Trains between Venice and Bolzano

By: Marilyn Hill
This item appears on page 47 of the January 2018 issue.

During a stay at my favorite B&B, Agriturismo Ca’ Beatrice (www.agriturismoca beatrice.it), located in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy and where I paid 90 (near $107) per night, I took a side trip to Bolzano.

On April 29, 2017, I headed from Venice to Bolzano, with a train change in Verona. For the first leg, the train I’d been assigned by Rail Europe (White Plains, NY; 800/622-8600, www.raileurope.com) was the handsome, high-speed Frecciarossa No. 9728; I was in Business Class.

The fare shown on my e-ticket was 19.90 (near $23); Rail Europe had charged me $27. (I had tried to purchase my ticket on Rail Europe’s website but couldn’t put it all together, so I called RailEurope, worked with an agent and they charged it to my credit card. Until I printed the e-ticket, I didn’t know what the price was in euros.)

I took a Frecciarossa from Venice to Verona last year, too, on May 6, 2016, and the price for that leg was $44.

Unlike on last year’s ride, when passengers each were offered a beverage and a snack, during this year’s trip there was no food served. However, this year’s ride was just as smooth and quiet, and I still had room to place my 22-inch bag in an upside-down-V-shaped opening between the back-to-back comfy seats.

My railcar was half empty, so I moved to a single seat facing forward near the exit. The conductor/ticket taker said that that was fine. 

The train departed at 12:02 p.m., made brief stops in Padova (Padua), Vicenza and Bonifacio and arrived in Verona at 1 p.m. It would continue on to Milan.

I had a leisurely connection time in Verona, where I would take Frecciargento No. 8512, this time in First Class, for the trip to Bolzano (with nine quick stops along the way). The fare printed on the e-ticket for this slick, new train was 24.90; Rail Europe had charged me $33. (I almost forgot to print out my e-tickets before I left home!)

When the train came in at Verona, neither door of my designated coach opened. An older Italian businessman standing near me shouted about our situation to the conductor, who was about to wave his flag for the train to go. The conductor ran to us and used a master key to open the closest door. The Italian gentleman quickly helped me up the steps with my luggage. Saved once again!

(I am a youngish solo traveler of 82 but totally dependent upon others to help me with my 22-inch suitcase up and down stairs and on and off trains.)

This Frecciargento train was also bullet-nosed and fast, unlike the German Deutsche Bahn train I took on this route last year, which was old and “shabby” and on which the compartment seating was 3-3 and rather tight. My fare for this leg of the trip last year was $44.

Not sectioned into compartments, seating in the Frecciargento was a normal 2-2, with the pairs of seats facing each other plus individual desk-like tabletops for eating or paperwork. The between-seat luggage storage space wasn’t as large as the Frecciarossa’s, but it was ample. There was food for purchase, but you had to walk to another coach.

As we approached Trento and the mountains beyond, the scenery was beautiful. There were vineyards on either side, some climbing up the steep terraced hillsides. 

We left Verona at 13:47 and arrived in Bolzano at 15:44.

My May 6 return from Bolzano direct to Mestre/Venice was in First Class on EuroCity train No. 1289. Before reaching Mestre, 2-minute stops were made at Trento, Vicenza and Padova, with a 10-minute stop in Verona. 

The fare of $82 was printed on the paper ticket, which had been mailed to me before I left. (Last year’s return trip, also direct from Bolzano to Venice, cost $69.)

I’ve discovered that booking a rail trip two months in advance is about right. If I call Rail Europe much earlier, usually I am unable to book the ticket because they don’t have that segment in the computer yet (although they will call me back when they do have it, if I leave my number).

While waiting in Bolzano for the train, my volunteer “helper” was a young Italian woman and her two tiny sons, each with his little wheeled carry-on. (Bolzano is in Italy, but she was German-speaking, as are a large percentage of Bolzano residents, but she also spoke perfect English.)

We had been misdirected to the front end of the long train, so when the train arrived, we had to run to the other end to reach the First Class car. However, we weren’t quite fast enough, and the conductor made us board a couple of cars before ours since we were the only ones not on yet and the train was about to depart. (I have finally learned that if you are in Business or First Class, chances are your coach is at the end.)

On the EuroCity No. 1289, the compartment seating was 2-2, with a large square tabletop buffer between each set of seats. However, luggage had to go overhead, and I needed help with that. (I cleverly left the compartment early to be first in line to get off, so someone would have to help with my suitcase before they could depart, themselves.)

The train departed Bolzano at 11:17 and arrived in Mestre at 13:44. From Mestre, it was a 25 taxi fare to Ca’Beatrice. (Last year, I was able to split the cost with a fellow who was going to the airport.)

(The stop at the Mestre station was brief, and if I hadn’t gotten off in time, I would have ended up at the train’s final stop, the Santa Lucia station in Venice, and have to cross back over the Calatrava Bridge to catch the bus to Ca’Beatrice.)

For my round trip from Venice to Bolzano, the 2017 fares came to about $186.50 — $143 for the three trip segments, $18 for handling fees and $25.50 for insurance. I also bought the “Rail Protection Plan” from Rail Europe, which added $8.50 to each of the three segments.

I haven’t mentioned that I don’t carry a cell phone, and my ability to speak Italian is limited, so if anything goes awry, I am up a creek without a paddle. But I find today’s major Italian trains to be dependable, on time and well designed. 

MARILYN HILL

Portland, OR