I just used Italiarail to book my train tickets for my upcoming trip to Italy this April. There are often questions posted here about buying train tickets so I thought I would share my experience.
In the past I have used the Trenitalia website without too much difficulty. It was always a little quirky, but not too hard to navigate once you understand some of the little quirks. Well, after spending a frustrating half hour on their site yesterday, I just gave up. I remembered reading about italiarail somewhere and decided to check it out. What a pleasure to use.
Italiarail is an English language site that is hooked up directly to the treniatlia ticketing system. The search features are a breeze to use. It recognizes both English and Italian city names (you can search for Padua or Padova, Florence or Firenze). The prices were the same as on the official trenitalia website. All of the same “super economy” discounts were there. There was a 3.50 euro processing fee, which is well worth it for the ease of use, but I was able to get that refunded (more on that below). Italiarail also didn't require entering detailed info on each traveler (which is what was hanging me up on the official site, it wouldn't accept a birthday for the “child” ticket)
The only possible disadvantage I can see is that it did not allow me to select specific seats. Its system selected them for me. I was hesitant about this, but I checked the seat numbers on the official site as I booked and was able to see that it chose 3 perfectly fine seats together and facing each other at a table as I would have chosen for myself. (And interestingly, as I checked the “official site” the seats that were pending my purchase on itailia rail were blacked out as sold, so that confirmed that it is indeed hooked directly to the official ticketing system.)
In short, I can highly recommend buying Italian train tickets through italiarail.
I also recommend checking out the the Man in Seat 61 website seat61.com for lots of detailed info on trains. The site as been updated since I last saw it years ago and is an amazing resource on train travel.
Italia rail charged only one 3.50 Euro fee for the whole booking of 3 tickets on two separate train trips. But as I saw on seat61, you can this refunded if you contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. I sent an email and within a few hours had confirmation of my refunded processing fee. Very cool.