SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TRANSPORT

The train routes connecting Italy to the rest of Europe in 2023

Here are some of the main direct international train services you can use for travel between Italy and other European countries this year.

A train from Limone in Italy pulls into the station in Tende, France on December 31, 2021.
A train from Limone in Italy pulls into the station in Tende, France on December 31, 2021. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP.

A number of airlines have recently announced new routes to and from Italy – but given the dramatic effect climate change is already having on Europe’s weather patterns, many people are looking to less carbon-heavy alternatives for their summer holiday plans this year.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a (non-exhaustive) primer that covers the major direct train routes from Italy to adjoining France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, as well as to Germany.

If you are considering taking any of these routes, Show Me The Journey provides a very detailed guide to international train travel from Italy that lays out exactly what services are available when.

Without further ado, here’s where you can travel in Europe by direct train from Italy in 2023:

Night trains from major cities

From Rome or Florence, you can travel direct to Villach, Salzburg, Vienna or Munich via the Nightjet network, run by Austrian operator ÖBB. This night train is currently the only direct international rail service to and from these two major Italian cities.

You can also go direct to Vienna or Munich from any of Bologna, Milan, Venice, Genoa, La Spezia, Verona, Ancona, and a few other smaller Italian towns and cities along the route, via the same service. 

READ ALSO: Yes, train travel across Europe is far better than flying – even with kids

The route from Venice, stopping at Vicenza and Udine, can take you deeper into Germany – all the way to Stuttgart – via Munich.

Nightjet's train routes.
Nightjet’s train routes. Source: ÖBB/Nightjet

France:

There are multiple daily trains from Milan to Paris via Turin, leaving either from Milano Centrale or Milano Porta Garibaldi station, depending on which operator you go with. You can also travel direct from Milan to Lyon via Turin.

From the Italian border town of Ventimiglia, you can travel to Nice, Cannes and Grasse via Menton, Monte Carlo and Antibes. There are multiple daily express trains to Ventimiglia from Milan and regional trains from Genoa.

Austria (and Germany):

Travellers can take a EuroCity train from Bologna that goes through Verona, Trento, Bolzano, Brennero (as the final Italy stop) and on to Innsbruck and Munich. There’s also one EuroCity train a day from Venice to these destinations Mon-Fri, stopping at Padua and Vicenza, and two on weekends.

There are twice-daily Railjet trains from Venice to Vienna via Villach, stopping at other Italian and Austrian towns along the route.

READ ALSO: Five easy day trips to make from Rome by train

A daily train service from Bolzano takes passengers to Vienna via Innsbruck, Salzburg and Linz.

There are also hourly S-Bahn trains to Innsbruck from Brennero, and regular trains from Fortezza to Lienz.

A picture taken on June 8, 2018 shows the train station at the Brenner Pass (Brennerpass), the mountain pass through the Alps between Austria and Italy.

A picture taken on June 8, 2018 shows the train station at the Brenner Pass (Brennerpass), the mountain pass through the Alps between Austria and Italy. Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP.

Switzerland (and Germany):

A large number of EuroCity trains leave every day from Milan to Lugano and Zurich, stopping at Como and several Swiss towns and cities.

One of these trains to Zurich each day starts in Venice, stopping at Padua, Vicenza, and Verona, among other towns; one starts in Genoa; and one in Bologna.

There’s also a twice-daily EuroCity service that goes from Milan to Basel via Como, Lusern and Lugano, and regular regional train services from Milan to Locarno via Como and Lugano.

A daily train service from the Milan central train station ferries passengers all the way to Frankfurt, stopping at Bern, Basel, and various other Italian, Swiss and German towns and cities along the way.

READ ALSO: Six delightful day trips within easy reach of Milan

If your destination is more westerly, there are multiple daily trains from Milan to Geneva via Domodossola, Brig and Lausanne, one of which starts in Venice.

There are also multiple daily services from Milan to Basel via Domodossola, Brig and Bern.

Finally, the Rhaetian Railway network connects Tirano to St Moritz, with a large number of trains departing every day; while the Bernina Express connects Tirano to Chur.

Slovenia:

A daily EuroCity train service from Trieste goes to Ljubljana, Maribor and Graz before moving on to Vienna.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TRANSPORT

OPINION: Why are Italians so addicted to cars?

In a country as attached to the car as Italy, what would it take to get more people to use greener transport? Silvia Marchetti looks at what’s behind the country’s high levels of car ownership.

OPINION: Why are Italians so addicted to cars?

Many foreigners I speak to are shocked by the ‘car first’ mentality that rules in Italy, and by Italians’ degree of addiction to any wheeled vehicle. 

There’s practically one car around for each Italian. Between 2010-2020 the population dropped but there were three million more cars on the roads, despite soaring living costs and falling salaries. 

Italy’s rate of car ownership is the second-highest in Europe after tiny Luxembourg. All Italian regions have a lot of cars running but surprisingly, the number of passenger cars which is the highest at EU level can be found in the Alpine regions of Valle D’Aosta and the northern autonomous province of Trento, where particular regional statutes envisage special tax incentives helping locals to buy new cars.

Most Italians just don’t like walking. They aren’t active travelers who’d opt for a bike, and can’t go even 500 meters without a wheeled vehicle, be it a Jeep, motorbike, Vespa or motorino. 

But it’s not really their fault. People in Italy haven’t been educated on eco-friendly modes of transport, simply because infrastructure like bike lanes, pedestrian paths, high-speed trains, efficient trams, subways and buses are rather lacking. And there aren’t many walkable pavements in cities, let alone in old villages. So the car is Italians’ second home. 

READ ALSO: These are the most (and least) eco-friendly towns in Italy

There’s an historical reason for this, too. After the second world war, during the economic boom when Italy finally rose from the ashes of the defeat, owning a cinquecento or maggiolino was a status symbol. In the 1960s my father would squeeze eight friends into his cinquino and drive around all night, sharing the fuel cost. Then the car fad turned into a frenzy, and now it’s an obsession.

Iconic Italian car and motorbike models fuelled a post-war fad – which has become an obsession. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

Whenever I need to go somewhere far from my house I wish I could do the entire trip by public transport and ditch my car, so as to avoid having parking problems too. I remember once when I was at university there was this huge party near the Colosseum, I drove around for an hour looking for a parking spot and eventually I gave up, went back home really frustrated. 

Car sharing also is something totally foreign to Italians. You just need to look around in the morning at rush hour to see that there’s just one person per car, which is totally unsustainable climate-wise.

READ ALSO: Rome ‘among worst cities in Europe’ for road safety, traffic and pollution

Even in areas like Milan, where public transport is more efficient than in the southern regions, people still stick to their car or motorino which just proves how it’s a matter of mentality rather than of transport provision. 

On the other hand, if I want to visit Tuscany or Umbria from my house in Rome’s northern countryside, there aren’t even any direct connections.

My Italian millennial friends refuse to take a bus or tram to the gelateria a few blocks away from their home – the car is the rule, and they don’t care if they risk a fine for double parking, or parking in front of a building entrance. Forget walking, it just isn’t ‘done’.

Italy will soon invest some €600 million in projects aimed at improving bike and pedestrian lanes under initiatives funded by the PNRR, but the mindset of drivers must also modernize for all this money to be really effective. 

OPINION: Why cycling in Rome isn’t as crazy as it sounds

Italy needs an information campaign to raise awareness of environmental and health issues, and this must start inside schools and continue in college. Families also should educate kids to healthier transport modes, and stop buying those ‘micro cars’ when they’re 13 which don’t require a driver’s license. 

I often ask myself what it would take to get Italians – but also other nationalities – out of their cars, or off their noisy motorino with illegal upgrades that make a hell of a noise. Rising oil prices haven’t done the miracle in making car ownership unaffordable. 

Hiking car prices would kill the industry, so the only way is to give tax breaks or incentives to families who keep just one car and manage to share it, or raise taxes if each family member has one. 

Perhaps in a very remote future, interconnected green transport from the doorstep to the destination might be the solution, but at the moment that’s science fiction.

SHOW COMMENTS