Rail travel in Italy has been transformed over the last 20 years by the opening of new high-speed routes. Renewal of rail infrastructure continues apace, with the result that trains have the edge over planes for long-distance travel. The fastest trains dash from Milan to Rome (570 km) in less than three hours. For those with time to linger, there are plenty of slower routes with a dense web of railways extending to every corner of the country. The train is thus a civilised, economical and environmentally friendly way of exploring Italy.
First-time visitors to Italy often focus on the legendary trinity of ‘must-see’ cities: Venice, Florence and Rome – with Verona and Milan both rightly claiming that they should not play second fiddle to that star trio. All five deserve a visit, but remember there is much more to Italy than just big cities. If you are taking the train through Italy, make time for smaller communities too. You’ll surely not be disappointed.
The principal national rail operator in Italy in Trenitalia. Their trains ply a network that extends from the Alps to Sicily. Trenitalia has since 2012 faced limited competition from a private sector company called NTV, whose red Italo trains give an alternative to Trenitalia on the high-speed routes from Turin, Milan and Venice to Rome and Naples. Throughout Italy, there are many regional rail companies, most of which operate local services in cooperation with Trenitalia.
Rail travel in Italy is generally extremely good value. On local trains, there is often just one fixed price for a journey, and there is no great advantage to booking ages in advance. For long-distance trips, it definitely pays to book just as soon as tickets go on sale – typically three or four months prior to travel. That’s the time to grab the best deals.
Italy enjoys an excellent range of international rail connections. There are fast TGV services from Paris to Turin and Milan. There are direct daytime EuroCity services from Geneva, Basel, Zurich, Munich and Vienna to cities in northern Italy. A new Marseille to Milan service launched in December 2014.
About two dozen cities in Italy have year-round direct overnight trains (not necessarily every night) to destinations beyond Italy's borders. In all, these trains serve eight different countries. There are daily sleeper services to Paris, Munich and Vienna. There are even direct trains to Warsaw, Minsk and Moscow. There are also plenty of overnight trains serving domestic routes within Italy.
Loco2 is able to handle bookings for your journey to Italy, as well as providing tickets for train trips within Italy. Check out our excellent range of city guides with descriptions of key journeys to those cities.
Trains in Italy
- Day/Regional Train
- Night train
- High-speed train
- Scenic train
Italy fact file
- Currency: Euro
- Timezone: 1+ UTC
- Language: Italian; German in South Tyrol region; Valdôtain & French in the Aosta Valley region; numerous regional Romance languages such as Friulian, Ligurian, Piedmontese and Sicilian.
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