At a glance
- Night train
Travelling on a Thello night train
The Thello night train is the only option to travel between France and Italy overnight. Created as a joint venture between Veolia Transdev, a private transport company, and Trenitalia (Italian Railways), Thello replaced the former Artesia overnight services from France to Italy.
Thello currently operates just one overnight route: Paris to Venice. The train leaves Paris every evening and follows a scenic line south-east towards Burgundy, calling at Dijon before heading to Milan, Verona, Padua and Venice where it arrives in time for breakfast.
Another night train previously ran all the way to Rome, serving Bologna and Florence. This was discontinued in December 2013 so it's no longer possible to travel directly to Rome overnight. However, it's still easy to make the journey to Rome with Thello, by travelling to Milan and picking up an onward train to the Italian capital. High-speed Frecciarossa and Italo trains run frequently between Milan and Rome, with a journey time of around three hours.
Advance reservation is essential on the overnight train to and from Paris; it is worth noting that Thello night trains do not offer any reclining seats. None of the options can be classed as luxury, but there is a choice of accommodation, ranging from single and double sleepers to four or six-berth couchettes.
The train has various facilities for eating and drinking, including a sit-down restaurant and bar. Although Thello can't claim to offer the romance of the Venice Simplon Orient Express, it is still a fun way of travelling from Paris to northern Italy.
Seating and sleeping on Thello night train
Couchettes on Thello night trains are cheap and cheerful. Don’t expect a luxury hotel-on-wheels. Couchettes come in four and six-berth varieties. With space at a premium, paying for the slightly pricier four-berth makes sense. You’ll get a sheet, pillow and simple duvet. The bottom bunks are narrower than those on middle and upper tiers.
Food and drink on Thello night train
The Thello bar (located in the restaurant car) provides for travellers who don’t want a sit-down meal. It serves more than merely drinks (and the coffee is a notch above regular train standards). You’ll find soups, sandwiches, wraps, confectionery and cakes.