Home to world-renowned landmarks like the Roman Colosseum, the canals of Venice, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, not to mention its gorgeous coastline lapped by turquoise waters and award-winning cuisine, Italy is sure to feature on every culture buff’s bucket list.

If you’re planning on traveling the length of the Italian peninsula this summer, and you’re keen on experiencing European train travel now that the railway is back en vogue, you’ll be thrilled to learn a new overnight service between two of the country’s main cultural cities.

From June, you’ll be able to board a train in Milan, in the region of Lombardy, and wake up as far south as Lecce, in Puglia, from around $40:

Overnight Service From Lombardy To Puglia Launching This June

a Frecciarossa high speed train moving through the countryside in italy

In major news that are set to appease commuters traveling from Northern to Southern Italy, national railway company Trenitalia will be adding a new Frecciarossa—the famous ‘Red Arrow’ train—between cultural hotspots Milan and Lecce on weekends.

Go To Sleep In The Italian Capital Of Fashion…

Milan is the capital of Lombardy and a major European metropolis renowned for its architectural wealth, food scene, and of course, high life and fashion.

It is home to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest, where all of the most famous retailers are based, including Gucci, Chanel, Dior and Prada.

Yellow Heritage Tram In Milan, Lombardy, Northern Italy, Southern Europe.jpg

The city is dominated by Milan Duomo, a Gothic masterpiece with an ornate facade that took centuries to be finished, and all around Brera, a laid-back district of leafy, narrow streets, there are countless osterie serving traditional food and wine.

The charming Naviglio is not to be missed, either: lined by quirky restaurants and bars, and mostly frequented by cool youngsters, it is Milan’s version of a waterfront, and one of the last surviving of the city’s formerly-extensive system of canals.

Glass dome of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, Italy

Milan is also known for its museums, with The Last Supper Museum, where the valuable da Vinci masterpiece is exhibited, and the Pinacoteca di Brera, containing paintings from as early as the 13th century, as two noteworthy examples.

…Wake Up In The Italian Capital Of Baroque

As for the less-known Lecce, it is a hidden gem of Puglia, itself a seriously-underrated region at the heel of the Italian boot that most Americans are yet to discover, yet remains an Italian’s go-to destination for summer, thanks to its smaller crowds and cheaper prices.

Historic Old City Of Lecce, Puglia, Italy, Southern Europe.jpg

Lecce is an ancient settlement with a History traced back to the Roman Empire and spanning over 2,000 years, and Italy’s capital of Baroque art, with rows upon rows of palatial 18th century buildings, and richly-decorated churches making up an ocher-colored cityscape.

The Lecce Cathedral is particularly stunning, with a double facade and imposing bell tower, rivaled in beauty only by the nearby Santa Croce Basilica, housing an impressive collection of sacral art and sculptures, and a landmark rose window.

Roman Amphitheater In Lecce, Puglia, Italy, Southern Europe

If you’re an enthusiast of Ancient Rome, you’ve come to the right place: Lecce is practically littered with historical ruins, from the central Sant’Oronzo Column, now crowned with a bronze statue of its patron saint, to a partially unearthed Roman amphitheater.

The best thing is, there are far fewer tourists around, as Lecce is located on the Eastern side of the Italian peninsula, opposite from the overtouristed strip of coast between Tuscany and Campania, which includes destinations like Rome, Florence, Naples and Amalfi.

More Information On The Train Route

Woman in a train station

There are already trains linking Milan to Lecce, but this is Trenitalia’s first sleeper service on this route, with trains set to leave Milan at 10:45 p.m. and arrive in Lecce at 7:57 a.m. of the following day, covering the 932 mile-route in just over 9 hours.

The sleeper service is not nonstop, as it calls at a number of stations along the route:

From Milan to Lecce
  • Milano Rogoredo – 10:55 p.m.
  • Parma – 11:41 p.m.
  • Reggio Emilia – 11:56 p.m.
  • Modena – 12:11 a.m.
  • Bologna Centrale – 12:35 a.m.
  • Foggia – 5:20 a.m.
  • Barletta – 5:49 a.m.
  • Bari – 6:28 a.m.
  • Monopoli – 6:50 a.m.
  • Fasano – 6:59 a.m.
  • Ostuni – 7:11 a.m.
  • Brindisi – 7.57 a.m.

Women and the blue suitcase are going up the train ladder.

From Lecce to Milan

Traveling from south to north, trains will leave Lecce at 9:05 p.m. and pull up to Milan Central Station at 7:35 a.m. the next morning, with intermediate stops scheduled for:

  • Brindisi – 9:05 p.m.
  • Ostuni – 9:50 p.m.
  • Fasano – 10:02 p.m.
  • Monopoli – 10:11 p.m.
  • Bari – 10:45 p.m.
  • Barletta – 11:21 p.m.
  • Foggia – 11:55 p.m.
  • Bari Centrale – 5:34 a.m.
  • Modena – 6:00 a.m.
  • Reggio Emilia – 6:17 a.m.
  • Parma – 6:35 a.m.
  • Milano Rogoredo – 7:23 a.m.

woman holding her hat in Milan, Italy

Other than Milan and Lecce, tourists can use this route to discover a number of offbeat Italian destinations, like Bologna, a well-preserved medieval city with not one, but two leaning towers, the Puglia capital of Bari, with its charming, maze-like Old Town, and the whitewashed beach town of Monopoli.

With prices starting from as cheap as $42, this is one of the cheapest overnight trains to launch in Europe this summer, and if you’re wondering how it could be this affordable, you should know there’s minimal comfort offered at this price:

How Comfortable Is The Journey?

Frecciarossa Train In Italy, Southern Europe

There are no beds on the train, and passengers have to sleep in their seats, though you can opt for Business or Executive cabins: reclining backrest of up to 109° is the only noteworthy perk available for the former, while Executive guests enjoy a far more luxurious experience.

Usually, the Executive car accommodates 10 passengers, with lush, champagne leather-studded armchairs, 74 cm wide, and sitting a meter and a half apart from one another; reclining and leg rest extension are available, proving better sleep, and seats have a 180° rotation.

Frecciarossa Executive Class Seats, Italy Train Travel.jpg
Photo courtesy of Trenitalia

There will be no dining car, either, meaning passengers who wish to munch on snacks overnight will either have to bring their own food—and this shouldn’t be an issue, considering the variety of restaurants and shops available at Italian train stations—or use vending machines onboard.

No biggie for a sleeper train this cheap, but fortunately for Executive passengers, they should have an Executive Class menu featuring Chef Carlo Cracco-signed dishes, as well as a selection of Italian wine, beers, and coffee to pick from (though we’d advise against ordering espresso at bedtime hours).

Should You Just Take A Plane Instead?

Woman at Airport

Business seats in Frecciarossa trains typically cost between $108 and $178, a similar rate to that of hotels in central Milan, so instead of staying another night in the Italian capital of fashion, only to then board a plane south, or vice-versa, you might as well sleep in the train.

If anything, you’re cutting down on travel expenses by combining both accommodation and transportation mode into a single ticket.

It costs as much as $190 to book a single room in a centrally-located Ibis in Milan this June, while flights from Milan Malpensa to Bari Airport, the nearest major hub to Lecce, cost an additional $31: that’s at least $221 for another night in Milan when you could save time (and money) by taking the train.

Once again, for that extra bit of comfort and a decent night of sleep, arriving right in the center of town instead of an airport miles away, $178 is not that expensive.

Woman looking out of a train

Italy Is Leading The European Railway Renaissance

Train travel is back with a bang after decades of defunding, and Italy seems to be at the front of the Railway Renaissance: earlier this month, they launched a $9 train connecting the city of Trieste to Slovenia and Croatia, reactivating a service that had been paused for over 3 decades.

Cross-border trains are also launching from Milan to the French Riviera, and frequency is increasing between several of the Italian tourism hotspots, such as Venice and Reggio Calabria, and Rome and Puglia, for summer 2024, with 13-16 daily connections.

Start planning and book your train tickets for your Italian summer getaway directly at Trenitalia.

Credit: Source link