Italy is one of the most beautiful and diverse nations in Europe, and indeed the world. There’s many ways to explore the different regions of Italy but with the country’s excellent rail system this is a popular option for tourists, Expats and locals alike.
Travelling by train through Italy is a fantastic way to discover the amazing scenery, cities and provinces. Journeying by train is the perfect option if you want to be able to take in the views while relaxing, enjoying some food and talking with your travel companions.
Of course, you can drive from place to place but you’ll have to keep your eyes on the road, study maps and make sure you don’t get lost; all things which can take away from the experience of simply relaxing and taking in the wonderful scenery of the Italian countryside.
Wherever you travel by train in Italy you’ll be stunned by the scenery but there are a few routes that stand out from the rest; both in terms of the destination but also because of the views and experience of the journey itself.
What Type Of Trains Can You Travel On In Italy?
Italy’s rail network is extremely extensive and on many of the routes there are several different types of trains in operation. All of the major routes in Italy are serviced by high speed express trains but you can also take regional trains as well. The local trains are slower than the Intercity Express trains and stop at more stations; and often, in many cases, they even take different routes.
If you want to get from A to B fast, then you’ll want to take one of the Intercity Express trains but it’s not always worth rushing; in fact, it’s certainly not the Italian way! Taking the slower, regional trains is a much more rewarding experience and you’ll be able to see all the smaller towns along the way. You can also get off the train en route at a small town to have lunch before boarding a later train to continue your journey to your final destination.
Milan To Venice By Train.
Starting in Milano Centrale station the trip takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes to arrive in the Stazione di Venezia Mestre, in Venice. The train journey is a lovely option for getting between two of Italy’s most beloved cities.
Milan is a city of fashion and elegance with some of the continent’s best boutiques and shopping districts but it also has some amazing artwork and religious sites to visit, including the Cathedral of Milan.
Arriving in Venice at the main station, will put you within a stone’s throw from the Grand Canal where you can take a gondola while appreciating the astounding Renaissance era palaces, arched bridges and harbor.
No trip to Venice would be complete with a trip to the Piazza San Marco where street musicians and artists entertain the crowds at the foot of San Marco’s Basilica. This stunning example of late Byzantine period architecture is nicknamed the ‘church of gold’ because of its gilt lined interior and the incredibly opulent frescoes on its walls.
Rome To Florence By Train.
Departing from Rome’s main central station, Roma Termini, the journey to Florence’s Firenze S.M.N station takes just over 1 hour 30 minutes. Travelling from Italy’s capital to the heart of Tuscany is the perfect way to get to the cultural paradise of Florence without worrying about maps and the rules of the road.
Rome is a fantastic city to spend some time in but if you have the flexibility in your schedule you should try to venture further afield to experience the real magic of Italy.
After a pleasant train ride you’ll get off at Firenze S.M.N. station and instantly realize you’ve been transported to another world! Florence is the capital of Tuscany and is one of the most popular cities for both tourists and Expats alike. No trip to Florence would be complete without seeing the Statue of David by Michelangelo in the Galleria dell’Accademia as well as the beautiful Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
Venice to Florence By Train.
From Venice you can travel to Florence in about 2 hours and 30 minutes to get from one cultural icon to another! The journey takes a beautiful route right through the heart of Italy, letting you see Bologna while passing some of Italy’s most stunning interior.
Having left the stunning banks of Venice behind you, with Florence’s river Arno awaiting you, you’ll travel through the steep slopes of Emilia-Romagna before dropping down through the pastoral hills of Tuscany and the ancient Renaissance cities of Prato and Ravenna. Undoubtedly, one of the finest train routes in Italy, you’ll experience a huge range of landscapes and witness some of Europe’s best scenery.
When deciding how you want to experience the journey you can either choose to take the super fast high speed Italo train which makes use of all the modern tunnels and gets you to Florence much faster than the older Trenitalia’s regional train. This takes a lot longer but will let you see the scenery as you wind your way through Italy’s heartland.
Rome To Palermo By Train.
This is an extremely unusual train route that leaves from Roma Termini and takes around 11 hours 30 minutes to reach Palermo. This may sound like a long time considering the distances involved but when you remember that the train is actually taken onto the ferry to cross over to the island of Sicily it makes a lot more sense!
You take the modern, air conditioned Intercity train from Rome and you can disembark at Palermo or other Sicilian destinations such as Cefalu or eastern cities including Taormina, Siracusa or Catania at the foot of Mount Etna.
Once the train reaches the southern coast of Italy it’s loaded onto a ferry at Villa San Giovanni. This takes a little while but it’s a fascinating feat of modern engineering to witness! The ferry ride is also a spectacular voyage across the Straits of Messina which is a joy in itself. You can either stay on board the train while you’re on the ferry or you can get off and go upstairs to the deck to get some fresh air while taking in the sea views.
After arriving in Sicily you can relish the open beaches and marvel at the cultural heritage of the ancient island while savoring the street food and deserts that the island is celebrated for.
Levanto To La Spezia By Train.
Travelling from Levanto to La Spezia by train takes less than 30 minutes to cover the 27 miles, with more than 60 Trenitalia trains servicing the route per day.
The beautiful coastal port town of La Spezia can be reached from Levanto in Liguria which is just 70 miles south of Genoa and is the easiest way to get to the Cinque Terre using public transport.
After the train meanders through thick woodlands and olive groves you pass beyond the sunny river mouth of the Italian Riviera and make your way towards the sandy beaches of La Spezia.
As the central point to explore the rest of the Cinque Terre, La Spezia is packed full of charming local restaurants, souvenir stores and boutiques with plenty of options for short or long term accommodation. In the evenings you can explore the lively bars and eateries where you can taste the fresh seafood that’s always on the menu.
The easiest way to get to the Cinque Terre is by using the local train services because trying to find a parking space in the small towns is next to impossible! Once you get to La Spezia you can hop onto the Cinque Terre Express which has more than 100 trains per day that take you to other parts of the area, including the stunning Ligurian Sea or further back inland to the mountains.
Milan To Bolzano By Train.
The train journey from Milan to Bolzano takes between 3 to 5 hours, depending on which train you catch and at what time of the day. The scenic route takes you from the fashion capital of the world up into the stunning Italian Alps to the primarily German speaking town of Bolzano.
The gorgeous route takes you through medieval towns, including Verona, and then upwards into the Alps. The steep mountain passes are dramatic and impressive as you travel in the shadow of the Dolomites. On the Frecciarossa trains, onboard hospitality staff are on hand to serve snacks, gourmet breakfasts and lunches while you sit back, relax and take in the outstanding views.
Bolzano is a major city in South Tyrol that is located amongst steep valleys and high altitude vineyards and serves as the gateway to the rest of the Dolomites. The city is best known for its medieval architecture and the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology which is home to the world famous Neolithic mummified body of ‘Otzi’; the remarkable body of a man who lived around 5000 years ago in the Dolomites who was preserved in the ice until he was discovered in the early 1990s!
Remini To Bari By Train.
The route from Remini Station to Bari Centrale snakes down the Eastern coast of Italy and takes about 6 or 7 hours with the regional Trenitalia trains. The journey takes you all the way along Italy’s Adriatic coast and you’ll have spectacular sea views almost the whole way!
Passing by countless traditional fishing villages and small ports you’ll get a glimpse into the rural idyll of Italian coastal life while being presented with an endless stream of amazing photo opportunities. Part of the route also takes you inland through Umbria, parts of Tuscany and Lazio; so you’ll have nicely varied scenery along the way.
Remini is one of Italy’s favorite beach resorts in the North of the country while Bari sits at the foot of two harbors and is home to Puglia’s beloved baked sweets. Bari is a busy port city and the capital of Puglia and with its narrow winding streets, shops and bazars it’s a fantastic destination for a short city break on the Adriatic coast.
While you’re there you must visit the Basilica di San Nicola which was built in the 11th Century and has been a major pilgrimage site for centuries. You can also explore the bustling promenade and stroll through the pedestrianized streets of the center where you’ll find boutique stores, restaurants and cafes to stop for refreshments during the day.
See The Best Of Italy By Train.
Travelling by train is a luxurious pleasure in Italy with superb rail network coverage and routes that take you to all the main sites of interest. Tourists, Expats and locals rely on the trains to get around and if you’re not in a rush you can sit back and truly enjoy the spectacular scenery that passes you by en route.
One piece of advice, if you want to save a little money, is to take your own picnic with you for your Italian train journeys! There’s nothing better than sitting back in your seat and enjoying a well planned picnic instead of paying over the odds for the limited selection of food and refreshments that are available on board most of the trains in Italy.