Inside the Coliseum in RomeInside the Coliseum in Rome
September 16, 2013

Milan to Rome by train

by Abigail King in Train routes

Milan and Rome are the two powerhouse cities of Italy, each packing a hefty cultural, historical and 21st century punch. Milan in the north flies the flag for fashion across the world, houses Leonardo Da Vinci’s landmark work The Last Supper and dazzles visitors with a stroll along the rooftop spires of its cathedral.

Rome, meanwhile, has the Sistine Chapel within the city-state of the Vatican, the gladiatorial Colosseum and some of the country’s edgiest up and coming designers and open air markets.

In short, they’re two of the best cities in Europe.

How to get from Milan to Rome by train

By high-speed train

High-speed Frecce trains run direct from Milan to Rome in just under three hours, so you can catch your morning espresso in Milan and reach Rome in time for lunch. You’ll need to reserve a place and pay a fee (10 Euros) at either the ticket desk or the self-service machines at the station before you board. This service runs several times an hour from Milano Centrale station.

It’s a slick, fast service although there isn’t much chance to appreciate the view.

You can travel high speed to Bologna and Florence en route to Rome but you’ll have to pay the same reservation fee for each leg of the journey, making it a far less cost-effective option.

By regional train

For the truly laid back approach to travel from A to B, you can travel by regional train. Fully included within your Eurail pass, there’s nothing else to pay and plenty of chances to savour the scenery. The only thing you’ll need is ample time – it takes between ten and twelve hours to saunter south to the Eternal City.

Several different routes exist from Milano Centrale station, changing at either Pisa and La Spezia Centrale; Bologna, Falconara Marittima and Foligno; or Parma, La Spezia Centrale and Pisa Centrale. Come up with your own itinerary by using the Eurail timetable.

Getting to Milano Centrale
MIlan Centrale train station

Like most big cities, Milan has more than one station but for heading south into Italy, it’s Milano Centrale you want. It’s a grand, beautiful affair with a touch of Art Deco in places and as many as 24 platforms. Left luggage lockers are on the ground floor, accessible seven days a week and you’ll find shops for food, drinks, and (of course) clothes throughout the complex.

Arriving in Rome

Roma Termini train station
Fast trains whoosh into Roma Termini while the regional ones chug into Roma Tiburtina.

Roma Termini lies in the heart of the city, only a half hour walk from the ancient Colosseum. The metro lines run through here and trains leave for Fiumicino airport every 30 minutes.

Roma Tiburtina lives in the north east part of the city. It connects to Line B of the Rome metro and has a substantial bus station for both national and international routes.

Top 3 Italian cities on the Milan to Rome route

The regional trains allow your eyes to feast on the fields of Tuscany and the farms of Emilia Romagna as you trundle on by.  Your Eurail pass also allows you hop on and off the regional services to catch one or all three of these less urban Italian highlights.

  1. Bologna

    View of Bologna from the Asinelli Tower

    Home to the oldest university in Western Europe, Bologna has an energetic student vibe beneath its portico-laden walkways. Its omission from most tourist trails gives it a rewarding, authentic feel and yet there’s something ever so familiar about its signature dish: bolognese. For the genuine version, ask for tagliatelle, never spaghetti.

  2. Florence

    Galileo's tomb in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence

    The compact city of Florence simply overflows with world class art. Gaze at the towering might of Michelangelo’s David or into the dewy eyes of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Pay your respects at the tombs of Galileo and Machiavelli or receive a lesson in Renaissance art simply by wandering through the gelato-rich streets. To see the masterpieces, it’s worth booking in advance as queues are often long and can easily cut into your stopover time.

  3. Pisa

    Leaning Tower of Pisa

    Yes, it’s true. There’s a tower. And it leans. There’s also a great riverside view, a string of tasty gelaterias and an open air market that’s also worth a look. If you’re on a tight schedule, though, it’s certainly possible to just hot foot it to the tower, take the obligatory “pushing the tower back” photo and head back towards Rome.