Italy by Rail: Venice, Florence, Rome

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Venice, Florence and Rome are three of Italy’s most iconic and desirable cities. Have you ever thought about exploring them all in one trip? It is as easy as uno, due, tre. The Citalia team were lucky enough to take the rail journey between the three cities. Here, Hannah Barnbrook shares her experiences and train tips.

Venice to Florence

Our first stop was Venice – the city I was most excited about visiting. We enjoyed all the iconic sites, from Doge’s Palace to St Mark’s Square. We explored by foot all of Venice’s cobbled streets and enjoyed many pizza slices on the way. Venice is renowned for its lagoons and gondolas, and as touristy as it sounds, I couldn’t leave without a ride on one. The standard price throughout the city is 80 euros for a half-hour ride, finishing on the iconic Grand Canal. It was an amazing experience that allows you to see parts of the city that aren’t possible on foot.

We said our farewells to Venice by jumping in a water taxi. The water taxis can drop you off directly outside Venice train station. This is your last stop to grab a little bit of Venice at the station’s food outlets, selling gelato, pizza, and Italian sandwiches. The station is fairly small, however I was impressed with the shops at the station. Though the wait for our train wasn’t long, the time flew by as we wandered the shops, which included my favourite hand cream brand, l’Occitane and usual high street stores, such as Tiger. A great way to kill any waiting time!

 

venice-canal

Ticket machines are located at the front of the station, and there are plenty of staff on hand to assist if you have any questions. Our tickets were printed prior to arrival, so it was as easy as scanning your ticket on the platform and boarding the train.

We boarded our high-speed train from Venice to Florence (train journey was two hours, 10 minutes). We upgraded to business class and we enjoyed every minute. We took advantage of the extra leg room (which was well-received after a couple of days exploring Venice), as well as reclining chairs, blinds and complimentary snacks and refreshments.

My blind stayed up most of the journey so I was able to admire the scenery. It was full of contrasts, with everything from traditional farmland and stunning hillsides to small towns and cities. This high-speed train was one of the most informative I have travelled on. Minimal stops were made, due it to being the high-speed from Venice to Florence, but screens on board showed time remaining until next stops and where the train was in relation to the journey, as well as any delays. You’re always kept up-to-date.

The highlight of my visit to Florence was the Duomo. We paid 15 euros to climb to the top of the Duomo and enjoyed spectacular views across Florence. The ticket price also includes entry into the city’s bell tower within 24 hours of your entrance into the Duomo. Don’t leave Florence without your photo of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, the oldest bridge in Florence. The bridge from the outside is stunning, but on the bridge, the experience is even better as it’s lined with jewellers, antique shops and more. Talking of shopping, Florence is the best place to get your leather goods.

Florence to Rome

Florence S.M.N train station is bigger than Venice, meaning a lot more choice in the way of food. To the right of the train platforms you can grab a quick, much-loved McDonald’s or go for something a little bit more traditional at the Rossosapore pizza slice bar. There is also a mini supermarket and coffee stands to grab something for the journey. If you have a little time to kill at the station, a selection of shops are on hand, including Sephora and a few small Italian boutique stores to grab some last-minute souvenirs.

Much like our journey from Venice to Florence, our tickets were already printed – again something I would recommend. However Florence station is larger so there is a manned ticket desk and more ticket machines dotted about.

Florence-duomo

We boarded another high-speed train, this time with just a short journey of an hour and a half. As the journey was slightly shorter, we opted for standard seats. We still found the carriages comfortable, with most chairs sharing a table, allowing for more space. Each carriage has window blinds, informative screens and heaps of overhead storage space. My biggest tip for this journey: do it during the day. The scenery is stunning, with mountain ranges as far as the eye can see and authentic Italian villages and towns dotted on the hillsides.

When arriving at Rome, we had pre-arranged transfers with the Parco di Principi – a sign with Citalia was clearly visible when we got to the platform – so very easy! A taxi rank is found directly outside the station which is another easy option.We spent our time in Rome exploring the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain.

Finally, here are my top train tips for your next journey around Italy.

 

  • Have a quick walk around the station to scout out food and drink vendors – don’t be overcharged by the first café you see on the way in.
  • Keep an eye on one of the many boards around the station which display platform numbers 15-20 minutes before departure – if lots of people are waiting for the platform to be called, this can mean you’re ahead of the game and board ahead of any rush.
  • While in Venice, be aware of luggage at all times. People will offer to help carry your luggage off the water taxis and onto the trains. If you wish to avoid the awkward situation of a porter expecting a tip, just be quick to say you need no assistance.

 

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