After spending a wonderful day I Rome, I went to the Roma Termini Train Station to buy a ticket to Venice for the next day. After entering my information on the automated machine, I realized that I had two options. I could stick to my plan and buy a ticket for the following day priced at 75 euros, or I could take an overnight train at a ridiculously low price of 32.50 Euros. Since my accomodation in Rome was only 20 Euros, I decided to take the overnight train, therefore saving myself over 22 Euros.
After organizing my luggage, I arrived at the train station about an hour ahead of the departure time. I spent a while browsing through several stores and found myself thinking that Roma Termini seems to be an extravagant shopping plaza which just happened to be attached to a train station. An abundance of boutiques, electronic stores and cafes had my head spinning, and I had to forcefully keep an eye on the time so that I wouldn't be late for my train.
As preparation for the journey ahead, I had a late meal at McDonalds, then proceeded to the in-house supermarket to buy a few snacks and a large bottle of water. After making my way to the platform area, I grabbed a seat on a bench and waited for my train to pull into the station. When it arrived, I hoisted my backpack on my shoulders and clambered aboard.
Based on my cheap fare, I was to be spending the night in an economy seat. My seat was located in a four person couchette carraige and my three roommates were already present. Two of them were local Italian men and the other was an African expat who spoke fluent English and Italian. I stored my backpack in the overhead compartment, donned a pair of socks and settled in.
The train pulled out of the station at 10:35 and I expected to arrive at the Venice S. Lucia train station at 5:20am. I mentally braced myself to stay awake for the duration of train ride, as I wasn't familiar with my roommates and I wasn't comfortable enough to fall asleep regardless of the combination lock on my backpack.
As a safety precaution, I had removed my passport and credit cards along with whatever important documents I had and placed them in a small bag which I sat on for the entire journey. In hindsight, perhaps I was being slightly paranoid, but I've read stories about people being robbed on night trains and I didn't want to take any chances.
The train ride was pretty uneventful for the most part, as we passed through several villages and towns, their streetlights shining exceptionally bright against the otherwise pitch black background. Halfway through the journey, the two Italian men departed, giving the the expat and myself more room to occupy.
A snack cart never came to visit our carriage, so I was extremely thankful for the snacks and water I'd bought at the Roma Termini train station. I offered some of my food to the expat lady who graciously accepted, and we engaged in light conversation for about an hour before she arrived at her stop and waved farewell.
After arriving in Venice, I got off the train just as the sun started to rise. I had successfully survived the overnight rail experience in Italy in an economy cabin and aside from being a bit bleary eyed, I was no worse for wear. I would definitely suggest upgrading to a cabin for greater peace of mind. The Night Train saves a lot of travel time for persons on a short trip and for the meagre price I paid, I was happy with the overall experience.