Trains in Italy

Fast train in Italy

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Italian trains are excellent, and they are a wonderful way to travel. The Italian high-speed network covers most major towns and cities in Italy, from Turin in the north all the way down to Calabria.

There are three main high-speed trains: the Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, and Frecciabianca are the high-speed trains operated by TrenItalia, while a private company called Italo also offers high-speed services between Italy's major cities.

Details on train speeds, etc., are at the end of the article, as are some tips on how to get the best deals on tickets.

For shorter distances, Italy operates an excellent network of regional and commuter trains.

Trains such as the one from Turin to Nice and the route along the Italian Riviera offer stunning scenery; further down the page, you'll find details of these and the other train journeys that are rated as the most spectacular train journeys in Italy.

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🚆 You can find and buy cheap train tickets for your trip in advance here

Trains are perfect for visiting the major cities and towns 

Trains in Italy

With regards to exploring Italy in general; trains are great, but only when it comes to towns and cities as most of the countryside regions and little villages aren't well covered by the rail network. There are a few exceptions though - the Cinque Terre villages have a superb train service and so too does the coast of Calabria

My Introduction to Italian Trains

Many many years ago, long before I met and married my Italian wife, Maria, I visited Italy by train on a Eurail Pass. It was a great first introduction to Italy, and I saw all the main cities - the typical tourist cities of Rome, Venice, and Florence, but I never really understood Italy or saw the real Italy.

The following year I bought myself a Trenitalia Pass, it was great value, I made lots of friends on the trains, and I saw more big towns and cities... but I only saw the countryside from an Italian train window.

So, if you are focusing on visiting one region or want to really discover the Italian countryside, then a car is best.

The type of holiday where you base yourself in one town or village, find a characteristic place to stay, and explore with your own car or a hire car is the best way to discover Italy. The small villages, markets, and traditions of this ancient land can only really be discovered in this way, not by train.

Having said that, there are definitely some train journeys one really should take - some of the best ones I've listed below, but there are at least 10 others that are fantastic. If you are a supporter, you are always welcome to contact me for personalized advice.


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🚆 You can find and buy cheap train tickets for your trip in advance here

Question 1: Which are the most beautiful train rides in Italy?


  1. From France through the Val di Susa. There are plans for a high speed train connection through this area known as the TAV, linking Turin with Lyon, but it's facing a lot of protests and the slow train that exists at present is perfect for enjoying the view.
  2. Turin to Nice through the mountains and the French and Piedmont countryside. The scenery and little villages en route are lovely. You normally have to change trains in Ventimiglia and sometimes Cuneo.
  3. Tropea to Pizzo offers an unparalleled view of one of Italy's most beautiful coastlines: coves, beaches and that Italian Mediterranean blue which is a blue like no other.
  4. The fast train from Milan to Rome or vice-versa is amazing. It covers the 350 miles/560kms in two hours and forty-five minutes and races through some beautiful scenery in Tuscany and Lazio. 
  5. Traveling aboard the Autumn Foliage Train between Domodossola and Locarno is one of the most beautiful journeys in Italy. The journey is around 50 kilometers and takes two hours.  Spectacular doesn't come close to describing the magnificent scenery.
  6. The Cinque Terre Train is a must - we wrote about the train and the Cinque Terre here.
  7. Journey from Bari to Matera. The train journey is incredible and Bari and Matera are two of the most fascinating towns in Italy. The links have more about them both.
  8. Trans-Siberian between Sulmona and Isernia. The name, Trans-Siberian, came about because of the winter scenery which recalls Siberia. Summer or winter, this high altitude journey through the mountains of Abruzzo is spectacular.
  9. Volcano Train of Sicily: Circumetnea is the line's official name, and it offers a three-hour journey (110 km) through villages, vineyards, and pistachio groves while Etna glowers down upon it all.
  10. Asciano - Monte Antico line: a steam train journey through some of the most beautiful Tuscan scenery. The line was closed in 1994 but was reopened by a group of dedicated volunteers. The video below has more on the route - although in Italian, the beauty of the area is clearly shown.

Question 2: How fast are Italian trains?

Answer: The maximum recorded speed in testing is 393.8 km/h (244.7 mph), although operating speeds are limited to 300 km/h (186 mph). The fastest trains are the Frecciarossa 1000  trains, followed by the Italo trains that can reach a maximum speed of 360 km/h (160mph).

Question 3: When is the best time to buy train tickets?

Answer: I find that booking for the fast trains between one and three months before traveling generally works out the cheapest. If you are booking a regional train, the prices are generally the same regardless of when you book. A good idea is to download the Trenitalia app so that you can buy tickets online, and then the ticket inspector simply scans the QR code on your phone.

Question 4: How to avoid fines when traveling by train in Italy

Answer: If you don't buy tickets online, you will need to physically validate your train ticket on the platform before boarding and fill in the date and sign if it is a multi-day ticket. Not validating your train ticket, together with the fines from getting caught in ZTL zones, is the most common way tourists get fined in Italy. You can find out about ZTL zones and other mistakes here.

Question 5: Are trains in Italy expensive?

Answer: No, the tickets are very affordable and, considering the quality of Italian trains, are often a real bargain.

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🚆 You can find and buy cheap train tickets for your trip in advance here

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