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Schematic map of Italian Railways in Northern Italy - Rail Travel - LuniHolidays

Getting around - by train.

Getting around by train in Italy is convenient and cheap and should be seriously considered as an alternative to the car, especially when visiting the major cities. The main line which connects Parma to the coast line passes through Aulla making the town a very convenient access point for trains to La Spezia, and Genoa to the north, and Massa, Viareggio, the Tuscan Riviera and Pisa to the south. Connecting trains run from Pisa to Florence.

The line that runs from Aulla along the Aulella valley goes directly to Lucca and stops at several stations on the way including Pieve San Lorenzo (near Casola) and Equi Terme. Train is by far the best way to visit the Cinque Terre (in fact the villages are almost inaccessible by car). The train from La Spezia central station to Genoa stops at all five villages. Approximate journey times are given below:

  • Aulla to Pisa 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Aulla to La Spezia 25 minutes
  • Aulla to Pontremoli 30 minutes
  • Aulla to Lucca 1 hour and 50 minutes
  • Pieve San Lorenzo to Lucca 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • La Spezia to Riomaggiore (first village of the Cinque Terre). 10 minutes.
Although the trains are cheap and, in our experience reliable, you do need to be aware of some of the peculiarities of the Italian railway system.
  1. The ticket office at railway stations in the smaller towns and villages are not necessarily open every day. This does not matter as long as you are aware of the fact as you can buy tickets in advance. Even the ticket office in Aulla has very restricted opening hours.
  2. Your ticket must be validated by being stamped in the yellow box (usually located in the station waiting room). A ticket which has been bought but not stamped is not valid for travel. As most tickets that you will use are valid for only 6 hours from the time of validation stamp the tickets just before you board the train not when you buy them - and don't validate the return ticket at the same time as the outward ticket or you may run out of time.
  3. Some stations serve two or three villages and are listed in the timetable under their combined name so for example, although the station is at Pieve San Lorenzo it also serves Minucciano and is listed in the timetable as Minucciano-Pieve.

Our advice is - Yes, by all means take the train but visit the station early in your stay and check the basics. A timetable (orario) of the entire Italian network costs about 3 Euros and contains schematic maps of the lines as well as all the detail you could wish for.

If you are staying near Aulla or near any of the villages along the Aulella valley we can thoroughly recommend the direct local train to Lucca and Pisa. This is a wonderfully scenic journey along the valley then past the high cliffs at Equi Terme and on past the marble quarries of Massa before descending to Lucca - and all for about 8 Euros return!

For a full timetable visit fs-on-line or go to the Italian State Railways web site.

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