Final Destination: Lucca, Pistoia, Viareggio or Pisa (take care not to board a train to Pisa which will be travelling via Empoli).
When taking a train from Florence/Firenze to Pistoia) what won't be obvious at S.M.Novella station, is that two groups of train services operate on this route:
(1) Slower, but more frequent Regionale (R) trains
(2) alternative trains Regionale Veloce trains (RV) which are faster by around 20 - 25mins, but not any more expensive
Most of these slower trains depart from Firenze around 30mins after one of the faster services (heading to Viareggio) has left.
Also some of the slower trains will stand out on the departure screens at Firenze S.M. Novellla station because they terminate at Pistoia and the faster trains don't.
So it can be a good idea check the departure/arrival times of the next train (s) to depart on the paper departure sheets; find them by the entrance to the middle set of tracks/platforms.
Though if the next train to leave is one of the slower services, it's still highly likely that it will get you to Pistoia sooner.
And in mid-morning on Mon-Sat the slower trains plug a big gap in the departures of the faster trains, so become the logical option for a Florence to Pistoia journey.
All of the slower trains are 2nd class only.
1 - 3 x trains per hour
Book early and save: No
Tickets will cost the same price if purchased at the station immediately before departure.
Though on this route there are two benefits of booking tickets for your journey in advance on the Trenitalia website.
(1) You can avoid what can be long queues for the ticket machines and ticket office at Firenze S.M. Novella station
(2) You can confirm the departure times on your chosen travel date - it will help you target the faster trains.
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