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Rows of seats inside an Italo train in Italy. Luggage in racks above seats and a few people are sitting.

Taking the Train from Florence to Milan – Guide for Visitors

Heading to Milan from Florence by train? Here’s what to expect. 

From getting train tickets before your trip, to finding a taxi when you arrive in Milan, I’ve got you covered step by step. You’ll find my tips and advice for a smooth trip peppered in along the way. 

I live here in Italy, and I’ve done this trip countless times, most recently with my husband and two children. Find out about:

  • How to get train tickets
  • Italy’s train companies, explained
  • Amenities at Florence Santa Maria Novella station
  • How to find your train and track, and get on smoothly
  • What it’s like on the train
  • What to expect when you arrive in Milan
  • Helpful Italian words and phrases to know when you’re traveling by train

Tutti a bordo? Andiamo! All aboard? Let’s go!

Getting Tickets for the Florence to Milan Train

Both Florence and Milan have multiple train stations. Make sure you buy a ticket from Florence (or Firenze) Santa Maria Novella station to Milano Centrale station for the fastest and most frequent trains.

Italian Train Operators

For the trip from Florence S.M.Novella to Milan Centrale, there are two railway operators to choose from: 

  • Trenitalia is the Italian state train company. It is part public and part private-owned, and runs throughout Italy. It has both regular regional trains, and high speed service– called Frecciarossa, Frecciargento and Frecciabianca.
  • Italo is a private railway company that has been operating since 2012. It has high speed service to select major and strategic cities only.

Whichever company you choose, if you want to go directly to Milan from Florence without getting off to sightsee at cities along the way, I highly recommend taking a direct, high speed train (no connections). It only takes about 2 hours.

There is a time and place for taking a local, regional train– but in my opinion, this trip isn’t it.

Where to Buy Tickets for the Florence to Milan Trains

Florence S.M.Novella has ticket offices, but I recommend buying your tickets online or at the ticket machines. 


The most convenient way to buy tickets for both Trenitalia and Italo is online. On the internet you’ll find many sites selling train tickets: I’m a fan of using the official Trenitalia and Italo websites. 

You don’t need to print your tickets out. Simply show the conductor the ticket on your phone when you get on board, and they’ll scan the QR code.

Since high speed tickets at both companies include a reservation, specific train and seat number, it is not necessary to validate or stamp your ticket before you get on the train (like you used to!).


If you don’t have time to buy a ticket online in advance, don’t worry. You can buy a ticket at one of the station’s many ticket machines. 

Red automatic ticket machines inside large front hall at the Florence SMN train station in Italy. Skylights make the room light.
Ticket machines inside Florence SMN train station

There is a large bank of Trenitalia machines in a large hall in the middle entrance to Santa Maria Novella station. Italo machines are scattered there and in other parts of the station.  

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Italian– you can choose English on the opening menu.

Train Classes

The high speed train trip from Florence to Milan is only about 2 hours. For such a short trip, I’ve found that riding the basic class level (Standard on Trenitalia, Smart on Italo), is perfectly comfortable. 

However, you may want to spring for more privacy, a quiet section, more space and other perks. 

On Trenitalia Frecciarossa trains the travel classes are (from basic to most luxurious):

  • Standard
  • Premium
  • Business
  • Quiet Business (Business Area Silenzio)
  • Business Salottino
  • Executive

On Italo trains the travel classes are (from basic to most luxurious):

  • Smart
  • Prima
  • Club Executive
  • Salotto 

Keep in mind: If you want to take advantage of Trenitalia or Italo’s private station lounges free of charge, you need to purchase a Business Salottino or Executive ticket (on Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa), or a Club Executive ticket (on Italo).

Florence Station: Santa Maria Novella

Florence’s main train station is called Firenze Santa Maria Novella. 

Don’t worry, it’s not too hard to pronounce! The pronunciation of Firenze Santa Maria Novella is: fee-REHN-tseh SAHN-tah mah-REE-ah noh-VEH-llah

Listen to how to pronounce Firenze Santa Maria Novella here:

Firenze Santa Maria Novella has a total of 19 tracks, running from west to east (left to right if you’re facing the tracks). 

The main part of the station has tracks 5-16. A wing on the west side of the station has tracks 1, 1/A, 2, 3 and 4.  Tracks 17 and 18 are in a wing on the east part of the station. 


This station isn’t a great place to use the bathroom. They’re few, far between, and you’ll need to pay (get your euro coin ready).

There is a bathroom in the west end of the station off of track 5. 

To use the bathrooms in any of the stores at the train station, you need to buy something (and use a code on your receipt to access the bathroom).

There are also bathrooms downstairs in the shopping mall (galleria commerciale) under the station.

Keep in mind that bathrooms close at night after about 9 or 10 pm.

Where to Wait

Unfortunately, comfortable pickings are slim at Santa Maria Novella: in fact, there is no public seating in the main part of the station if you need to get off your feet and wait. A lot of people just suck it up and sit on the floor. You can always grab a bite to eat and sit in the cafe/restaurant’s seating area.

We usually try to get there about 15 minutes early, so we hopefully don’t have to wait too long. 

However, there are two private lounges:

  • The Freccia Lounge, located behind your left shoulder if you’re facing the tracks. Only Executive and Business Salottino ticket holders are allowed admittance (and members of Trenitalia loyalty programs). Sometimes during promotions, other Trenitalia Frecciarossa passengers can purchase a single entrance to the lounge. 
  • The Italo Club Lounge, also located in the southwest part of the station on track level. Only Club Executive ticket holders and members of Italo loyalty programs can enter, but Smart and Prima ticket holders can buy an entrance ticket to the lounge. 

Food and Shopping

If you do have a long time to wait for your train, there are plenty of places to have a coffee, a drink, or snack (gelato anyone?). At track level there are cafes, Venchi (a chocolate and ice cream store), a bookstore, and even makeup stores.

In the mall below the station, in addition to places to buy food and drinks, there are also clothing, shoe and gift stores. 

Here is a complete list of the stores at Florence Santa Maria Novella.

Finding Your Train at the Florence SMN Train Station

To find the track where your train will be departing from, look for the big black and orange digital boards labeled Partenze (Departures). There are also monitors around the station.

Usually your track will only be posted about 10 minutes before departure. 

Your train will be labeled according to its final stop. This may be Milano Centrale, but it could also be Torino Porta Nuova or another station to the north.

Any delays are posted on these boards, with approximately how many minutes the train is running late.

Listen for announcements about your destination: Milano Centrale station. In Italian the pronunciation of Milano Centrale is: mee-LAH-noh chehn-TRAH-leh

Listen to how to pronounce Milano Centrale here:

Getting on the Train in Florence

Once you know what track to head to, check your ticket for your carrozza (carriage) and posto (seat number). 

On the side of each train car, the carrozza (carriage) number is labeled by the door at both the front and back. Some Frecciarossa carriages also tell you which seat numbers are closest to that door.

If your train hasn’t arrived yet, look up. Some platforms have signs posted above you lined up to where each car will be. 

Where to Put Your Luggage on the Train

There is overhead luggage storage over the seats in standard/smart class carriages. However, if you have bags that are too large for the overhead storage, head to the end of the car. There is a storage space in the corridor.

On the Train


I think riding high speed trains in Italy is fun (when they’re running on time!). High speed trains have air conditioning, bathrooms (like airplane bathrooms), individual electric sockets, free Wifi and online entertainment.

If you get hungry or thirsty, Italo trains have vending machines at the end of every couple cars. Frecciarossa trains have a cafe/snack bar.

Think ahead and use the train bathroom before you get off in Milan! You have to pay to use the bathrooms at the station in Florence, and they’re a hassle to find!!


The first part of the trip from Florence to Milan goes through the Apennine mountains. You can’t see much out of the window because you’re in tunnels a lot of the time.

The second part of the trip goes through the flat countryside north west of Bologna, through the plains of Emilia Romagna and then Lombardy. You’ll see farm fields and vineyards, as well as factories and highways.

Arriving at the Milan Station

Milano Centrale gives you a bigger welcome than other Italian train stations. It is much larger, more imposing, and more ornate than Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station.

Be prepared for the station’s hustle and bustle: it’s Europe’s second largest and busiest train station.

The train tracks and main concourse hall are located above street level.

Bathrooms at Milano Centrale Train Station

There are bathrooms on the mezzanine level, which you must pay to use. It took us forever to find them and we were so annoyed when we found out there was a fee that we decided to hold it and look for a coffee bar outside the station.

If you can, use the bathroom on the train before you get off in Milan.

Food and Shopping

Milano Centrale has several levels, and a myriad of food and drink options if you arrive hungry in Milan, from high quality chocolates and gelato to American fast food. 

Food lovers, check out Mercato Centrale, which is like a gourmet Italian food court. It’s located on the northwest side of the station (with the tracks at your back it’s to the right) and has 2 floors!

There’s a supermarket in the basement level called Conad Sapori & Dintorni. It’s open from 7 am to 8 pm and is a good place to pick up food supplies. 

Luggage Storage

If you want to leave your luggage at the station while you go explore Milan, there is a Kibag luggage storage facility: follow the signs to Deposito bagagli (Left luggage).

Ground Transportation

The station sits above the Centrale metro station. Take the yellow M3 line four stops towards S. Donato and you’ll be at the Duomo! Centrale also serves the green M2 metro line. 

There are taxi stands outside of both sides of the station.

View of entrance of Milan Central train station from the inside.  It's a sunny day.

Where to Wait for a Connecting Train

Luckily, there are benches out in the main hall on track level where you can get off your feet and wait for your train.

You can also sit down at one of the many cafes and restaurants. 

Milano Centrale has 2 private lounges:

  • The Freccia Lounge is on track level in front of tracks 20-21. Only Executive and Business Salottino ticket holders are allowed admittance (and members of Trenitalia loyalty programs). Sometimes during promotions, other passengers can purchase a single entrance to the lounge. 
  • The Italo Club Lounge is located on track level in front of tracks 17-18. Only Club Executive ticket holders and members of Italo loyalty programs can enter, but Smart and Prima ticket holders can buy an entrance ticket to the lounge. 

Helpful Words and Phrases

Keep your ears open: you’ll hear these words and phrases all around you when you’re traveling by train from Florence to Milan.

The trainIl treno
The stationLa stazione
The track/platformIl binario
The train car, carriageLa carrozza
First classPrima classe
The bathroomIl bagno
The suitcaseLa valigia
La fermataThe stop
Alta velocitàHigh speed
Where is the station?Dov’è la stazione?
Where is the bathroom?Dov’è il bagno?
Where is track 5?Dov’è il binario cinque?
Where are the taxis?Dove sono i taxi?

And if you’re doing a round-trip, check out Taking the Train from Milan to Florence!

Want to make the most of your time in Milan? Read
Milan with Kids
Brera – Guide to the Artists’ Quarter
Day Trips from Milan

Milan Car Rental
Using the Metro in Milan
Milano Centrale Train Station
How to Get Around Milan
Where to Eat in Milan
Milan’s Science Museum with Kids
How to Spend One Day in Milan
How to Spend Two Days in Milan

Woman holding child's hand on a small street in and Italian village.