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We will be in Italy (for the first time) this week! :-)

Our itinerary is:

17th - 20th Venice
20th - 22nd Florence
22nd - 22nd Pisa (quick view of the Leaning Tower)
22nd - 26th Rome

So as you can see, the 22nd is going to be a busy day. Last time I was in Europe (2000), I had booked train travel from Paris to Brussels but I believe I did it online.

So my question is this. Do I have to book these reservations in advanced or can we just go up to the train stations and get tickets for the same day? We will be two adults and one child. We would prefer high-speed if available.

So it looks like we would be buying tickets on the 20th and 22nd. But on the 22nd, we would be buying tickets twice.

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Skip Pisa and spend the extra time in Florence. Pisa is not worth the detour. It's just a big disappointment. –  PERSONA NON GRATA Nov 12 '12 at 17:47
    
Or buy a Florence-Rome via Pisa at Firenze SMN station. So that you need only one visit to the ticket desk the 22nd. Note that if you want to climb the leaning tower, you need to be there early in the morning to book the ticket. –  mouviciel Nov 12 '12 at 19:08
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I would suggest you to visit Siena instead of Pisa, in my opinion is really better. –  Maverik Nov 13 '12 at 15:57
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With Italian trains, don't schedule your connections too tightly, since they don't always run on time. Particularly the local trains, an hour delay is not that unusual. –  200_success Nov 18 '12 at 5:25
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2 Answers 2

You can obtain train tickets online on the Trenitalia website. It's better because you block the seats.

There is certainly a high-speed connection between Florence and Rome. It's called Freccia Rossa. It takes 1.5 hours and starts every 30 minutes.

The 22nd I would do Florence-Pisa-Florence-Rome.

Florence-Pisa takes more or less one hour and you have trains every 30 minutes.

Venezia-Florence is also a high speed connection (Freccia Argento). It takes two hours and stars every 30 minutes.

Edit

As @user1187008 said, a good alternative to the Pisa-Florence-Rome route is the Freccia Bianca train. Direct Pisa-Rome connection that takes 2h50m and costs less than the Freccia Rossa

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If I may complete lucaghera's answer, I would add that buying the ticket in advance online it is more probable to find some good offers (tickets could be available at half the normal price). Moreover, I travel from Pisa to Rome once every two week and I can say that a good alternative to the Pisa-Florence-Rome route is the "Frecciabianca" train. Direct Pisa-Rome connection that takes 2h50m and costs less than the "Frecciarossa". –  shard Nov 12 '12 at 6:58
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In general, with high speed trains between the major tourist cities (Rome, Florence, Venice, etc), you are better off booking in advance, especially for the high season summer months. The cheapest seats tend to sell out before the travel date, so you may end up paying more than you'd like.

As mentioned before, Trenitalia is the longest established company for fast train travel between major cities, but you should really check out their new competitor Italo.

As they are newer, Italo has brand new cars, a newer website, and tend to sell out less quickly. I tried them in summer of 2013 and was very pleased with the service. Trains were on time and easy to deal with, conductors were very helpful and spoke English. They also have "lounges" in certain stations where you can buy tickets and talk to customer reps. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before this secret is out and they will sell out at the same rate as Tren Italia.

One note: both web sites have quirks for booking, although Italo had far fewer. You might need to try a few times or try a few different payment methods to get through.

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