Go to the Trenitalia website (the Italian train system) and put in a a date before June 12 (as that is when schedules will change and scheduled for dates after June 12 won't now show up; the schedules won't change much so you will get an idea of prices/times/types of trains, etc.
There is no need to go first class; second class if fine; Regional trains are the cheapest and if you want to see those schedules, choose a date within the next 7 days to get an idea of those times/price.
Here is the English language version of the web site:
As Momcat says, the cost depends very much on the type of train you take. On the fastest trains (about half an hour), the cost for an adult is 25 euros. There are several cheaper and slower IC trains (about an hour) during the day, with an adult fare of 10.50. Children pay half price if they are under 12 years old. If there are 3-5 people in your group, including at least one child under 12, you can get the Familia fare, where the adults and older children also get a 20% discount.
There are very few regional trains on the route, but these are the absolute cheapest (and slowest, about 1 1/2 hours), with an adult fare of €7.15.There is one at 6:45 AM and one at 8:39 PM. On these trains, there is no Familia fare, but children still pay half price.
Many thanks for helping me so promptly. I'm still wondering, is it 25 euros return or one way? Also, can we just turn up on inter city trains and buy tickets at the station?
The fares are one way.
You can show up and buy tickets at the train station on the day of travel; train in Italy rarely sell out. And, if you go to the website, you will see how frequently the trains run.
HI the 25euro fare is one way 50 euros return price on the eurostar.
Here's a hint of how to do this cheaply (I've done it many times):
1. Take the unreserved regionale train from Firenze SMN to Prato Centrale
2. Connect to the unreserved regionale train to Bologna Centrale.
Service runs hourly. The trip takes under two hours, and the connection at Prato Centrale is relatively short.
These schedules WON"T show up on the Trenitalia website unless you click on the icon "all solutions" icon at bottom left.
If you take the AV Frecciarossa high-speed train, you'll lose a fortune for a 37-minute ride. If you take one of the infrequent Intercity (IC) trains, you'll need to connect at Firenze Rifredi Station.
The one way fare is 7.15 Euros (on the regionale trains all the way).
Children 12 and under pay 50%.
Toddlers 4 and under travel FREE.Edited: 13 April 2011, 21:00
Another way to save money is to try to get one of the discounted "MINI" fares on one of the AV Frecciarossa trains between Florence and Bologna. You must purchase no later than midnight of the day beforehand, and preferably sooner to get the better discounts. Read the SIGNIFICANT restrictions/ limitations of the "MINI" fares:
The unreserved regionale trains CANNOT be discounted (except for children under 12 or under 4).
I forgot that the IC trains stopped at Rifredi. That would be a negative for me. Also, sometimes the Mini fare will be less than the Family fare, so check that. However, the Family fare has fewer restrictions.Edited: 13 April 2011, 22:05
Can we return on any train when we're ready to leave or do we have to book a specific time?