With more than 35 direct train services per day, it couldn’t be easier to travel between Italy’s blockbuster destinations, Venice and Florence. The 257-km rail route is now served by two high-speed rail operators, Italo and Trenitalia, reaching speeds of up to 360-km per hour. In theory, that means you could be enjoying an aperitivo in St Mark’s Square at dusk, then tucking into dinner in front of the Uffizi a little more than two hours later. If you’re planning on making the trip, we’ve analysed the best train options below.
All high-speed direct trains depart from Venezia Santa Lucia Station, the city’s main station, and terminate at Firenze Santa Maria Novella station. While there are some scenic stretches en-route, particularly along the Veneto, most of the journey is under cover. So, if you’re looking for sparkling vistas, you may want to opt for one of Trenitalia’s slower regional trains, which usually require a change at Ravenna and Ferrara. If you’re looking for a high-speed, direct route there are two options: privately-owned Italo and state-owned Trenitalia.
Italo trains, which launched in 2012, was created by two of Italy’s most powerful businessmen – Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, CEO of Ferrari, and Diego Dalle Valle, CEO of Tod’s. While they may not have designed the interiors themselves, they certainly influenced them. Spacious reclining seats covered in frau leather are standard across all classes. Carriages are air-conditioned, with free WiFi and power sockets at every seat. And, there’s also a smart cinema carriage showing selected films on TV screens suspended from the ceiling.
Passengers can choose from four classes: Smart, Comfort, Prima and Executive. By usual 2nd class standards, Smart class is extremely comfortable, with ample legroom and comfy leather seats. Comfort class offers even more legroom, with three seats per row, instead of four. Prima class passengers can enjoy complimentary wine and snacks throughout the journey, and an innovative meal-in-a-box from EatItaly, served at your seat. Club Executive caters for business travellers, offering just 11 seats in a saloon-style carriage, each featuring a 9” LCD-touch screen television. Business travellers can also reserve one of two intimate salottinos or private berths for meetings too.
Visitors who chose to travel with Trenitalia will travel by Frecciarossa or Frecciargento service. Both high-speed trains are air-conditioned, offering free WiFi and power sockets at every seat. Luggage can be stored overhead or in large luggage racks at either entrance. Many services are operated by the Frecciarossa 1000, Trenitalia’s newest addition to the fleet, famous for its iconic long red nose. It’s also the first high-speed train in the world to have obtained EPD certification for environmental impact.
Like Italo’s offering, Frecciarossa trains now offer four classes. Standard features fabric seats, while Premium offers an identical seat layout with leather seats and a complimentary welcome drink too. In Business class, passengers are treated to more legroom, larger leather seats and a complimentary hot drink or alcoholic beverage. Or, for a premium experience, try the Executive class, which offers just eight extra-comfortable leather reclining seats with a dedicated steward. The price includes a complimentary cold tray and drinks, as well as an option to book the six-person meeting room. If you’re travelling by Frecciargento, there are only two classes available: 1st and 2nd class. 1st class will get you extra legroom, as well as a complimentary welcome drink.
The route between Venice and Florence is extremely well served, with an average of 35 direct services per day. Generally, Trenitalia operates a more frequent service, with at least one train every hour.
Rates and how to book
You can book trains up to six months before your departure date. Tickets from Venice to Florence start at €19.90 for Standard class tickets or €29.90 for Premium. Children under 4 travel free on Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa, while children under 3 go 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 takes just a couple of minutes, and 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 compact city, best explored on foot. The Santa Maria Novella station is located in one of four historic neighbourhoods, home to some of the city’s most important museums, palaces and churches, as well as the best shopping in the city along the Via de Tornabuoni and Via Della Vigna Nuova. Here we’ve rounded up three of the best accommodation offerings that combine style and service at an affordable price, all within walking distance to the station and Florence’s best sights.
Run by two charismatic brothers – Leonardo and Marco – Hostel Archi Rossi is a friendly and laid back hostel conveniently located just 250 yards from Santa Maria Novella train station. Artworks from guests and locals adorn the walls of the lobby, leading out to a charming private garden and terrace. After a day of pummeling the pavements, guests can make use of the in-house wellness centre, which includes a sauna, hot tub and bookable massages.
For a budget bolthole that isn’t a hostel Casa Howard is a real steal. A stone’s throw from the station, it’s also just ten minutes walk from Florence’s most famous sites. Each bedroom is uniquely furnished, all Japanese-inspired pillar box reds and sumptuous emerald greens. There is no reception, but there are common areas throughout, all brimming with chinoiserie linens, antique furnishings and travel memorabilia, making it feel more like an ancestral home than a hotel.
For a mid-range option, try the Hotel Santa Maria Novella. With a sauna, fitness room and cocktail bar, it feels even more luxury than its four stars will have you believe. Each of the 71 bedrooms is decorated distinctively, with vibrant velvets, original parquet flooring and Carrara marble bathrooms. An intimate rooftop terrace is the perfect spot to wind down with a glass of chianti or negroni, overlooking the Duomo and the meandering Arno River as the sun goes down.