Although Antwerpen Central Station in Belgium is often named the most beautiful train station in Europe (at least in English and Dutch studies), Italy is considered to have the largest diversity in train stations in Europe. Traveling by train through Italy allows you to see all kinds of train stations; from small, romantic railway platforms to immense, industrial buildings. Never a dull moment.
Traveling by train in Italy
Compared to other Mediterranean countries, traveling by train is relatively reliable and affordable in Italy. The Eurostar and Intercity lines can take you to most of the larger cities in Italy, especially in the north and near Rome. Reserving a seat is mandatory, but this also guarantees that you have a place to sit.
Traveling by train can be a very fast way to move across the country, but it depends on where you want to go. For example, traveling from Rome to Florence (around 200 miles) takes about an hour and a half, but a trip from Rome to Venice (just under 350 miles) will cost you almost five hours. Plan well before you leave, but as you can purchase your train tickets up to 60 days before departure, this is very well possible.
Another option to travel through Italy would be to take the regionale or interregionale, the regional train lines. If you can avoid taking the train during rush hours, you will most often have a comfortable place to sit. Otherwise, taking prima classe (first class) might be a better option.
Taking the regionale is the only way to travel by train on Sardinia and Sicily, as the faster trains do not service these islands. The small provinces Molise and Valle d'Aosta also don't have lots of train stations, so it's probably better to plan your trip well, if you want to visit these regions.
Are you just taking the train for fun? Then one of the famous tourist train routes might be a good option. From Torino to Trieste, in the north of Italy, will take you about 7 hours, and offers stunning views and allows you to visit beautiful cities.
Will you be traveling to Sardinia? Then taking one of the trenino verde, the green trains, is a must. These trains will bring you to beautiful small towns, like Nulvi, Nuoro, or Palau. The train route along the Amalfi Coast is also highly recommended.
Just like the Italian cities you will visit, the Italian train stations are very diverse. From the apparently beautiful (I think it's a matter of taste) station of Florence to the imposing Milano Centrale, and anything in between - every single one of them is amazing in its own way.
One of the most beautiful train stations in Italy has to be Milano Centrale, the railway station of Milan.
The immense hall of the station.
A close-up of the impressive Milanese arches.
The small town Lucca is *much* prettier than this small, weather-worn railway building would make you believe.
The train station of Stresa, a small town just north-west of Milan. The slowly-rising sun, the mountains in the background and the use of old materials in the station makes the time go a little bit slower here.
Not every Italian train station is small. The sun sets behind the power lines of Pisa's railway station.
On top of this aqueduct, which was built by former Roman rulers, now runs a railroad. A few metres to the left, just outside the photograph, is Stazione Santa Chiara. As far as I know it's the only train station in the world that's built on top of an ancient aqueduct.
Another famous Italian train station is Santa Maria Novella in Florence, which is situated right across the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. The building is still a key example of Italian modernism architecture, and really stands out from the surrounding buildings.
The train leaves in the small Tuscan town Asciano, near Siena. The size and atmosphere is characteristic for smaller train stations in this region.
Volterra's train station is no longer in use, but it is a striking example of an Italian small-town train station. Small, old, and in desperate need of some paint.
The train station of the small town Martina Franca, in the 'heel of Italy's boot'.
Manarola is a small town in the rocky La Spezia region, and part of the Cinque Terre. Especially in the summer, tourists arrive in Manarola by the dozen.
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