Thanks to a more competitive high-speed rail service, you can now race 144 miles from Rome to Florence in an hour and a half, which makes travelling by train the easiest and most affordable way to get between the two superstar cities. The route is now served by two high-speed rail operators, Italo and Trenitalia, as well as a handful of slower regional trains. If you’re considering travelling between the two cities, we’ve analysed the best train options below.
Most trains depart from Rome Termini station, the city’s main station but a handful of high-speed and regional trains depart from Rome Tiburtina station, which is located further east. All trains terminate at Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station. If speed is a requirement, you have two options: privately-owned Italo and state-owned Trenitalia. The route between the two cities is notably scenic too, so if it’s sparkling views you’re after then you may want to opt for the slower regional trains rather than high-tailing it on the Alta Velocita.
For a long time, Trenitalia was the only option available for travellers looking to make the trip between Rome and Florence. Italo, which launched in 2012, changed the game. Created by two of Italy’s most powerful businessmen – Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, CEO of Ferrari, and Diego Dalle Valle, CEO of Tod’s – the train line operates at least 28 trains every day. All services take around 01:30 hours and there is no option to take a slower, scenic train.
Passengers can choose from three classes: Smart, Prima and Executive. Smart Class is comfortable enough, with leather seats and a good amount of legroom. Passengers who opt for Prima class will get complimentary wine and unlimited snacks, while Executive travellers get to enjoy exclusive access to the Italo Club Lounge, comfortable armchair style seating and a dedicated onboard catering service. Each seat features a nine-inch LCD touchscreen too. All seats offer unlimited and free WiFi, power sockets at every seat and air-conditioning. Customers can also connect to Italo Live to enjoy free access to movies, TV shows and a selection of NOW TV programmes.
Trenitalia offers both a fast train and a slower regional service. All high-speed direct services use freccia trains, averaging 01:30 hours. There are at least 47 direct high-speed trains daily, running every 30 minutes. Trains are air-conditioned, offering free Wi-Fi on trains and power sockets at every seat. Luggage can be stored overhead or in large luggage racks at either entrance. Most of the services operate the Frecciarossa 1000 – a sleek, energy-efficient and quiet addition to the Trenitalia fleet.
Passengers have four classes to choose from, ranging from Standard to Executive. Premium offers much the same as Standard, but with leather seats and a complimentary welcome drink. Business is designed for business travellers, with extra legroom, large leather seats and complimentary drinks. Executive offers an elite travel experience in a roomy eight-person berth with leather reclining seats and a dedicated steward.
If you’d prefer to make the most of those scenic views of charming Tuscan towns, Trenitalia also offers a cheaper intercity and regional service. Intercity trains take roughly three hours and operate a handful of times daily. Passengers can choose from a first or second class ticket, with an option to book a ‘solo’ seat in first class. The significantly cheaper direct regional trains take between three to four hours, running every hour or hour-and-a-half. There is only a standard service onboard.
The route between Rome and Florence is extremely well served, with an average of 76 direct services per day. Trenitalia operates the most frequent service, with four or five trains every hour.
Rates and book tickets
You can book trains up to six months before your departure date. Tickets from Rome to Florence start at €14.90 for the slower regional trains and €41.90 for a standard ticket on the high-speed direct trains. For executive class tickets, you can expect to pay around €130. Children under 4 go free on Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa, while children under 3 travel free on Italo.
We recommend booking tickets through Omio, a leading European train ticket comparison website guaranteed to find the cheapest available rate. The booking process is easy and only takes a couple of minutes. You don’t even have to create an account either. Book your tickets at Omio.com.
Where to stay in Florence on a budget
Florence is a highly walkable city, best explored on foot. The Santa Maria Novella station is conveniently located in one of Florence’s four central historic neighbourhoods too, with the best museums, palaces and churches in spitting distance. We’ve cherry-picked three of the best options combining style and service at an affordable price, all within walking distance to the station and Florence’s best sights.
For all its fine food and fortified palaces, Florence still has plenty of affordable hostels for backpackers on a shoestring budget. Ostello Bello Firenze is one of the best, located a stone’s throw from the station. Staff speak an impressive array of languages, including English, German, Spanish and Russian, and are on hand 24 hours to give advice and local tips. For nights in, there’s a well-stocked kitchen and barbecue area, as well as a terrace with live music. There’s a range of dorms and private rooms on offer, each offering free toiletries, a welcome drink and luggage storage.
If you’re looking for a budget bolthole but prefer your own space, Hotel Il Bargellino is an excellent option. Located a few minutes from the station, the hotel offers a range of simple – but stylish – single and double bedrooms. All rooms are uniquely decorated, painted in pretty pastels and kitted out with local antiques. All bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms and some offer direct access to the charming sun-filled terrace.
For a hotel as stylish as its surroundings, Palazzo Dal Borgo is hard to beat. The four-star hotel is housed in a renaissance palace, on one of the city’s oldest streets. It’s a ten-minute stroll to Santa Maria Novella Train Station and just 550 yards to the Ponte Vecchio. Most rooms feature elegant four-poster beds, frescoes and flat-screen televisions. Breakfast is included in the rate and served in a charming antiques-filled dining room, or outside by the orange trees. There’s a small, secluded courtyard garden for a balmy summer evening aperitivo too.