Train to Sicily being shunted onto the ferry
 

Yes, the trains go onto a ferry to cross the Straits between Villa San Giovanni on the mainland and Messina on Sicily. Courtesy Hans RothSee route map.  Watch the video.

  A sleeper train from Milan to Sicily on the train ferry
 

The InterCityNotte (ICN) sleeper train from Milan to Sicily on board the train ferry.  Courtesy of Marco Bereth, see his blog about the train here

Rome or Naples to Sicily from 19.90

Comfortable air-conditioned InterCity trains and time-effective sleeper trains link Rome & Naples with Messina, Palermo, Catania & Siracuse on Sicily from as little as 19.90.  Yes, these trains are direct to Sicily, they get ferried across the Straits of Messina on board a train ferry, now the only place in Europe where passenger trains go onto ferries, a fascinating & unique experience - Watch the video!  And Italy's longest sleeper journey is the Intercity Notte from Milan to Sicily, an epic ride in your own private room.

small bullet point  Train times

small bullet point  How much does it cost?

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  What are the daytime trains like?

small bullet point  What are the sleeper trains like?

small bullet point  Travel tips

small bullet point  Watch the video: Loading the train onto the ferry

Train times southbound 2024

 Milan, Rome, Naples ► Sicily

 

Intercity

Intercity

sleeper

sleeper

sleeper

 

daily

daily

daily

daily

daily

 Milan Centrale depart:

-

-

-

-

20:10

 Bologna Centrale depart:

-

-

-

-

22:48

 Florence Campo di Marte depart:

-

-

-

-

00:12

 Rome Termini depart:

07:26

11:26

20:31

23:00

|

 Naples Centrale depart:

09:50

13:45

23:24

|

|

 Salerno depart:

10:39

14:24

00:04

|

|

 Villa San Giovanni (mainland):

14:30

18:25

03:30

06:10

10:40

 Messina Centrale (Sicily) arrive:

15:35

19:35

05:15

08:05

12:45

 Taormina-Giardini arrive:

16:40

20:56

06:31

09:30

13:54

 Catania Centrale arrive:

17:25

21:37

07:33

10:10

14:32

 Siracuse arrive:

18:33

22:53

09:01

11:29

15:48

 Cefalu arrive:

18:31

22:12

08:25

10:58

15:55

 Palermo arrive:

19:25

23:05

09:24

11:57

16:55

Train times northbound 2024

 Sicily ► Naples, Rome, Milan

 

Intercity

Intercity

sleeper

sleeper

sleeper

 

daily

daily

daily

daily

daily

 Palermo depart:

06:50

10:00

12:58

18:48

21:10

 Cefalu depart:

07:35

10:59

13:56

19:36

21:59

 Siracuse depart:

07:32

10:10

13:35

19:10

21:45

 Catania depart:

08:41

11:18

14:54

20:26

22:58

 Taormina-Giardini depart:

09:18

11:56

15:39

21:12

23:35

 Messina (Sicily) depart:

10:10

13:10

16:40

22:10

00:35

 Villa San Giovanni (mainland):

11:50

14:50

18:45

00:05

|

 Salerno arrive:

15:34

18:37

23:30

|

06:42

 Naples Centrale arrive:

16:17

19:17

|

|

07:22

 Rome Termini arrive:

18:34

21:38

|

07:18

09:51

 Florence Campo di Marte:

-

-

05:36

-

-

 Bologna Centrale arrive:

-

-

07:07

-

-

 Milan Centrale arrive:

-

-

10:10

-

-

Timetable notes

These trains run every day, all year round.  Each column in the timetable above is a train you can take.  I won't update these times every time they change by a few minutes, so treat them as a guide and check exact times for your date at www.raileurope.com or www.trenitalia.com.

Each of these trains has two separate portions, one to/from Taormina, Catania & Siracuse, and another to/from Cefalu & Palermo, splitting or joining at Messina.  I've shown them in one column to save space.

Rome to Palermo is 893 km (555 miles) by train.  Rome to Siracuse is 843 km (524 miles) by train.

Milan to Palermo is 1,539 km (956 miles) by train via Genoa.  Milan to Siracuse is 1,489 km (925 miles).

From Florence, Bologna & Venice, take a high-speed Frecciarossa to Naples, then a day train to Sicily, or to Rome for the sleeper to Sicily.

From Cinque Terre, take a regional train to La Spezia and the sleeper to Sicily, or travel to Rome and take a day or night train to Sicily from there.

From Amalfi, take a bus to Salerno then a train to Sicily.

From Sorrento, take the local Circumvesuviana train into Naples then a train to Sicily.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

What are the Intercity trains like?

Intercity trains (IC) have with 1st & 2nd class seats in open-plan cars, arranged 2+1 across the car width in 1st class, 2+2 across the car width in 2nd class.  Both classes are comfortable and have power sockets at seats, toilets in every car and plenty of luggage space.  There is no WiFi, but there's 4G/3G and sometimes 5G mobile reception along most of the route.  There's no catering car, so although you may get a refreshment trolley come down the train, you should bring a picnic and bottle of wine along for the ride.

Trenitalia Intercity train from Rome to Sicily

This is the Rome-Sicily Intercity train on board the ferry for the voyage across the Straits of Messina.  You can leave your heavy luggage on the train while you go up on deck for some sea air and a cappuccino...  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

InterCity train, 2nd class   InterCity train, 1st class

2nd class seats.

 

1st class seats.

Bike compartment in car with 2+1 2nd class seats   2-pin 230v power outlet on Italian train

Service car with bike compartment, wide aisle & 2+1 seating in 2nd class.

 

2/3-pin power socket.  That's the adapter you need, European round 2-pin plugs don't fit.

Small seat area next to vending machines   Vending machines

Small eating area at other end of service car.

 

Vending machines - have coins on you!

Scenery from the train to Sicily

Vesuvius & the Bay of Naples, seen from the Intercity train after leaving Naples.  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

Scenery from the train to Sicily

The scenery between Naples & Villa San Giovanni is lovely, all along the coast with mountains inland, see the route map below.  Remember that picnic and bottle of wine!  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

Train ferry at Villa San Giovanni

Villa San Giovanni.  After calling at Villa San Giovanni station, the train draws forward, then sets back onto the train ferry.  The train is divided into several sections, side by side on the ferry's train deck.  Above, the view of the train ferry as the train pulls forward.  That's Sicily in the distance, on the other side of the Straits of Messina.

Intercity train to Sicily on board the ferry

The Intercity train on board the train ferry sailing towards Messina.  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

Sailing into Messina harbour

Sailing into Messina harbour, you're greeted by the gilded Madonna della Lettera which has stood here since 1934.  The Latin inscription says We bless you and your city, a quote from a letter sent by the Virgin Mary to the population of Messina in the 42AD.  This is the way to arrive in Sicily!

What are the sleeper trains like?

The Intercity Notte (ICN) trains have 1, 2 & 3 bed sleepers and 4-berth couchettes.  There are no ordinary seats, or 6-berth couchettes.

Below, dawn over Sicily as the InterCityNotte from Rome approaches Messina on board the train ferry.  Courtesy of Richard Simcox, who went up on deck at 5am while his family slept on in their couchettes on board the train.  Sometimes rising early has its rewards!

Sleeper train to Sicily on board the ferry

1 & 2 bed Excelsior sleepers

There are Excelsior sleepers with en suite shower & toilet on the Milan-Catania-Siracuse night train and on one of the Rome-Catania-Siracuse night trains.  You won't find Excelsior sleepers to or from Palermo, or on most Italian sleeper trains.  There's just one rebuilt T3S sleeping-car on each train and each car has just 4 Excelsior compartments with shower & toilet plus 6 standard Deluxe compartments with washbasin.  It's nice to have your own toilet & shower, but don't be too surprised if no water comes out of the shower!  Apart from the en suite shower & toilet, facilities & catering are the same as the regular sleepers described below.  See layout of a T3S sleeping-carExcelsior photos courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry & Niklas Hoth.  Click the images for larger photos.

  Premium sleeper en suite toilet & shower   Excelsior sleeper on the Rome to Sicily train

Excelsior sleeper on the Milan to Siracuse train, at Milan Centrale.

 

Excelsior sleeper en suite toilet & shower.

 

Excelsior sleeper set up as a 1st class single-berth.

1, 2 & 3 bed Deluxe sleepers

The regular sleeping-cars are branded Deluxe.  A corridor runs along one side of the car off which open 12 compartments, each of which can be sold as 3-berth (triple or tripla), 2-berth (double or doppio) or single-berth (single or singolo).  There are two toilets at one end of the corridor near the attendant's compartment.

Each sleeper compartment has a washbasin and 220V power outlet (Italian 2-pin rectangular type), and locks securely from the inside.  The beds come fully made up with clean sheets, pillow, duvet.  For the daytime part of the journey, the beds fold away and a 3-seat sofa folds out to make a private sitting room (the centre seat folds back down to form a table between the two outer seats if there are only two of you).

A fresh towel and simple amenities kit is provided with soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, wet-wipe.  A small bottle of drinking water is provided.  Luggage goes in your compartment with you, on the rack above the window, in the large recess above the door, or on the floor.

There is a connecting door between adjacent compartments which can be opened if the bolt on both sides is slid back.  The door connects compartments with berth numbers that share the same first digit, for example 21, 23, 25 connects to 22, 24, 26.

In the morning the sleeper attendant serves you a light breakfast with coffee & juice.  Bring your own food & drink for the evening, with perhaps a bottle of wine!

Since the pandemic, Trenitalia no longer allows solo travellers to book 1 bed in shared sleeper compartments.  Only entire 1, 2 or 3 bed rooms (cabina intera) can be booked in the sleeper category.  So if you're solo you'll have to pay for a single if you want to use a sleeper rather than a couchette.

Milan-Palermo sleeper train arrived at Messina

Above, the Milan-Palermo sleeping-car of the Milan-Sicily sleeper train has reached Messina, on time. Click the images below for larger photos.

Single sleeper on Italian Intercity Notte train   Double sleeper on Italian Intercity Notte train   Triple sleeper on Italian Intercity Notte train

Single sleeper (singolo)

 

Double sleeper (doppio)

 

Triple sleeper (tripla)

Single sleeper on Italian Intercity Notte train   Sleeper on Italian Intercity Notte train in daytime seats mode

Single sleeper, looking towards the corridor.

 

Sleeper in day mode as a private sitting room.

    Breakfast on Italian Intercity Notte train

Corridor.

 

Water, snack and amenities kit.

 

Light breakfast with expresso.

4-berth Comfort couchettes

The economical choice, ideal for families or budget travellers.  A corridor runs down one side of the car, off which open 9 securely-lockable compartments, each with 4 berths (2 upper, 2 lower).  Each berth is provided with sheets, pillow & blanket, but unlike the sleepers you arrange these yourself.  The upper bunks fold back against the wall and the lower berths become seating for evening and morning use.

There are toilets and washrooms at the end of the corridor.  Luggage goes in the compartment with you, on the overhead racks, under the lower berths, in the large recess above the door or on the floor.  There's no catering car, so take snacks and a bottle of wine with you.  An attendant travels with each pair of cars.

In the morning, a light breakfast of coffee, orange juice and snack is included in the fare, served by the attendant.

In couchettes, berths are sold individually, so one person = one ticket = one bed.  A solo traveller who books one ticket gets one berth in a shared couchette compartment.  Usually these are mixed gender (Promiscuo), but women travelling alone can choose a ladies-only compartment (Donna).  If you book 4 people you'll get a whole compartment (cabina intera) to yourselves.  There's also a fare for 3 people to have sole occupancy of a 4-berth compartment (a more spacious option than a 3-bed sleeper, arguably a better choice if your journey involves a significant daytime element).  See a trip report video.

Comfort couchette car in Milan, bound for Sicily

Above, a Comfort couchette car on the Milan-Palermo overnight train, boarding at Milan Centrale.

Comfort 4-berth couchettes   Comfort 4-berth couchettes in daytime seats mode

Comfort couchettes, view towards the corridor.

 

Comfort couchettes, daytime seats mode.

Comfort 4-berth couchettes   Comfort 4-berth couchette car corridor

Comfort couchettes night mode.

 

Comfort couchettes with door to corridor open.

 

Route map

Rome to Sicily train route map

Click for larger map

Green = scenic routes

Red = high-speed line

Map extract by kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people.  I recommend buying this map for your European travels with shipping worldwide at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu.

Travel tips

Coastal view from the Palermo to Milan sleeper train

Room with a view.  The Sicily to Milan sleeper speeds along the coast of Italy in daylight before its overnight run into Milan.  Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

Route map

Rome to Sicily train route map

Click for larger map

Green = scenic routes

Red = high-speed line

Map extract by kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people.  I recommend buying this map for your European travels with shipping worldwide at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu.

Traveller's reports

Traveller Andrew Clayton reports:  "We took the daytime InterCity train from Naples to Siracuse, having first loaded up with essential supplies (water, bread, cheese, wine etc.) as there is no catering on the train.  Rather than buy at Naples Centrale where there's only limited food shopping, we went out of the station and found nearby shops that sold all we needed at much lower prices.  There was attractive scenery - sea and mountains - almost all the way to Villa San Giovanni where the train is loaded onto the ferry to Sicily in two sections.  We were in the last coach and discovered that, if you went to the end, you could look through a glass door to see the coaches go onto the ferry and be tied down. It is safe to leave large luggage on the train during the crossing when most people go up on deck."

VideoLoading the train onto the ferry


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