Italy’s Art Cities Explored by Train

There was a time when train travel in Italy was challenging, ramshackle and unreliable. Today, quaint local and rural trains remain, while high-speed services between major cities and online booking procedures make travel by train effortless and stress-free.

Journey from the Renaissance brilliance of Florence to Rome’s ancient traces on this eco-conscious Italian adventure. Explore each destination to the fullest with sightseeing tours and skip-the-line passes included.


Venice’s romantic charm lingers over the canals and alleyways of this former maritime empire, with its hand-painted masks and gondolier serenades. This world-famous destination is also home to a number of historic treasures, including the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal.

The city’s unique architecture is a result of its origins as an archipelago: a series of small islands connected to one another by canals and bridges. Everywhere you look, the city offers a visual feast, with its many different styles of Gothic architecture and awe-inspiring buildings.

The quaint streets of the historic center are lined with al fresco cafes and pretty buildings, as well as numerous museums and galleries that showcase Italy’s rich artistic heritage. You can spend a day or two wandering the streets, discovering artisan workshops and soaking up the culture. Then, head to the Grand Canal, where you will find a variety of waterbuses waiting to take you to some of the most important sites in the city.

Throughout the centuries, Venice has been one of the main centres for Italian art and culture. This is why so many masterpieces can be found here, such as the stunning Saint Mark’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s David. And because of its beauty and cultural importance, the city has become a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

Its UNESCO World Heritage Site status means that it’s easy to see why this is such a special place, even if the crowds can be overwhelming. If you’re interested in seeing some of the less-crowded highlights, consider a private tour with a local guide who can help you skip the lines and see the best of the city.

If you’re traveling with children, you’ll love that there are plenty of activities to keep them entertained as they explore the city’s many attractions. In addition to exploring museums and eating delicious Italian food, they can also participate in a pizza-making class or have fun on a gondola ride.


The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a feast for art lovers. It may lack the colossal variety of major Italian cities like Rome and Venice, but it more than makes up for it with sensational Renaissance masterpieces.

Taking the train to Florence is a great way to get acquainted with this city’s masterful architecture and art collection. The City of Arts Private Tour from Rome to Florence provides the opportunity for travelers to immerse themselves in this cultural experience, while also enjoying a scenic train journey.

This trip includes a professional guide who will provide expert knowledge of Florence’s many museums and monuments. Travelers can expect to visit such sights as the renowned Accademia, where Michelangelo’s David is housed, and the Piazza della Signoria. They can also marvel at the opulent Loggia dei Lanzi, which houses sculptures like Perseus Holding Medusa’s Head by Cellini and Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna.

While these sites are sure to be highlights of the trip, there is much more to see. For example, the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche—the Gallery of Maps—is a long arcade frescoed with Ignazio Danti’s 40 topographical maps of Italy that are so precisely rendered they look three-dimensional. Those interested in art from Asia can also head up a set of rickety stairs to the Museo delle Arti Orientali, where highlights include a stately samurai cuirass made from lacquered scales and Edo-era netsuke.

Another benefit of taking a tour to Florence by train is the ability to skip the line and enter museums without waiting in long queues. This can be particularly helpful in the Uffizi, where the line for tickets can be very lengthy.

Day trips by train from Florence are also possible, and can take visitors to places such as the Val D’Orcia. These excursions can be done by train, or a combination of train and bus. In addition to the convenience of rail travel, these tours also avoid the stress and expense of car rental and driving on Italy’s infamously crowded roads. It is important to note that train strikes can occur from time to time, and it is therefore best to consult a local guide or check with your hotel or at the train station to make sure that the planned excursion will go ahead.


Known as one of the world’s fashion capitals, Milan is also an art city with many masterpieces to admire. Take a trip to the Accademia Carrara to marvel at Michelangelo’s 17-foot marble David, or visit the Uffizi Gallery to admire paintings by Renaissance artists like Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci.

Milan’s newest district, Porta Nuova, has many high-rise buildings that are the embodiment of modernity. You can explore this new age of the city on a walking tour that takes you past the old neoclassical Porta Venezia city gate, the sleek Milan Central Station, and the dazzling Palazzo Lombardia (the regional government seat).

A highlight of a visit to the historic center is strolling through Piazza Mercanti, where the streets are lined with beautiful Renaissance architecture. This square has a much different feel than the busy tourist-filled Duomo Square, and it provides a true taste of what it is like to live in Milan.

From here, you can take a short walk to the Musei Civici, where you will find one of Italy’s best collections of Italian portraits. This includes a famous painting of a young woman by Francesco Hayez, which is considered the pinnacle of his portraiture work.

During your time in the city, you can enjoy a stroll through the arty Brera district, where you will see works of Renaissance and Baroque artists like Caravaggio and Parmigianino. You can also explore the modern architecture of the new Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, where you will find the largest book collection in all of Italy.

If you’d prefer to spend more than a day in the city, you can always return on a future trip to discover more of what it has to offer. From there, you can easily travel to Venice and Florence by train. Moreover, high-speed trains make it easy to access enchanting destinations in less than two hours. The Alps are just an hour away, Lake Como is under two hours by train, and Tuscany is within reach as well.


The capital of the pristine green region of Umbria, Perugia is a feast for the eyes. A city that seems almost untouched by time, its hilltop historic center reveals a wealth of Renaissance monuments within intimate little neighborhoods.

The most prominent landmark is the colossal 13th-century gothic Priori Palace (Palazzo dei Priori) that houses Umbria’s great art gallery, Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. From Byzantine frescoes to Renaissance masterpieces, the collection is chronologically displayed and spans over 40 rooms. Be sure to book a time slot ahead of time as this museum is very popular and it’s difficult to just show up at the door.

A short train ride away you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Assisi, birthplace of Saint Francis. This incredible pilgrimage destination offers breathtaking medieval churches and frescoes by early Renaissance masters Cimabue, Simone Martini & Giotto. Assisi is also home to a dazzling array of religious festivals and is the perfect spot to take in Italy’s most revered saint.

If you’re craving more contemporary artworks, don’t miss a visit to the Studio Guenzani art gallery. This world-class modern art museum opened in 1987 and exhibits works by renowned contemporary artists from around the globe.

Located along the border with Tuscany, Perugia is surrounded by a stunning natural landscape of pristine forests, rolling hills and cascading waterfalls. It’s the ideal base to explore nearby Lake Trasimeno, Assisi, Spello, Città di Castello and Umbria’s other beautiful towns.

Unlike the more crowded Tuscan hilltop towns such as Siena and San Gimignano, Perugia’s intimate little streets are quiet – even in high season. This gives you the freedom to wander its marvelously authentic medieval and Gothic architecture and fine museums without the crowds. Perugia is famous for the Umbria Jazz festival held each July and October’s Eurochocolate celebration, both of which draw passionate international crowds.

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