Rome – Florence – Venice: A Train Trip Across Italy
Italy is famous for its food, architecture and culture. And it’s not all concentrated in one place: the country is home to a long list of beautiful towns and cities that attract many tourists each year.
My boyfriend and I both had several of these cities on our bucket lists, but neither of us had ever been to Italy. So, we decided to do a big trip and see three of Italy’s iconic cities in one go.
We started in Rome and travelled by train to Florence and then Venice, spending three nights in each city. It was definitely a busy and active holiday but I would certainly recommend this trip! We got to see so much in just over a week, and we were very pleasantly surprised by the Italian trains.
In this post I’ll talk you through what we got up to and provide a few tips along the way for anyone thinking of making a similar trip.
Days 1 to 3 – Rome
The Colosseum in Rome
We wanted to start off in Rome as we figured it would involve the most walking of the three – it seemed like a good idea to do the most active part while we were still fresh off the plane and then we could chill out more towards the end of the trip.
We stayed at the Navona Open Space apartments, which were in a great central location just across the river from the Castel Sant’Angelo and not far from the Vatican. There are probably slightly cheaper places you can stay, but the apartments were good value considering the location and how nice they were.
From the minute we arrived in Rome, I fell in love with it. It’s like nowhere else. Every street you turn down you can see a beautiful church or part of an ancient Roman ruin. There’s plenty to do, but just wandering through the streets is a delight as well.
It’s hard to do absolutely everything in Rome in three days, but we gave it a pretty good shot! We visited the Pantheon, the Forum, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and Vatican City including the Sistine Chapel.
The Roman Forum
Top tip: The Colosseum and Forum are next to each other and you can get a joint ticket. If you’re buying your ticket on the day, I’d recommend getting it from the Forum, as the queues are usually shorter than at the Colosseum. Then you can skip the ticket purchase queue at the Colosseum.
Rome to Florence by Train
The train to Florence from Rome only takes about an hour and a half. We bought tickets online beforehand for the Italo high speed train, and managed to get discount tickets because we booked quite far in advance. We were really impressed by the train – it was clean and tidy and super specious with really comfy seats!
Days 4 to 6 – Florence
After the hectic atmosphere of Rome, Florence was a welcome slowing of pace. While it’s still a bustling city, it is smaller and has plenty of quieter streets. We stayed in an Airbnb close to the River Arno and took our first afternoon to have a gentle stroll taking in the river and crossing the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, which dates back to medieval times and is lined with shops.
The River Arno in Florence
The main things you should do in Florence are walk up to the Piazzale Michaelangelo for great views over the city, and visit the Duomo (cathedral). The cathedral is clad in different coloured marble and is absolutely stunning. A climb to the top of the dome provides more panoramic views, but beware – the trip to the top via a balcony followed by tight passageways in between the inner and outer walls of the dome might not be your cup of tea of you are afraid of heights or claustrophobic!
The view from the top of Florence Cathedral
Top tip: You can walk up to Piazzale Michaelangelo but it’s quite a steep hill – we got the bus from the central bus station and walked back down.
Florence to Venice by Train
On the high speed train it takes just 2 hours to get from Florence to Venice. If you’re planning on entering Venice by train, try and make sure your train goes to Venice Santa Lucia Station, which is on the island itself. That way, you get to travel by bridge over the sea to get into Venice and you exit the station right on to the Grand Canal – a pretty cool way to start your visit.
Days 7 to 10: Venice
Venice is one of those places you’ve seen so many pictures of that you almost feel like you’ve already been there. It is, of course, even better in real life. All of the accommodation is pretty expensive in Venice – there weren’t many Airbnbs and we ended up staying in the Casa Fedora apartments. They weren’t that cheap, but we had budgeted for this as we knew Venice would be the most expensive city.
We spent the first day walking round and seeing all the famous sights such as the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, San Marco Square and the Campanile di San Marco. Similar to Rome, everywhere you go in Venice is beautiful.
On a gondola ride through Venice
Taking a gondola ride is kind of a must when in Venice. There is a fixed price of 80 euros for half an hour, but that’s for the whole gondola so if there is a group of you, it works out cheaper. I would definitely recommend doing it if you can – it’s great to experience the city via its waterways.
We took one day in Venice to visit a couple of the other islands – Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for its glass and Burano for its rows of brightly coloured houses. You can get there on the Vaporetto commuter boat from the main island.
Brightly coloured houses in Burano
I would recommend all three of these Italian cities, whether on their own or as part of a bigger trip – train travel in Italy seemed pretty easy and convenient. Rome was my personal favourite but that’s subjective – decide for yourself!
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Rachel is a freelance writer and German translator who has lived in Hamburg and Stuttgart. She loves both travel and writing about it. Her favourite destinations are places that have a mixture beautiful scenery, interesting things to see and do and great food!