August 26, 2011, 03:05 AM
Florence to Tuscany
Hello! We are taking our first trip to Italy (actually our first trip out of the U.S) and we need some advice on going from Florence to Lucca.
We are staying at the Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence and we would like to spend a few hours in Lucca.
We don't speak Italian, so we are not sure about taking the train (afraid of getting lost!)
Would you please advise us on how the trains work? I assume we make our way to the train station and buy the tickets right before we board the train?
Is there only ONE train that goes to Lucca? What is it called?
Thanks for any and all advice!
August 27, 2011, 01:02 AM
I meant to say, "Florence to Lucca". Sorry
August 29, 2011, 08:33 AM
Ciao Anne Marie,
Welcome to our DT forum! What an exciting prospect, organizing your very first trip out of the US. I remember when I first came to Italy as a college student, it was so exciting and at the same time daunting, particularly because of the language. I can reassure you that it won't be very difficult to get around or to make yourself understood, so many people speak English as well as many that don't, but with universal hand gestures one is always able to communicate!
The train system isn't too difficult to figure out. There are smaller train stations (such as the one in Lucca) and larger ones which will be more busy (such as the one in Florence) but they all pretty much are set up the same way. As you enter, there is a ticket office to one side where you'll also find self-service machines with English language menus that you can use to buy your own tickets (and pay with a credit card) as well as windows to speak to a ticket salesperson. Then there are the train tracks (called binario (singular) and binari (plural) in Italian) with numbers to help you find the right train. In between there are usually monitors or large display boards that show arriving trains (Arrivi) and soon to depart trains (Partenze. These will tell you the time, destination and track of the trains leaving in the next hour or so. So as you arrive, you will see your train on there and it will tell you which track to head to.
Tickets to Lucca are all regional trains, which means that there is one fixed cost for all seats on the train and no assigned seating - it is a more of a first-come, first-serve basis. If the train is departing from Florence at 10am for example, you should try to be at the train track 15 min before to get on the train and search for seating that you like. There used to be smoking cars and non-smoking cars, now they should all be non-smoking.
The most important detail to remember: these types of tickets for regional use are valid for 2 months from the date of purchase, not for any particular date or train. That way you can buy a ticket and pick whatever train you want! Were you to miss your train for some reason, no problem! Just catch the next one
But the important detail to remember is this: as you head to your track, look for small yellow machines at the beginning of the track or before you head toward the tracks. These are ticket validating machines - they stamp the date and time on your ticket, showing you are about to use it. It keeps people honest, so that they can't reuse the same ticket over and over. If the ticket controller comes along and asks for your ticket but you didn't stamp it, you will be given a fine! So better to remember to stamp your ticket before you get on the train.
You should search for timetables on the train website: Trenitalia.
There are trains from Florence to Lucca and back all day, but it would be useful for you to pick which one you want to take to organize your day trip. If you feel apprehensive about the first time you use the trains, you could just take it in steps, buy your tickets a day ahead that way you already have that part down!
Hope you're enjoying planning your trip, don't hesitate to let us know if you have any other questions, we're glad to help!
August 31, 2011, 11:01 PM
Thank you very much, Lourdes. I'm sure I'll be asking more advice, if you don't mind!