14 days in Italy: A complete guide to travelling by train for a whistle stop tour of the country

Are you looking for a cheaper, greener holiday this summer? Italy is the ideal place for you.

It is a vast network of railways in Italy. Its tracks span over 25,000km.

It’s clear that the impressive infrastructure has made it possible to travel cleaner at a more affordable price, and it’s a change in the travel landscape.

Although some domestic flights are still available, improvements to Italy’s railways meant that Alitalia, Italy’s most famous Airlie, was no longer in operation.

One TransEuropa report by Greenpeace states that “one-third” of Europe’s top 150 short-haul flights have train alternatives lasting less than six hours.

Even though it may sound a bit stale, there are serious benefits. There is the beautiful scenery, the comfortable journey, and no stress-inducing security checks. You can also save the planet and your wallet.

Which route should you choose to travel around Italy?

It’s likely that you’ve fallen in love the idea of an Italian railway. However, in a country where every village is a holidaymaker’s dream, it might be difficult to know where to begin.

This guide is for 14 days, and will help you to marvel at the power of the Med.

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Milan: Northern Italy’s vibrant metropolis

Stay for 2 days

Milan, located in the northern region Lombardy is the ideal place for you to begin your journey. Three airports serve the capital of Lombardy: Malpensa, Bergamo and Linate. Its train station, Milan Centrale welcomes visitors from all over Europe.

Visit the Duomo and take in the Last Supper. You can also dine in the Navigli area or spend the night at the opera.

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Venice: The Italian city that is water

Stay for 2 days

From Milan, head east to Venice. Venice has introduced fees for tourists to stop the holiday-making hordes.

Let this be a reminder that you should explore the islands of Murano or Burano off the beaten track.

You can get there by train from Milan Centrale or Venezia S. Lucia. The fastest trains take just under EUR20 and take only 2 hours 30 minutes.

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Bologna: The home of hearty sauces, and towers toppling from the sky

Stay for 2 days

Next stop is Bologna, the largest city in Emilia-Romagna.

You will find the city covered in red, orange, and brown porticoes. Make sure to make a run for Due Torri (twin towers that you can climb for panoramic views).

How to get there: The direct trains from Venezia St. Lucia to Bologna Centrale are 2 hours and 10 mins long and cost EUR13.15

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Florence: Art and Architecture in Combination

Stay for 2 days

You can hop from Bologna to the Tuscan capital Florence. This is a must-see for all architecture lovers and art enthusiasts.

You must see the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Ponte Vecchio.

You will need to travel from Bologna Centrale, Firenze S. M. Novella in 37 minutes. It will cost you EUR17.10. Alternate routes are available for EUR9.45.

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Rome: A city of illusions, echoes and yearning

Stay time: 3 Days

You can spend more time taking in the sights of the Italian capital Rome.

You should comb the colosseum and chuck cents into Trevi fountain. Also, take time to admire the Sistine chapel’s art.

How to get there: The train from Firenze S. M. Novella (Rom Termini) takes just over 90 minutes, and costs EUR27.90.

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Naples: Campania’s chaotic heart

Stay for 1 Day

You can head south from Rome to arrive in Naples.

Visit Naples’ forts and ports if you are tired of trains. If you are looking for more adventure, Pompeii and Herculaneum should be on your top day-trip wish list.

You can get there by slower trains Roma Termini-Napoli Centrale, which cost EUR14.90 per 2 hours

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Bari: For beaches and basilicas

Stay for 2 days

You can jump across the country to find the remote region of Puglia. You’ll find less people here, but you’ll love the delicious food and interesting history.

Visit the towns of Alberobello or Polignano-A-Mare for fairytale scenes.

You can get there by taking the EUR10 coach (Metropark Centrale to Naples) to Bari Centrale. It takes three hours.

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What will it cost?

You will spend just EUR95.40 to travel Italy by train for 14 days.

Don’t believe us? Just do it.

Tips and tricks for trains

There are some things you should consider before booking. Trenitalia and EUrail have their own train passes. They may look cheap and cheerful but they can actually be as much as EUR200 per trip.

Booking separate super economy and standard tickets via Trenitalia is cheaper. You can book trains weeks, days or hours in advance.

These voyages sell quickly so make sure you book yours soon.

Also, make sure that your tickets are valid. Make sure you validate your tickets before you board your train.

Additional useful tips

To keep your costs down, you can stay in hostel dormitories and cook your own meals.

Slices of pizza, arancini and other street food can be used to save money and reduce food waste.

It’s easy to save euros by refilling water bottles at Italian drinking fountains – it’s safe to take a sip if you spot a local.

If you don’t want your eco adventure to end, take a bus or ferry from Bari on the final day. You can get to Dubrovnik, Croatia , in no time with a ferry.