Meeting Your Trip in PISA or EMPOLI

This page offers help (concrete or informational) on reaching your trip. Topics include...

  1. Where you Join Your Trip (see immediately below)
  2. Our “Access Packages,” designed to help you to do so.
  3. Suggestions on how to time your trip to the trip, whether you are having us arrange your travel, or doing it yourself.
  4. Service information regarding train travel to your trip start location.
  5. Suggested pre-trip visits, especially when these are not geographically obvious, but are rendered economical and convenient by direct rail connections.
  6. Hopefully helpful hints for those setting up their own travel to the trip.

If you wish to arrange some or all of your travel through us, please tell us what by means of this response questionnaire, designed to collect all the information we need to be able to book your travel.



1.  WHERE Do You Join Your Trip?

The trip assembles on Sunday morning at 9a in Pisa, at our hotel.

An alternate meeting is proposed at the Empoli railway station, between 11a and noon.
Empoli is midpoint on the Florence-Pisa rail line, 45 minutes from either.  The Empoli meeting is useful if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have spent Saturday night in Florence instead of Pisa.
  • You have spent Saturday night in Venice, Milan, Rome, or any point in between, and do not mind an early Sunday start (boarding a train at 7a or so from Venice, 8a from Rome or Milan).
  • You are arriving in Tuscany via overnight train from a neighboring European country, or from Sicily (the overnight trains arrive via Florence, not Pisa).

Discussion:
If you are arriving from another continent, the trip meeting points are too remote for you to reach them on the same day that you land in Europe.  You must thus reach Europe by Saturday (flying on Friday night from North America, for instance).  Our “Access Packages” all include a bed of one sort or another on Saturday night.

The first scheduled Sunday flights from London to Pisa or Florence do allow you to reach Empoli in time for the trip meeting, if they are on time.  But, if you have the time and funds to do so, we suggest that you fly to Pisa the previous evening (Saturday) and spend the night there.  Otherwise, a late flight can cause you to miss the first day of the trip.

If you wish to make your own way to the trip (in other words, not to set up your travel arrangements through us), hints on reaching Pisa are offered at the bottom of this page.


2.  Our ACCESS PACKAGES
as of March 5, 2017

Base (Starting) Access Package Price:  109€ (89€ if travelling to Pisa from Florence).
To see what this means in your currency, look here: http://www.bluemarble.org/CurrencyConv.html

Availability is normally good until 35 days prior to trip start (payment received by us), because we try to hold allotments of space for the most common projects until then.  Within 35 days, availability must be confirmed, and costs may be higher (some discount rail tickets may no longer be available).

Included:

  • 2nd class daylight train tickets to Pisa from downtown Rome, Milan, Florence or Genova / Cinque Terre, including seat reservations where required (see service information, below).
    Tickets are not refundable or exchangeable once ordered. 
    Changeable tickets are available at an additional cost, and are suggested if you wish to attempt a tight plane-train connection.
    The 18h express from Rome to Pisa carries an extra fare of 10€ in 2nd class, 15€ in 1st class.
    Add 15€ for tickets on the shuttle train from Fiumicino Airport to Rome Termini station.
  • A printed schedule / itinerary, highlighting any connections.
  • Our “Route Sheet to the Trip,” helping you through your journey, and to the hotel’s front door.
  • A hotel night in Pisa, based on shared occupancy, including breakfast. Singles willing to share are guaranteed the share price (even if we do not wind up finding you a roommate), until 35 days pre-trip.
  • All taxes and booking charges.

Options Offered at an Extra Cost (subject to availability)
Prices are in addition to the “Base” Access Package price. For a general discussion of train upgrades, see here.  Topics include the relative comfort of first versus second class, and different types of accommodation available on overnight trains.

  • Saturday tickets from Venice:  +12€.
    Changeable tickets are available at an additional cost, and are suggested if you are attempting a tight plane-train connection.
  • First class upgrade (in lieu of 2nd class):
    - 16€ from Rome, Milan, Venice or Genova.
    A discount rate of 9€ from Rome is often available:  a bargain for the 3-hour journey.
    - 24€ from Nice.
    Upgrade is not good on the (one-class) shuttle train from Nice to the Italian border, 30 minutes.
    - 48€ from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, or France other than Nice.  A discount rate of 24€ is sometimes available.  When it is, it is a bargain for these long trips.
  • Changeable / refundable tickets:  +18€ for domestic Italian tickets, +38€ for international tickets (+22€ from Nice).
    Can be modified for use on an alternate train until the originally-reserved train’s departure, in the departure country only, and on a space-available basis.  Any difference in fare between the two trains must additionally be paid, but at least the funds invested in the original ticket can be recovered.
    Refundable less 20% prior to the train’s departure, if refund is claimed at the departure station.  Refundable less 30% up until 24 hours before the train’s departure through us.
  • Alternate tickets are available from points further afield.
    These prices are for travel to Pisa in daylight on Saturday (a long trip, but the trains are comfortable, and the scenery is beautiful).  Lower (overall) prices are available for overnight travel on Saturday night to Florence, with a Sunday morning connection to Empoli for the meeting there.  See “Alternate Arrangements,” below.
    Sample additional cost from these cities:   Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Munich or Vienna, +89€.  From Nice:  +26€.
    International tickets are not generally refundable or exchangeable once ordered.
  • Private single room in Pisa, 26€.
  • Saturday night hotel in Florence instead of Pisa, and train to Empoli from there on Sunday morning:  +43€ single (compared to dbl occupancy package price, +14€ / person double or twin.
    Note cautionary discussion of Italian City Hotels.
    Additional pre-trip Florence nights:  67€ per person shared occupancy, 97€ single, including breakfast, taxes and booking charge.
    Rooms with hall shower / WC, when available:  -30€ / night single, -16€ / person / night double or twin.

Alternate Arrangements, in lieu of our usual packages (subject to availability)
Prices are complete (in other words, they are not in addition to the “Base” Access Package Price)

  • Saturday overnight sleeper train tickets from Paris, Munich or Vienna:  125€.
    These prices are for travel to Empoli via overnight train on Saturday night.  Prices include a “Comfort Couchette” sleeping berth on board.  Sleeping car upgrades are available (see general info about upgrading on night trains).  These discount tickets are subject to availability, not refundable / exchangeable once ordered.  Higher fare code (but more flexible) tickets are available for 50 - 70€ additional, depending on the route.
    From London, 179€ if you are also purchasing tickets back to London (from the end of any of our trips), 209€ if not, or if you prefer a changeable return (for 1st cl. on the Eurostar from London to Paris, add a further 48€; 1st class tickets include meal service).
  • Sunday morning tickets from Rome, Milan or Venice direct to Empoli, including required seat reservation on the first of the two trains required to make the trip:  52€.
  • Hotel in Pisa (additional nights, or without rail tickets):  61€ shared occupancy, 75€ single.  Shared occupancy rate guaranteed to singles on the pre-trip Saturday night only.



3.  TIMING Your Trip

Pisa is not particularly interesting, but the much-ballyhoo’d tower is part of a beautiful ensemble, absolutely worth a visit.  And you will not have time to see it on Sunday morning (when the trip assembles).  So, if you are able, try to schedule your arrival in time to take a quick look.

Most trains to Pisa require seat reservations, though local trains offer a carefree alternative if you don’t mind an extra hour on the train.  Use this facility to leave your travel plans open, and come in when you are ready on Saturday....


4.  Service Information
Schedules are approximate – exact timetables can be consulted at http://www.raileurope.com/index.html.
Best trains are mentioned.  Others are slower or have multiple connections.

  • From Rome, Termini station:  travel time on an express is 3 hours, or 4 on a local.  Both express and local services run every 2 hours.
    - Expresses depart Rome within 5 minutes of every even hour.  There is an additional express at 17h, and what would be the 18h runs instead at 18h30, taking just 2.5 hours to make the trip. 
    - Locals depart 15 minutes behind every express except the 18h30, taking 4 hours to make the run.  After the 18h30 express, there is a late local at 20h, and then an express at midnight.
    From the airport to the Termini station:  a special airport train runs from Fiumicino airport (the main, international airport) to Termini station, from whence trains depart for Pisa.  Trip time is 32 mins, service is every 30 mins (currently scheduled at 23” and 53” past each hour).
  • From Milan. Trip time is 4 - 4.5 hours, by direct train at 8a, 1p, 4p, 5p, 6p and 7p.  At other times of day it is necessary to change trains in Genova, adding 30 minutes to the trip, or in Florence (as fast as the direct trains, but adds 10€ to the ticket cost).
    Most trains require advance seat reservations.  The direct train at 5p does not.
  • From Florence.  Frequent service all day long (generally 2 trains per hour).  Reservations are neither required nor available on this line.  Trip time oscillates around 90 minutes.
  • From Nice.  Trip time is 6 - 7.5 hours, one connection is required (except as noted).  Seat reservations are required.  Trains at 8a (fast), 10a (slow, 2 connections), 2p (fast), 3:30p (slow, 2 connections), and 6p (fast).
  • From Geneva or Zurich.  Both routes:  trip time ±8 hours, trains run every 2 hours. 
    On daylight services, connections are required in Milan and sometimes again in Florence.  Reservations are required. Particularly comfortable services depart Geneva at 7:30a and 1:30p.  Trains from Zurich run at half past every odd hour.
  • From Paris.  Daylight:  depart 10:40a, arrive 9:30p.  Overnight, dp Saturday 7:30p, with Sunday morning connections in Milan and Florence, arrival via Empoli.
    Overnight trains offers economical couchettes or more luxurious sleeping cabins.
  • From London:  a rather painful, 15-hour trip in daylight, with 3 connections and a station change in Paris.  Overnight:  depart London Saturday at 3p via Paris (station change).  Sunday morning connections in Milan and Florence, arrival via Empoli.
    Overnight trains offers economical couchettes or more luxurious sleeping cabins.


5.  Suggested PRE-TRIP VISITS

Good Saturday night trains can get you to Tuscany from Austria, Germany, or Paris.  Another option is to visit Sicily, which is beautiful, and travel to Tuscany via overnight train on Saturday night.


6.  Hints on TRAVELLING INDEPENDENTLY to the Trip
Guests subscribing to an “Access Package” need not read this section.

See also “Timing Your Trip” and “Service Information,” above, as either of these may additionally help.

We gladly provide travel consulting (schedule or routing information) concerning pre-trip individual travel.  In particular, we have invested a great deal to become railway experts.  Our service fees are reasonable:  a 20€ charge for all but the most complex projects – or the most simple (for instance, only a 10€ charge applies if the service is limited to the preparation of a routine rail ticket).  You will generally find them well-justified by the time they will save you in research, standing on line, overpaying for your tickets, or all three.

But, for some, this type of research is fun.  So, here are some hints, intended to start off hardened “do-it-yourselfers.”

Trains.  Schedules for all routes can be consulted on this web site:
http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/point_to_point/triprequest.htm

Pisa is on the main rail line from Rome to Genova and Nice.  Frequent trains also run cross-country from Florence.  Overnight sleeper trains come from Paris, Germany and Austria, via Florence.

Planes.  Pisa has an airport, served by intra-European flights, and by Ryanair from London Stansted.  The nearest intercontinental airports are in Rome and Milan.  Other local airports closer than these are in Florence (75 minutes away, frequent train service) and Genova (2 hrs. away, hourly service with some 2-hour gaps).  But booking a direct flight into Rome or Milan, and taking the train from there, generally provides for a faster overall trip, and a more comfortable one, than if you book a connecting flight into one of the smaller, more local airports.


If you wish to arrange some or all of your travel through us, please tell us what by means of this response questionnaire, designed to collect all the information we need to be able to book your travel.

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