Train Through Italy: A Better Way To Travel

What’s old is new again, as train travel becomes the popular way to get from A to Z.

A couple pose for a selfie with an Instax camera on a train platform, a train waits in the background.
Tourists taking a selfie at Milano Centrale train station. Photo: Anastasia Nelen on Unsplash.

With increased awareness about reducing your carbon footprint, compounded by Europe being in the grip of an energy crisis, there’s a new school of thought: planes are out, trains are in. Within Italy itself the rail network is extensive and well-served, and it’s an institution that is largely beloved by all Italians. There’s a certain romance to the old way of travelling: waiting on the train platform, climbing aboard with your bags in hand, settling into your seat and gazing out through the window as the scenery changes from urban to the rolling green countryside — each country a unique experience on its own. As we see a renewed interest in slow travel across Europe, Italy is well-poised to seize the trend, ready to cater to any kind of budget.

Alta Velocità

The two names to know in rail travel are Trenitalia and Italo. They operate on separate networks, but both effortlessly connect all of the major cities across the country.

Trenitalia’s high-speed (Alta Velocità, or AV) network consists of three lines: Frecciarossa (Red Arrow), Frecciargento (Silver Arrow), and Frecciabianca (White Arrow), which follow their own routes and connect with specific cities. Italo’s network connects Turin, Milan, Venice, Padua, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Salerno. All trains are outfitted with power plugs to charge your electronics during the trip, and free wifi for passengers.

That said, both of their high-speed trains can reach staggering speeds of 190mph (300km/h), meaning it’s possible to travel from Rome to Milan in just over two hours, so you can book it in as a day trip to make the most of your holiday time. Tickets are also reasonably priced, ranging between €10-30 depending on when you travel, the destination, and how far in advance you book.

La Dolce Vita

If budget isn’t a constraint, then you might want to make the journey part of the experience onboard a luxury train. Most recently launched this year is The Orient Express’ La Dolce Vita tour, inspired by the Italian glamour of the 60s and 70s, set in beautifully designed carriages by global architectural and design studio, Dimorestudio. Travel itineraries vary between one night or two, all of which begin and end in Rome from where they whisk you away to places like Venice, Matera, Monferrato, and even Sicily. Guests would also have the option to book for further travel to Paris, Istanbul, or Split.

There is also the famously extravagant Belmond train, the Venice Simplon-Orient Express. While it doesn’t travel strictly within the boundaries of Italy, the line connects various destinations across Europe to terminals in Rome, Venice, Florence, and Verona (with also the option to book a luxury hotel stay at a Belmond property in Venice, London, Tuscany, or Florence). Onboard, you’ll be treated to fine dining accompanied by a sommelier, and also a Bar Car for further entertainment and cocktails.

Do note, both the Orient Express and Venice Simplon-Orient Express have a basic smart casual dress code during the day, and formalwear for onboard dinners or evening events off board. The Orient Express forbid flip flops, while Venice Simplon-Orient Express maintain that jeans are not acceptable onboard.