Italy has it all. From the canals of Venice to the mountains by Milan; the history to be discovered in Florence, to the beauty of the Amalfi Coast. And of course, the one place that all roads and rails lead to… Rome. Taking a trip to Italy will guarantee flawless food, fashion and fun. But you should travel by train with a Eurail Pass to really see it all.
With a Eurail Pass you don’t need to choose just one Italian destination. Unlike traditional train tickets, with Eurail you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. Fantastico! Some trains do ask you to make a reservation, but many trains can be boarded as easily as flashing your Pass. Once onboard you can relax in spacious seats and watch the mountains, vineyards and glistening seas go by.
If you can go anywhere in Italy then how can you narrow it down to a single itinerary? The travel experts at Eurail have made a route for you, showing the highlights from top to toe.
1. Appreciate life’s finer things in Milan.
What better way to start your trip than with a spot of spending at Europe’s richest shopping scene. The major designers can be found in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center, so it could never be easier to shop Prada, Versace and Armani. If high fashion isn’t for you, then you can just enjoy spending your time in the palatial halls of Italy’s oldest shopping mall.
Once the holiday budget’s been blown, you can repent at the magnificent Milan Cathedral or visit the convent of Santa Maria Della Grazie to see the man himself on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper mural.
Milan to Venice: 2hr 30min high-speed train
Eurail Tip: Take a stop half-way along in Romeo and Juliet’s Verona, where you can visit the 14th-century residence, with balcony, that is said to be Juliet’s House.
2. Lose yourself in Venice.
Discover Venice as it was meant to be seen – from a gondola on the Grand Canal , the oldest water thoroughfare in the city. Must-sees include the Rialto Bridge and San Marco’s Basilica on the Piazza San Marco.
One of the best ways to escape the Venice’s infamous crowds is to get lost amongst the city’s labyrinth of streets, canals and bridges. But if it all gets too much, then take a boat to the island of Burano where the houses are not so much pastel-colored, but neon!
Venice to Florence: 2hr high-speed train or 4hr regional train
Eurail Tip: After 1hr 30mins (on high-speed) hop off at Bologna. The home of Bolognese is a perfect lunch stop, particularly as the surrounding region is also home to balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese.
3. Step back in time in Florence.
Almost all of Italy’s world-famous art pieces can be found in its renaissance city, known in Italian as Firenze. Michelangelo’s original David lives in the Galleria dell’Accademia, 15 minutes’ walk from Florence’s main train station. A replica stands proudly in Piazza Della Signoria. After getting to know David, head to the Uffizi Gallery for a meeting with Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.
Complete your trip to Florence with a climb up the tower of il Duomo. At the top you will find panoramic views stretching out behind the cathedral’s famous terracotta-tiled dome.
Eurail Tip: Take a day trip to Pisa to make some Insta-worthy content at Leaning Tower. It’s just 1 hour from Florence by regional train and a 15 minute walk from the station.
Florence to Rome: 1hr 10min high-speed train or 3hr 30min regional train
4. Open the treasure trove of Rome.
Rome’s ancient heart beats to the south of Rome Termini station. Within 30 minutes of walking you can step into the core of the Colosseum and admire the palaces and temples on the Roman Forum. Rome’s more modern attractions, the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, both dating from the 18th century, can also be reached on foot.
When in Rome, you can add an extra country to your itinerary without even taking a train! The Vatican City may be the world’s smallest state, but it is home to the world’s largest church, St. Peter’s Basilica. Look skywards in the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s breath-taking frescoes, including The Creation of Adam and if you visit on a Wednesday, make sure to book advance tickets and arrive early to see the Pope address the main square.
Rome to Naples: 1hr 10min high-speed train
5. Discover paradise by the Gulf of Naples
Visit the home of pizza for a an authentic taste of southern Italy. You can view the active volcano Vesuvius from the safety of Castel Sant’Elmo. Then use your Eurail Pass to take a 40 minute train to Pompeii, the Roman city that was buried by Vesuvius in 79AD.
After the bustle of Naples and Pompeii there is no better place to end your trip than on the Amalfi coast. The coastal sophistication of Positano, Sorrento and Amalfi can be reached by using the private Circumvesuviana Railway. Alternatively take a ferry directly from Naples to the island of Capri. Transport to the Amalfi coast is not included in the Eurail Pass, but after travelling so far it is worth the final hours of travel to spend endless days sipping fresh citrus juice on the beaches of Italian paradise.
Which Eurail Pass should you choose?
Eurail Italy Pass – the perfect Pass to take in ALL of Italy. Valid on all Trenitalia, Trenord, Micotra and Leonardo Express trains.
Eurail Global Pass – the Pass of choice if you want to explore the rest of Europe after your Italian tour. Valid for rail travel in 31 countries.
High-speed versus regional trains
Italy’s Frecce high-speed trains require additional costs of seat reservations, which must be booked in advance. So if you have the time then opt for slow travel on regional trains, which you can hop on and off with no advanced planning required. You can take in all of the scenery, visit more authentic Italian towns and villages and savor every last bite of your Italian trip.
Photo credits: Eurail