Numerous express trains connect Sicily with Turin, Genoa, Milan, Venice, Bologna and Florence in approximately 20 hours. In this case the price is much cheaper but the journey takes a bit longer, from 15 to 20 hours. A good solution is to take an Express, Intercity or Eurostar train only for the onward journey, and then take a boat or a train on the way back. On all express trains reservation is not compulsory so trains are often subject to overbooking, with consequent disruptions and unease for passengers. Therefore the choice of ferry boat and plane as an alternative to trains is almost compulsory if you travel during peak days.
Coming from central and South Italy: the situation is easier if you leave from the main centres on the Tyrrhenian coast. Numerous Intercity trains connect Rome with Messina in 8 hours, Naples-Messina in about 6 hours. As for the Adriatic coast, you can change train in Rome (for instance if you come from Ancona), or in Naples, Caserta or Salerno if you arrive from Pescara. From the North of Puglia you can take a train in Foggia and change in Caserta or Potenza and Salerno. From the South of Puglia interchange connections are in Taranto, from where you reach Cosenza until Paola. Calculation of the journey time is difficult in this case, since it depends on the typology of train (Eurostar, Intercity, Express).
You will find detailed pricing and information on the website of the Italian railway company www.trenitalia.it For a matter of practice the above mentioned solutions all refer to Messina as the arrival destination in Sicily, nonetheless numerous trains also reach Palermo, Catania, Siracusa and Agrigento. At the port of Villa s. Giovanni, from where depart all ferry boats destined to Sicily, your train will be embarked on the ferry boat. During the sea journey it is possible to remain on board of the train, but it is recommendable to get out and reach the decks. Or, if you prefer to skip all boarding manoeuvres, just get off at the station in Villa San Giovanni, from where you can directly reach the pier, or the station in Reggio Lido, which lies 200 m from the dock.
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