find a map of rail destinations....
It is very helpful to carry a map of the towns the trains pass through. Often, you are questioning if you are on the right train. You should ask fellow travellers, but if they don't understand you, they often smile and nod. (just like I do). You're not much further ahead unless you strike gold and they speak your language., but who says they know anymore than you. Finding a conductor is difficult, so you are on your own.
Consult your map as you pass through stations. If you find yourself in unknown territory not shown on your map...start to worry, but just a little. Sit in the centre of the train if possible, so you can see the station signs which indicate the town you are arriving at. If you are near the end, you won't see the signs until you are leaving, which doesn't do you much good.
Don't despair, if you are on the wrong train, just get off at the next station, and return the way you came. Trains are so frequent, that isn't a big deal. If you've screwed up, so what, you've had an ADVENTURE. Another story to tell when you've returned home.
Check the Departure board....
Departure times, and departure platforms tend to change, so check the 'arrivals/departures' board before heading out with luggage in tow. If you miss a connection due to a change in platforms, and even if the change occurred at the very last moment, tough tooty. The administration consider it your responsibility to keep yourself apprised of any and all changes.
The locals may hear announcements over the loudspeaker, but if you are Italian 'challenged', then announcements don't help much. On the lighter side, most announcements sound like Darth Vader anyway...
The binario is the 'gate' or 'platform' that the train is departing from. The boards are located overhead, both in the station itself, and on every platform.
When you arrive on the binario (platform), note that they are numbered, but each side (left/right) is different. Don't be careless. Also, as the train is arriving, check the other lit box indicating which train it is. Be aware that it may indicate the final destination of the train, rather than your destination. A map of train stations is invaluable to have.
Did another bus tour today...
Ma Kettle and I had gone down to Prato to wander the huge open air market, bought two pair of pants for twelve euro, a 100% cotton table cloth for six euro, and found ourselves with only a 100 euro bill, plus coinage, and no one 'would' change it. We looked for an ATM, but couldn't find any around the square.
We had no choice but to go in search of this ellusive money minder, but, to no avail. We found ourselves in unfamiliar territory, and having walked many miles already today, we decided to treat ourselves to a bus ride home. Well, we hopped on the first bus that came along. It was a #8, and knew it would take us back to the train station, and we could walk home from there. Problem was, we went the wrong way. Too confident, to tired to check. We just 'assumed'.
Another adventure begins. Ok, this isn't club hopping, but for our age, it is exciting. We travelled for miles, going the wrong way, and discovered neighbourhoods we didn't know existed. We saw restaurants we'd heard about, found portable beds (for our summer visitors) and spotted an English bookstore (we think, we're still discussing who is right in this matter), and the list goes on. We found the area we got lost in last November, late at night (another story), and saw 'why' we got lost. (I was right...)
All in all, a productive day for the 'kettles'.
As I said, not 'clubbing', but for us, almost like a trek through the Amazon Rain Forest. Remember, we were tired....
- Budget Travel
Line up for a taxi....
Don't try to wave down a taxi in Padova, they won't stop. Taxis are dispatched by radio, and you are given a pick up time, and to their credit, they are accurate within a couple of minutes (strange as it seems).
Upon arrival at Padova train station, line up outside at the designated pick-up, immediately in front of the main doors. Taxis drop off their fares at one end, and drive forward to where you are standing. Don't bother walking back to where the drop off area is, it won't help, plus you will get yelled at. We've seen it happen, and it warmed our hearts. Depending upon how busy they are, (as is natural of course), the system is orderly, efficient, and fairly quick.
ORDERING BY PHONE
When you order a taxi by phone, you first get a recording (in Italian), telling you to stay on the line, after a minute or two, a dispatcher (real person) comes on, says "Radio Taxi", and you have to be ready to give your pick-up point or address. Immediately you will be told how long before the taxi will arrive, and the car number, which is located above the front fender. It throws you at first, if you don't realize that your first contact is with a recorded message. Just stay on the line....
Taxis are exceptionally clean, and drivers courteous and helpful. Taxis are white in colour, come in all sizes, wagons, vans, cars, with the occasional Mercedes thrown in. Quite a treat. The drivers normally own their own cars.
- Work Abroad
City Buses...great way to sight see
Grab a city bus map from the train station, buy a few bus tickets either at the station or from a tobacco shop (book of 12 cost 12.00 euro) or purchase from the red box on board for 1.50. Caution, not all buses have ticket dispensers. Drivers don't sell tickets or carry cash.
Buses don't necessarily stop at every bus stop, so stick your arm out, rather like pointing, when you see your bus approaching. You can board either at the front or at the rear. The middle doors are for exiting only. Take note before boarding of the route number of your bus (above windshield, and on the side)
Validate your ticket in the yellow/orange box found near front and rear doors by inserting the ticket in the slot. The machine will stamp your ticket with the current date and time. In Padova, the ticket is valid for 75 minutes, and you can get on and off at will.
Find your route number indicated on the map and follow with your finger so you'll have an idea where you are. When you see an interesting neighborhood, ring the bell beside each seat(orange, white, black, or red) and the sign above the middle exit door will flash. (if you don't hear the bell, look to see if the sign is flashing anyway, another person may already have depressed the button for their stop). Get off and explore.
You will find great restaurants, shopping, and wonderful people this way, because you're away from the tourist areas. Food is cheaper, as it is intended for local consumption. Be adventurous, you won't get lost, and if all else fails, simply cross the street and catch a bus returning the way you came, just watch for the route number.
To check for arrival times, look at the metal sign overhead to find your location, then find your location and arrival time on the printed schedule at the stop. Note the number in the little box, bottom right corner, and add that to the arrival time as indicated....that will give you a very close approximation. Buses are usually on time.
We have found most bus drivers to be very helpful.
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
Quick train ticket purchases to Venice
If you want to travel to Venice, Verona, or any other close destination (within 40 km's), go to the baggage storage area, and buy a ticket from the clerk who also can store your luggage for you. You miss the long lines, and tickets cost the same as from ticket agents or from the machines (and usually one or more are down for maintenance), and if you're returning the same day, buy a return ticket, it'll save you having to line up later. I believe this service is available at other train stations, and tickets could be purchased for their local area also. If in doubt, ask.
The customer service representative in Padova is very helpful....I can't remember his name, but will update when I can. (he speaks English)
As a point of interest, a pair of 'return' tickets to Verona from Padova cost 9.80 euro. These tickets are for the Regionale trains. If you have need to upgrade to Eurostar due to scheduling difficulties as Ma Kettle and I did last night (we missed our cheapy train), buying a suppliment from the conductor will cost an 'additional' 11.98 euro. Quite a difference in price.
The return trip was fast, and extremely comfortable, and this was only second class. First Class on Eurostar is an unnecessary expense, even for longer distances.
On the local bus
Get bus tickets at Tobacchi shops or in front of the train station there is a small building with two windows where they sell tickets, single-double or monthly if you have the correct documents. You can also get a bus map, called a piantina or cartina or mappa...
I just want to point out to tourists and visitors that the bus tickets are two sided. So don't throw away your ticket before you check the other side because you will probably have two rides availalble on this ticket.
The tram can also be used with the same bus tickets. You get a little over an hour to complete your direction. The time will be stamped on the ticket by the yellow machine on the bus or tram.
Knowing this can be very handy and save you some money.
Don't ride for free, they have groups of men who catch people trying this roaming throughout Padova.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Bicycle - the best way to get around
"You mean... you walked here? What happened to your bike?"
I'd only been in Padova for a few days before the constant questioning of the whereabouts of my bicycle made it dawn on me that this truly is the way to get around. And now that I finally have transport, I'm never going back! There is something wonderful about rolling through the markets in the morning and returning home with the wind on your face and a basket full of fresh produce. Even the nannas take part.
Even for a short visit, I would recommend finding (renting? temporarily buying?) a bike. It gives you the chance to see Padova as the locals see it.
A warning, however: the biggest crime here seems to be bike theft. Get a security chain you think Houdini couldn't crack. Otherwise you may be walking your market goodies to the bus stop.
Shuttle from and to the airports
I live in Padova and when I have to fly from Venice I usually use a shuttle bus called Airservice that pick me up at home (but work also with every other town address) and take you to the airport and back.
It cost 28 euros each person each trip and I found it convenient if you have lots of luggage and dont want to bother with a long and multichange bus/train ride. Also better than leave my car to the Venice airport's parking lot that is awfully expensive.
The service is provided by Taxy Padova and the rate is fixed so you wont have surprise when it comes the time to pay the bill. I think they take also credit card.
It is required to book it ahead of time, they will wait you at the arrival area (probably near the exit door) holding a sign with your name (tell them to do this when you book). They usually drive a white twelve seats van with Airservice wrote on the side.
Recently they started to serve also all the other Northern Italy's airports like Treviso, Verona, Bologna, Bergamo and Milano, look at their site for all the rates.
Buying bus tickets
APS (Yellow bus)...
There are two locations to buy bus tickets, one located 'within' the train station, and they sell tickets for APS, (a yellow bus), and these are Linee Extraurbane which simply means buses that travel to limited destinations outside the city limits. For places like Abano Terme and Torrelia, these appear to be more frequent than Sita, plus these buses depart from immediately in front of the train station.
Sita (Blue bus)...
This other location, is under the portico of the Padova Train station, outside of the actual building. They sell Sita Bus tickets, (a blue bus), and these buses travel to all points 'outside' of Padova. Some Sita buses stop at the train station, but only for certain destinations. Besides selling Sita Bus tickets, this is the baggage storage area, and you can also purchase kilometer train tickets here (a much quicker way to buy a train ticket to Venice)
Prices are very similar between companies, for example APS charges 1.90 (one way) to Torreglia, Sita charges 1.95 (one way), however, if you buy directly from the bus driver, the ticket will cost 3.00 euro.
Be aware that APS Bus tickets, and Sita Bus tickets are not interchangeable. These are two completely different companies. You must be aware which company goes where, and be sure of the schedules...not an easy feat. Do not rely upon the knowledge of the clerk selling you tickets. They are not very knowledgeable, and often are wrong.
- Budget Travel
Take the tram!
The first line of a planned three-line tram network was inaugurated in Padova in 2007. The line runs from the Northern to the southern suburbs of the city and is very useful for tourists, since it stops at the railway station, at the Eremitani (convent and Cappella degli Scrovegni with Giotto's frescoes), at the Basilica del Santo (Saint Anthony basilica) and at Prato della Valle, the main square of Padova and one of the largest in Europe.
The website of the tram contains many information, but it is only in Italian. However, this page may be useful, as it shows the traject of the line. At this other page you find the timetables for workdays first, Sundays and holidays next.
The ticket is the same as for buses and is valid 75 minutes. You can buy a 9-ticket booklet for 10 euro.
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