By far the easiest way to get to Venice from Rome is by train.
Booking early is key. We booked two First Class seats for $AU174. We booked in early Feb 2016 for travel in late April 2016, so about 3 months early.
Rome Termini Station
Termini is located very close to the tourist center of Rome. From our apartment near Campo De Fiori, it was less than 10 euros in a cab.
Once you get there, just find your train on the departures board and wait. About 10 minutes prior to departure, the platform number will be listed so you can then go to the correct end of the station.
The trains are fairly long, so if you’ve booked a first class seat as we had, there’s a small trek to get to the front of the platform. For the record, if you book early enough, First Class is much the same price as Second Class.
After a short wait, we were let on the train. There is a fair degree of luggage space, although we took most of it up with our two backpacks and pram.
The train ride
The seats are set up in a 1-2 fashion, which is pretty great. Business people who were doing their thing got to do their thing without being nudged by Australian tourists.
There are complimentary snacks and drinks (juice and soft drinks) and the staff are extremely nice.
The seats had in-seat power and plenty of room. Note that the in-seat power is 220v European plug, not USB, so for charging phones make sure you have your international adaptor handy.
The recline on the seats was that annoying kind where your bum goes forward, as opposed to your back reclining. Very similar to Cathay Pacific’s economy seats, for those who have experienced that travesty of airline travel. Obviously this is a much better setup for the comfort of those behind you, but personally, I find those seats extremely uncomfortable and prefer to stay inclined.
The seats are also quite slippery, so when ‘reclining’ you can sometimes find yourself in the footwell in front of you.
We hit a top speed of 260kmh which felt pretty good and made us wonder (for not the first time) why Australia can’t seem to get it together enough for a high-speed rail network up the east coast.
We didn’t get as fast as the 330kmh we hit when travelling from Shanghai to Nanjing a few years ago, but hopefully we’ll get closer to that when we get the TGV from Mulhouse to Paris in a few weeks time.
Travel time was just under 4 hours, with quick pauses in Florence, Bologna, and Padua before hitting the two Venetian stops.
Arriving in Venice
There are two stops for Venice. The first is Venezia Mestre and you do NOT get off here. It is far from where you want to be.
Venezia Santa Lucia is the stop you want, which is actually within Venice. It’s across the water where no cars can go.
From Santa Lucia you can get a water taxi to your accommodation, or if you’re lucky to be close by, then just walk.
Why we chose to get the train from Rome to Venice and not fly
As I mentioned above, the cab from our apartment in central Rome cost around 10 Euros (approx $AU15) and took about 10 minutes.
The train trip took just under 4 hours, departing Rome Termini at 10:15am and arrived at Venice Santa Lucia at 2pm.
As we booked through the Australian Rail Europe site, the total cost of the tickets for both of us was $AU162 + $AU12 booking fee ($AU174 altogether).
The walk from Santa Lucia to our apartment took another 10 minutes (and cost us nothing as we were on foot).
Infants travel free. Depending on which country you’re travelling, kids free travel can be for under 2, 4 or 6 years old.
Total time: Approximately 4 hours.
Total cost: $AU189
What if we’d flown?
Cab from Rome centre to Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport: €48 flat rate (approx $AU75). Approximate time: 40 minutes.
Getting to the airport early enough to drop your bags and not freak out: 1 hour.
Total cost for flights: $AU231.
Total flight time: A little over an hour.
Cab fare from Marco Polo Airport to Venice: €40 flat rate (approx $AU60) and about 20 minutes. Note that there’s also a bus for €8.
Total time: Approximately 3 hours.
Total cost: $AU365
So, if we had flown from Rome to Venice, it would have cost twice the price, but we would have saved an hour.
Even with the extra time, I prefer the serenity of the train, a bigger seat, power to charge my phone and a generally more relaxing atmosphere.
And to close, here is a picture of my son waking up on said train, wondering what the hell is going on.