How to travel in Tuscany by train
Traveling in Tuscany by train is definitely a good way to discover the beauties of our region. If you are scared about driving a car along the roads of the Belpaese, trains give you the opportunity to move around comfortably sit in your seat and to admire the different landscapes rolling out of the window.
The connection between the main cities of Tuscany by train is absolutely great. You can easily go from/to Florence and Pisa, Lucca or Siena, and move up and down along the coastline. It could be more difficult to reach the rural areas and some small villages due to the lack of train stations. In this case, do not worry, usually public buses run between the hamlets and the closest rail station.
Train running along the Italian countryside
In Italy there are two main train companies. Trenitalia provides high-speed trains (the Frecce), and also a widespread coverage of the territory with national and local trains. The other company, Italo, operates only with high-speed trains connecting the main Italians cities.
Tuscany by train: how to do it
Italo high-speed train Map
Main railway stations in Tuscany
The station of Firenze Santa Maria Novella (Firenze SMN) is obviously the main railway terminal of the region and is located along the route between Rome and Milan. Its from SMN that you can get high-speed trains that go to Milan, Bologna, Rome, Naples (Frecciarossa or Italo), and Venice (Frecciargento). Taking “regionale” trains instead, you can reach all the corners of the region. In approximately one hour you can be in the Piazza Grande in Arezzo, walk along the walls of Lucca, take a picture with the leaning tower in Pisa or get a plane at Pisa International airport “Galileo Galilei”.
Pisa Centrale is another important station being a crossroad between the railway line coming from Florence and the coastal train route. Also, if you land in Pisa Airport, every 10 minutes a bus shuttle (waiting for the opening of train shuttle) runs from/to the central station from where you reach your final destination in Tuscany by train. The journey takes only 8 minutes, and you can buy the ticket from the ticket machine.
Train map of Tuscany
Explore the coast of Tuscany by train
The coastal railway line connects the main seaside resorts of Tuscany along the Riviera of Versilia (Viareggio, Pietrasanta, Massa and Carrara), the Etruscan Coast (Livorno, Castiglioncello, Cecina, Campiglia) and the Maremma (Follonica, Grosseto).
Moreover, it also allows you to reach Rome and Fiumicino International Airport if you take the south direction. Instead, Cinque Terre, Genoa and Milan if you go north.
Heading to Siena
If you are in Florence and head to Siena, there are some daily Regionale trains departing from SMN. Instead, if you are in Pisa or Lucca, you have to get the train to Empoli, get off, and change locomotive. On the way, if you have time, do not forget to stop in Monteriggioni, one of our favourite villages of Tuscany. If you are heading to San Gimignano, stop in Poggibonsi and get a bus. From the southern Maremma you can get a train in Grosseto or Montepescali.
Drink and don't drive: Chianti by Train
Reaching Chianti by train is not that easy, but it’s not impossible. The only two train stations of the “shire” where the famous red wine is made are Poggibonsi and Castellina. They are both along the route between Empoli and Siena. From these points, you can catch a bus to reach the villages you wish to visit without getting worried if you drink one glass too many.
Getting to Val d’Orcia
If you decide to visit this wonderful fairytale part of Tuscany by train, the stations where to stop are Montepulciano (along the line between Siena and Chiusi/Chianciano Terme) and Buonconvento (along the line that connects Siena to Montepescali in Maremma). From there, after a visit to these lovely hamlets, you can proceed by bus to Pienza, Montalcino and San Quirico d’Orcia and all the other villages of this area listed as UNESCO World Heritage site of Tuscany.
For the bus connections, check here.
Frecciarossa high-speed train – Photo credit: Trenitalia Press Office
Getting to Mugello
To reach the beautiful nature of Mugello in northeastern part of Tuscany, from Florence you can get a regionale train that goes to Faenza (in Emilia Romagna). S. Piero a Sieve, Borgo San Lorenzo and Marradi are the main places. If I were you I would not miss to visit the area in autumn when they celebrate the chestnuts, the traditional fruit of the fall, with many “sagra” where you can taste it in different ways and recipes.
Explore Garfagnana and Lunigiana
You can easily cross the wild and mountainous region of Garfagnana and Lunigiana getting a regionale train from Lucca or from Aulla. Along this railway line is plenty of places off the beaten path to discover. Borgo a Mozzano is known for the Devil’s Bridge and the Halloween festival. Barga is famous to be one of the most beautiful villages of Tuscany and for the summer jazz festival. In Equi Terme you can be explorer for a day at the Geo Archaeological Park, and during Christmas, visit the suggestive living nativity scene along the alleys of the village and into the grotto. Castelnuvo Garfagnana and Fivizzano are other two lovely villages where to stop for a visit to their castles and taste delicious traditional food.
Regionale Train in Lunigiana – Photo credit: Trenitalia Press Office
Reach Tuscany by train from the main Italian Airport
From Bologna Airport
If you do not land directly in Tuscany, the closest and more comfortable airport to fly to is the Bologna International “Marconi” Airport. Every 11 minutes there is a shuttle bus that connects the airport to the Central rail Station and from there you can choose for a Frecciarossa that in less than a hour will bring you to Florence SMN.
From Milan Airports
Once in Milano Centrale Terminal, you can head to Florence with Frecciarossa, or Italo. Instead, if your destination is the coast (Carrara, Massa, Viareggio, Pisa, Livorno) there will be the Frecciabianca, the Intercity or Regionale trains at your choice.
Italo Locomotive – Photo credit: Italo Press Office
From Rome Airport
From the International Airport Leonardo da Vinci of Fiumicino (FCO) in Rome, you can use the non-stop shuttle train Leonardo Express provided by Trenitalia. Every 15 minutes it connects the airport to Roma Termini station. From there you can choose to reach Tuscany by high-speed trains (Italo, Frecciarossa or Frecciargento) or by regionale veloce train.
How to buy tickets to travel in Tuscany by train
You can buy your tickets online on Trenitalia and Italo websites or directly at the train stations. Consider that only the biggest towns have a ticket office, while most of the small stations have only ticket machines and sometimes ticket desks open only few hours per day.
What about rates? High-speed trains are not so cheap, especially if you buy tickets close to departure. Instead, if you book in advance you can find really nice prices and special offers. I suggest you to look and they both websites as they always do offers (for example Saturdays and Sundays offers, train + car offers …).
Online tickets are personal and only the person named on it can travel with it. They do not need to be validated before to get on the train, and to be printed out. The only thing you need is the PNR code to show in case of control. This rule works for all kind of trains.
Paper tickets bought at the train station need to be validated at the specific machine before departure (in Italian we say obliterare il biglietto), otherwise you can incur a penalty.
Train at Sunset – Photo credit: Trenitalia Press Office
Helpful Italian train glossary
I end this post about how to travel in Tuscany by train with a small glossary that can be helpful once you have to organize your trip.
- Frecciarossa: the fastest high-speed trains of the country that can reach the speed of 300 km/h (186 mi/h) making easier the connection between the main cities of Italy in only few hours.
- Frecciargento: fast comfortable trains that run along both the high-speed and normal railways, reaching the maximum speed of 250 km/h (155 mi/h).
- Intercity and FrecciaBianca: fast comfortable trains that run along the normal railroads
- Regionale: slow trains that stop at every station and allow visitors to reach even small destinations.
- Regionale Veloce: local trains that goes faster than Regionale and do not stop in all stations along the railway.
- Treni in arrivo: arrivals.
Treni in partenza: departures.
In orario: on time.
In ritardo: delayed.
- Obliterare: validate the ticket at the specific machine in the train station.
For other handy information about traveling in Italy by train, take a look here at this post written by the Italian Storyteller Eleonora.
If you get any other question, leave a comment and I will be glad to help you out.