14 Days in Italy: A Complete Guide to Traveling by Train for a Whistle Tour of the Country

Want a greener and cheaper holiday this summer? Then Italy is the place to be.

Italian the rail network is extensive. In fact, its tracks cover no less than 25,000 km.

The impressive infrastructure has made cleaner travel possible at affordable prices, and it’s fair to say that it has changed the travel map.

While some domestic flights are still operating, improvements to the country’s railways mean Airlie’s Italian flagship, Alitalia, was taken out of the skies last October.

“A third of Europe’s top 150 short-haul flights have rail alternatives lasting less than six hours,” says a TransEuropa report for Greenpeace.

Although a six-hour train may seem stifling, there are serious advantages: the sprawling landscape, a comfortable journey, no stressful security checks, the planet and your pocket.

Which route should you take in Italy?

You’ve probably fallen in love with the idea of ​​the Italian railway, but in a country where every town is a vacationer’s dream, you might want to know where to start.

Here’s a 14-day guide, to help you marvel at the power of the Mediterranean.

Milan: bustling metropolis of northern Italy

How long to stay: 2 days

Located in the northern region of Lombardy, Milan is the perfect place to start your journey. The capital of Lombardy is served by three airports (Linate, Malpensa and Bergamo). But its station, Milan Centrale, also welcomes arrivals from all over Europe.

Once there, be sure to visit the Duomo, soak up the Last Supper, dine in the Navigli district, and spend a night at the opera.

Venice: the Italian city of water

How long to stay: 2 days

Head east from Milan to Venice. Venice introduced a fee for tourists in a bid to stop hordes of vacationers.

Let this remind you to dive off the beaten track and explore the islands of Murano and Burano.

How to get there: Take the train from Milan Centrale to Venezia S. Lucia. Fast trains take 2 hours and 30 minutes and cost just under €20.

Bologna: home of hearty sauces and stunning towers

How long to stay: 2 days

Your next stop takes you to the biggest city in Emilia-Romagna, Bologna.

It’s a city covered in red, orange and brown porticoes, so head for the Due Torri (twin towers you can climb for a panoramic view).

How to get there: Direct trains from Venezia S. Lucia to Bologna Centrale take 2 hours and 10 minutes and cost €13.15

Florence: Where art and architecture collide

How long to stay: 2 days

Hop from Bologna to the Tuscan capital of Florence. It is a must for all art lovers and architecture lovers.

Be sure to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery.

How to get there: A 37-minute fast train from Bologna Centrale to Firenze SM Novella will cost you €17.10. A slower alternative costs €9.45.

Rome: the city of echoes, illusions and desire

How long to stay: 3 days

Spend more time bathing in the sights of the Italian capital, Rome.

Be sure to comb the Colosseum, pour pennies into the Trevi Fountain, soak up the art of the Sistine Chapel and more.

How to get there: Trains from Firenze SM Novella to Roma Termini take just over 90 minutes and cost €27.90.

Naples: the chaotic heart of Campania

How long to stay: 1 day

Head south from Rome and you will come to Naples.

If you’ve had enough of the trains, visit the ports and forts of Naples. But if you’re up for other excursions, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Mount Vesuvius should be high on your day trip list.

How to get there: slower trains from Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale cost €14.90 for 2 hours

Bari: For basilicas and beaches

How long to stay: 2 days

Jump across the expanse of the country to discover the quirky region of Puglia. Come here for fewer crowds and stay for the food and fascinating history.

For fairy tale scenes, visit the nearby towns of Alberobello and Polignano-A-Mare.

How to get there: Ditch the train and take the €10 bus from Naples (Metropark Centrale) to Bari Centrale. It takes 3 hours.

How much will all this cost?

14 days to travel in Italy by train will only cost you €95.40.

But don’t take our word for it, just do it.

Train tips and tricks

Before booking, there are a few things to consider. EUrail and Trenitalia have their own train cards. Although they may look cheap and cheerful, they will actually cost over €200 for the same trip.

It is cheaper to book separate, standard and super economy tickets on the Trenitalia website. Trains can be booked weeks, days and hours in advance.

They are selling out, so plan your trip as soon as possible.

Also make sure your tickets are validated. Before boarding your train, insert your ticket into the validation machine located in the ticket halls and platforms.

Other practical tips

Stay in hostel dorms and cook your own meals to keep costs down.

Pizza slices, arancini balls and other street foods save money and food waste.

You can save your euros by refilling water bottles at drinking fountains all over Italy – if you see a local taking a sip, that’s for sure.

And if you don’t want your eco-adventure to end, hop on a bus or ferry from Bari on the last day. Buses connect Bari to Sicily, Milan and beyond, while a ferry will take you to Dubrovnik in Croatia in no time.