An international train journey to Italy by day is a beautiful thing, but if flying into Italy is your only viable option, more often than not you'll at least be able to take a train for the final or first stage of the trip.
Italy lacks a station located at an airport where it's possible to make direct transfers between planes and frequent long-distance trains. Though a high number of Italy's busiest airports are served by dedicated transfers to nearby stations by people mover, tram or bus.
Also if you are wondering which of Milan or Rome would offer an easier onward connection by train, when taking a trans-continental flight to Italy, the answer is obviously Milan for northern Italy and Rome for the south, but for destinations in between the two cities, it won't particularly matter.
Both cities have airport train services to and from their respective main stations where transfers will be available with express trains to and from the likes of Bologna and Florence.
If you will be combining a flight with an express train journey, something to be aware of, particularly when heading away from an airport, is the lack of an ability to transfer any ticket booked online to an alternative later departure.
When booking any ticket in advance for a journey by a high-speed train or an Intercity train, you will need to select to travel by a specific departure and the departure time of this train will be on your ticket.
However, if you get to the station after the departure time on your ticket, because of a delayed flight arrival, you will have to re-book no matter which type of you ticket you have booked online.
So because you can save by booking in advance for journeys by these trains, it can be a very good idea to add an hour or two of contingency time to the time you will think you will need between your flight arrival and the departure time of the train.
If all goes smoothly you'll then have time to have something to eat or drink at the station.
Or if you book the most expensive type of advance ticket online, the 'Base' ticket, and don't encounter an airport delay, you can go to a station ticket counter and transfer it to an earlier departure.
Though if you will be travelling shorter-distances by the Regionale (R and RV) trains you won't save money by booking in advance, so it's best to buy tickets at the station just prior to boarding - the Trenitalia ticket machines have good English translations.
Italy's national rail operator Trenitalia doesn't provide the trains between Bari Centrale station and Bari Airport, but the Bari Metro line M2 provides services that depart twice an hour during the day; though there can be gaps of up to 40 mins between trains.
The journey takes around 17 mins and tickets cost around €5.
If you step out of the main exit from Bari Centrale station, you will be on the square in front of the station - the Piazza Aldo Moro.
Over to the left, you will see a five-storey white building, this is the Bari Centrale terminus of the Ferrotramviara (FT) railway; so the trains to Bari Airport leave from here.
On the signage within Bari Centrale, the station that these FT trains leave from is shown as ‘Ferrovie Nord Barese.
Bologna Centrale station is the primary hub of the Italian rail network, it is linked to destinations across Italy by express trains.
The likes of Florence, Rome, Milan, Naples Padova and Venice generally have at least hourly connections, while other direct express trains also link Bologna with Ancona, Bari, Bolzano, Turin and Verona.
Regionale trains provide transfers to and from Ferrara, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna and Rimini.
The transfer between Bologna Airport and Bologna Centrale has been transformed by the Marconi Express people mover.
It links the two transport hubs up to eight times per hour, though 4 x depatures per hour can be the more usual service, in a journey time of less than 8 minutes.
Though despite the short journey, single tickets cost €11.
At Bologna Centrale the Marconi Express access is above the AV part of the station used by the high-speed trains; and a taxi rank is also located here.
The other trains and the entrance/exit on the city centre side of the station, can be accessed by a passage within the station, that is equipped with escalators.
Though no railway route in Sicily has a regularly timetabled train service with hourly departures etc, so continuing or starting a journey by train needs to be planned with care.
The train times can be looked up on the Trenitalia website.
The journey time to and from Catania Centrale station is only 11 minutes, but there isn't a departure in every hour, though some hours have two or three trains.
Less frequent rail services link Catania airport with Messina, Siracusa and Taormina.
Genoa Aeroporto Cristoforo Colombo is linked every 15 minutes from 06:00 to 22:00 by bus to Genova Sestri Ponente station.
The station is served by local and regional trains, with typically three departures per hour to and from the city's main railway stations, Genova Piazza Principe and Genova Brignole.
When going to the airport the trains will typically be heading to Genova Nervi or Savona, but a few trains continue beyond Savona to Ventimiglia and serve multiple towns on the Italian Riviera including Albenga and Sanremo.
At Genova Piazza Principe station these trains use platforms / tracks which are underground.
When travelling to the city centre the trains will typically heading to Genova Voltra or Sestri Levante and a few afternoon and evening departures continue beyond Sestri Levante to La Spezia, calling at the stations which serve the Cinque Terre villages.
If you will be travelling between the airport and stations with less frequent connections with Genova Sestri Ponente, it's best to look up the departure and arrival times on the Trenitalia website.
When traveling to and from destinations outside of Genova city limits, tickets can be booked on Trenitalia which include the bus transfer to and from the airport, by selecting Genova Aeroporto Cristoforo Colombo as the from or to destination.
Though if you will be travelling to and from destinations within Genoa/Genova there are tickets which include both the bus and local trains which cost from €1.60.
Milan is served by two international airports:
Both airports now have links by train to the city centre, but only Malpensa has a train service to and from the city's main railway station, Milano Centrale.
Both terminal one and terminal two at Malpensa Airport have stations served by the Malpensa Express train service, which connects the airport with the city centre.
In effect there are two Malpensa Express routes, one of which links the airport to Milano Cadorna station, while the other goes to and from Milano Porta Garibaldi and Milano Centrale stations.
All of the Malpensa Express trains call at Milano Bovisa station where connections are available with trains which call at other stations in central Milan: Milano Repubblica; Milano Porta Venezia and Milano Dateo
So it's a good idea to discover which of these stations mentioned above will be the most convenient start or finish point when travelling between Malpensa and Milan city centre by train.
Avoid assuming that Milano Centrale station lives up to its name, Milano Cadorna station is actually closer to the heart of the city.
The two routes taken by the Malpensa Express trains also offer different connections with the Milan Metro:
the train service
Add on four minutes to the journey times when travelling to and from terminal two.
Both of the Malpensa Expresss routes operate every 30 minutes, the journey time between Cadorna station and the station at Terminal One is 37 minutes.
The first train of the day from Cadorna typically arrives at Malpensa shortly after 05:30 daily and the final departure of the day to Milano Cadorna typically departs daily shortly before 00:30.
The trains on the route between Malpensa and Milano Centrale, which also call at Milano Porta Garibaldi, don't have a completely regular pattern.
Until around 20:00 two trains per hour are available and they both have a journey time between Milano Centrale and Terminal One of 51 minutes, despite the fact that in most hours one of the trains makes three more station calls than the other.
After 20:00 the frequency drops to hourly.
Those who will be flying long-haul into Europe in order to experience wonderful Ticino in southern Switzerland have a choice between flying into Zurich or Milan Malpensa.
Connections are required at the main station in Zurich when travelling between its airport and the main towns in Ticino of Bellinzona and Lugano, but these towns have an hourly direct rail link with Malpensa.
These regional trains, which will be typically heading to from Biasca, make multiple other station calls in Ticino, including at Mendrisio, Capolago Lago and Giubiasco (connect for Locarno)
The journey time between Malpensa and Lugano is 1hr 25mins, with the final train of the day typically departing from Malpensa shortly before 23:20.
The first train of the day from Bellinzona and Lugano typically arrives in Malpensa at around 06:40.
Taking the train from Malpensa and connecting in Milano Centrale is a particularly good option if you’re heading to destinations in northern Italy that don’t have airports, but do have direct trains from Milano Centrale.
Towns and cities that fall into this category include: Brescia; Como; Colico, Desenzano, Lecco, Modena; Padova/Padua, Parma, Peschiera del Garda, Piacenza and Vicenza.
If you can book sufficiently far in advance, then a combination of a
Worth Keeping in Mind:
No matter where you’re heading to, check the train times from Milano Centrale to your final destination before booking flights.
There can be gaps of up to three hours between train departures from Centrale station, depending on your final destination.
Though there is typically at least one train per hour from Milan to Bologna, to Florence, to Rome and to Verona.
With trains leaving Malpensa every 30 minutes and a journey time of around 50 minutes, allow at least two hours between your flight arrival time and the departure time of your train from Milano Centrale - add another 15mins if you’ll have checked in bags to collect.
Particularly if you have booked ahead online to save money, as you will have to re-book if you get to Milano Centrale after the departure time on your ticket.
At Milano Centrale
All of the platforms/tracks/binario at Milano Centrale are on the same level, so making the connection between the Malpensa Express and your subsequent train, simply requires walking from one platform to another, so ideal for wheeling cases.
If you need to purchase tickets for the onward connections from Milano Centrale you can use the Trenitalia ticket machines that are located in the central area of the departure concourse (immediately behind the platforms/binario).
Though it can pay off to check the departure board, if the next obvious train to your destination is an Italo train, head to the Italo branded ticket machines.
If you have a choice of taking an Italo or Trenitalia train, it can pay off to check the ticket prices on both ticket machines.
The ticket machines at the airport station only sell tickets for the Malpensa Express.
The by train info on the Milano Linate website doesn't seem to be aware that the airport now has a train station, but there is now no need to take a bus when travelling between Linate and Milan city centre.
Milano's newest metro line, the M4 terminates at a station that lives up to its name of Linate Aeroporto, as it is within a five minute walk of the airport terminal.
Line M4 has yet to be fully opened but it already connects with the city's local train system, the 'S' trains, at Dateo station and Forlanini station.
Dateo station is located on the cross-city underground rail route used by the local suburban trains which also has stations at Milano Porta Venezia and Milano Repubblica and Milano Porta Garibaldi.
These trains also call at Milano Bovisa station where connections are available to and from the Malpensa Express trains.
At Forlanini station a transfer is available between the M4 line and trains which will be travelling to and from Monza.
Taking the train between Linate and Milano Centrale requires two connections at Datteo and Repubblica stations, so the alternative is to take the dedicated bus service.
Pisa Airport is linked to the city's main railway station by a people mover shuttle system.
So Pisa has easy direct rail links with more cities than most other Italian airports, but connections in and out of the long-distance trains need to be planned with care.
If you're considering taking a train on the routes to Genoa, Grosetto and beyond, look up the departure and arrival times before you commit to a flight.
Though Pisa airport offers a particularly easy connection by train to and from Florence, up to four trains per hour are available and it's possible to be at Firenze S.M.Novella station, the city's main railway station within 1hr 30mins of a flight arrival.
Connections are available at Firenze S.M.Novella when travelling between Pisa airport and Arezzo, Assisi, Perugia and Prato.
The full name of Palermo Airport used to be Palermo Punta Raisi, hence the name of the rail station which is located directly beneath the airport terminal being Punta Raisi.
The station is served by local trains which depart every 30 minutes until shortly before 22:20, but the journey time between the airport and the city's main rail station, Palermo Centrale is an hour.
The trains are local suburban railway services and Palermo Centrale is located on the opposite side of the city from the airport, so the trains call at multiple stations adjacent to the city centre.
Therefore taking these airport services to and from Palermo Centrale is obviously the way to go if you will be travelling by train between Palermo airport and other destinations in Sicily - though check the schedule of the trains before you commit to a flight.
However, when travelling between the airport and Palermo city centre, it's definitely worth checking if one of the other stations will be more convenient for your start and end points:
The trains are non-stop in a journey time of 32 minutes, which partially justifies a price of €14; though groups of four people can save €16, by travelling at a group rate of €40.
As per other trains in Italy, children aged 4 and under travel for free, but what's unusual about the Leonardo Express is that each adult ticket holder can take a child aged 5 - 11 at no extra cost.
Particularly when heading to Rome's main airport, the other advantage of taking the Leonardo Express is that being a dedicated service, seats and luggage storage space on the train are very likely to be available.
Though if you have a lot of luggage and the next train is about to depart within 5 minutes, it can be a good idea to hang back, so that you will be among the first to board the next service, 15 mins later*.
*= Before 07:00 and after 22:00 the frequency drops to every 30 minutes, but the final departure from Roma Termini is at 23:05; the final departure from the airport is later, typically after 23:50.
Connections are available in Roma Termini with trains from and to the overwhelming majority of other Italian cities including Assisi, Florence, Naples and Perugia.
The alternative train service to and from main airport in Rome
The Leonardo Express is not only the only Rome airport <> city centre rail service which uses Fiumicino Aeroporto station, as line / route F1 of the city's local rail system also terminates at the airport.
The trains on line F1 heading towards Rome city centre typically have a final destination of Fara, Orte or Poggio.
Compared to the Leonardo Express, these trains on line / route F1:
However, all of these stations are some distance from the historical heart of Rome, though Roma Termini station is approximately a similar distance from the Colosseum as Ostiense station.
Though the Leonardo Express offers an easier connection to Line B at Termini station, and the metro Line A also calls at Termini.
Between Rome Airport and Roma Tiburtina station
The local trains on line / route F1 also call at Roma Tiburtina station, the rail travel interchange hub located north of the city centre.
Many long-distance trains between Rome and the likes of Assisi, Bologna, Florence, Naples and Perugia call at Roma Tiburtina and the journey time between Roma Tiburtina and Fiumicino Aeroporto station is 47 minutes.
So if you won't be travelling with heavy luggage* and are heading into Rome on a train which calls at Tiburtina, you can save money by connecting there for a train which will be heading to Fiumicino Aeroporto.
*= If you have heavy luggage making the transfer between trains is easier at Roma Termini as it only involves walking from one train to another, the transfer at Tiburtina involves using a bridge within the station, which can be accessed by stairs and lifts / elevators.
Fiumicino Aeroporto is one of only two stations located at an Italian airport served by the high-speed Frecce trains operated by Trenitalia, but the service is sporadic.
From the airport, these daily direct trains are typically available:
When travelling to the airport these daily services are typically available:
Ciampino Airport is linked to Roma Termini station by the Ciampino Airlink, which is a combined train + bus service operated by Trenitalia - tickets for the journey to and from Ciampino Aeroporto can be booked on the Trenitalia website.
The total end-to-end journey between Ciampino Airport and the city's main railway station, typically takes around 35 mins, the airport terminal is a 13 minute bus ride from Ciampino station.
When travelling from Roma Termini to Ciampino up to three trains per hour are typically available, which will usually be heading to Albano, Frosinone, or Velletri.
However, they usually depart from a separate part of Roma Termini station, a 3-5 minute walk from the main concourse - it is by the Laziali tram stop.
So the negative of taking these trains is the area of Roma Termini station that they use, which is more than a 800m walk away from the access to the metro.
Also if the general area around Roma Termini isn't convenient for your start or end point of your journey between Ciampino Airport and the city centre, then what's good to know is that there is an alternative rail + bus link.
Bus route / line 720 provides a connection to/from Laurentina, which is at the southern end of line B of the Rome Metro which has city centre stops at Piramide and Circo Massimo and Colosseo and Cavour.
A passage way is available between Piramide station and Ostiense station, where trains to and from Fiumicino Aeroporto station call.
The only airport station at which Frecce express trains, operated by Trenitalia, call during their journeys is Trieste Airport station.
All trains travelling to and from Trieste call at this station, so Trieste Airport is linked to the city's main railway station by more than 20 trains per day, the journey time is typically 29 minutes.
Though there isn't a departure in every hour, so all train journeys should be looked up on the Trenitalia website prior to booking a flight.
Regionale trains connect Trieste airport with Portogruaro and San Dona di Pave and Venice and Udine.
The Frecce trains which typically depart from Trieste Airport station are:
Turin airport has a rail station directly adjacent to the terminal building named Caselle Aeroporto.
It is on the local rail route / line A, which is operated by Turin's public transport network, GTT, but this line is currently closed in the city centre.
A major construction project will ultimately link it to Torino Porta Susa, which is one of the city's two main rail stations,
As result trains are being turned round at Venaria station, where connections are available with a replacement bus service, which is stopping by Porta Susa.
However, Venaria station is only three stops along the line from Caselle Aeroporto station.
Hence the better current option for travelling between the airport and both Porta Susa and Porta Nuova stations is to use the dedicated bus service.
Head to Torino Porta Nuova station if you will be traveling on to Alessandria, Genova, Savona; head to Torino Porta Susa if you will travelling on to Aosta, Bardonecchia, Novra and Milan.
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I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.
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