Many travelers dream of exploring Italy, and with one of the best rail systems in Europe, it’s possible to make that dream a reality once you understand both the benefits and the limitations of train travel. 

Before you book your tickets, it’s crucial to grasp the network of Italy’s major train stations and high-speed railway services. This understanding will empower you to plan your routes effectively. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know before you go! 

An Overview of Italian Train Travel

Traveling by train may seem intimidating to an international visitor, but as an Italian expat and a lifelong local, we’re here to help you understand the nuances! 

First, it’s crucial to decide if train travel is right for you, as there are limitations to traveling by train in Italy. For instance, with Italy’s extensive mountain ranges, many of the off-the-beaten-path destinations (like the hidden wine regions of Le Marche or the charming coastal villages of Puglia) are simply not accessible by train. 

So, while train travel is ideal for traveling between major cities, some coastal cities, and major regions, you’re going to miss out on some of the best of Italy! But if you do decide that train travel is right for your trip, you’ll find that with a little preparation, the process is straightforward and simple. 

italy train stations

Types of Trains

Italy offers a variety of train services catering to different travel preferences and budgets. High-speed trains like the Frecciarossa, Italo and Frecciargento provide swift connections between major cities, while regional trains offer affordable options for exploring smaller towns and rural areas. 

Sleeper trains are available for overnight journeys, allowing travelers to maximize their time and comfort while on the move. They’re also a great option if you don’t want to fly, but prefer an overnight train to extend your journey in Europe to Italy’s neighboring countries.

Booking and Ticketing

Booking train tickets in Italy is straightforward. You have several different options, including purchasing tickets online, at station kiosks, or through travel agencies. We’ve found to be the easiest to use. 

We recommend booking far in advance, especially for high-speed and long-distance journeys, to secure the best fares and seat selections. But if you’re booking more than six months out, don’t worry if your dates aren’t available yet. 

Additionally, you can choose between different ticket types, including flexible and non-flexible options, depending on your travel plans.

Learn more about traveling Italy by train here! – including when to book your tickets and more.

high speed trains in italy

Italy’s Major Train Stations

Roma Termini

Located in the heart of Rome, Roma Termini is a bustling transportation hub that serves millions of passengers each year. This train station is Italy’s largest and busiest train station, offering connections to domestic and international destinations. It has 29 platforms and is lined with shops, restaurants, and information booths. 

It offers extensive connections to several other cities in Italy, with high-speed trains linking Rome to Florence, Milan, Naples, and beyond. If you have a train to catch, we recommend arriving early, especially during peak hours of the day. And don’t forget to validate your ticket using the yellow machines located on the platforms! 

Milano Centrale

Milano Centrale is one of Europe’s grandest train stations, known for its stunning architecture. It’s a crucial transportation hub connecting Milan with other Italian cities as well as international destinations like Paris, Geneva, and Zurich.

High-speed trains like the Frecciarossa and Italo, which go up to 300 km/hr, whisk passengers to cities such as Rome, Florence, Venice, and beyond in mere hours. Additionally, the station serves as a hub for local and regional trains, as well as buses and the Milan Metro, facilitating seamless travel within the city and beyond.

milan train station high speed italy

Bologna Centrale

Bologna Centrale is strategically located in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region. It’s a key stop on the high-speed rail line between Milan and Florence, making it convenient for travelers exploring northern Italy.

Over the years, the station has undergone numerous renovations and expansions, evolving into the modern transportation hub it is today. Its sleek and contemporary design seamlessly blends with the city’s historic architecture. 

Firenze Santa Maria Novella

Firenze Santa Maria Novella is Florence’s primary train station, conveniently located within walking distance of the city center. It offers connections to major cities in Italy, including Rome, Milan, and Venice.

Named after the adjacent 13th-century church, Santa Maria Novella, the station’s elegant facade, adorned with marble and travertine, offers a fitting introduction to the rest of the city. 

The high-speed trains run through this station as well, providing transportation to Rome, Milan, or Naples in a matter of hours, making it a great location to start out. 

florence train station high speed train guide italy

Venezia Santa Lucia

Venezia Santa Lucia is Venice’s principal train station, situated on the Grand Canal. From here, travelers can easily explore the city’s iconic landmarks or continue their journey to other Italian cities like Florence, Milan, and Rome.

Originally built in the 20th century, the station’s distinctive Venetian Gothic architecture is a great first impression of the city. The station’s proximity to the city’s major attractions, including St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge, and the Doge’s Palace, makes it an ideal starting point for exploring the wonders of Venice – but note that Venice has now implemented a travel fee, and likely won’t be the last city in Italy to do so. 

Venezia Santa Lucia is not to be confused with Venezia Mestre which is located on the mainland and is the last station before reaching Venezia Santa Lucia. 

Ancona Centrale

Perched on the scenic shores of the Adriatic Sea, Ancona Centrale embodies the coastal charm of the Marche region. Serving as a vital transportation hub, this bustling station welcomes travelers with its panoramic views, modern amenities, and convenient connections to destinations across Italy and beyond.

Ancona Centrale holds a special place in the history of the Marche region. Since its inauguration in 1861, it has served as a gateway to the Adriatic coast. Over the years, the station has played a pivotal role in connecting Ancona to other cities and regions across Italy, facilitating trade, tourism, and cultural exchange. 

Regional trains provide convenient access to historic towns and picturesque villages dotting the countryside, while long-distance services connect Ancona to major cities such as Rome, Milan, Florence, and Venice. Additionally, the station is well-connected to local buses and ferries, providing easy access to nearby attractions and islands. 

For those looking to extend their vacation East of Italy, Ancona Centrale is close to ferry and cruise ports that connect to Greece and Croatia. 

Bari Centrale 

Bari Centrale is a major train station in southern Italy. It connects Bari with other cities in the Puglia region and beyond, making it a popular starting point for exploring the scenic towns and coastline of the region.

Bari Centrale serves as a vital hub for transportation in southern Italy, offering seamless connections to destinations across Apulia and beyond. Whether you’re looking to explore the historic towns of Matera and Alberobello or venture further afield to cities like Naples and Rome, the station provides convenient access to regional and long-distance trains, as well as local buses and ferries. 

Bari Centrale is also close to ferry and cruise ports connecting to Greece and Croatia. 

major train stations in italy guide

Italy’s High-Speed Rail System

Several types of trains serve Italy’s high-speed rail network, each offering its own unique blend of speed, comfort, and amenities. 

The Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) is the flagship high-speed service operated by Trenitalia, offering top speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph) and connecting major cities with direct routes and frequent departures. 

Italo is another high speed train. It is a competitor to Frecciarossa and travels at similar speeds and on the same routes as Frecciarossa. 

The Frecciargento (Silver Arrow) provides high-speed connections to secondary cities and regions, while the Frecciabianca (White Arrow) offers fast intercity services on conventional rail lines.

High-speed trains in Italy are equipped with modern amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience for passengers, and there’s not much difference between first and second class. 

Spacious seating, ample legroom, and panoramic windows offer passengers scenic views of Italy’s countryside as they speed between destinations. Additionally, onboard services such as dining cars, Wi-Fi access, and power outlets provide added convenience and comfort for travelers during their journey.

Overall Thoughts on Italian Train Travel

Traveling by train in Italy can certainly be convenient for going between the major cities, barring the inevitable delays you’ll experience and the mishap of possible workers strike. But the secret to an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime Italian vacation is getting beyond the “grand tour” of the popular destinations overrun by tourists and opting for the hidden gems. 

With Italy’s history spanning millennia, knowing if you’re choosing the hidden gems worth visiting can be a daunting task. On top of that, since you can’t explore most of Italy’s best-kept secrets by train alone, you have to rent a car, learn how to navigate and drive in Italy, and factor in toll costs, which are some of the most expensive in Europe. Plus don’t forget the limited traffic zones in the historic centers which you can read more about here.

And connecting with the locals – well darn impossible when you don’t have someone by your side to translate the Italian experience. Unfortunately when you DIY it, many travelers end up leaving Italy feeling unsatisfied, like you never really got to see the real Italy. But what if you only had to worry about getting to Italy? What if you had someone on the inside to translate the Italian experience for you and take the guesswork out of planning the perfect trip? 

You could explore Northern Italy, from the foothills of the Dolomites to the Birthplace of Tiramisu to the shores of the Venetian lagoon! Or, you could embark on a private tour of Italy’s largest medieval fortress in Italy’s hidden wine regions. 

Ditch delays, crowded tour buses, and tourist traps for the real Italy. Plus you’ll never feel like just another number on your trip with us!

Ready for your backstage pass to experiencing Italy like a local? Grab your FREE Italy Insider’s Guide to get started planning your next vacation today! 



Exploring Italy by Train: A Comprehensive Guide to Italy's Major Train Stations and High-Speed Rail Services




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