OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Italy is such a romantic country, and whether you travel north to Venice or south to Sorrento, there’s a plethora of rich culture, history, and delicious food to dive into.

I have fond memories of my time in Italy, where I spent a summer hopping from one end of the country to another. The beauty of Venice really surprised me, despite prior negative opinions that were relayed to me — specifically that summertime was the worst season in which to visit Venice due to the smelly canals and rude tour operators. And Rome? I expected to be overwhelmed by it, but I instantly fell in love.

Whenever I visit Europe, the only way I enjoy traveling is by train. With travel comparison websites like GoEuro, train travel in Italy is fast, efficient, and downright fun!

Here’s five cities that you should visit by train if you are traveling from north to south:

1. Bologna – Can you imagine visiting the oldest university in Europe? The University of Bologna is a stunning campus full of wonderous history. Walk the grounds and take in the architecture. Soak in the medieval, renaissance and baroque periods, all of which are sequestered in one place. If you’re a motorcycle fan, book a tour with the Ducati factory and showroom.

2. Turin – Next on your Italian train adventure should be Turin. Once the site of the Winter Olympics in 2006, the city is full of baroque architecture and surrounded by the Alps, making for a breathtaking backdrop. A few sites that shouldn’t be missed include the Shroud of Turin and the Turin Cathedral. For foodies, truffles came from this region, so wash some down with a glass of locally-sourced wine.

3. Venice – As I wrote earlier, I heard some negative reports about this commercial tourist destination, but it really won me over. Once you exit the train station, you’ll be transported back in time. The canals are the main focus of life here, and the waters are equally enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. People live on boats, travel by boat or water taxi, and yes, gondola rides are readily offered to tourists. Take some time to explore what’s unique about Venice, like the masks, the art of glass making, and the making of paper.

4. Florence –  Called the “cradle of the Renaissance,” Florence offers everything that is perfect about Italy. Sights to not miss include the Pitti Palace, the Duomo, and the Uffizi Museum Tour. The number of basilicas and/or churches to tour is astounding. Naturally, you really must do a wine tour (or two).

5. Rome – Because of the Roman ruins, and because this city was Italy’s capital for centuries, it should serve as your last train stop. A simple walk around the city will have architecture fans photographing every arch, dome, or ceiling mural they encounter. With major sites like the Vatican Sistine Chapel and the Roman Colosseum, this city is full of magnificence.

The most helpful part of doing a train adventure is that each of these cities is near to each other, so you will arrive to each destination in no time!