In case you missed it, here are the previous and upcoming posts about our summer trip to Italy:
- United Airlines To Rome
- St. Regis Rome
- Osteria 44
- Photo Essay of Angels & Demons
- A Quiet Meal At Cul de Sac
- Trevi Fountain (Semi) Closed For Business
- A Fast Train To Venice
- St. Regis San Clemente Island
- Hotel Danieli
- Antico Pignolo
- A Quick Trip To Murano
- How To Ride The Vaporetto (Water Bus) In Venice
- Getting Lost In Venice
- British Airways 787 Flight Home
If you’re a US resident and you’ve never been to Europe, the high-speed train network is a lot more robust than what we have in the US, essentially one route from Boston to DC with a lot of money and time spent talking about more.
The train network is pretty extensive. It also works better for Europeans because the distances between major cities is, in many cases, significantly less than what we deal with in the US. Shorter trips lend themselves to train travel, as you don’t tie up all the extra time getting to the airport early so you can make sure you have enough time to clear security at the airport, then more time spent sitting in the terminal for your flight to depart. Additionally, many of the large train stations in Europe are in city centers, thus negating the extra time to trek from an airport 20-30 minutes from downtown (see Fiumicino, Rome).
In the past, we’ve taken the train to and from Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples. I’ve never actually rented a car in Europe, though I know I will for exploring the Tuscany region and the Eastern part of the country when we make our way there. For each of the cities I listed above, train travel is incredibly convenient for navigating between them. Trains leave frequently and, for the most part, are clean. In Italy, the principal train network for the decade or so I’ve been traveling there has been Trenitalia. It’s what I’d call “good enough”. But, this time around, someone had told me there was a new game in town, Italo Treno.
They depart Rome from a different station, have newer and faster trains, and presented a noticeable drop in fares for our recent trip. When Michelle and I had last gone to Venice, we paid over 100 Euro for two tickets. This time around, our family of 4 traveled for less than 100 Euro due to special discounts. A few extra Euro got you extra legroom, which was plentiful. Trenitalia had similar prices, but I was eager to try the new, faster trains.
Termini is the main station in Rome, and well located. But, Tiburtina, where Italo departs from, is just a short 10-15 minute cab ride from Termini. As an aside, for those considering taking the train to Venice, you want Venezia Santa Lucia as your station, which is a stop right on the canal, as opposed to Venezia Maestre.
When we arrived at the station, we were able to print our tickets out easily from a machine. The train station was clean and well-organized with a few different restaurant options and even a lounge over the top of the terminal. The main station in town, Termini, is well-located and works just fine, but it’s always mobbed with people. This was a welcome change.
Not knowing the quality of the food onboard, we grabbed some sandwiches and headed to the train platform. The sleek bullet train engines were plentiful alongside the older versions that still service the routes. Our train pulled into the station and we were quickly onboard and in our assigned seats.
We found clean, comfortable seats with decent recline, a footrest and power at every seat. The menu had a decent number of choices but we passed on them, opting for what we brought onboard. Soft drinks, water etc were all free. Attendants came through the cabin multiple times offering refills. And, the wi-fi was perfectly serviceable for the entire route (minus a few tunnels), comparable to Gogo I’ve used so many times in the US.
And, of course, the trains were fast. Really fast. How fast?
We ultimately topped out at 260 km/h for decent parts of the journey, or roughly 160 mph. Not the fastest train in the world, but close. Pretty nice, and a bit quicker than Trenitalia. All in all, we were in Venice 3.5 hours later with a few stops in between, rested and comfortable, ready to enjoy one of our favorite cities in the world.