Venice and Milan are two of Italy’s top cities to visit and tourists often rush between them on the fast train. But if you have a little extra time there are several beautiful, historic places to stop along the rail line between Milan and Venice. These cities can be visited as day trips but spending the night in one or two of them will give you a chance to really get the feel of the place.
- Book train tickets on Select Italy in US dollars.
5 Places to Visit Along the Train Line
- Padua, or Padova, is a beautiful city known for the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, Europe’s oldest botanical garden, Giotto’s fresco cycle inside the Scrovegni Chapel, its 13th century university and medical school, and Prato della Valle, said to be the biggest piazza in Italy. Between Piazza dei Frutti and Piazza delle Erbe is a big covered market bordering both squares below the elegant Palazzo della Ragione, as well as cafes and restaurants. Shopping streets run near the two squares also.
There’s lots to see and do in Padua so I recommend at least two days, or longer if you want to visit Vicenza, or even Venice, as a day trip from there. Find a hotel in Padua.
Padua is also a suggested stop on the rail line between Florence and Venice.
- Vicenza is known as the city of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio who designed 23 of the city’s buildings including the Basilica Palladiana, considered to be his masterpiece. Go up to the terrace for great views of the city and countryside beyond. The Palladio Museum will give you a good introduction to his work. Vicenza has a small historic center, partially enclosed by medieval walls, easy to walk through. Unless you’re a big fan of Palladio, Vicenza can easily be visited in one day.
- Verona, known as the city of Romeo and Juliet, is full of medieval monuments and squares to explore, including a stone tower you can climb to the top of for great views. Verona also has a castle with a museum inside, shopping streets, and good Roman ruins, including its Roman Arena where opera and other concerts are held.
There’s a lot to see in Verona and it’s a good place to spend a couple of nights, especially if you want to go to a performance in the Arena. Find a hotel in Verona.
- Lake Garda is one of Northern Italy’s most popular lakes and also its biggest. The rail line goes along the southern shore of the lake where you can stop in either Desenzano or Peschiera del Garda, a town with a small but pretty historic center. From either town you can take a bus or ferry to other places around the lake if you have more time. In between these two towns is Sirmione, one of the most popular lake towns, known for its thermal bath resorts and medieval castle.
- Brescia is often overlooked by tourists, but it’s worth a night or two. You may enjoy visiting a city that’s not really touristy but still has some sights to see, including one of my favorite museums, the Santa Giulia City Museum, housed in an 8th century convent, that takes you on a journey from prehistory through a Roman excavations and historic churches. Brescia has Roman remains, a medieval historic center, a castle with museums, a Baroque cathedral, lively squares, and modern shops, bars, and restaurants to enjoy.
Bresica is also the gateway to the Valcamonica, Italy’s first UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed for its more than 140,000 prehistoric petroglyphs. If you have an extra day in Brescia, I recommend taking the train ride along Lake Iseo to Capo di Ponte, where you can easily visit Naquane, a large site with good examples of rock art. You could also stop off at Lake Iseo. Brescia is also the starting point for the historic Mille Miglia car race in May.
- To travel further east or west, see Torino to Trieste Rail Map and Places to Go
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