14 days in Italy: A complete guide to traveling by train for a round trip around the country

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Looking for a greener, cheaper vacation this summer? Then Italy is the place for you.

The Italian railway network is extensive. In fact, its tracks stretch a whopping 25,000 km.

The impressive infrastructure has enabled cleaner travel at pocket-friendly prices, and it’s fair to say it’s changed the travel map.

While some domestic flights are still operating, improvements made to the country’s railways meant Italy’s Airlie flagship, Alitalia, was dropped from the skies last October.

“A third of the 150 most important short-haul flights in Europe have train alternatives that take less than six hours,” according to a TransEuropa report for Greenpeace.

Even if a six-hour train may sound stuffy, There are some serious benefits: the vast landscape, a comfortable journey, no stressful security checks, the planet and your bag.

Which route should you take in Italy?

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

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

Milan: northern Italy’s bustling metropolis

How long to stay: 2 days

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

Once there, be sure to visit the Duomo, enjoy 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

Drive east from Milan to Venice. Venice introduces fees for tourists to stop the holiday hordes.

Be reminded to dive off the beaten path 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 savory sauces and tumbling towers

How long to stay: 2 days

your next stop takes you to the largest city in Emilia-Romagna, Bologna.

It’s a city covered in red, orange and brown colonnades, so make a detour to the Due Torri (twin towers you can climb for panoramic views).

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 combine

How long to stay: 2 days

Hop from Bologna to the Tuscan capital Florence. It is a must-see for any art lover and architecture enthusiast.

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

How to get there: A 37-minute express 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 desires

How long to stay: 3 days

Linger longer in the sights of the Italian capital, Rome.

Be sure to comb the Colosseum, throw pennies in the Trevi Fountain, delve into the art of the Sistine Chapel, and much, much 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 arrive Naples.

When you get tired of the trains, visit the ports and fortresses of Naples. But if you fancy more excursions, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius should be high on your day trip list.

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

Bari: For basilicas and beaches

How long to stay: 2 days

Leap over the vast expanse of land to discover it the unusual region of Puglia. Come here for fewer crowds and stay for the food and fascinating history.

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

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

How much will all of this cost?

You only pay €95.40 for a 14-day trip to Italy by train.

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

Tips and tricks about the railway

Before you book there are a few things to consider. EUrail and Trenitalia have their own train passes. While they may seem cheap and cheery, they actually cost over €200 for the same trip.

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

They’re sold out so grab your trip asap.

Make sure your tickets are also validated. Before boarding your train, insert your ticket into the validation machines located in ticket halls and platforms.

Other useful tips

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

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

You can save your bucks by refilling water bottles at drinking fountains across Italy – if you see a local taking a sip, it’s safe.

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

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